Legislative Update 2, 2017

It was another busy week at the Kansas Legislature with a lot of attention focused on the tax plan that passed the House on Thursday and then passed the Senate on Friday. The tax plan would raise more than $1 billion over two years by rolling back Governor Sam Brownback’s failed tax experiment. The bill is now off to the Governor where he is expected to veto the legislation.

On Tuesday, February 14 in the House Education Committee there was a hearing on HB 2179 which would restore due process rights for Kansas teachers. If you recall in 2014 the Kansas Legislature and Sam Brownback repealed Kansas teachers due process rights. They did this by attaching a sneaky amendment to a bill at 4AM. Proponents of HB 2179 were the Kansas National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, Kansas Organization of State Employees, and Kansas Families for Education. Proponents spoke about how due process protects teachers from unfair and unwarranted retribution. They pointed out several personal stories where teachers in the past under due process were protected from unwarranted attacks by administrators who were abusing their authority. Proponents also pointed out that teachers in Kansas are at currently at risk of loosing their positions because of religious or political positions they hold. The only opponents of HB 2179 were the Kansas Association of School Boards and Koch backed Kansas Policy Institute. There seemed to be enough support from the House Education Committee to pass it out of committee. However Chairman Clay Aurand announced that he had no intention of working HB 2179 after a hearing. It was essentially a sham hearing and a slap in the face to all Kansas educators. Restoring due process for our teachers would protect our teachers from unfair and unwarranted retribution. We hope that Representative Aurand has a change of heart and allows the bill to come up for a vote in the House Education Committee.

On Thursday, February 16 there was a hearing on HB 2200 in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. HB 2200 would require each state agency to adopt a policy to prohibit workplace bullying. This legislation came from a special committee that heard testimony from state employees who spoke about serious harassment at work. Rebecca Proctor from the Kansas Association of State Employees was a proponent of the bill. She told personal stories of state employees who have gone through extreme bullying at work. Proctor also brought up the point that most private sector employees have adopted workplace-bullying policies and that it would make sense that state employees adopt one. Proctor also said that most state agencies believe they are covered under workplace bullying policies but when an incident does occur these state agencies find out they are not covered under workplace bullying policies. There were no opponents to HB 2200. HB 2200 is common sense policy; employees deserve protections from workplace bullying and harassment.

Also On Thursday, February 16 the House Committee on Transportation voted to pass out favorably HB 2095. HB 2095 would increase semi-truck weight limits on Kansas highways. We are opposed to HB 2095 because it will adversely affect Jobs in Kansas and damage Kansas roads. Our highways and bridges are in rough shape because we don’t have the resources to keep them in good condition. Allowing even bigger trucks would only make this problem even worse. HB 2095 now goes to the House floor for a full debate and vote.

And finally, there are two bills in the Kansas House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee, HB 2059 & HB 2185 that would raise stagnant wages and reform our broken work comp system. However, the chairman of the committee refuses to allow an up or down vote on these bills. Instead, he is intent on ignoring Kansas working families at the behest of his special interest donors. Call or email Rep. Mason today and ask him to allow an up or down vote on these important bills. Kansas working families certainly deserve that much.

Phone: 785-296-7640       Email: les.mason@house.ks.gov

 

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