2018 Session Update
Through rain, snow, storm, or promising spring-like temperatures, the Kansas Legislature carries on! The first half of the 2018 Legislative Session has been a whirlwind of activity. We watched former Governor Sam Brownback give his final State of the State address before leaving for his new position as International Religious Freedom Ambassador. We welcomed the 47th Governor of Kansas, Dr. Jeff Colyer, as well as several new agency heads and cabinet members. Finally, we have a new Lieutenant Governor: Tracey Mann.
Through all of the changes in leadership, I’ve been paying close attention to my committees and policy work. We’ve had several impactful bills come through the Federal and State Affairs Committee, Corrections and Juvenile Justice, and Judiciary committees.
Most notably, Federal and State Affairs has heard several bills pertaining to the lottery and gambling industries. We continue to work on these complex issues to best represent Kansans and encourage economic growth.
The Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee heard HB 2581, which would institute harsher penalties for those who engage in “swatting.” Swatting takes place when someone makes a call to law enforcement, SWAT, or other authorities requesting emergency assistance, when there is no assistance needed at all. Specifically, those who make these false calls usually request assistance at an address other than their own (could be completely random as well). I voted yes for harsher penalties. This bill will dissuade others from making these fake calls, save taxpayer dollars and resources, and save lives.
Early on in Judiciary Committee, we heard testimony on HB 2459, which makes changes to the Kansas Standard Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Act. This act was based on recommendations from the findings of the Judicial Council Advisory Committee. It makes several changes to the Civil Asset Forfeiture code in Kansas. I didn’t know much about this before this bill was introduced into our committee. I’ve done much research since then in order to better understand the situation. HB 2459 makes needed changes, but there’s still work to be done! It’s now been passed out of the House and is being discussed in the Senate.
In weeks past, the House debated HB 2042, a bill to increase firearms reciprocity with other states. In essence, it requires the State of Kansas to recognize all valid concealed carry licenses and permits issued by other states to non-Kansas residents. There were several amendments offered by representatives, including lowering the age of concealed carry (with a permit) to 18 years old instead of 21 years old. There was also an amendment that prohibits individuals from carrying a firearm on campus without first obtaining a concealed carry permit. The bill passed the House 76-44. While it certainly wasn’t perfect, it did have positive aspects that protected the Second Amendment, and I voted in the affirmative.
There has been a great deal of attention given to the unauthorized allocation of funds by the Kansas Department of Education. In order to prevent this from happening in the future and provide greater accountability into how our education tax dollars are spent, Senators Mary Pilcher Cook and Ty Masterson introduced legislation establishing the office of Education Inspector General. It’s been introduced to the Federal and State Affairs Committee and will be worked in the future.
We’re now on the other side of what’s known as Turnaround Week. Turnaround is the last day to consider non-exempt bills in the house of origin. Basically, this mean that House committees have finished hearing their bills and are now bringing them to debate on the House floor, then will send them on to the Senate. The Senate is doing the same and will be sending their bills over to the House.
It never slows down in Topeka, but that’s what I love about it. I’m honored to represent my district and get to see democracy in action. As always, please reach out! And check out my videos on my Facebook page.