Friday, October 31, 2014

FINCH: Making sense of session’s scheduling

By BLAINE FINCH, Kansas State Representative | 3/5/2014

Greetings from the now-quiet Kansas Statehouse. As I write to you, we have just finished our work in front of the first large deadline of the session, turnaround. Turnaround is the deadline when bills must be passed out of their house of origin. Both the House and the Senate were busy ahead of turnaround, passing bills and trying to get them across the rotunda to the other chamber. Most of those bills that were not considered are now dead bills, but if they were referred to one of the so-called exempt committees, they are “blessed” and may still be considered after turnaround. 

In the House, there are about 70 bills that made it out just in time. By way of contrast, the Senate sent out much fewer bills, about 20 in all, last week. After a short break, the Legislature will reconvene and the House will begin referring Senate bills to House committees and the Senate will consider House bills in their committees. The next big deadline will come in the first week of April when we approach first adjournment. That’s when we will see what bills made it through the other chamber and we will have a much better idea what bills from both houses have a real chance at making it to the governor’s desk to become law.  

 For the most part, the bills passed out of the House this past week were routine and non controversial. Bills concerning moving local elections to November, liquor sales and social issues did not make it above the line for votes in the House. But remember those bills often are started or referred to one of those exempt committees, so they still might come out in the second half of the session. 

The juvenile justice bill that I wrote about last week passed Thursday with a vote of 122-1. I am happy to see that bill on its way to the Senate for further review. Hopefully I will be writing to you in a month to let you know it has passed the Senate as well. 

Some of the other bills considered and passed this past week included: strengthening penalties for those who engage in securities fraud against the elderly; creating a procedure to open records related to arrest and search warrant affidavits, as is common in almost every other state in the union; expanding the rural opportunity zones program in southeast Kansas to try to spur jobs and development in those counties; and extending the PEAK program that uses payroll tax rebates to help induce businesses to come to Kansas. 

On a personal note, I was happy to have my daughter, Brodie, join me in Topeka this week as my “shadow” for a day. She’s decided politics might not be her thing, but she’s very good at shaking hands and making friends, so who knows.  

Blaine Finch is a Kansas House member, representing Franklin County.

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