News from Topeka- Week 1
January 24, 2011

The second week of the 2011 legislative session was rather brief due to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday and another round of measurable snow in the capitol city. However, work continued as committees met regularly to address issues and legislation. In the next week or two, bills will start to make their way out of committee and head to the House floor for debate and final vote. As always, I’ll keep you updated. Please stay involved and let me know your thoughts on the measures under consideration. Remember the most frequent updates will be posted on Facebook and Twitter, and the Facebook feed can be seen on my website.

The main focus of this session is, and will continue to be, addressing the $550 million budget deficit and repairing the Kansas economy. Again this week, the focus of most topics ultimately revolved around the bottom line. The first step taken in dealing with the budget came with introduction of House Bill 2014 which includes Governor Brownback’s proposal to freeze the state budget for the 2011 fiscal year. The measure makes approximately $120 million in cuts and orders several funding transfers. If passed in its current form, HB 2014 would create a $35 million surplus for the State General Fund in FY 2011. The budget for fiscal year 2012 is soon to follow in consideration.

I hope you are tracking the Legislature’s work in Topeka. If possible, take the time to visit this session. If you would like an individual meeting, I’d be happy to arrange one. In the meantime, I’m always anxious to hear your thoughts on how the issues discussed in Topeka affect you. Reliable feedback is very important in making sure I’m accurately representing my friends and neighbors here in the district. Please feel free to call or email, and I’d be happy to discuss any topic you are interested in. Thank you for the honor of serving you.

Office phone: 785-296-7659
Legislative email: amanda.grosserode@house.ks.gov

Reforming State Government

This week Governor Brownback and Lt. Governor Colyer with House and Senate leaders announced plans to address the financial problems facing Kansas by implementing structural reform to state government. Issues specifically targeted for restructuring are KPERS, Medicaid and a definition of "suitability" concerning education. These are each major tasks, so the Governor has split the list and handed each chamber an assignment.

The Senate was charged with addressing our public employee retirement system, KPERS. Currently, KPERS has an unfunded liability of $8 billion dollars. In terms of actuarial solvency, recent studies have shown Kansas to have the second worst state pension system in the United States, falling only behind Illinois.

Governor Brownback assigned the Kansas House of Representatives with defining the term ‘suitable education.’ Existing school finance law lacks clarity in this regard, and the Governor is asking us to determine what this term will define. It’s a decision that will have considerable impact on educational funding issues, and it will be one of the most challenging issues we face this session. I will be an active participant in this conversation serving on the Education Committee , and I’m confident we’ll find a reasonable solution.

Lt. Governor Colyer has been tasked with the restructuring of the state’s Medicaid program. A doctor himself, Colyer will be working with a sub-cabinet to review and recommend reform proposals to improve the quality of care for Kansans on Medicaid, control the costs of Medicaid, and make long-term improvements on the quality of health and wellness of Kansans.

Do you have any other ideas on reforming the Kansas government?

Bill Breakdown

These are bills that have been introduced and a brief description. I was a co-sponsor of HB 2035 and the Voter Identification bill.

House Bill 2035
House Bill 2035 was authored by Representative Lance Kinzer and already has over 60 co-sponsors in the House. The bill aims to restrict late term abortion procedures, expand parental consent requirements for minors seeking abortions and strengthens the state’s partial birth abortion law to where it better aligns with tighter federal law. This particular measure is a combination of legislation passed during prior sessions that was vetoed by democratic governors Sebelius and Parkinson.

Key provisions of HB 2035:

  • Requires a specific medical diagnosis for a late-term abortion to occur
  • Requires women seeking abortions to be provided with information that states they procedure will terminate the life of a human being
  • Allows for civil lawsuits against doctors who violate late-term abortion law
  • Mandates additional reporting of sex abuse evidence on minors wanting an abortion
  • Requires both parents of a minor to consent to an abortion if the minor comes from a stable home that shows no evidence of abuse
  • Clarifies when courts can bypass parental consent requirements

    House Bill 2039 – Smoking Ban
    Introduced on Wednesday, HB 2039 removes the gaming floor exemption found in the current statewide smoking ban. The current statewide smoking ban allows smoking on the gaming floor of racetrack and gaming facilities. HB 2039 has been referred to the House Health and Humans Services Committee for consideration.

    Voter Identification Legislation
    This week Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced his intention to introduce legislation that would require all voters to show photo identification before voting, require proof of citizenship when registering to vote, and extend the power to prosecute alleged cases of voter fraud to the Secretary of State’s office. Titled the SAFE Act (Safe and Fair Elections Act), the measure has over 35 co-sponsors in the House and is expected to be passed and signed into law by Governor Brownback.

    The measure would require Kansans to show a birth certificate, passport or other proof of citizenship when registering to vote. At the polls, voters would have to show government issued photo ID before casting their ballot. The Act would require voters who request an advance or mail-in ballot to include with the ballot application their driver’s license number or a photocopy of their ID.

    Opponents argue the measure is a modern day poll tax that disenfranchises the disabled, poor and elderly. In response, current provisions in the bill allow low-income Kansans to get a free ID or birth certificate if they reside in a household with an annual income of 150 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $33,000 for a family of four). For residents over the age of 65, an expired driver’s license or photo ID can be used in lieu of a current form of photo ID.

    Share your opinions with me!

    Upcoming Events
    I will continue to participate in the Legislative Forums hosted by Tim Owens (yet to be scheduled) as well as any other forums that I am invited to attend. As these events are planned, I will post them on my website as well as inform you in the weekly legislative update.

    4th Annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast
    hosted by Sunflower Republican Club
    Date: Saturday, February 19th
    Time: 9:30-11:30am
    Where: Shawnee First Watch
    Address: 11112 W 63rd

    Johnson County Republican Legislators will be in attendance to give an update on legislation and issues under consideration.

    2011 Legislative Breakfast Series
    hosted by the local Chambers of Commerce
    Date: Saturday, April 16th
    Time: 7:30am
    Where: Ritz Charles Overland Park
    Address: 9000 W 137th

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