Spring has begun and the legislature is now in recess. After two and a half months of work, we reached first adjournment last week, passing a number of bills and conference committee reports in advance of Easter weekend. We will return to Topeka on Wednesday, April 29th for the veto session, where various subjects, including the budget, will be considered before we adjourn for the remainder of the year.
This past week was abbreviated in time but not in task, as the Kansas House spent Monday-Wednesday debating and passing a series of bills. This was the last week for most bills to be adopted in order to be considered in a conference committee.
As we head into the final two weeks before first adjournment, both the House and Senate were very busy moving forward with a number of bills, which worked their way through the committee process. Accordingly, there was not much to report in terms of floor activity, but the volume of bills will escalate this coming week as we run up against deadlines for legislation to be passed.
On Friday, the Kansas House cast one of the most important votes in the last quarter century. We have voted to repeal the state school finance formula on a vote of 64-57. I voted for the measure and I feel it was a historic vote for what it means for our state and one of our core functions – the funding of education.
The Kansas Legislature met only for three days this week due to the long weekend following Turnaround. However, though the week was short, important committee leaders in both chambers released the most significant proposal of the session--block grants to local districts through the 2016-17 school year, which replaces the old, dysfunctional funding formula. This proposal, along with the state budget, will be a top priority of the legislature for the next several weeks.
After six weeks of work the Kansas Legislature has reached the halfway point of the session, otherwise known as “Turnaround”. This week, we voted on 35 bills, which was on top of the 36 we had already voted on for a total of 71.
The legislature made more progress this week as we advanced closer and closer to Turnaround, which is the halfway point of the session. With the passage of the rules this week, we were able to progress closer to the point where we could vote on the large amounts of legislation before us on the floor. Committees also remain very busy, with Wednesday being the deadline for them to complete their work on the front-side of Turnaround.
The 2015 legislative session rolled along this week as we continued our extensive work in committee with a goal of forwarding legislation to the floor. In the next two weeks we will spend more time on final action votes on the floor as we get closer to turnaround, which is the “halfway” point of the session when most legislation needs to be passed by its chamber of origin.
If you have been following my newsletters since the session began in mid-January, you know the budget situation facing Kansas. While many of our challenges are in FY 2016 and FY 2017, a dip in projected revenues for FY 2015 necessitated a ‘rescission bill’ to bring our budget into balance, as required by the Kansas Constitution.
The third week of the 2015 legislative session is now complete. This week, though we didn’t see any legislation hit the floor yet, we did pass the rules governing the next two years and we continued our extensive work in committees hearing testimony and working towards solutions for the budget, education, and other items.