Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich
The month of March is very busy at the Capitol and always interesting!  Many bills are moving through committees and headed to the floor of the House.  Just as a reminder, last year the House introduced 434 bills and the Senate introduced 254 bills.  At the end of the session, only 58 bills were passed by both chambers.

Before we get to the action on the House floor…..….I wanted to share some great things that I have been involved in this month.

I had a 16-yr. old Foreign Exchange Student from Germany who is currently attending Washburn Rural High School this semester, shadow me a couple of weeks ago.  She had a great time watching the political process from the floor of the House!!  Thank you, Marlene Remberg, for your interest in our state government!!

It was my pleasure to host three pages from Smoky Valley Middle School in Lindsborg, Kansas recently!  One of those pages sitting in the Speaker’s Chair for a “selfie” is my niece, Hope Duncan, and her classmates, Mackenzie Heline and Jordyn Elseth.  They had a great day touring the Capitol and paging for the House!

I was honored to receive the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers, Topeka Chapter, at a luncheon at Bartlett and West.  I truly appreciate the recognition and opportunity to visit with local engineers, students, and teachers.

Indian Hills Elementary School in the Auburn-Washburn School District is celebrating its 30th Anniversary!  It opened in 1988 and several former staff members and administrators returned for a dinner celebration on Friday, March 9th at the school.  The picture above is of (left to right), Principal Vic Dyck who opened the building, current Superintendent Dr. Scott McWilliams, me (Superintendent for 14 years until 2015), former Superintendent Howard Shuler (Superintendent for 19 years, retiring in 2001) current Principal of Indian Hills Heather Calvert who also attended Indian Hills as a student, and former principal of Indian Hills Dr. Jim McDaniel.  It was a fun-filled evening of reminiscing, good food, and wonderful company.

At the Capitol

After the Kansas Leadership Center training in Wichita in December of 2016 for new legislators, we decided to form a bi-partisan Freshman Caucus whose goals would be to keep lines of communication open, provide a mechanism for collaboration, and to learn as much as we could about issues confronting the legislature in an unbiased, non- partisan manner.  We jokingly characterized it as a Dragnet approach to learning ...."Just the facts, Ma'am".   There were several topics folks wanted to learn more about as quickly as finance....political process/rules…..history of the Capitol....etc. We were honored to have our new Governor, Jeff Colyer, be our final guest.  You may have seen the article in the Capitol Journal, but it was a wonderful opportunity for us to learn more about his initiatives.

Last week, the Republican Leadership in the House crafted the Kansas Safe and Secure Schools Act  HB 2773.  I was asked to help present the importance of this Act at a press conference held to explain the general idea, which is a comprehensive approach to school safety by ensuring coordination with schools and local law enforcement to improve school security infrastructure. The Kansas State Board of Education and other agencies will develop state-wide standards for all school buildings.  It will also establish the Safe and Secure Grant Program with funds that can be used for improvements to any facet of the school safety and security plan, including infrastructure (such as reinforced doors or additional security cameras) and training.

We had a great group of women in the Capitol on International Women’s Day 2018!  There were Junior League members from Topeka and Wichita who spend some time with Senator Vicki Schmidt, Rep. Brenda Landwehr and me talking about life as a legislator and initiatives we were working on that impacted our children and families.  What an engaged and talented group of young women from across our state!

We had a lot of activity at the Capitol in the Rotunda with our Parents as Teachers educators and their families!  Thanks to all of the children, parents, and PAT educators who joined us…..especially the PAT educators from USD 437 and 450!! Such an invaluable program for our state!!

School Finance Up-date

This topic will become a high priority shortly. On Friday, March 16th there will be a joint meeting of the House K-12 Education Budget Committee and Senate Select Committee on Education Finance to hear a presentation from the Senate’s attorney, Jeff King and the House’s attorney, Curtis Tideman on  Dr. Lori Taylor’s Cost Study which was commissioned by the Legislative Coordinating Council.  The meeting will be at 1:00 p.m. in Room  346-S at the Capitol. We expect any significant work on the major part of the school budget will be postponed until after all of this information has been analyzed and digested. Until then, the K-12 Budget Committee will deal with other parts of the school budget, such as special education. Again, we expect that K-12 funding will be addressed under its own appropriations bill before the rest of our state budget is finalized.  Things could change, of course, but this is the best guess of process, so far!

In an interesting development, a group of state university students has petitioned the Kansas Supreme Court to be a part of the school finance case. They contend the court has given no consideration to the impact spending on K-12 education will have on the state’s ability to fund higher education. The students suggest that over the last ten years, Kansas college students have faced skyrocketing tuition, shorter academic terms, and shrinking faculties.

This Weeks Highlights

  • Monday March 12: House Judiciary Committee: Hearings on: SB 281Protection orders for human trafficking victims under the protection from stalking, sexual assault or human trafficking act and SB 309 Providing for the disposition of judicial branch docket fees in FY 2020 and FY 2021: 3:30, Rm 112-N
  • Tuesday March 13: House Federal and State Affairs Committee: Hearing on: SB 307Amendments to the Kansas amusement ride act concerning home-owned amusement rides and agri-tourism activities: 9:00, Rm 346-S
  • Tuesday March 13: House K-12 Education Budget Committee: Hearing on: HB2445Amending the Kansas school equity and enhancement act regarding local option budget provisions, certain weightings, capital outlay expenditures and repealing provisions of the CLASS act: 1:30, Rm 346-S
  • Wednesday March 14: House Health and Human Services Committee: Hearing on: SB 312 Licensure of dental therapists: 1:30, Rm 546-S
  • Wednesday March 14: House Agriculture Committee: Hearing on: SB 263Creating a program to research the use of industrial hemp: 3:30, Rm 582-N
  • Wednesday March 14: House Taxation Committee: Hearings on: HB 2569Concerning income taxation; doubling the standard deduction for tax year 2018 and all tax years thereafter and HB 2761Allowing an individual to itemize deductions in Kansas despite not itemizing on their federal return: 3:30, Rm 346-S
  • Wednesday March 14: General Orders, Session 11 A.M.
    • HB2516-Providing immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle related to the rescue of a person or animal.
    • HB2527-Creating the crime of unlawful acts involving automated sales suppression devices.
    • SB335- Including savings and loan associations and savings banks in the state banking code and repealing the savings and loan code. 
  • Thursday March 15: General Orders, Session 11 A.M.
    • HB2421- Enacting a sales tax exemption for sales of currency, certain coins or bullion.
    • HB2489- Apportionment of corporate income under the multistate tax compact; election.
    • HB2719- Amending the definition of "service-connected" for the KP&F retirement system.
  • Friday March 16: General Orders, Session 11 A.M.
    • SB275-Relating to mid-term appointments of credit union council members.
Schedule is tentative and subject to change

Reminder of Dates

Thursday, March 29th Last day to consider non-exempt bills not in originating chamber.
Friday, April 6th Drop Dead Day.  No bills considered after this date except bills vetoed by the Governor or Omnibus Appropriations bills.
Thursday, April 26th Veto Session begins.
Friday, May 4th Day 90.
To view a complete list and status of all pending legislation for the 2018 session, visit this site:

Contact Me

If you have any questions about the activities in my committees or want to share your views on any of the issues before the legislature, please feel free to email me or call my office.
Representative Brenda S. Dietrich
Room 166-W State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-7648

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Contact Brenda

Room 166-W
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66610
Phone: 785 296-7648
Email Brenda

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