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Phillips Files: Last Week From: Rep. Tom Phillips (tphillips3@cox.net) Sent: 2014-03-24 12:35:02
Legislative Update from Rep. Tom Phillips
For more information view my website: www.TomPhillips.org


Dear Manhattan & Riley County constituents:

With the Gannon decision now released, other legislation has slowed to a virtual stand-still. A handful of bills are moving and they are worth watching as you will see in my committee overview below.

Thank you for your feedback on the Gannon decision. Since that update, I have met with Attorney General Derek Schmidt who warned the decision could have certainly been worse. For now, it appears that between capital outlay restoration and equalization funding, the Manhattan-Ogden school district is slated to get approximately $386,208. That is, of course, if the legislature abides by the equity portion of the ruling by July 1. The adequacy decision has no timetable and will be considered by the Shawnee District Court, based on the “Rose standards” outlined here.

At this stage, there are a lot of conversations going on in the Capitol trying to find ways to fund the Gannon decision. Included in the mix is a desire by some legislators to wrap policy initiatives around the funding.  My preference is to resolve the funding (equity portion) this year, and return in 2015 to begin tackling the policy (adequacy portion) of the court ruling.  The only sure thing I can say about finding the money to pay for the $130 million equity piece at this time is we are probably looking at a combination of budget cuts and spending some of the end of year carry-over dollars.  Governor Brownback also released a statement last week with his goals for a funding solution.

My Activities

With the end of the regular legislative session fast approaching, I will be at home for most of April and will be scheduling a number of legislative events. If your school or civic group would like a legislative update in April, please reply to this email.

Congratulations to Shirley and Perry McCall, owners of Keltic Star Public House for their Existing & Emerging Business of the Year award from the Kansas Small Business Development Center. Loved the kilts!

      KSBDC   McCalls

Ed Hammond, President, Fort Hays State University; Rep. Sydney Carlin;
Rep. Tom Phillips, Shirley McCall, Sen. Tom Hawk; Perry McCall,
Greg Panichello, State Director of KSBDC, Daryn Soldan, KSBDC Consultant

Congratulations to Kennedy Felice, Manhattan Youth of the Year, who was the state runner-up for the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year program. As past-president of this organization, I am so proud of Kennedy’s work in our community.

                                            BGC

Lori Felice, Sydney Carlin, Kennedy Felice, Junnae Campbell, Rep. Phillips

Finally, we had a great time at the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day parade!

                                            St. Pats

In the House

HB 2578 would set a 15-day limit for law enforcement departments to approve or decline a request for transfer of a firearm and creates an appeals process if transfer is declined. I voted YES.

Currently, our prison system employs offenders to make goods for sale. This instills work ethic and allows inmates to earn some additional income and remain busy and engaged during their sentence. H Sub for 40 would add incarcerated juvenile offenders to the Prison Made Goods Act.

HB 2475 requires the Kansas Board of Education to encourage the incorporation of financial literacy into any appropriate curriculum. I recognize the importance of stressing financial literacy for young people, particularly credit card and debt management. This bill also requires “training on the importance and execution of an effective professional handshake.” I suspect this tongue-in-cheek amendment will be removed in conference committee during the end of the session.

Last year, the legislature removed the statute of limitations for rape victims to come forward. Because juveniles are dealt with in a different section of the law. SB 258 mirrors this change for juvenile rape offenders.

I am very concerned at the continued ebb of local control undertaken in Topeka. H Sub SB 231 is nicknamed the COTA/BOTA bill. The bill would change the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals to a Board of Tax Appeals. The bill began as a major shift in property tax appraisal policies which would have been destructive to our local units of government. However, during the course of committee hearings and work on the House floor, amendments were added to correct many of the initial defects:

  • Requires BOTA final decisions be delivered 14 days following final submission of the case (current law is 120 days);
  • Reduces the interest charged on delinquent property taxes from 6% to 4%;
  • All tax appeals must be made public on the BOTA website within 30 days and a monthly report submitted to all 165 legislators;

I voted YES and the bill passed the House 123-0.

Committee Work

Elections
SB 343 would require lobbyists whose contracts include any funds from public entities to file a report with the Secretary of State. This information is already public information through city, county, and school district budgets. This whole debate strikes me as a local issue. If concerned citizens are upset about the use of local tax dollars being spent on lobbying, they need to take it up with their local officials and the local ballot box, not create a state law adding new rules and regulations. Also of note, in the House Judiciary Committee, we heard HB 2583, which would prohibit the judicial branch from lobbying on behalf of their employees and taxpayer legal issues. Neither committee chair decided to work these two bills, so they are going nowhere this session.

A giant elections bill recently passed out of the Senate Elections Committee and will soon be considered by the full Senate. The committee inserted the text into a bill which had already passed the House, HB 2141. This sets up a scenario where if the Senate passes the bill without amendments, the House could concur with the committee’s changes and the bill would go straight to the Governor’s desk. Key changes:

  • Spring (local) elections would move to August and November of odd years;
  • The most egregious of these changes involve local elected officials in non-partisan races.
    • Currently, when a vacancy occurs in local office, it is filled by an application, interview, and vote of the existing board, council, or commission.
    • Under HB 2141, vacancies in non-partisan seats would be filled by the partisan precinct committee to which the departing official was registered, Republican or Democrat. If the official was Unaffiliated, a joint committee of Republican and Democrat precinct committeepersons would select the replacement. 

Judiciary
This committee continues to challenge my thinking and is successfully expanding my understanding of how our legal system works. Among the dozens of bills we have heard in recent weeks, the following might be of greater interest to you:

  • SB 355 adds “seek legal advice” to the Power of Attorney contract and requires the attorney to use money, property, or other assets only in the principal’s best interests and not for the attorney’s gain.
  • SB 354 expands the definition of elder (60+) abuse to include taking personal property or financial resources of an elderly or dependent person through legal means – as the person’s Power of Attorney, for example.
  • SB 271 would increase the severity of punishment for Medicaid fraud claims in correlation with the number and dollar amount of the claims. The bill would also impose fines of $1,000 to $11,000 per violation.
  • SB 310 Would allow the court to amend an indictment pursuant to a plea agreement between the defendant and the prosecution.  Also amends the procedure to permit through elector petition to request the Attorney General to prosecute the case, if the grand jury believes the District Attorney would not pursue the case. 

It is an honor to serve you in Topeka. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service to you.

Rep. Tom Phillips

In Topeka:
785-296-6014
State Capitol, Room 512-A
tom.phillips@house.ks.gov
At home in Manhattan:
785-537-2194
tphillips3@cox.net

Tom Phillips serves the 67th District, which includes Manhattan and part of Riley County. He has lived in the district for more than 20 years.
Map of the 67th District
City of Manhattan
Riley County
USD 383 Schools
Kansas State University
Manhattan Area Technical College
Kansas Legislature
Kansas Secretary of State
Kansas Governor


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