Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich
We have now finished the 5th week of the Legislative Session of 2019.  We are busy moving bills through committees and holding hearings.  If we have a hearing and the bill is voted out of committee, then the bill will go to the House and may be debated and voted on at some point.  All bills have to be approved by leadership and placed “above the Line” on our House General Orders for us to actually debate the bill and cast a vote.  This past week marked the last week for bill introductions (there are a few exceptions). February 28th, also known as Turnaround Day, is an important day as bills are required to have passed the Chamber where they were introduced so they may be sent to the other Chamber for review. Bills that have not passed their Chamber of Origin die, or may absorbed into other legislation. It has often been said that bad legislation never really dies – it just finds a new host!

At the Capitol

I am always so pleased when advocacy groups stop by the office to visit with me about their initiatives.  I met with a group who were visiting legislators in support of the Kansas Alzheimer’s Association.  We are one of the few states that do not have a formal, approved State Alzheimer/Dementia Plan.  The Children and Seniors Committee members are working on this and I am very supportive.

This past week was Higher Education Day at the Capitol and two lovely young ladies stopped by to advocate for restoring Higher Education funding and other areas of concern, such as more access to Mental Health Services on campus for students. Their concerns were very valid and I enjoyed visiting with them.  These articulate students were both juniors from Kansas State University and Washburn University. 

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America flooded the Capitol last Thursday and stopped by my office to share their concerns about felons possessing guns and those who have a history of mental illness being able to purchase firearms.  They have several priorities which we visited about during their time in the office.  One topic I would like to share with you can be found on their web-site:
When children find unsecured guns, the results can be tragic. Every 36 hours, a child unintentionally fires a gun and kills or injures himself or someone else. And that doesn’t include the number of suicides–and even some homicides–that occur when kids have access to unsecured guns. The Be SMART campaign asks parents and all responsible adults to prevent these tragedies by following five simple steps: Secure guns in homes and vehicles; Model responsible behavior around guns; Ask about the presence of guns in other homes; Recognize the risks of teen suicide; and Tell your peers to Be SMART. Since 2015, Moms Demand Action volunteers have been spreading the message about responsible storage in their communities.



I had three pages from Washburn Rural Middle School on Wednesday, Feb. 13th.  They had a great time at the Capitol, including taking a tour of the dome!  One of their parents generously took us all to lunch and had his picture taken with all of us and the Governor!  Thank you to Tom Bruno (the dad), Jada Ingram, Hayden McWilliams, and Ava Bruno for spending the day with me.  I enjoyed it tremendously!

House Education Committee

Dyslexia Task Force Report

On Wednesday, a Joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees was held to hear the Dyslexia Task Force Report.  The Task Force was created in 2018 Sub. for HB 2602, a bill crafted and worked by the 2018 House Education Committee.  The Task Force met five times during the 2018 Interim.  I was the Vice-Chair of this Committee.

Some of the recommendations are listed below. KSBE is the Kansas State Board of Education:

- KSBE should require every accredited school district to screen and identify students at risk of dyslexia or demonstrating the characteristics of dyslexia;

 - KSBE should amend the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation model to require districts to implement a rigorous tiered system of supports subject to external review;

- KSBE should provide recommendations to districts on appropriate screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring tools.

- KSBE should require each accredited school district to utilize structured literacy as the evidence-based approach to teaching literacy skills to all students and promote early intervention for students with characteristics of dyslexia.

- KSBE should ensure school districts are made aware of information concerning structured literacy training and information currently available from the Kansas Technical Assistance System Network

- KSBE should direct the creation of a dyslexia handbook for use by schools in Kansas. The creation of the handbook should involve input from a broad array of stakeholders;

- KSBE should identify a dyslexia coordinator within the State Department of Education
This week’s agenda in House Education Committee. 

We will hear the following bills:
HB2233 — Requiring school districts to provide a stipend for teachers to purchase classroom supplies.   $500.

HB2183  — Requiring a computer science course for high school graduation.

HB2330 — Policies and procedures to prohibit and investigate bullying

K-12 Budget Committee

This committee will hold hearings on the following bills:

HB2257 – Requirements for school district bullying policies; specifically the investigation of complaints

HB2108 – Authorizing school districts to expend at-risk funds on evidence- based learning programs.

HB 2150 – Enacting the Kansas Hope Scholarship Act (transferring public school dollars to private schools)

Financial Institutions and Pensions

On Thursday, February 14th, the House considered HB 2197, which would re-amortize KPERS for thirty years. It’s like refinancing your home mortgage for 30 years in order to reduce your payment, when you only have 15 years left on your first mortgage.  You will end up paying a significant amount of interest over the next 30 years.  That  is not a prudent long-term strategy for our state because our interest payments would be in the billions of dollars.
The bill received a public hearing in the Financial Institutions and Pensions Committee and opportunity was provided to debate and amend the bill.   The rules were suspended in the committee, and the bill was voted on the same day it was heard in order to get it to the floor of the House for debate.  The process was expedited because of the crucial nature of this component of the Governor’s budget.
The bill was debated and subsequently defeated on a vote of 87 against and 36 in favor, which effectively kills the bill.  All Republicans voted against advancing the bill and they were joined by four Democrat colleagues. Supporting re-amortization would extend the time KPERS is not fully funded by 15 years and leave a debt legacy of $7.4 billion.  The general consensus was that our higher priority was to pay down debt (not incur more) and not increase KPERS’s unfunded liability.
We expect to hold hearings on several more bills in Financial Institutions and Pensions this week.  At this point in time we have scheduled:

HB2203 – Exempting STARBASE employees from KPERS working after retirement provisions

HB2140 – Allowing KBI agents to participate in the Kansas DROP Act.

Military and Veterans Affairs

We have already passed out several bills.  This week we will have a briefing on military service organizations.

Continuing Budget Work

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee heard the Governor’s Supplemental Budget bill, HB 2121.  Appropriation adjustments to the current approved budget for FY 19 include $9.3 million SGF for a one-time payment to the federal government for debt setoff settlement agreement; $2.2 million SGF for the KanCare Clearinghouse; $6 million for revenue shortfalls at the four State Hospitals (Osawatomie, Larned, Kansas Neurological Institute, and Parsons); and $1.4 million SGF for medical contract funding in the Department of Corrections.  Additionally, the Supplemental bill reflects caseload adjustments.

Additionally, the Governor added language replacing current law on the Budget Stabilization Fund, modifying how deposits and withdrawals would be made to the Fund.  She also set up a deposit/withdrawal arrangement for a Debt Repayment Fund.  The Governor’s Supplemental bill also pays the Pooled Money Investment Board loan in full, eliminating planned transfers to pay the interest-free loan off in FY 20-FY 24.  The Governor also eliminates the transfer from the SGF to the KPERS Trust Fund of up to $56 million if SGF receipts are above the April consensus estimates.

The other budget bill, the Mega bill, is HB 2122.  The House Appropriations Committee has begun the process of considering Budget Committee recommendations this week.  Those recommendations and any changes made by the Appropriations Committee will eventually become a budget bill for consideration by the House.  The last of the Budget Committee reports will be made to Appropriations on March 13.  The budget bill will be finalized in Appropriations after that date.

Bills Introduced

During the week of February 11th – February 15th, there were a total of 134 House Bills introduced as of Friday February 15th.  Additionally, two House Concurrent Resolutions were introduced. Click here to view all introduced legislation in the House:

Reminder of Dates

Monday, February 25th  Last day for non-exempt committees to meet.
Thursday, February 28th Turnaround – Last day to consider non-exempt bills in house of origin.
March 27th
Last day to consider non-exempt bills not in originating chamber.
April 5th
Drop Dead Day.  No bills considered after this date except bills vetoed by the Governor or Omnibus Appropriations bills.
May 1st
Veto Session begins.
May 17th
Day 90.

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 165-W State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, KS     6612

Contact Brenda

Room 165-W
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66610
Phone: 785 296-7648
Email Brenda

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