Dear 

Wow, what a whirlwind!  The last two weeks in the Senate have been quite intense.   I have much to report, so let's get to it right away.
 
First of all, I have sent you a separate email regarding the details of my removal as chairman of the Public Health & Welfare committee by the Senate president.  It's important for you, as my constituents, to know "what went down" as it is a combination of legislative process and a quid pro quo demand.  I would not succumb, and that's where we're at today. 
 
My greatest worry going forward is not anything to do with titles I may or may not have, but how the Senate will function with this type of leadership style, in which those who disagree are punished if they do not fall in line with the demands of someone who is simply one of 40 Senators and happens to also be Senate president.
 
Of course, this dust up was just one thing in the middle of a busy time - in which we heard from the Kansas Supreme Court in the Gannon case and debated the budget, along with a series of other bills.  Now we are at Turnaround, which is the midpoint of the session and where bills introduced in one chamber had to be passed to move forward and receive a vote in the other chamber, with a few exceptions.   

Religious Liberty Rally

I was delighted to attend the religious liberty rally a week ago in Topeka, where hundreds of Kansans came to the State Capitol to speak up for their liberty. The Rally for Religious Freedom was led by the Kansas Catholic Conference, the Faith, Family, Freedom Alliance of Kansas, Concerned Women for America, the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, Ryan T. Anderson, Catholic bishops, pastors of numerous denominations, the president of the March for Life, Governor Brownback, and others.  
 
Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Washington State, gave testimony about her experiences. She and her business were prosecuted by the state attorney general and the ACLU after she refused to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony due to her desire to live out her religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman, which represents Christ and the Church.  Not only did the state government and the ACLU go after her financially, Stutzman was also harassed continually by individuals, receiving bomb threats and death threats.  She will lose her flower shop, her life savings, her home and her retirement funds.  This should never happen in our land of liberty of the United States.  We need to protect Kansans from these types of lawsuits.
 

 

Star Bonds

Thanks to the work of Senator Jim Denning, Vice Chairman of Senate Ways and Means committee, much has been revealed of late regarding the proposed American Royal relocation to the Speedway, Sporting Park, Legends and Cerner Star Bond District. 

What are STAR Bonds?
They are "Sales Tax as Revenue" (STAR) Bonds -
 cities sell bonds and turn over the proceeds to a developer of a project. As bond payments become due, incremental sales tax revenue make the payments.
 
The increment is calculated by first determining a base level of sales for the district.  As new development is added, or as sales increase in the district, the increased revenue from the sales tax over the base is diverted to pay the STAR bonds.

At the beginning, the STAR bonds district can be vacant land, with no sales tax revenue. When the district has the same boundaries as the proposed development, advocates say the bonds pay for themselves.  However, it could also be viewed as STAR bonds turning over sales tax revenue to the private sector. 
 
Star Bonds are controversial in their own right, as many do not feel they are an appropriate government function.  This is particularly true in the current state budget situation, where revenue is so important.  Uncovered by Denning was that $42 million in sales tax revenue to the State SGF was not being realized - because it was being diverted to expand and proceed with another project.

Soon after, a hearing was held by Senator Julia Lynn in Commerce committee on all Star Bond projects, and some issues were discovered regarding the lack of legislative oversight, a critical component to prevent corruption.
 
Ultimately, as a result of the investigation and legislative actions, a moratorium will be placed on the Wyandotte County Star Bond project until a bill is passed that would make needed reforms. The new Cabinet Secretary Antonio Soave has been actively engaged and working with Senators and Representatives involved with the issue and will have his proposed reforms for review next week.

Here is a good article talking about this issue. 
 
School Finance

For decades, the state of Kansas has seen an endless cycle of litigation over school finance, with the Gannon v Kansas case being its latest iteration. To give a brief overview, in 2014 the Kansas Supreme Court issued its first Gannon decision which called for the Legislature to make the school finance formula more equitable for all students. Therefore, the Legislature appropriated upwards of $130 million dollars toward equalization.

However, in 2015, with the goal of creating a more sustainable funding formula that is more student focused, the Legislature instituted a two-year education block grant in place of the prior formula. The block grant added millions of new dollars to K-12 education and gave school districts greater flexibility in how they spend public funds. However, the Kansas Supreme Court took issue with the block grant.

In the latest Gannon decision, the court ordered that the block grant be equalized, but gave few clear details on the remedy. To make matters worse, the court took the unusual step of releasing the case on a Thursday, instead of the traditional Friday release day. The release was on the day that both the House and Senate were taking action on their supplemental budgets for the year. It is very hard to see the timing of the case being anything but political in nature. However, the Kansas Supreme Court has long been viewed as an activist court that is more to the left than the average Kansan.

In short, the court is ordering the Legislature to make changes to the block grant by June 30th of 2016. If the changes are not made, the Court is threatening to shut down schools.

As of now, Republican legislative leaders are taking some time to review the decision and formulate a path forward. All are in agreement that the court should not use the education of Kansas children as a political weapon. It is once again worth noting that five Kansas Supreme Court Justices are up for retention election in November of this year.

 

Votes

In terms of votes, we worked on a long list of legislation.   Here is a rundown of the past 3 weeks:
 
The Senate debated the supplemental budget for FY 2016 and FY 2017. The Senate budget is a total of $15.57 billion and will fund the core functions of the state through July 1st of 2017. The goal of the budget was designed to fund core services of government, while finding ways of cutting wasteful government spending. 
 
Provisions in the budget includes; limiting state borrowing, protecting Medicare, and funding for day to day operations of state agencies.  An increase for $2.4 million from the SGF for Osawatomie State Hospital was added so they can deal with the current staff shortage.  This money will be set aside for the use of salaries and newly hired employees only. The budget will keep the Children's Initiative fund (CIF) out of the state general fund. Many people voiced concern on the moving of the CIF into the general fund stating that the money would no longer be used for services the CIF funds. While the move to the general fund would not defund any of these programs, and would make the fund more transparent, the Senate committee honored the publics' requests not to make the transfer.
 
Amendments were added on the floor that gives additional money to Osawatomie State Hospital and also adds pay raises for staff in the Department of Wildlife and Parks. Additionally, an amendment was adopted to keep KPERS, the state's pension fund, safe from across the board cuts if the state's ending balance gets critically low. The budget passed the Senate with a vote of 24-15.   While I would have liked to have seen a greater reduction in spending, there were some good measures in the bill so I voted yes.

Following that vote, the conference committees met to reconcile the differences with the House.  The conference committee report passed the following Wednesday in the form of House Sub for SB 161 on Wednesday.  Here are some noteworthy aspects of the negotiations: 
 
  • The supplemental budget is a total of $15.6 billion for FY 2016 and $16.1 billion for FY 2017 and will fund all core services of government while maintaining a balanced budget. State spending going back to the 1960's has been increasing by an average of over 10% annually which has been unsustainable. When looking at the data, state spending growth since 2011 has only increased by an average of 1.8% annually, this is below the rate of inflation. Much has been done in the way of controlling state spending, despite massive federal regulations from the EPA, Obamacare taxes, growth in Medicaid caseloads and historic investments in K-12 education. 
     
  • State Hospitals - The conference committee added $3.0 million to the Osawatomie ($2.0 million) and Larned ($1.0 million) State Hospitals to address the understaffing problems. The money will be set aside for the salaries and the hiring of new staff. It also prohibits the state from moving toward privatizing either of the hospitals for the next two years without legislative approval.
     
  • KPERS - Under the budget negotiation KPERS, the state's public employees' pension fund, would be protected from the allotment process (across the board cuts to balance the budget) if state revenues are unstable.  However, if the state were in a position where it needs to delay a payment, the late payments would be made with 8% interest. This is significantly higher than recent investment returns KPERS has received. In essence, if the state were to go down this path, KPERS would see an additional $10 million increase. Overall, the move ensures all payments in FY 17 due to KPERS will be paid in full and the funds would receive some extra investment. Current benefactors of KPERS would not be affected by this change.
     
  • Corrections - The budget added $2.5 million to fund a 2.5% salary increase for correctional officers in facilities across the state. Due to the strains of this occupation, corrections officers have seen heavy turnover in this state and in others across the country. The 2.5% increase is designed to reward and retain those officers. 
     
  • Children's Initiative Fund - The budget will keep the Children's Initiative fund (CIF) out of the state general fund. The CIF funds a number of literacy and early childhood education programs. Some voiced concern on the moving of the CIF into the general fund stating that the money would no longer be used for services the CIF funds. While the move to the general fund would not defund any of these programs, and would make the fund more transparent, the Conference committee honored the publics' requests not to make the transfer. The budget includes $7.2 million for TANF which may require some programs to be mean tested. It also gives the Children's Cabinet the authority to place the CIF's programs but would leave the tiny-K program with the Department of Health. 
 
The conference committee report passed 22-16. I voted yes.

 
Other Items the week ending February 19th
 
SB 65: Firearms in Public Places
Under current law, state and local public employees are allowed to conceal and carry a firearm while at work as long as the building they operate within does not have adequate security. However, there were some questions as to whether they could carry the firearms once they leave the building.  SB 65 clarifies that public employees are allowed to carry in public. This legislation would impact public employees such as claims adjustors or public utility workers who are out on the job.
 
An amendment on the floor was brought to give Kansas universities the ability to bar concealed carry on their campuses till July 2021. Current law has given regent universities until July 2017 before allowing concealed firearms on campus. Proponents of the amendment stated that professors and some students do not want concealed carry to be allowed on campus. Opponents of the amendment stated that universities have been given ample time to plan and implement adequate security measures.
 
A second amendment brought on the floor would push the date up from July 2017 to July 2016. Proponents stated that the universities had three years and there was no reason to wait another year. Opponents said the deadline should be honored. Both amendments failed on the floor and the status quo of college and public building exemptions was upheld.
 
SB 65 passed with a bipartisan vote of 32-7.  I voted yes.
 
Attorney General Notification
SB 334 would ensure the state's Attorney General is notified before the Kansas Judicial branch makes any decision on the constitutionality of a Kansas statute or constitutional provision. It would also give the Attorney General an opportunity to argue in favor of the statute whose constitutionality is being questioned. This is one of many bills heard this week that brings some transparency to government and the judicial process.
 
SB 334 passed unanimously with a vote of 40 - 0. 
 
Transparency
SB 361 amends the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). The bill changes the definition of "public record" to allow the private email accounts of those who work in a public agency to be available for KORA requests.  Only the emails used for public business would be available for the request. This legislation brings KORA up to a more 21st century standard were more and more communications are done through email and is another bill that brings more transparency to state government. SB 361 was developed during an interim meeting with the Kansas Judicial Council where proponents of the legislation included the Kansas Attorney General and the Kansas Press Association.

SB 361 passed unanimously with a vote of 39 to 0. This provides an important update and prevents people from hiding public materials on private e-mail accounts.

 
Legislative Calendar
SB 395 limits the Legislative session days to 100 in odd number years, which is when the Legislature works on the two-year budget, and 60 days on even number years. Many legislators, including me, felt more time was needed to be spent in committee to discuss this subject. Overall, the goal of the legislation was to ensure the Legislature operates as efficiently as possible.
 
SB 395 passed with a vote of 25 to 11.  I voted no, because the Legislature has the ability to do this already and I viewed the legislation as political grandstanding.
 
Jason Flatt Act
SB 323 enacts the "Jason Flatt Act" which requires one hour of suicide prevention training for all school district personnel every year. Local school boards would provide the program on suicide awareness to all school staff. The act is named after Jason Flatt a young man who committed suicide in 1997. His family started the Jason foundation and has been instrumental in the passage of this legislation. Currently 16 states have passed the "Jason Flatt Act". Tennessee was the first and saw a 28 percent decrease in suicides the year the act was passed.
 
SB 323 passed with a vote of 38 to 1.  I believe training suicide prevention is warranted so school personnel understand how to handle difficult situations.  I voted yes.

For more information on the Jason Flatt Foundation visit: http://jasonfoundation.com/about-us/jason-flatt-act/

The HOPE Act
Updates to the HOPE Act also passed the Senate this week in SB 372. The HOPE Act is welfare-to-work legislation that passed both chambers overwhelmingly last session.
 
New additions to the HOPE Act include allowing the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) to coordinate with the Kansas Lottery to crosscheck lottery winners against those who win more than $5,000 with those receiving state benefits. The legislation would also verify the identities of all adults in a household that receives assistance and will also make sure benefit cards stay with their intended users. These policy updates strengthen the anti-fraud measures making sure that everyone who needs state benefits receives them. 
 
The most significant change in this legislation is limiting the amount of time an individual can be on public assistance, which will help ensure there is no cycle of dependency in Kansas, a critical component to ensuring people get back to work.  Prior to welfare reform being approved in 2015, there was no lifetime limit for individuals on TANF (temporary assistance for needy families). 

Therefore, the Legislature limited assistance to 36 weeks. However, data showed that the average TANF recipient uses those services for an average of 18 months over a lifetime. Therefore, Republicans felt a lifetime limit of 24 months with a hardship exception was prudent. 
 
Foundation for Government Accountability has done an analysis of Kansas welfare-to-work reforms, with a comprehensive tracking project, that shows higher incomes, more employment, and less poverty for those on food stamps. More than 41,000 individuals moved off welfare and our Kansas programs gave them back their human dignity by coaxing individuals into situations where they can help and empower themselves.

Kansans want to help neighbors in need, but they want to do so in a way that helps people regain personal independence and self-reliance, not foster government dependence, which can destroy the dignity of the human person.

Data from the Kansas Department of Labor indicates that Kansans leaving public assistance are seeing a 127% increase in their incomes, rising above the poverty level. Lifetime limits and work requirements are a success. Kansas has led the nation in welfare reform that move people out of poverty and onto productive lives.
 
 
The HOPE Act passed with a vote of 31 to 8.  I voted yes on this important reform.

Week of February 23rd-24th
Below is a list of a variety of bills across a wide range of subjects that should give you an idea of the number of subjects we cover that aren't addressed in the media.  If you have questions on any, let me know.
 
JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM
Thanks to Chairman Greg Smith who took the lead, SB 367 is the result of nine months of research, consensus and collaboration from the Kansas Juvenile Justice Workgroup. Stakeholders and senators worked the bill repetitively in committee in an effort to improve outcomes for youth, families and the community. 
 
The workgroup conducted studies regarding the juvenile justice system and its expenditures, and concluded that an out-of-home placement can cost up to $90,000 a year for each offender. They also found that Kansas has one of the highest rates of juvenile offenders placed in detention centers and the majority of youth are sent to state-funded residential facilities for low-level offenses. 

This legislation would amend the current juvenile justice system in such a way that it should reduce recidivism rates.  The bill establishes overall case length limits, allows for a risk and needs assessment for offenders, and requires the development of reintegration plans.  Evidence-based programs and practices would be made mandatory for juveniles adjudicated or participating in an immediate intervention, as well as training protocols for judges, county and district attorneys and defense attorneys. The Juvenile Alternatives to Detention Fund would be established and the Kansas Department of Corrections would develop community integration programs along with sentencing alternatives.

The bill passed the Senate on a Final Action vote of 38-2.  Much credit goes to Chairman Greg Smith for spearheading and working diligently on this important legislation which will help so many juveniles and their families.  I voted yes.

Sub SB 103 - This bill enacts new law relation to contracts between pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). This bill represents a compromise that was reached between all parties over the last year. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.

Sub SB 277 - This bill authorizes microbreweries to produce and distribute no more than 100,000 gallons of hard cider. Under current law, microbreweries may only manufacture beer. The bill requires at least 30 percent of the products used to manufacture hard cider be Kansas-grown. This bill passed the Senate on a vote of 40-0.

SB 326 - This bill increased the production limit for microbreweries from 30,000 barrels of beer in a calendar year to 60,000 barrels. This bill was requested on behalf of Tallgrass Brewing Company in Manhattan, Kansas. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.

SB 330 - This bill established the Kansas Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in statute, which was first created in 2007 and has existed since then by being authorized in each year's budget bill. Due to several interested stakeholders disagreeing on the original bill, the Chairman appointed a special subcommittee to work out a compromise to the bill.This bill passed the Senate on a 40-0 vote.

Sub for SB 335 - This bill would increase surcharges on all vehicle registration fees by $3.25. Two dollars of the increased fee will go toward the Kansas Highway Patrol Staffing and Training and the remaining $1.25 will be credited toward the Law Enforcement Training Center Fund. During debate, an amendment was adopted which would put a "lockbox" on the fees so that they cannot be used for any purposes other than those specifically indicated in the bill. This bill is anticipated to generate approximately $3.37 million.  This bill passed the Senate on a vote of 24-14.  I voted no, as an increase in fees is an increase in taxes.  While I strongly support public safety, the funding should have come from the state general fund and not an increase in fees.

SB 338 - This bill would revise provisions of law pertaining to the authority of cities and nonprofit organizations to petition the district court to possess abandoned property temporarily for rehabilitation purposes. A city would be allowed to file a petition for temporary possession if the city has identified a nonprofit organization to rehab the property for housing or related residential purposes and the governing body of the city has formally approved the filing of the petition. This bill passed the Senate with a vote of 32-8. I voted no.  This legislation is a threat to property rights.

SB 362 - This bill changes law dealing with the Kansas Criminal Justice Information System (KCJIS) and would allow the KBI to enter into agreements with state agencies and municipalities to share and authenticate information stored electronically on the KCJIC system. The bill passed on a vote of 39-1.  I voted yes.

SB 365 - This bill establishes the Contaminated Property Redevelopment Act, allowing the purchaser of real property acquired after July 1 of this year, to be released from environmental liability for pre-existing contamination. It also creates a redevelopment program for municipalities. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Bankers Association, various agriculture associations and the League of Kansas Municipalities supported the bill which had no opposition. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 36-4.  I voted yes.

SB 366 - This bill would prohibit any political subdivision of the state from enacting, maintaining or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that would control the purchase price agreed upon between the parties to a transaction of privately owned residential or commercial property.This bill passed on a vote of 34-6.  I voted yes.

SB 374 - This bill amends the requirements for justification and approval of sureties and would add new law requiring compensated sureties to submit an application to the chief judge of the judicial district. The bill requires the Kansas Bail Agents Association to provide a continuing education course for a minimum of eight hours annually in each congressional district. This bill passed the Senate 38-2.  I voted no, as this bill significantly increased regulations.

SB 387 - This bill would allow a bank, savings bank, savings and loan association or credit union to conduct a savings promotion in which a person would deposit money into a savings account in order to obtain entries and participate in the promotion. Federal law had previously prohibited prize-linked savings accounts but lifted that prohibition in 2014 so that states may now authorize them. The intention of the bill is to incentivize customers to establish savings plans. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 40-0.

SB 391 - This bill would create a new crime of unlawful transmission of a visual depiction of a child, aggravated unlawful transmission of a visual depiction of a child and unlawful possession of a visual depiction of a child. This bill has been commonly referred to as the "sexting bill" and was supported by American Family Action of Kansas and Missouri, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, the Kansas Peace Officers Association and the Kansas Sherriff's Association. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 40-0.

SB 392 - This bill was requested by the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association and would require delivery of an inmate's request of final deposition and would require the request be sent to the Secretary of Corrections. This bill passed the Senate on a vote of 40-0.
 
  • Late in the session last year, Jill Ainsworth contacted me about domestic violence legislation.  She was a single mother, working on her law degree.  I don't think she knew my history, but I learned it was very similar to mine.  Her sense of urgency and her recommendations made me realize that I had stuck my head in the sand far too long on this subject.  I had hoped Kansas laws were vastly different since 1984.  I found they were not.
  • Therefore, last summer and fall I worked with Ms. Ainsworth, the attorney general's office, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, a police captain, Kansas Legal Services and the Kansas courts to make recommendations on updating our statutes.
  • The task force quickly came to a consensus that what was most needed was the protection of children and for domestic violence to be considered as a primary factor when the courts are determining custody, residency and parenting time for a child.
  • The court would also order a parent to undergo the batterer intervention program where a domestic violence offender assessment is given, and the court would follow all recommendations made by the program if domestic abuse is found to have occurred.  Statistics Indicate that this program has been successful in helping batterers eliminate their abusive behavior.
 
This bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.
 
SB 402 - This is another bill I helped to craft that would allow charitable health care providers who have signed agreements to provide gratuitous services to medically indigent persons to earn an hour of continuing education credit for each hour of charitable care provided to eligible low-income patients. Each health care provider can earn a maximum of 8 credit hours per year. This bill also applies to dentists to fulfill one hour of continuing education credit for every two hours of gratuitous care, with a maximum of six credits per licensure period. The Secretary of KDHE would be required to submit an annual report to the House and Senate health committees regarding how many charitable care health care providers are utilizing this program.  The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.
 
SB 407 - This bill was requested by the Attorney General and revives a statute in the Sexually Violent Predator Act requiring annual examination and court review of persons in transitional release, provides for procedures for hearings on whether such person is safe to be placed in conditional release and sets the standard for court determination of whether the person is appropriate for conditional release. This bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.

SB 408 - This bill amends law relating to abuse, neglect and exploitation of persons and amends law relating to the powers of the Attorney General. The bill mandates that child abuse or neglect occurring in an institution operated by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency instead of the Attorney General. The bill passed the Senate 40-0.

SB 410 - This bill establishes the "CARE Family" pilot program and allows the Secretary for Children and Families to establish a pilot foster care program.  In order for families to qualify, the family must meet all points of the following criteria:
  • A lawfully married couple for at least seven years and in a stable relationship
  • Be actively and socially involved in their local community
  • Both submit to a background check
  • Both have attained at least a high school diploma
  • One spouse must not work outside the home
  • No tobacco or alcohol in the home
  • No drug history by anyone living in the home

The secretary would be able to remove a foster child from a CARE home if it is in the best interest of the child, or the child is likely to sustain harm should they not be removed. The CARE program is completely voluntary, in which CARE families are not given compensation whatsoever. The total of $4,102 is granted to the family should they choose to educate their foster child outside their current school district.  The amended bill passed 24-15.  I voted yes.

SB 415 - This bill would remove various sunset provisions regarding the disclosure of public records in the Kansas Insurance Department. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.

SB 418 - This bill makes amendments to human trafficking law in relation to children in need of care and juvenile offenders. The bill adds requirements that within 24 hours of receiving information that any child is a victim of trafficking or sexual exploitation, the Secretary shall report to law enforcement authorities and adds human trafficking, aggravated human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of a child as a reason to rule that the child is in need of care. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 28-8.   I voted yes.

SB 419 - This bill enacts new law to allow mutual insurance companies organized to provide health care provider liability insurance to transfer, upon 90 days' written notice to the insured and the agent of record, an insured's coverage to an affiliate insurer authorized in Kansas. The transfer would not constitute a policy renewal or cancellation if the transfer is without an interruption in coverage and premium charged by the affiliate is no higher than the current rate charged by the affiliate for the same classification for the duration of the policy. The Senate passed this bill with a vote of 40-0.

SB 426 - This bill creates the crime of violation of a consumer protection order, defined as doing door-to-door sales while prohibited. Violation of a consumer protection order would be a severity level 9, person felony. It was requested by the Attorney General and supported by the AARP, with the intention of protecting citizens from criminals violating the consumer protection act. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.

SB 438 - This bill enacts new law to permit the transfer of insurance policies within a group of affiliated property and casualty insurance companies. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0.

SB 440 - This bill was crafted by Senator King in response to the court's opinion in Solomon and deals with the separation of powers between the Judicial and Legislative branches of government. It repeals several statutes dealing with court administration in Kansas.  The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 28-9.   I voted yes.  This important legislation should create a bright line between the Judicial and Legislative branches so the courts can no longer pick and choose what legislation it likes and what it doesn't like.

SB 449 - This bill standardizes regulatory statutes administered by the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board that apply to professional counselors, psychologists, social workers, addictions counselors and marriage and family therapists. An amendment was adopted on the floor that would prohibit any state agency from entering into an agreement to outsource or privatize any operations or facilities of Larned State Hospital or Osawatomie State Hospital without legislative approval. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 33-7.  I voted no.

SB 453 - This bill creates a new law authorizing the Secretary of Corrections to transfer certain offenders to house arrest pursuant to a community parenting release if a number of conditions are met, including if the person is determined to be a low or moderate risk, no prior sex conviction or dangerous felony, not subject to a deportation order, the offender signs a release to any current or prior child in need of care cases involving the offender, offender had physical custody of a minor child at the time of the offense, and only 12 months or less remain on the sentence. This bill passed the Senate with a 40-0 vote.



In Conclusion
 
Thank you for taking time to read my extensive newsletter.   We are now back in Topeka for the second part of the regular session, which will conclude around the end of March.  We will then be in our districts for four weeks and return for the Veto Session.  

In honor of your liberty,

 
Mary Pilcher-Cook



Mary Pilcher Cook
913-396-9306
mary@pilchercook.com

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State Senator Mary Pilcher Cook | Sheila Wodtke, Treasurer | Shawnee | KS | 66216