GUEST COLUMN, Shannon Francis, Kansas State Representative
This weekend Carol and I celebrated the marriage of our daughter Kelly to Dustin Dailing. Dustin is a graduate of the Liberal Public Schools, like Kelly. He is the son of David and Karla Dailing. We are so happy to have Dustin join the family!
It was a busy week in Topeka. Vickie Harshbarger, staff and clients of the Liberal Mosaic facility were at the Capitol. Mosaic works to improve the lives of Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (“IDD”). Mosaic recognizes that people with disabilities desire and deserve greater independence and closer ties to the community. Mosaic empowers people in their unique pursuit of happiness. Providing truly personalized services, they help people achieve their goals and dreams. Some of the services Mosaic of Liberal provides include day services, employment skills, group setting, medical and nursing, mental and behavioral health and autism services, Mosaic at Home, supported living (24/7) and targeted case management.
Marshall Lewis, Executive Director of Southwest Guidance Center talked to me about a proviso in Appropriations that would speed up the transition of Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC).
Below are a few bills that passed the House this week.
House Sub for SB 83: Making appropriations for the state department of education for FY 2024, establishing the sunflower education equity act to provide education savings accounts for qualified students, requiring school districts to provide a salary increase to all licensed teachers and defining enrollment of small school districts as the highest enrollment from the preceding four years under the Kansas school equity and enhancement act.
This bill, sometimes referred to in the news as a school voucher bill, narrowly passed the House on a vote of 64-61. The bill would have increased state spending for public and private education entities by $222 million when fully implemented above the $4.8 billion that has already been budgeted under the Gannon school finance lawsuit settlement for fiscal year 2023. While there were aspects of the bill that I support, there were serious concerns brought forward about accountability for our students and oversight of our tax dollars in the plan. For instance, there would be no accreditation of schools or basic curriculum standards to ensure that parents could gauge academic outcomes for their children. Also, the oversight was placed under the State Treasurer who would have to create a new bureaucracy to administer the funding. This calls the constitutionality of this bill into question. Our state constitution Article 6 Section 2a says: “(a) The legislature shall provide for a state board of education which shall have general supervision of public schools, educational institutions and all the educational interests of the state.”
House Sub for SB 229: Creating the legislative compensation commission and prescribing powers and duties of the commission and the legislature.
HB 2400: Enacting the Kansas adult learner grant act to facilitate workforce development by providing grants and workforce retention incentive payments to adults who pursue baccalaureate degrees from eligible postsecondary educational institutions in certain fields of study.
HB 2422: Eliminating the statutory qualifications listed for the chief inspector for boiler safety appointed by the state fire marshal.
HB 2225: Limiting cost recovery for certain electric public utilities’ transmission-related costs.
HB 2331: Designating Lehigh Portland state park.
SB 14: Updating the version of risk-based capital instructions in effect.
SB 19: Requiring certain premium taxes to be paid 90 days after each calendar year and basing such premium taxes upon the gross premiums collected for the previous calendar year.
SB 26: Specifying certain requirements necessary to demonstrate fiscal soundness for health maintenance organizations and Medicare provider organizations applying for certificates of authority.
HB 2247: Authorizing any person to become a bank depositor or safe deposit box leaseholder, providing methods in which bank deposits may be withdrawn and prohibiting banks from requiring a cosigner for an account of certain minors in the custody of the secretary for children and families, secretary of corrections or a federally recognized Indian tribe.
HB 2388: Requiring that licensing bodies provide verified electronic credentials to credential holders, including military servicemembers and others receiving Kansas credentials based on their credentials from other jurisdictions, and use centralized electronic credential data management systems with instantaneous credential verification and an auditable record.
HB 2105: Enacting the Kansas earned wage access services act, establishing requirements, duties and prohibitions for persons engaged in earned wage access services and providing for the administration of such act by the office of the state bank commissioner.