By State Rep. Blaine Finch, 59th District, Franklin and Osage Counties
Greetings to you from our State Capitol. It has been a relatively quiet week on the house floor in Topeka as we have returned from the post turn around break. However, that doesn’t mean committee work has been slow. Many house committees are working on a lot of bills or spending time on significant legislation.
This week the House Judiciary Committee heard several bills on topics as diverse as who can access online accounts, electronic assets, and social media accounts when a person passes away, to how best to respond to recent court decisions on the state’s sexually violent predator program.
In the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee the focus was all on juveniles and the effort to put together a “trailer” bill to last year’s big reform bill, SB 367. That bill modernized Kansas’ juvenile justice system to use evidenced-based practices and community-based services that do a better job of reducing offending behavior, keeping the public safe, keeping kids out of jail, and reinvesting the resulting savings in programs that work.
A “trailer” bill is a very common occurrence when the legislature tackles a big issue. Things get missed in the first bill or tweaks and adjustments are needed to help make sure the intent of the law is realized in real world applications. Thanks to many dedicated public servants including judges, prosecutors, court services officers, and the outside assistance of the Pew Charitable Trusts, we were able to consider several good amendments to a house “trailer” bill this week. This new bill keeps the positive and necessary reforms of SB 367 but makes small adjustments where stakeholders identified areas of need. The committee worked the bill this week and I expect will pass it out for consideration by the whole House next week.
On the floor this week the House passed one bill. It was a bill concerning the upcoming election for a new congressman in the fourth congressional district that was vacated when Rep. Mike Pompeo became the new head of the CIA. The bill changed deadlines so a couple of local ballot issues could be considered in the same election, thus saving money.
As house committees begin considering, working and passing out senate bills we will see more floor debate in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, committees continue to work on the new school funding formula, potential tax plans, and the budget for 2018 and 2019. I expect action on several of those issues in the next three weeks before the legislature adjourns for its April recess.
Finally, this week I was pleased to visit with members of the Farm Bureau from Franklin and Osage counties. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with them about the issues facing our farmers and always find those talks informative and enlightening.
If there is ever an issue on your mind or if you have something that I can help you with I hope you will take the time to call or write. I can be reached at 785-296-7655 or firstname.lastname@example.org.