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Mark's Musings - 2018 Legislative Session
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March 24, 2019
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Legislation in Progress!


Hearings about funding and policy issues moved a great deal of legislation forward during the past few weeks.
 

Education

The K-12 Education Budget Committee conducted hearings on HB 2395, which addresses funding and a number of education policies. Ultimately, the committee divided the bill into HB 2395, which contains the funding, and Substitute for SB 16, which contains the policy pieces.
HB 2395 provides an inflation adjustment for two years rather than the four years suggested by the Kansas Supreme Court, and it contains supplemental appropriations for the Department of Education for FY 2019 and FY 2020, based on the governor’s recommendations. It also includes appropriations for:
  • The ACT, an entrance exam that most colleges and universities use to make admissions decisions; and ACT Workkeys, a skills assessment for those interested in or currently working for employers that place emphasis on the National Career Readiness Certificate.
  • Professional development that will prepare elementary-school teachers to identify dyslexia and recommended effective reading interventions.
  • Teach for America, which finds leaders who commit to expanding education opportunity, beginning with at least two years teaching in an under-resourced public school.
  • ABC, an early childhood intervention pilot program that builds a strong foundation for future learning. It prioritizes children from low-income families, children with development disabilities or delays, and children who have experienced homelessness, abuse or trauma.
  • Continuation of safe schools grants that help administrators identify and implement safety initiatives.
Other aspects of the bill include:
  • New weighting for behavioral health intervention, which expands the 2018 mental health intervention team pilot program. As you may know, weighting is an equitable way to distribute supplemental funds for school budgets. A baseline per-student amount is set, and additional funding — or “weights” — is added to align with how schools address specific student needs.
  • Extension of the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia for an additional two years, with one meeting per year.  
  • Amendments to current law regarding school transportation requirements. Under the bill, school districts would be required to provide transportation to students living fewer than 2.5 miles from their school if there is no safe pedestrian route and if there is no additional cost to the district to provide that transportation.
As currently written, there are items in both bills that cause me concern. My goal is to settle the lawsuit so we can focus on other areas of state government that need our attention.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed education funding bill with a vote of 32-8, which includes the governor’s recommendations, with no policy modifications.

Medicaid Expansion

March 20, the House passed a Medicaid expansion plan with a 69-54 vote. The plan is projected to provide access to health-care coverage for an additional 130,000 low-income Kansans and unlock nearly $1 billion per year in federal funding. The plan also sets a premium of $25 per month per person, up to $100 per month per family. This additional revenue will aid in providing the state’s share of expansion funding. I support the current plan, which now goes to the Senate for consideration.
 

Taxes

With a 24-16 vote, the Senate concurred with changes the House made to SB 22. Those changes reduce the food sales tax and require online retailers to collect sales tax, thereby leveling the playing field with brick-and-mortar stores. SB 22 is now on Governor Kelly’s desk. She will have 10 days after receiving it to either sign the bill, allow it to become law without her signature or veto it.
 

CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil

HB 2244, titled Claire and Lola’s Law, was heard in the House Judiciary Committee March 12. The bill provides an affirmative defense for Kansas citizens who use CBD oil with 5 percent or less of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active ingredient in cannabis) to help control seizures associated with a debilitating medical condition.

The bill does not legalize THC or marijuana, nor does it allow the sale, production or distribution of CBD oil in Kansas; our residents would have to purchase it in another state and bring it back to Kansas for personal use. Further, the bill requires that any CBD oil purchased in another state for use in Kansas must be free of plant material and be tested by a third-party, independent laboratory.

I introduced the bill on behalf of a family in Benton who have a son and two daughters, Claire and Lola. The girls were born with serious medical problems and have endured 20-30 seizures per day. Sadly, Claire passed away a few days before Christmas 2018 at age 17. Lola continues to suffer.

During an unusually lengthy hearing, approximately 30 people spoke or provided written testimony in support of the bill. The Benton family, Gwen and Scott Hartley, gave testimony and were interviewed by KWCH-TV in Wichita. Here is a link to their story: https://www.kwch.com/content/news/Couple-behind-bill-allowing-THC-CBD-oil-for-medical-treatment-attends-hearing-in-Topeka-507067421.html

The bill’s main opponents were Dr. Eric Voth, a Topeka physician who specializes in addiction treatment, the KBI and the lobbyist representing the Kansas Chiefs of Police, the Kansas Sheriffs Association and the Kansas Peace Officers Association. They believe this law is a back-door attempt to legalize marijuana.

As the author of the bill, legalization is not my intent. I testified about how I became involved with the effort and about my many conversations with Rep. Mike Ball, the Alabama legislator who introduced a similar bill that passed unanimously in that state’s House. Rep. Ball, formerly an Alabama Highway Patrol officer and Alabama Bureau of Investigation major crimes investigator, reminded me several times that “these children are not criminals.” Allen Peake, a former state representative from Georgia, flew in for the hearing to speak specifically about a similar bill enacted in that state.

Families such as the Hartleys want to provide some legal relief and quality of life for their children. Some drugs, such as Epidiolex, currently are available by prescription for two uncommon forms of seizures. A 3.4-ounce bottle of Epidiolex costs $1,298 — unaffordable for many families. A similar-sized bottle of CBD oil with low THC would cost about $200.
 
The bill has passed out of the House Judiciary committee and awaits floor debate. It’s time we allow options for families with children who suffer debilitating medical conditions and who crave relief from constant seizures and pain.

Electric Rate Study

SB 69 was heard in the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee March 19. The bill, which passed the Senate, results from an agreement between the state’s electric utilities (investor-owned, co-ops and municipals) and a group of industrial customers and lobbyists that wants to lower electric rates in our state.
 
This will be the third “study” of electric rates in Kansas. Earlier this year — just weeks ago — the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), which exists to protect the interests of residential and small commercial utility ratepayers, issued a comprehensive review of Kansas electric rates and why they currently are higher than in neighboring states. The answers were straightforward. Our rates currently are higher because Kansas already has invested — wisely, I think — in new transmission lines, updated emission-control equipment at coal-powered generating plants, and renewables and natural gas-fired power plants, such as the Emporia Energy Center.
 
The study contemplated by SB 69 will look at many different cost aspects of electric generation and transmission, but it ignores what always has been ratepayers’ No. 1 priority — reliability. It seems to me that focusing only on costs is like focusing only on the price of your car tires while ignoring how those tires might work. As my father told me often, “You get what you pay for.”
 
There is no cap on the cost of the study, and the KCC already has estimated that its costs to comply with the study will exceed $1 million. That cost will be borne by the utilities’ customers, including you and me. I expressed my concerns in the committee meeting, but the bill emerged with only minor modifications.

2019 Small Businesses of the Year

It was an honor for me to carry HR 6016, a resolution recognizing the Kansas Small Business Development Center's 2019 Businesses of the Year. Award winners in two categories — Emerging Businesses of the Year and Existing Businesses of the Year — were chosen by the Kansas SBDC’s regional directors and staff.
 
The 2019 Emerging Businesses of the Year are:
  • ArtForms Gallery in Pittsburg, owned by Sue Horner, Janet Lewis, Ruth Miller, and Sylvia Shirley.
  • Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore in Emporia, owned by Marcia Lawrence.
  • Gravity Wellness Center in Garden City, owned by Kristi Schmitt.
  • Leeway Franks in Lawrence, owned by Lee and K Meisel.
  • Lost Creek German Shepherds in Clayton, owned by Taylor and John Meitl.
  • Norsemen Brewing Company in Topeka, owned by Jared and Emily Rudy and Adam and Melissa Rosdahl.
  • Safely Delicious in Overland Park, owned by Lisa Ragan.
  • Triple Threat Ag Services in Conway Springs, owned by Aaron, Allen, Paul, and Phillip Lange.
The 2019 Existing Businesses of the Year are:
  • Angela's Wellness Center in Elkhart, owned by Angela Willey.
  • Bolling's Meat Market & Deli in Iola, owned by Cara Bolling Thomas.
  • Dod Installations in Wichita, owned by Wilt and Tina Dod.
  • Floyd's Inc. in Emporia, owned by John and Ruth Wheeler.
  • Good Energy Solutions in Lawrence, owned by Kevin Good.
  • LaCrosse Furniture Co. in LaCrosse, employee-owned.
  • The Winged Lion in Manhattan, owned by Ralph Diaz.
  • Wolcott Foods in Kansas City, owned by Ron Tilman.
 
Recognizing two strong Emporia businesses, Floyd’s Inc. and Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore, made these awards special for me. Congratulations to John and Ruth Wheeler and Marcia Lawrence for receiving this tremendous recognition.

Survey Says ...

I recently mailed a short survey to gather feedback about issues that are important to you and me. If you did not receive one, please follow this link to record your feedback: http://bit.ly/2019schreiber. I have received about 350 responses to date. I’ll update you about the results in the next newsletter and, as always, will take your feedback seriously.

Hitting the Floor

Committee meetings and hearings have concluded. Soon, my legislative colleagues and I will be on the House floor debating bills released from House committees as well as those sent to us by the Senate.

Our first adjournment date is April 5. I’ll keep you posted. Thank you for the opportunity to represent you.
 
Representative Mark Schreiber
www.schreiberforkansas.com
 
Statehouse Office
Room 352-S
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS  66612
785-296-2721
Mark.Schreiber@house.ks.gov

Home
1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, KS   66801
Home: 620-342-6954
Cell: 785-230-0897
markschreiber60@gmail.com
 
 Paid for by Mark Schreiber for Kansas House – Cindy Lore, Treasurer
 

Contact Mark

 

StateHouse Office

Room 352-S
300 SW 10th Street,
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-2721
Mark.Schreiber@house.ks.gov

Home

1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, Kansas 66801
Phone: 620-342-6954
markschreiber60@gmail.com
 
 

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Copyright © 2019 Mark Schreiber for Kansas House, All rights reserved.


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