Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich

What’s Happening

Monday, Feb. 4th will be the 22nd day of the 2019 Session and things are still moving at a slow pace in the House.  We are continuing to have informational meetings and some bills are being introduced in Committees, with a few hearings being scheduled.  Those bills will have to make it through the Committee process before we will see them on the floor of the House.


Thank you to Andrew and David Holman from Washburn Rural Middle School who spent time with me on January 30th as Pages!  We had a great time and they learned quite a bit about the Capitol, including a tour of the dome!  Their parents, Chris and April Holman, joined us for a picture with the Governor.

Kansas Teacher of the Year

It was my honor to introduce the Kansas Teacher of the Year Team to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, January 29th.  This is a team of outstanding educators who believe in the power of public education to make a positive difference in the lives of their students.  In the course of their careers, they have left a lasting impact on the lives of the thousands of students they have taught, and on the communities in which they teach.

The Kansas Teacher of the Year and seven Regional Teachers of the Year were recognized when the House adopted HR 6005 to honor these distinguished educators.  The 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year is Whitney Morgan, a high school English Language Arts/English for Other Language Learners teacher from Kansas City USD 500.  The Regional Teachers of the Year are: Jennifer Brown, Geary County USD 475; Megan Clark, De Soto USD 232; Signe Cook, Great Bend USD 428; Nicole Corn, Lawrence USD 497; Lan Huynh, Wichita USD 259; Sharon Kuchinski, Leavenworth USD 453; and T.J. Warsnak, Halstead-Bentley USD 440.

That same afternoon, the recipients appeared before a Joint Committee of House and Senate Education Committees and shared more about who they are and their teaching experiences.

Keeping in Touch

Eggs and Issues

I attended the “Eggs and Issues” breakfast with members of the Shawnee County Delegation  at the Pozez Education Center, Stormont Vail hosted by the Shawnee County Medical Society at 7:00 a.m. on January 29th . The purpose was to share our thoughts on the legislative session and to answer questions and listen to the thoughts and opinions of the physicians and hospital administrators who were present.  It was an honest and open discussion and I appreciated the opportunity to hear from the Medical Society members.

The Kansas Chapter, American College of Surgeons Advocacy Day was held on Wednesday, January 30th.  It was my pleasure to visit with Dr. Jim Hamilton and his group of young surgeons who stopped by my office to advocate for issues of importance to their organization. I am always interested in the concerns of my constituents and how I might assist them in promoting their initiatives.

On Friday, Feb. 1st, I had the opportunity to meet with Dana Book, the Parent Engagement Coordinator with the Kansas Children’s Service League, and his group of parent advocates. February is National Parent Leadership Month and they attended a proclamation signing by Governor Kelly that morning.  I spent some time with them talking about how they might want to prepare to engage with policy makers when they visit about issues that will likely impact parents all across our state.

Leadership Greater Topeka, class of 2019 spent the morning at the Capitol on Friday and Representative Fred Patton and I were invited to have lunch with them and talk about our experiences in the Legislature and answer questions from the class.  I was in the LGT Class of 2004 and Rep. Patton was in the LGT Class of 2005.  Many of my classmates have gone on to run for elective office in Topeka and Shawnee County.  It was our pleasure to spend time with these young leaders and we encouraged them to get involved in their community even if it means stepping outside of their comfort zone!


House K-12 Budget Committee

K-12 Mental Health Pilot Program Update:  On Wednesday, the House K-12 Education Budget Committee received an update on the Mental Health Pilot Program.  The program originated in 2018 SB 423 and 2018 SB 61 and reflects a collaboration between the education and mental health communities, particularly the Community Mental Health Centers.  Approximately $10 million was appropriated to provide for school districts in the pilot to hire social worker/liason staff to work with Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC)  and school counselors to provide mental health services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for students in crisis.  It also paid for uninsured/underinsured students to receive services and for a student data collection program.

The Committee heard from KSDE and three liaisons working in the schools who help coordinate assessments and treatment services for children in the USDs in this pilot program.  The liaisons were from Abilene USD 435/Solomon USD 393, Herington USD 487/Chapman USD 473, and Kansas City Kansas USD 500.  The other districts in the pilot are Topeka USD 501, Garden City USD 457, Parsons USD 503, and Wichita USD 259.  The general consensus was that this pilot is doing an excellent job providing mental health services for students and is capable of being replicated in other districts throughout the state.
House Education Committee

I am fortunate to be Vice-Chair of this committee.  We are having informational meetings and collecting feedback on programs we fund all across Kansas.  On Wednesday the committee will be hearing from Andrew Hysell on the Reading Roadmap initiative and on Thursday we will celebrate JAG-K Jobs for America’s Graduates at the Capitol and have a presentation from Chuck Knapp and others on the success of this program. 
Financial Institutions and Pensions

This committee meets two days each week and we will be having hearings on the following bills this week:

HB2031 — Amending the definition of "service-connected" in the Kansas police and firemen's retirement system.
HB2099 — Affiliation with the Kansas police and firemen's retirement system by the Kansas department of wildlife, parks and tourism for membership of certain law enforcement officers and employees.

Veterans and Military

We have introduced several bills in this committee and will be holding hearings on the following bills this week:

HB2007 — Creating the United States army, navy, air force, marine corps, and coast guard veteran license plates.

HB2037 — Relating to the veterans benefit lottery games, creating the veterans benefit lottery game fund and transferring moneys to Veterans service programs.

Of Interest in Other Committees

Federal and State Affairs: Sports Betting in Kansas

Wednesday morning, the Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony on HB 2032, which would require that any sports gambling authorized by the Kansas Lottery be conducted exclusively at racetrack gaming facilities.  This bill was sponsored by Rep. Stan Frownfelter (D-Kansas City), who was also the sole proponent.  Additionally, testimony was presented on HB 2068, a bill that would create the Sports Wagering Act.  Essentially, this would legalize sports betting through the Kansas Lottery.  The Lottery would able to conduct and operate sports betting itself and would be allowed to do so by entering into a contract with lottery vendors and racetrack facilities.  As the bill is written, 0.25% of the total amount wagered is paid to the appropriate “sports governing body” (MLB, NBA, NFL, etc.).  6.75% of the total amount wagered minus what is paid to the governing body will then be deposited into either the Sports Wagering Receipts Fund, or the Lottery Operating Fund.  No action has taken place on either of these bills.

Chairman John Barker (R-Abilene) appointed a subcommittee to study sports wagering, specifically to examine the logistics of sports betting mobile apps, and to also assess how much governing bodies ought to receive from sports betting earnings.  Dates for this subcommittee have yet to be determined.
House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee

Secretary of State—Prosecutorial Authority:  This session two bills have been introduced regarding removal of the authority of the Secretary of State to prosecute election crimes.  HB 2018 and HB 2042 were heard in the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee this week.  The Secretary of State’s Office supported the removal of prosecutorial authority.  On Wednesday, the Committee worked HB 2042, a bill requested by the Attorney General.  The Committee adopted one amendment to clarify that the Secretary of State would forward information about elections crimes to both the Attorney General and County/District Attorneys, no longer using an “or.”  The Committee recommended the bill favorably for passage, as amended.

Floor Action

HB 2035—Providing uniformity in the issuance of citations for violations of the Kansas cereal malt beverage act by ABC  This bill would update statute language and bring uniformity to the enforcement of statutes concerning the sale of liquor.
Final Action, 122-0
Bill was passed unanimously, via the Consent Calendar

This Week’s Highlights

Monday, February 4:
  • 3:30 p.m. – Briefing on the Kansas Mental Health Taskforce, Social Services Budget Committee
Tuesday, February 5:
  • 3:30 p.m. – Briefing on sales tax exemptions, Tax Committee
Thursday, February 7:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Briefing on the State of the Oil and Gas Industry, Utilities Committee
  • Milken Award winning teacher, Linda Dishman, from Berryton Elementary in Shawnee Heights will be honored in the House and Senate.

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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