News from Topeka- February 3, 2013
Neighborhood Concerns - Week Three Newsletter
Happy Birthday to Kansas! This week we passed our 152nd year as a state, and that was celebrated by the legislature continuing at a very past pace!

So far, over 200 bills have been introduced though most legislation is still in the committee process. Our goal of getting this session complete in just 80 days (10 less than the traditional 90) is keeping our days long as we focus on forwarding legislation to the floor.

Grinder’s Roadhouse
I have received a great deal of emails about the proposed location of Grinder’s Roadhouse which has requested a permit to locate at the 103rd and Pflumm location. This location previously housed the Stonewall Inn and the Coffee Bay. Many residents expressed their shock at just learning of this proposal and asked me to seek information to clarify the facts involved.

Here is the the applicable portion of the email response from my inquiry with the city of Lenexa:

Grinder’s Roadhouse has purchased the former Stonewall Inn property at 103rd/Pflumm and plan to open a restaurant, which is permitted under the existing zoning. They have also applied for a rezoning and special use permit for outdoor entertainment in order to be allowed to host outdoor events which are larger in scale and in frequency than would be permitted under existing zoning. They requested the ability hold up to 24 events per year, which could include benefits, musical acts, art shows, etc.

These applications were heard at the January 14 planning commission meeting and the planning commission recommended approval of them. The staff report for the meeting can be found by following this link. The Grinder’s report begins on page 72. These items will go to the Lenexa City Council meeting on February 12 for further action/possible approval. The Lenexa City Council has final approval of rezonings and special use permits.

The primary concern that I have heard from neighbors relates to the noise associated with the outdoor events, specifically musical acts. City staff is continuing to work with the applicant on the sound issues and will have additional information on this matter at or before the City Council meeting.
  • Concerns expressed to me by constituents in the northwest portion of District 16 specifically those in the precincts of Lenexa and those in the adjacent precinct of Overland Park include:
  • Proximity to residential neighborhoods impacting value of homes
  • Noise level during outdoor concerts
  • Increased traffic
  • Inadequate parking with overflow parking possibly impacting the residential neighborhoods directly across Pflumm.
  • Possibility of impaired drivers on 103rd St with the pool location and children in the vicinity.
  • The type of outdoor concerts. To see pictures from the downtown location of Grinder's, you can see a slideshow HERE.

Paycheck Protection
This week marked the passage of the first major piece of legislation – HB 2023, otherwise known as the Paycheck Protection Act, which was adopted 68-56 and now moves to the Senate.

I received a great deal of correspondence on this issue with most of it coming from outside the district. There was some confusion and misinformation about the legislation’s contents, which is to simply ban state or other units of government from making payroll deductions for members of public sector unions for the purpose of contributing to the union’s political action committee. For purpose of simple clarification:
  • Dues for membership in an employee organization (union) will still be able to be processed through a paycheck deduction.
  • Contributions to a political action committee (PAC) will not be allowed through a paycheck deduction.
  • The language that restrains political activity for a public employee organization is not new law. That language was expanded.
  • Political activity such as endorsements and contributions would be prohibited from the public employee organization which it is already prohibited from doing.
  • Endorsements, political contributions to candidates, and other participation in engaging in ballot measures are to be from the Political Action Committee arm and not the organization arm.
Some misinformation that I have seen:
  • The bill does not stop any employee organization from being involved in lobbying for or against legislation. It does not stop individual employees from advocating for or against legislation.
  • Other organizations are unable to contribute to candidates or endorse candidates except through a PAC. This is very common. It is usually a federal tax issue that is involved. Most organizations have an educational and lobbying wing which is separate financially and by tax filings from the political action committee wing which endorses and financially supports candidate.
  • No individual’s first amendment right is restricted. Individuals always can speak out.
My husband is a member of a public employee organization. This bill will not stop his dues being paid by paycheck deduction. This bill does not impact in any way his ability to advocate for or against an issue or legislation. It does not stop his organization from lobbying on legislation before the Legislature. It will only stop our family from contributing to a political action committee by way of a paycheck deduction.

I voted Yes on 2013. It is inappropriate for the state or any unit of government to be in the business of making payroll deductions for political purposes.

Judicial Reform
Over in the Senate, our colleagues passed SCR 1601, a constitutional amendment which would reform the way our judges are selected by a vote of 28-12. This issue now moves to the House. If the House passes it, it will be forwarded to the people for a vote.

If adopted by the people of Kansas, the amendment would create a system similar to the federal model, where the governor would nominate the person of their choice. The nominee would be subject to Senate confirmation. SB 8, companion legislation, would create an independent review board to aid the Senate in their evaluations.

This reform would be an important step bringing transparency and accountability to the selection of this branch of government which currently has little. I look forward to debating this legislation when it is brought up on the House floor.

The budget is in the very early stages of being crafted with subcommittees receiving proposed budgets from various government agencies. The budgets will be based on priorities, so we can fund what needs to be funded while eliminating programs that aren’t meeting expectations. Within the next couple of weeks, this process will intensify as these budgets are presented and discussed. As Vice-Chair of the Education Budget Committee, the process of hearing different budgets and sending them on the full Appropriations Committee begins this week.

Education Committee Field Trip
This week, the House and Senate Education Committees took a “field trip” to two schools – one in Oklahoma City and another in Walton, Kansas. We learned about a technology education program at the school in Oklahoma City as well as how the state of Oklahoma conducts its career and tech ed program, and we visited the Walton Rural Life Center, a K-4 agriculture based charter school. We left Topeka a little after 7am Friday morning and returned that evening at almost 10pm.

You can learn more about the Francis Tuttle Technology Center by clicking HERE. You can learn more about the Walton Rural Life Center by watching this VIDEO.

If you are following our progress in Topeka, it might be helpful to know the various terms frequently used by legislators during our debate:

State General Fund (SGF) – The SGF is composed of taxes and is spent at the discretion of the legislature. In FY 2010 the SGF budget was $5.2 billion.

All Funds – The All Funds budget is comprised of federal funds, fee funds and state highway funds. The FY 2010 was $14 billion.

All Other Funds – The All Other Funds budget originates with government agencies or entities often through fees such as a cosmetology license fee fees collected. The Legislature has increasingly swept revenue from these fee funds to fill budget gaps.

Division Vote – If the chair is in doubt regarding a voice vote during General Orders, he will instruct the clerk to open the voting boards so individual votes can be counted. This is a division vote and is not recorded. In order to ensure that the vote is not recorded, the audience in the gallery is not allowed to take pictures of the voting boards or chamber during division votes. A division vote can also be requested by any legislator.

Roll Call Vote - A division vote that is recorded permanently. To initiate a roll call vote, a member asks and the chair must see 15 members raise their hands.

Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP) – This is the figure that is most often discussed by the education community and media. It is the base amount allocated for each student in Kansas. However, the BSAPP is multiplied by various weightings, such as the “at-risk pupil weighting,” to determine how much money the school district will actually receive. BSAPP does not fully reflect the state’s level of K-12 funding. Combined federal, state and local per pupil aid in 2013 is $12,734.

If you have questions about any other terminology or process, just ask. I will let you know!

Communicating With Amanda
As always, I will continue to update you via Social Media on an almost daily basis. You can "like" Facebook and "follow" Twitter from my website. You can also see the feeds from both Facebook and Twitter there. In addition, each newsletter is posted on the website, so you can always read past newsletters if you have missed one.

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