Daily Archives: March 17, 2009

School bond bill stalls in committee

TOPEKA – A proposal that would have eliminated the state’s contribution to school bond payments isn’t coming out of committee this year.

Rep. Joe McLeland, R-Wichita, had hoped to work the bill today in the House Education Budget Committee, which he chairs, but there were not enough members present to vote on the measure.

Since Tuesday was the last time the committee was going to meet, the bill would not be moving to the House floor, he said.

April 4, is the last scheduled day for this year’s session and March 25 is the last day for committees to meet.

The state pays for a portion of the debt that local school districts take on when they sell bonds for construction projects. House Bill 2280 would have halted those contributions for bonds issued after it becomes law.

That means districts would either have had to hustle to issue bonds before the deadline or shifted the cost to district taxpayers. For Wichita School District, the move could have increased property taxes by about $152 million, Wichita district lobbyist Diane Gjerstad told the House Education Budget Committee during a prior hearing.

Wichita district voters approved a $370 million bond issue late last year. They were told that the bond issue would increase the property taxes on a $100,000 house by $42. Without the state’s payments, homeowners would see that rise to $53.50 a year on the same house.

While the measure might not be moving on, that doesn’t mean the idea can’t resurface elsewhere such as tacked onto another bill as an amendment.

Abortion bill on its way to the governor

TOPEKA – A proposal that will require women be allowed to see ultrasounds or hear a fetal heart beat before receiving an abortion is on its way to the governor’s desk.

On Tuesday, the Senate pasted Senate Bill 238 on veto proof margin of 32-6. The bill applies to all abortions.

“It gives her full information on the reality and status of her pregnancy and of her unborn child so she can make the best possible decision voluntarily and through informed consent,” said Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee who supported the bill.

In addition to allowing women to see images of an unborn child, the measure would also require all sites providing abortions to post a sign reading:

“Notice: It is against the law for anyone, regardless of their relationship to you, to force you to have an abortion. By law, we cannot perform an abortion on you unless we have your freely given and voluntary consent. It is against the law to perform an abortion on you against your will. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened physical abuse or violence. You have the right to change your mind at any time prior to the actual abortion and request that the abortion procedure cease.”

For more, read Wednesday’s Wichita Eagle.

Kansas House gives Goodwill Industries a sales tax exemption

TOPEKA – The House on Tuesday passed a bill that will exempt items purchased by Goodwill Industries from a sales tax.

House Bill 2299 now goes to the Senate. The exemption applies to items purchased for or by Goodwill Industries that help provided education, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

A fiscal note on the bill estimated that Goodwill Industries would have paid about $38,000 to the state in fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1, 2009.

The House amended the bill during debate to include a similar exemption for sales by All American Beef Battalion Inc. The exemption will apply to projects that help the beef cattle industry provide support and morale to members of the United States military.

Sedgwick County commissioner considers local stimulus

Sedgwick County commissioner Gwen Welshimer today urged her colleagues to think about a local stimulus package to help deal with a battered economy.

She made her comments during the commission’s weekly meeting with staff. Ideas that Welshimer tossed around include speeding up public works projects (such as roads), giving property tax breaks for recycling and tuition assistance for job training.

Welshimer advocated setting aside a portion of the county’s budget for a stimulus package, saying she thinks the area will continue to see economic losses.

Commissioner Dave Unruh said he preferred to keep the county’s budget balanced and to continue to provide needed services.

The county is in a good financial position because of its policies to maintain a healthy reserve fund.

Financial literacy up in the Senate

TOPEKA – A bill promoting financial literacy for Kansas students is on the scheduled for discussion today in the Senate.

Because the House altered Senate Bill 84 in a committee, the Senate has two options, either agree with the bill and send it to the governor or vote to nonconcur and send the proposal to a committee to work out a compromise.

The measure as amended would require the State Board of Education to develop financial literacy curriculum standards for all grade levels. The proposal also directs the board to encourage school districts to look for text books that include a strong personal financial literacy component.

The idea has been pushed by Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, and Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, D-Park City.