News from Topeka- Week 3
January 31, 2011

It is amazing how fast time passes. We have now completed three weeks in this session and have begun the fourth. Last week we celebrated the 150th anniversary of Kansas’ statehood. Amongst the ceremony at the Capitol, something that I felt was very special was the singing of "Home on the Range" on the House floor. Did you and your family participate in any celebrations on the 150th birthday of our great state?

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

Reflections on Week 3

The Budget
The main focus of this session continues to be addressing the $550 million state budget deficit and repairing the Kansas economy. The first step in addressing the budget comes in the form of House Bill 2014 which freezes the state budget for the 2011 fiscal year. The bill, as presented by Governor Brownback, makes approximately $120 million in cuts, orders several funding transfers and would create a $35 million surplus in the State General Fund for this fiscal year. This week the House Appropriations Committee held hearings and began working on amendments to HB 2014. Look for the bill to make its way out of committee soon and onto the House floor for a full vote sometime in the next week.

Simultaneously, the Senate is working on its own version of the budget bill through a similar process. Once the House and Senate pass their respective versions of the budget, three representatives from the House and three from the Senate will meet in a “conference committee” to negotiate differences and agree on the final budget bill. This product returns to the House and Senate for each chamber’s vote of approval. If passed by both, the budget finally makes its way to the governor for his signature or veto.

Arts Commission Funding
Many constituents have contacted me to express their concern over the restructuring of the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC). As we continue to face astounding revenue declines we must find a way to restructure government while focusing on providing essential services. In this pursuit, we must ultimately determine whether programs under consideration preserve a “core function” of government. To provide an example, with the amount of money saved by restructuring KAC, we would keep 60 developmentally disabled children on our state wavier program – providing them the care they desperately need.

The Governor’s plan to restructure the commission as a non-profit is a viable option. The State of Vermont has successfully adopted a non-profit structure for their arts commission and several other states are contemplating similar proposals. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which provides federal funding for the KAC, has threatened that federal money may not be available as a result of this action. However, the enabling legislation for the NEA has also been thoroughly reviewed and no requirement for state funding to match federal funding has been found.

While this will continue to be an issue of concern, please rest assured that I am committed to ensuring the arts do not suffer. After carefully reviewing the situation, I am confident that the restructuring of the KAC will allow the commission to remain whole.

National Credit Solutions Scam

This week Attorney General Derek Schmidt warned of a new scam from an organization calling itself National Credit Solutions. The reported scam contacts individuals by mail or telephone to inform them they owe late fees to Hollywood Video. Most of those contacted have not owed fees to Hollywood Video.

If you receive a call or mail from National Credit Solutions please consider reporting it to the Consumer Protection Division in the Office of the Attorney General at 1(800) 432-2310 or www.ksag.org.

Committee Notes

Education
Tweaks to the funding formula have been one of topics heard in the Education Committee. These suggestions were derived from the Interim Education Committee. The basic changes should create a revenue neutral situation. One change if passed would make slight adjustments to create a linear transition to the high density at risk weighting. This would keep wide variances in this weighting funding to be found from year to year.

Federal and State Affairs
This committee held a hearing on the late-term abortion/parental consent bill. Upcoming hearing include a bill to repeal in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

Local Government
We are set to hear testimony on a bill on licensure qualification of pawnbrokers and precious metal dealers.

Keep updated with the Legislature's website!

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

Contacts Me
Please feel free to contact me! I look forward to the feedback that you supply and your views on the issues before us.

Office phone: 785-296-7659
Legislative email: amanda.grosserode@house.ks.gov
Facebook: Amanda Grosserode
Twitter: amanda4kansas

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