Monthly Archives: January 2009

Next week under the dome

Here are some of the hearing scheduled in House and Senate committee meetings for next week. The list is preliminary and can change.

The House and Senate each publish daily calendars listing the hearings scheduled for the week and what bills might be debated in the chambers. The calendars are posted daily on the http://www.kslegislature.org/ Kansas Legislature website.

Feb. 2-6

Monday

House Vision 2020, 1:30 p.m., room Docking 711: view a demonstration on telemedicine and telehealth monitoring.

Tuesday

Senate Transportation, 8:30 a.m., room 136-N: hear an overview of the 10 year comprehensive transportation plan bill structure.

Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance, 9:30 a.m., room 136-N: hold a hearing on Senate Bill 49 which would require health insurance polices offer the same benefits for substance abuse treatment as it does mental illness.

Senate Public Health and Welfare, 1:30 p.m., room 136-N: possible vote on Senate Bill 25, which would ban smoking in indoor public areas.

Wednesday

Senate Federal and State Affairs, 10:30 a.m., room not available: hearing from supporters of Senate Bill 76, which would expand where full-strength beer can be sold.

House Federal and State Affairs, 1:30 p.m., room 143-N: hearing on House Bill 2062, which would expand where full-strength beer can be sold.

Thursday

Senate Federal and State Affairs, 10:30 a.m., room not available: hearing from opponents of Senate Bill 76, which would expand where full-strength beer can be sold.

House Federal and State Affairs, 1:30 p.m., room 143-N: hearing on Senate Bill 19, which would allow U.S. attorneys and county and district attorneys and assistants to carry concealed weapons at work.

Senate passes $334.8 million in compromise budget cuts

Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, argues in favor of a compromise budget amendment which reduces this year's budget by $334.8 million Wednesday night.

Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, argues in favor of a compromise budget amendment which reduces this year's budget by $334.8 million Wednesday night.

TOPEKA – The Kansas Senate budget compromise came late in the afternoon Wednesday, after a day where more time was spent waiting than debating.

The deal, hashed out between two unlikely bedfellows, reduced the current year’s budget by $334.8 million.

The amendment passed on a vote of 25-15 with the chamber’s nine Democrats and several conservative Republicans throwing in their support.

“This is a bill I believe makes progress and this is a bill that not everyone is happy with,” said Sen. Susan Wagle, a conservative Wichita Republican. “It tries to get us to where we can all get on the same page.” Read More »

Senate Democrats suggest $35 million more adjustments and the debate is off

The Democratic answer to Senate Republican budget cuts for this year just showed up – and it cuts about $35 million deeper.

The alternate budget, sponsored by Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, would cut state spending $65 million less than the Republican’s proposal for fiscal year 2009 but includes $134.3 million in revenue adjustments, or $99.3 million more than the bill approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The Senate today has been debating the budget reductions in substitute for Senate Bill 23 in a stop and go fashion, in part because they’ve been waiting for the Democratic proposal to be ready. Read More »

Urbandale to name trail after Layton

Wichita’s in-coming city manager, Robert Layton, is an avid runner. So when his bosses on the Urbandale City Council sent him off at his last council meeting Tuesday, they decided to name a proposed trail after him, according to a story in The Des Moines Register.

The story says:

State Sen. Brad Zuan, who worked with Layton when he was Urbandale mayor, also presented him with a certificate of recognition for outstanding service from Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge. The Iowa Senate and Iowa House also passed resolutions recognizing Layton for his year of service.

“I think most people are here just to make sure I’m leaving. Some of whom told me that as recently as now,” Layton joked. “I want to thank those who took a chance on a 28-year-old assistant city manager from Des Moines who thought he had all the answers but quickly realized he did not.”

Senate budget jostle

Many lawmakers thought today’s budget clash was going to get contentious as Senators jousted over filling a $300 million budget hole.

It’s been a more of a jostle with the chamber working in fits and starts. Many proposed changes, including the Democrats’ alternative budget amendment, aren’t ready.

That means there haven’t been major changes to the budget so far.

After lunch, Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the Revisor of Statutes Office had said it would take about four hours until the Democrats’ alternative plan was ready. That was at about 2 p.m.

While they wait, Senators have been listening to a handful of amendments – restoring money to the Kansas Water Authority and the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation – and then breaking until more topics are ready for discussion.

At this rate it will be several hours before any substantive changes are made.

The Senate takes a break

The Kansas Senate is taking a break for lunch and will come back at 1:30 p.m.

By then, Democrats hope to present an alternative amendment to the Republican backed 3.4 percent across-the-board cuts to state agencies.

If you want to listen in to the debate, go to the Senate’s legislative page here and click on the Listen in Live button.

Tiahrt announces senate bid steering committee

Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, revealed his senate campaign steering committee today, and the list includes some notable Wichitans, such as Jack Pelton, president of Cessna Aircraft Company and Jay Allbaugh, vice president of Cox Communications.

Tiahrt joins Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, who has also announced that he expects to run in the race to fill Sen. Sam Brownback’s seat. Brownback, who had a short-lived bid for the presidency, is retiring from the senate. Many have also mentioned Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as a Democratic candidate. Talk of that possibility got louder after she did not take any posts in President Obama’s administration.

Here’s the full list of Tiahrt’s steering committee: Read More »

Mayor quietly sought wage freeze for himself

Mayor Carl Brewer said ‘we all need to share in this pain’ during his State of the City Address last night, and he pledged to not accept a cost of living increase or raise. City spokesman Van Williams said Brewer recently quietly sought a wage freeze for himself in the human resources department. If the wage is frozen, that would lock the mayor’s salary at $82,660, according to the 2009-2010 city budget.

Last year, the mayor and city council members each got a 4 percent cost of living boost — along with most other city employees. Council members, whom most consider part-time employees, are actually listed as full time employees (or equivalent), and they make about $35,000 a year.

To see more about the council’s budget, see their portion of the city budget.

Senators start debating across-the-board cuts to state agencies

TOPEKA – The full Senate has started debating how reduce this year’s budget by about $300 million.

The GOP proposal, substitute for Senate Bill 23, includes 3.4 percent across-the-board cuts to state agencies or $265.1 million in spending reductions. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, said Tuesday she would veto the current proposal if it came across her desk.

“This is not a common occurrence this is not a pleasant occurrence, but the state does not find itself in a pleasant situation at this time,” said Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee as he introduced the bill this morning.

The bill also orders state agencies to make cuts to administrative and operating costs before cutting services and forbids agencies from closing any programs.

That could be easier said than done for some departments. Almost 90 percent of the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services’ budget is direct services, the agency has said. The state Department of Corrections said Tuesday that the proposed cuts would mean supervision of Kansas’ 5,800 parolees would halt April 1.

The reductions are lawmakers’ answer to a projected $200 million short fall in this year’s budget, which is about half over. The deficit could grow to $1 billion in fiscal year 2010, which starts July 1, if nothing is done.

The Senate started early today to accommodate what is expected to be a long and spirited debate.

Whatever the Senate puts out likely will be quite different from the current proposal.

The 61 page budget bill is available here.

We will be posting updates on the blog as the debate progresses, so check back often.

Word cloud from Brewer’s State of the City speech

Here is a word cloud of Mayor Carl Brewer’s third State of the City speech, which he delivered Tuesday night. The Eagle created it using the text of Brewer’s speech and Wordle.net. (You can double-click it to get a closer look.) Click here to see the word cloud from his 2008 speech and to read more about word clouds. Or click here to read this year’s speech as it was written.