Monthly Archives: March 2009

Dyslexia resolution passed by Kansas House

TOPEKA – The State Board of Education should try to identify children with reading disabilities, such as dyslexia, early in their education careers, a resolution passed by the state House said.

House Concurrent Resolution 5015 passed on Wednesday on a vote of 122-3.

The resolution also directs the board to ensure that the diagnostics tests used in Kansas include dyslexia and that the board review programs that school districts implement.

Additionally, the board is directed to ensure parents have access to the information and should report back to the Legislature by Dec. 31, 2009.

Senate passes proposed budget

TOPEKA – The Senate passed its budget proposal with few changes after about two hours of debate today.

The chamber added $1.2 million to expand health insurance for Kansas children, deferred pay increases for state employees by one year and added $35,000 back into the budget for agriculture lessons.

The bill, Senate substitute for House Bill 2354, passed 26-14. Earlier in the afternoon, the House gave final approval, 70-54, to its budget proposal, House Bill 2373.

A negotiating committee will work to resolve differences between the bills.

Senate adds money for health insurance for children

TOPEKA – The Senate quickly restored $1.2 million to its budget proposal on Tuesday to help provide health insurance to low- and moderate-income children.

The money will help expand eligibility for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to families making 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $55,000 annually for a family of four.

The amendment offered by Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, takes the money from the state’s Children Initiative Fund.

“What better use for the children of this sate than to provide them with health insurance?” Vratil asked.

The additional money will open coverage to about 8,000 more children.

The amendment passed on a voice vote.

The Senate is debating a budget proposal which spends $5.71 billion in state general fund and totals $13.3 billion when all funds are added together.

Sebelius confirmation hearing date still uncertain

No word yet on a hearing date for Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination to become secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Spokesmen for the White House and Senate Finance Committee, which will hold her confirmation hearing, said nothing has been settled. Speculation on Capitol Hill leans to holding it after Congress’ two-week Easter recess.

That would put the hearing off until at least late April. Sebelius has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to chat up lawmakers.

She would be the last of President Obama’s cabinet picks to be confirmed.

–David Goldstein

Senate expected to debate the budget this afternoon

TOPEKA – The Senate is expected to debate its budget proposal this afternoon.

Monday evening, the House gave initial approval to a proposal that added more than $12 million in spending to a plan that originally spent $5.76 billion in state funds.

Both budgets are for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

The House’s plan included modest cuts to kindergarten through 12th grade education but deeper cuts elsewhere. The Senate’s plan also includes minimal cuts to education.

The Senate’s plan recommends spending $5.71 billion in state funds and would leave $241.1 million in state coffers when fiscal year 2010 ends.

The Senate’s plan current recommends transferring $6.5 million from special revenue funds for doctor training in Wichita.

The Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education could also receive an additional $6.5 million from federal stimulus funding if the money is available through the Kansas Health Policy Authority under the Senate plan.

Kansas House votes a pay cut for itself

TOPEKA – Representatives in the Kansas House voted to cut their pay 10 percent in the next budget year.

Lawmakers are paid $88.66 per day for the 90-day session. The cut would equal about an $8 reduction.

Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, offered the amendment, which passed on a voice vote. Only a few tentative voices yelled out no.

“I know this is a tough thing but you have to realize we are laying people off, people are hurting,” Otto said.

“We’re going to take our share and it is showing the people we are willing to take a cut, step up to the plate,” he added.

The cut won’t impact what lawmakers receive for this legislative session, which is scheduled for first adjournment on April 4. The temporary cut applies to fiscal year 2010 which beings July 1 and would encompass the 2010 Legislature session.

The money isn’t the only compensation lawmakers receive while they are in session. While they are in Topeka, legislators receive a $109 per diem and $354.15 every other week for 19 biweekly peoris to defray costs between session such as postage, phones and office costs.

House resumes its budget debate

TOPEKA – The House is back to debating the budget after taking a break for lunch.

The first amendment offered by Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, would removed $2.1 million from the budget that was slated to support Kansas Public Broadcasting and give the money to Home and Community Based Services.

The amendment failed 42-74.

House expands health care coverage for 8,000 Kansas kids

TOPEKA – The Kansas House voted 75-48 to add $1.2 million to next year’s budget to expand health care coverage for moderate- and low-income children’

The money, matched with about $6 million in federal money, will help expand eligibility for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to families that are 250 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four that equals an income between about $51,000 and $55,000 per year.

“It saves the state in the long run,” said Rep. Jill Quigley, R-Lenexa who offered the amendment.

The program would help prevent illness by helping about 8,000 more children access health care.

The House is debating the 2010 budget, which starts July 1. The House Appropriations Committee recommended spending $5.76 billion in the budget.

“What this budget tries to do is find a balance of what are all awful tough decisions,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, who chairs the chamber’s budget committee.

Every part of the state budget shared in the cuts, but kindergarten through 12th grade education was given a priority, he said.

The Senate is expected to debate it’s budget bill on Tuesday.

DUI bill sent to conference committee

TOPEKA – The House on Monday voted to send a bill creating the Kansas DUI Commission and amending some of the state’s drunken driving laws to a conference committee.

The committee – of three House members and three Senate members – will work to develop a compromise bill.

The Senate inserted the measure into House Bill 2096 and the House wanted to study the bill more.

In addition to the commission and amending some laws, the bill also creates statewide driver improvement clinics.

Governor reappoints Wichitans to state councils and panel

TOPEKA – Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has reappointed two Wichita residents and a Derby woman to two state councils and an advisory panel.

Travis Francis, Wichita, has been reappointed to a three-year term on the Athletic Trainers Council. This council licenses and monitors athletic trainers in the state of Kansas.

Gary Mason, Wichita, has been reappointed to serve a two-year term on the Compliance Advisory Panel to the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. This panel renders advisory opinions concerning the effectiveness of the small business stationary source technical and environmental compliance assistance program; makes periodic reports to the administrator; and reviews and comments on proposed regulations.

Beverly Urmey, Derby, has also been reappointed to three-year terms on the Respiratory Care Council. This council conducts examinations and registrations of applicants in the field of respiratory therapy.