Turnaround Is Here - Febuary 28, 2017
We have now reached Turnaround, the midpoint in a typical legislative session where most bills introduced in one chamber must be adopted to be considered by the other chamber.  Some bills are "blessed" by being put in certain exempt committees, extending their life for this session.  We have adjourned until March 6th, at which point each chamber will begin considering bills passed by the other body. 
The week before Turnaround is filled with mostly floor debates and votes, as we work through the multitude of bills in advance of the deadline. This year was no different, and we completed our work by lunchtime on Thursday.  Most of the bills were non-controversial in nature.

Many of you who have been following the news in Topeka are aware of the actions taken on taxes, Medicaid Expansion, and teacher tenure.  While only taxes has been voted on by the Senate, the other two subjects have passed the House and the reality that such left-wing legislation is moving through the legislative process should demonstrate how dramatically things have shifted in the State Capitol.
If I could write optimistically about the actions taken by the Kansas Legislature in the past 10 days, I would.  If I could provide you a hopeful forecast about the rest of the session and our likelihood of it getting any better, I would.  However, the reality of the situation in the State Capitol is that the word Republican means very little, and principled conservatives are left to no more than 1/3 of each chamber. 

There are 125 members in the House and 40 in the Senate, which means it typically takes 63 and 21 votes, respectively, to pass legislation.  The left-wing Republicans are joining forces with the Democrats and passing bills that achieve those majorities.  The saving grace is that we still have Governor Brownback, who through his veto pen, can ensure they need 84 and 27 votes, respectively, to override the veto.
The concerning part is that left-wing forces demonstrated their ability to achieve that number in the House and it will continually be close in the Senate, depending on what individual Senators do on a particularly bill.
As I noted, the main subject we dealt with in the Senate was the tax bill.  Let's address that first.
Tax Increase Plan - HB 2178

Late last week, both the House and Senate debated and voted on HB 2178, a bill to dramatically increase taxes on Kansas families and businesses.  HB 2178 would have been the largest tax increase in state history, increasing taxes on hard-working Kansans by over a $1 billion over two years.  The various aspects of the tax plan included:
Taxable Income
Tax Year
Current Law
Sub for HB 2178
Tax Year 2017
Tax Year 2017
$100,0001 +
  • HB 2178 would have raised income taxes on all working-class Kansans making over $15,000 ($30,000 married) per year.  The lowest bracket, currently at 2.7%, is scheduled to drop to 2.6% in 2018 - this bill eliminated that scheduled decrease.
  • HB 2178 eliminated future tax relief for the working poor by removing the "glide path" provision contained in current law, meaning even if revenues were up, taxes would not go down.
  • HB 2178 added a third-tier bracket that would raise income taxes on all Kansans making over $50,000 ($100,000 married) per year.
  • HB 2178 would have negatively impacted job growth in Kansas, by imposing a dramatic new tax on job creators, reducing the ability of small businesses to reinvest in the Kansas economy. 
  • HB 2178 was retroactive, which would have altered current tax policy in the middle of the tax year.  It is inherently unfair to retroactively tax families and businesses that have made decisions based on current law.  It is indefensible for the state to change the rules, mid-tax year.
  • HB 2178 included a "losses loophole", which would have incentivized and subsidized business losses while punishing productivity.
  o   The Net Operating Loss (NOL) provision, allows losses from one entity to be deducted from a separate profitable entity, which eliminates or sharply reduces tax liability.

o   For example, a financial advisor may have a successful business where he/she makes a significant profit. That same filer may also operate a farm that incurs losses. Those losses can be used to offset the profits made in the individual's other business, thereby allowing for a reduction in tax liability for that filer.
As you can see, HB 2178 was strewn with tax increases on low and middle class families, it penalized entrepreneurs and reversed all the steps we have taken to make Kansas more economically competitive with our neighbors.  Workers and job creators alike were targeted in this legislation.

Late last week, the Kansas House and Senate both adopted the legislation by margins shy of the margin required to override a veto.  In the Senate, the margin was 22-18.  At the time, the Kansas Truth Caucus, of which I am a part, released the following statement:

This week, liberal Republicans and Democrats, voted to raise taxes on hard-working Kansans who are already struggling to make ends meet. This massive tax hike unfairly targets low and middle-income families, who work hard to support their families. Instead of living within its means, the Kansas Legislature, decided to pass the largest tax increase in state history, which retroactively reaches into the pocketbooks of working families to balance its bloated budget.

Kansans deserve a fair and stable tax structure that they can count on. Ronald Reagan once said, 'Simple fairness dictates that government must not raise taxes on families struggling to pay their bills.' Unfortunately, for the hard-working families struggling to pay their bills, the Kansas House failed today to heed this sound advice.

Raising taxes without any real effort to reduce spending is counter not only to Republican principles, but also to common sense."

On Tuesday night of this week, conservatives were relieved when Governor Brownback announced his veto of the legislation.  That sent the measure back to the chamber of origin, the House, which then considered the veto override on Wednesday.  Despite the measure not achieving the 84 votes required to override on initial passage, this time the override attempt managed to secure 85 votes, with two members changing their votes from No to Yes during the vote, even as Explanations of Vote were being read on the House floor!   

What was particularly telling about the reaction was the open joy members the House showed in raising your taxes. Cheers erupted when the 84th vote came through, as if to celebrate taking more money out of the pocket of hard working Kansans, many of whom are taking substantial risks to create jobs and put food on the table.  It was, in a word, unconscionable.

Given the veto override in the House, the measure was sent to the Senate, where we considered the override motion that same afternoon, which would have required 27 votes.  Thankfully, it only garnered 24 votes, killing the legislation.   Afterward, the Kansas Truth Caucus said:

"The Kansas taxpayers were given a small victory today, as the Kansas Senate sustained the governor's veto of the largest tax increase in state history. We commend those courageous Senators who were willing to stand up and fight for Kansas families who are already struggling to make ends meet."
The "small victory" is pointed because of just how close the left-wing came to achieving their desired goal of imposing this tax increase, which means they will come back immediately after break with another version of tax increases.  The 85 votes in the House and 24 votes in the Senate for overriding the governor's veto of a massive tax increase, unanimously supported by Democrats, should be a dire warning signal to hard-working Kansans.  While conservatives who believe in limited government will continue to fight, the proponents of growing government will not relent and were unfortunately empowered by the election results of 2016.  The only answer is for the people to rise up and say, "No."

As William F. Buckley, Jr. said, "The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry."

Medicaid Expansion

On the same day that they voted to override the governor's veto of HB 2178, the Kansas House also voted to advance (with final passage a day later) a plan to impose more ObamaCare in Kansas by expanding Medicaid with a near veto-proof majority.  This vote was particularly puzzling given that Congress is posed to repeal ObamaCare, which allowed for the expansion of Medicaid in the first place.  

Perhaps even more unbelievably, this was done right after the Kansas House voted to increase taxes, ostensibly to balance the budget.  Yet, the cost of Medicaid expansion, if Congress follows through with their promise to repeal, would be $465 million per year for Kansas taxpayers. That is $465 million every year diverted from not only Medicaid funding for the disabled and the elderly, but also from education, infrastructure, and public safety funding. 
Medicaid Expansion is a bad idea because it would expand the program to include taxpayer-funded healthcare coverage to able-bodied adults. The Medicaid program currently serves the disabled, the poor elderly, children and pregnant women. The expansion would provide coverage for able-bodied adults below 133% of poverty, moving people off private plans and into government dependency.
Currently, there are over 4,300 disabled Kansans on waiting lists for Medicaid services. Our priority should be to those Kansans -- and it is simply wrong to put those who are most needy at the back of the line behind able-bodied adults.
As the bill now moves to the Senate, I will be addressing this in more detail in future newsletters.  I suspect that due to the margins on the tax plan, we may be looking at the need for a veto from the governor, yet again.  

Other Threats to Our Principles

The left-wing march did not stop there.  Not satisfied with merely raising taxes and inviting ObamaCare into Kansas, the Kansas House tripled down on rejected liberal ideas this week when it passed a bill (HB 2186) that undermines local control. HB 2186 removes the question of public school teacher tenure from local school boards and makes it a state mandate. This empowers the big teachers' union, which has too long been an impediment to meaningful education reform and long-term school finance solutions.

It is vitally important that local control be a principle we not only put on campaign postcards, but it is a principle we should work to get into policy once elected to office. Previous legislatures dealt with the issue of public school tenure to a successful conclusion, leaving it up to local school districts. This legislation reverses that principle and, once again, makes the state the decision maker on something that ultimately should be a decision between local school boards and their teachers.

Much like with Medicaid Expansion, I will be resisting these efforts in the Senate.  We must remain strong on local control, particularly in this period of time when we are considering a new formula.  There are some who would like to go to the "old model" of school finance, when it is vital we remain vigilant on pursuing a course that allows local school districts the flexibility they need to fund their schools and adopt policies that best work for them.
Bill Rundown

As I noted at the outset of this newsletter, we also considered a large number of other bills this week.  There were several I voted "No" on, and the list is included below.  My "No" votes largely regard a feeling that the bill expanded government or infringed upon our liberties.  Here is a list:

CABIN FEES OWED/OPERATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, PARKS, AND TOURISM ( SB 25): SB 25 removes the requirement for a public hearing to set cabin fees owned or operated by the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The bill would give authorization to the Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to establish and change fees for the use of cabins owned and operated by the Department and for camping permits at state parks without the authorization of the Department's Commission and without conducting a public hearing. The bill would also eliminate the statutory maximum on cabin rental fees. Current law requires that a public hearing be set to increase or decrease fees for the use of cabins owned and operated by the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. This bill passed the Senate 26-14. I voted No.
A BILL INCREASING THE VESSEL REGISTRATION FEE CAP (SB 26): SB 26 increases the maximum fee that can be charged by the Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for vessel registrations - from $30 to $60 - excluding small human powered vessels, which are not required to be registered at all. Vessel registration fees were last increased in 2006. The Department noted that Kansas was in danger of losing federal funds used for boating access and safety projects because the Department cannot currently match these federal funds.
This bill passed the Senate 36-4.  I voted No.
REPEALING REGISTRATION FEES FOR CERTAIN VEHICLES (SB 36): SB 36 would repeal a registration fee for certain vehicles of interstate motor carriers that are used to transport commodities. The fee being repealed is one that is no longer collected because it was phased out several years ago by federal statue.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0. I voted Yes.
A BILL REGARDING MEMBERS OF JOINT COMMITTEE AND THE COMMISSION (SB 50): SB 50 changes the qualifications of members of the Advisory Committee to the Kansas Commission on Interstate Cooperation (the Commission) and the Joint Committee on Special Claims Against the State (Joint Committee). Previous law stated that the Commission would be composed of one member of the Kansas Bar. The bill would allow the chairperson to appoint, with the advice of the Senate President, a current or former member of the Legislature who is a member of the Kansas Bar to serve on the Commission. The bill also strikes a previous requirement that at least one representative and one senator of the Joint Committee be attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of Kansas.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0.
EXPANDING THE AUTHORITY OF THE STATE BOARD OF PHARMACY (SB 51): SB 51 expands the authority of the State Board of Pharmacy to allow for greater flexibility when scheduling controlled substance analogs and new drugs. Current law only allows for the Board to schedule new drugs once a year after the Kansas legislature approves the scheduling. The bill would allow for the initiation of scheduling of controlled substance analogs on an emergency basis upon the Board's finding of an imminent hazard to public safety. The bill would also allow the Board to schedule new drugs on an emergency basis.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0.
A BILL ADDING TO THE SCHEDULE OF CONTOLLED SUBSTANCES (SB 52): SB 52 adds several drugs and modifies drug classes to the schedules of controlled substances. The bill adds several synthetic opioids to schedule I, updates existing synthetic cannabinoid class definitions, adds thiafentanil to schedule II, and adds brivaracetam to schedule V.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0.
A BILL RELATING TO CONTRIBUTION REPORTS ( SB 56): SB 56 would eliminate filing last minute contribution reports at the office of the county election office and leave the requirement that reports be filed at the office of the Secretary of State.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0.
SUNSET OF CERTAIN DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FEES ( SB 60): SB 60 would modify and make additions to statutes relating to fertilizer and agricultural chemicals. The bill also adjusts the fees dealing with fertilizer and agricultural chemicals and extends the current fees imposed to administer programs dealing with pest control licensees, certification holders/dealers and dam inspections, and various applications dealing with water appropriations.  
This bill passed the Senate 35-5.  I voted No.
CREDITOR SALE OF REPOSSESSED ALCOHOLIC LIQUORS ( SB 65): SB 65 would allow for creditors to take alcoholic liquors as collateral for a loan. The creditors then would be able conduct a sale of that collateral to a distributor or other licensee to satisfy any debt owed to them. The bill would also require proceeds from any sale, including a sheriff's sale, to go to the creditor in fulfillment of debt owed. The remaining proceeds would then be returned to the debtor.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0. I  voted yes.
TERMS OF SERVICE FOR MEMBERS OF THE STATE BANKING BOARD ( SB 66): SB 66 specifies that a member of the State Banking Board cannot serve more than two full three-year terms. In the event of vacancy on the Board, the Governor is required to appoint a new member to fill the unexpired term. The bill clarifies that this mid-term appointment of a new Board member would not be considered a full term for purposes of the two-term limit.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0.  I voted Yes.
STATE-CHARTERED BANKS AND THE PURCHASE OF TAX CREDITS ( SB 67): SB 67 allows for state-chartered banks to purchase tax credits for certain historic structure rehabilitation expenditures. The bill would permit the amount of tax credits a state-chartered bank could hold at a given time to no more than 25 percent of the total sum of the bank's capital stock, surplus and undivided profits, or 100 percent of the allowance for loan and lease loss, capital notes and debentures, and reserve for contingencies.
This bill passed the Senate 38-2.  I voted No.
JOEY'S LAW ( Sub SB 74): Sub SB 74 provides authorization for the issuance of a placard to use in a vehicle for a person who could need assistance with cognition, especially when the person lacks the ability to follow the commands of a police officer. Once authorized, placards could be attached to the visor of a vehicle or placed on the dash of a vehicle. The bill would also provide the authorization of a decal that could be affixed to a license plate in addition to a placard and placement of an indicator that the person needs assistance with cognition on a driver's license or nondriver identification card issued by the Division of Vehicles. To obtain an issuance of a placard, a proof-of-need application must be submitted to the Division, and placement of an indicator on a driver's license or nondriver identification card would be given upon request to the Division. If a person requests a decal, the bill would direct such information be included as part of the vehicle registration.
This bill passed the Senate 28-11.  I voted No.  If a person has cognitive impairment to the extent that they would not be able to make decisions or follow the commands of a police officer, I don't believe that person should be driving.
): SB 87 amends law relating to the Kansas Credit Services Organization (CSO) Act. The bill would modernize the Act, and these changes would help CSOs provide additional services, strengthen safeguards for consumers, and update the regulatory process. This bill passed the Senate 36-4. I voted No.

ELECTRONIC RECORDING OF CERTAIN CUSTODIAL INTERROGATIONS ( SB 92): SB 92 requires all Kansas law enforcement agencies to adopt a detailed, written policy concerning the electronic recording of custodial interrogations conducted at the place of detention. This policy would have to be implemented on or before July 1, 2018. Local law enforcement agencies would be required to collaborate with their county or district attorney regarding the final policy contents. Included in the policy would be the requirement of electronically recording the entirety of a custodial interrogation that concerns a homicide or felony sex offense, as well as the making and signing of a statement during those interrogations.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0.  I voted Yes.
SUPPLEMENTAL HEALTH INSURANCE OF COVERAGE FOR CERTAIN STATE EMPLOYEES ( SB 110): SB 110 authorizes the Kansas Board of Regents to independently provide health care benefits for employees of a state educational institution when the state health care benefits program does not satisfy the requirements of the federal Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. The bill would permit Kansas educational institutions to provide benefits through self-insurance or the purchase of insurance contracts. These health care benefits provided would be limited to those not meeting federal requirements.
This bill passed the Senate 39-1.  I Voted Yes.
BACKGROUND CHECK ON INDIVIDUALS INTERACTION WITH CHILD CARE FACILITIES ( SB 126): SB 126 adds restrictions on individuals maintaining, residing, working, or volunteering in a child care facility. The restrictions would expand the list concerning existing prohibitions to include those individuals who have been convicted of arson. The list also includes individuals who have been convicted of a crime that requires registration as a sex offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act, and individuals who are registered on lists maintained by another state or the federal government that are like the Kansas Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.
This bill passed the Senate 38-2. I voted No.  This bill had several flaws, and didn't take expungement of a crime into consideration.
WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE IN SCHOOL ZONES( SB 144): SB 144 prohibits the use of wireless communication devices in a school zone or a road construction zone. The bill would aim to reduce distracted driving in these zones and increase safety for school children and construction workers.
This bill passed the Senate 21-17. I voted No. Kansas already has a law in place against distracted driving.
MENTAL HEALTH CARE RESIDENCY ( SB 32): SB 32 allows individuals pursuing mental health care residency training programs or child psychiatry to enter into residency bridging loan agreements with the University of Kansas School of Medicine. The bill would allow the University of Kansas School of Medicine to enter up to six individuals who commit to satisfying their loan obligations by practicing or teaching, general or child psychiatry. Kansas sees a shortage of psychiatrists, and the enactment of the bill could assist in recruiting and retaining psychiatrists in Kansas, especially in our rural areas.
This bill passed the Senate 35-5.  I voted No.  Currently, there are not enough resources availables in the budget to support this initiative.
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF COWLEY COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE ( SB 75): SB 75 allows for an additional member to the Board of Trustees of Cowley County Community College (CCCC), Sumner county residents would be able to hold an election to vote on the additional board member. This will ensure accountability to Sumner County voters.
The bill passed the Senate 40-0. I voted Yes.
DIVERSION OF WATER ( SB 48): SB 48requires any person with a valid water right or permit to divert and use water to first exhaust the administrative remedies available before seeking a court-ordered injunction. The bill would create a consistent administrative process that would be utilized before court action and create a consistent application for what constitutes a water impairment.
This bill passed the Senate 37-3.   I voted No.  The right to access the courts for adjudication of legal and equitable claims is a traditional and fundamental right of citizens.
CANDIDATE AND POLITICAL REPORTS ( SB 57): SB 57 would add the option for email addresses in campaign reports to the Secretary of State. Having access to email addresses would allow for easier communications between the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission and political campaign officers and party committees.
The bill passed the senate 37-3.   I voted No.
FEES FOR MILK CREAM AND DAIRY BUSINESSES ( SB 61): SB 61 extends the sunset date on several fees imposed by the Secretary of Agriculture in relation to milk, cream, and dairy businesses to June 30, 2023.
The bill passed the Senate 38-2. I voted No.
REPEALING THE REPOSSED CERTIFICATES OF TITLE FEE FUND ( SB 88): SB 88 would direct $3 charged for each certificate of title for a repossessed vehicle to the contractor or county treasure who processed the application. Under current law, the fee is remitted to the Secretary of Revenue and deposited into the Repossessed Certificates of the Title Fee Fund.
The bill passed the Senate 40-0.
RENOVATION TIMEFRAME OF DRIVERS' LICENSES ( SB 93): SB 93 would clarify the law concerning revocation of a person's driving privileges. The bill allows the Division of Vehicles to revoke driving privileges for a period of 90 days when they receive a record that a person has been convicted of certain crimes. Current law requires revocation, but does not specify the duration.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0.  I voted YES.
PUNISHMENT AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE OF UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA( SB 112,): SB112 reduces the penalty for unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and making burglary of a dwelling person a felony. Residential burglary was made a nonperson felony during the 2016 legislative session. Individuals felt it to be important to victims that it be a person felony because of the invasive and potentially dangerous nature of the crime.
This bill passed the Senate 39-1. I voted YES.
CHILD CUSTODY AND EVIDENCE OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ( SB 124):  SB 124 replaces the requirement for a court to consider evidence of "spousal abuse," either emotional or physical with a requirement to consider evidence of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse would include; a pattern or history of physically or emotionally abusive behavior or an act of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0. I voted Yes.
HOME HEALTH AGENCIES RELATING TO LICENSURE ( SB 154): SB 154 amends the Kansas Act on Credentialing by changing law concerning home and health agencies, including licensure and services..
This bill passed the Senate 38-2.  I voted Yes.
AMNESTY AGREEMENTS CONCERNING SUSPENDED DRIVERS' LICENSES ( SB 181): SB 181 authorizes a person whose driving privileges have been suspended for failure to comply with a traffic citation to enter into an amnesty agreement with a county or district attorney. The bill would allow a person unable to pay due to hardship or lack of employment to enter an additional agreement with the court to receive a credit against any fines imposed by performing community services or attending classes aimed at developing job skills and gaining employment, as approved by the court. The bill would help individuals by allowing them to drive legally, enhancing their ability to gain or retainemployment.
This bill passed the Senate 40-0. I voted Yes.
CRIMINAL SENTENCING SUBJECT TO A MANDATORY MINIMUM TERM OF IMPRISONMENT ( SB 42):  SB 42 modifies law concerning mandatory minimum sentences for individuals who receive life sentences. The bill would clarify provisions on sentencing so that if a person was convicted of serious crimes they are punished appropriately and consistently with their actions and criminal history.
The bill passed the Senate 40-0. I voted Yes.
ADVANCED VOTING BALLOTS ( Sub SB 8): Sub SB 8 revises deadlines regarding advance voting ballots. The bill would allow for the counting of advance voting ballots received after Election Day but postmarked on or before that day.
The bill passed the Senate 27-13.  I voted No. An amendment was added that allowed mail-in ballots to be delivered at the polling place in an unsecured manner.
WATER CONSERVATION AREA FINDINGS ( SB 46): SB 46 amends law that relates to water conservation areas.
The bill passed the Senate 40-0. I voted Yes.
MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION COLLECTION OF FEES ( SB 89): SB 89 authorizes the Division of Vehicles or a contractor of the Division to be paid fees for registration and certificates of title, along with the county treasurer. Current law permits only county treasurers to be the sole recipient of fees associated with commercial vehicle registration, even though CMV office staff are completing the registration work. The bill would allow the unit completing the work to collect the associated administrative fees. Allowing the Division of Vehicles to retain the fees associated with registrations will provide funding needed to maintain and enhance their registration systems.
The bill passed the Senate 34-6. I voted No. This should be possible without increasing fees.
GRAND JURIES SUMMONED BY PETITION ( SB 62): SB 62 amends the law concerning grand juries summoned by petition. It would allow a person who files by petition the right to appeal.
The bill passed the Senate 22-17. I voted Yes. This legislation is very important for citizens in the case of government corruption.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR MENTAL HEALTH NURSES ( SB 100): SB 100 would give priority when awarding scholarships in the Nursing Service Scholarship Program to qualified applicants whose sponsor is a mental health or treatment facility. Those filing for the scholarship would not need to be a Kansas resident to be eligible, and the scholarship would be capped at 70% of in-state tuition. There is a tremendous need for nurses in mental health and treatment facilities in Kansas.  
The bill passed the Senate 40-0. I voted Yes.
PROTECTION FROM ABUSE ACT ( SB 101): SB 101 extends the provisions of the Protection from Abuse Act and Protection from Stalking Act to victims of sexual assault. Kansas is one of 17 states that does not have a civil protective order for sexual assault victims.Currently, the Protection from Abuse Act applies to intimate partners and household members, and the Protection from Stalking Act applies to victims of stalking, which requires two or more separate acts over a period. Under this context, it is nearly impossible for a victim who does not know the attacker to obtain a protective order.
This bill passed the Senate 40 to 0. I voted Yes.
REVISED UNIFORM FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS ACT ( SB 63): SB 63 allows those with power of attorney or those who are designated in a will to have access to digital assets . This authorization would allow a person to maintain digital assets access if the user resides in Kansas or resided in Kansas at the time of the user's death.  The bill allows Kansas to keep pace with technological advances in the Internet age.
This bill passed the Senate 40 to 0. I voted Yes.
KANSAS PET ANIIMAL ACT ( SB 47): SB 47 includes many amendments and additions to the Kansas pet animal act. These include; a licensure program for animal rescue networks, allows animal shelters to use pet animal foster homes, and makes changes to how licensed facilities are inspected.
This bill passed the Senate 34-5.  I voted No. This measure vastly increased the scope and size of government when it is not necessary.
KANSAS LAY CAREGIVER ACT ( SB 68): SB 68 creates the Kansas Lay Caregiver act. The bill requires a hospital to provide each patient, or the patient's legal guardian, with an opportunity to designate a caregiver. \ The bill ensures that the hospital provides proper aftercare instructions to the designated caregiver.
This bill passed the Senate 38-1. I voted Yes.
ARREST WITH A WARRANT FOR VIOLATION OF AN APPEARANCE BOND CONDITION ( SB 40): SB 40 changes the law concerning revocation of appearance bonds. Currently, officers must obtain a warrant signed by a judge. The bill would allow the magistrate to authorize a pretrial services supervision officer which allows them the power to arrest a defendant without a warrant if the defendant violates the conditions of their bond. 
This bill passed the Senate 38-1. I voted Yes.
DRUG AND ALCOHOL TEST REPORTS ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE ( SB 114): SB 114 amends the Child in Need of Care proceedings. It allows for the admissibility of certain tests for drugs or alcohol in proceedings. This change eliminates the need for drug testers to leave their work and make an in-court appearance to testify to the results of their drug testing.
The bill passed the Senate 39-0. I voted Yes.
WRITTEN NOICE ON VOTING PLACE CHANGE ( SB 78): SB 78 prohibits a county to change its polling place for an election without providing a mailed notice. Notice would have to be sent out to voters at least 30 days prior to the election. A waiver from this requirement is granted if the county election officer declares an emergency. The bill would clear up confusion regarding the changing of polling places, allowing for no obstacles to voter participation.  
The bill passed the Senate 39-0. I voted Yes.
EXPUNGEMENT OF ARREST RECORDS RESULTING MISTAKEN IDENTITY OR INDENTITY THEFT ( SB 136): SB 136 creates a mandatory expungement of an arrest record for a person arrested because of mistaken identity or identity theft. An arrest record can negatively impact a person's ability to get a job or secure a loan, and the bill would provide a swift process to ensure a mistaken arrest does not remain on a person's record.
This bill passed the Senate 38-1. I voted Yes.

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We are now adjourned until March 6th.   After we return:
  • We will begin considering House bills that have been adopted, first in Senate committees and if they pass, then on the Senate floor.
  • I suspect we will visiting more tax legislation.  A number of bills have been introduced to increase taxes, from repealing the small business exemption to broader proposals like the one we just rejected, with some tweaks designed to peel off a few votes. 
  • We have yet to deal with the 2017 budget and the need to pass a rescission bill, and the longer we delay, there will be less to cut. We then must pass a budget for the next two years, which must involve spending reductions. 
  • Looming is the school finance decision on adequacy, which will likely have a major impact on our budget going forward.  This is not the type of legislative body which would stand against a school ruling directing us to increase spending.
  • There will be an attempt to roll back the welfare reform we enacted, which has removed people off government dependency and into work.  I will be resisting those efforts.
I look forward to keeping you up to date on these bills!  Until then, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

In honor of your liberty,

Mary Pilcher-Cook 
Paid for by Pilcher Cook Senate Campiagn ; Sheila Wodtke, Treasurer