News From the Kansas Legislature – Week 10

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Rep. Bill Sutton

LCC School Finance Cost Study Released; Errors Cloud Credibility

The Estimating the Costs Associated with Reaching Student Achievement Expectations for Kansas Public Education Students: A Cost Function Approach was prepared by Dr. Lori Taylor with WestEd.

House and Senate attorneys Curt Tideman and Jeff King gave a brief overview of the study, which they had received only hours beforehand. The study was found to have significant errors in appendix D, which called into question the validity of numbers contained within the report.

Therefore, the information provided below is based on the substance of the report, as we currently know it.
Public questions regarding Dr. Taylor’s credibility date back to a February 24, 2018 article in the Topeka Capital Journal, where legislators asked her directly during a committee meeting about previous criticism she had received from a Texas court. The Capital Journal reported, “Taylor was dismissive of criticism related to excerpts from Texas court opinions in a 2005 school finance case that indicated her research on behalf of the Texas Legislature was “not credible” and “seriously flawed.”

The Taylor study sets forth the idea that the “cost of education in Kansas varies by district for reasons outside of school district control. Put simply, some districts must spend more to provide similar educational services.” Taylor says when “addressing adequacy of the Kansas system of funding requires attention to both the level of funding and structure whereby it is allocated to individual districts.”

The three differences, as defined by Dr. Taylor:
• Needs: Differences in Resource level differences as required to provide educational services to different student populations will drive differences in educational costs. Examples: Disadvantaged, gifted, or vocational students.

• Prices: Differences in labor prices and other educational resources.
Example: Districts in areas where the cost of living is high will pay more for quality teachers.

• Economies of Scale: Economies of scale will lead to differences in educational costs. Example: Small districts may not be able to take advantage of economies of scale like the larger districts can.

The Taylor study was based on the desired outcome of a 95% graduation rate for all schools statewide. While this is a lofty goal, the reality is that no other state in the nation is anywhere near it. Iowa currently has the highest graduation rate at 90.8%.

The Taylor study ultimately recommended three scenarios, each to be phased-in over a five-year period. The cost presented of the different scenarios included a funding range increase of $451 million to over $2.0 billion per year, which is out of the range of any realistic increase and into the range of fantasy.

The Taylor Study Detailed Three Scenarios:
1. Cadillac plan – $451 Million – (No Compensatory Support) Bring Kansas to
95% graduation rate, which would be the highest in the nation by over 4
percentage points. A 9.7 percent increase in funding.
2. Corvette plan – $1.7 Billion – (Scenario A) Bring Kansas to 95% graduation rate plus add Scenario A that provides ELA and Math Assessments to Level 2 for 90%. A 38.4 percent increase in funding.
3. Lamborghini plan – $2.0 Billion – (Scenario B) Bring Kansas to 95% graduation rate plus Scenario B that provides ELA and Math Assessments to Level 3 for 60%. A 44.4 percent increase in funding.

The highly-anticipated release of the school finance cost study has produced more questions than answers. Fundamental errors in one of the study’s appendix calls into question the validity of the recommendation, as well as the credibility of the study itself. It should not come as a surprise to anyone that a government study recommended more government spending.

Taxpayers are rarely, if ever, represented when their hard-earned money is being divvied up by out-of- state consultants. Throwing outrageous amounts of money into a failing system does not help our students who deserve an educational system that meets their individual needs.

RESOLUTION ON SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

On Tuesday, the Kansas House recognized the Kansas Small Business Development Center’s 2018 Businesses of the Year with House Resolution 6051.

The resolution was sponsored by 75 members of the House. The resolution noted that the mission of the Kansas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is to, “increase economic prosperity in Kansas by helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses through professional consulting and training, and the identification of appropriate resources. The Kansas SBDC choose seven Emerging Businesses of the Year, seven Existing Businesses of the Year, and two Exporting Businesses of the Year award recipients.

The 2018 Kansas SBDC Emerging Businesses of the Year are: BellaRose Boutique and Tanning Salon, LLC in Burlington, owned by Lindsay Beyer; Lost Creek Supply in Kensington, owned by Kaid Baumann; Angel Competition Bikinis, LLC in Lenexa, owned by Karah and Lauren Beeves; HMC Performance Coatings in Tonganoxie, owned by Shawn and Amie Bristol; Root Coffeehouse in Pittsburg, owned by Lindsey and Trent King; Advantage Marketing in Wichita, owned by Cori Kohlmeier and Amy Hoefer; and Sugar Creek Country Store in St. Marys, owned by Dan Hohman.

The 2018 Kansas SBDC Existing Businesses of the Year are: Radius Brewing Company, LLC in Emporia, owned by Justin Bays, Jeremy Johns and Chad Swift; KYVZ Radio in Atwood, owned by Joe Vysourek; KC Restoration, LLC in Olathe, owned by Bill and LeAnn Luemmen; KEAdvisors in Lawrence, owned by Keith Ely; LaHarpe Telephone Company, Inc. in LaHarpe, owned by Harry Lee, Joyce Lee and Carol Higginbotham; T & B Towing, LLC in Liberal, owned by Ty Rader; Overstock Art, LLC in Wichita, owned by David Sasson; and Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise in Alma, owned by Lori Daniel

The 2018 Kansas SBDC Exporting Businesses of the Year are: Double D Family Mat Shop, Inc. in Park, owned by Dale and Dena Goetz; and Northwind Technical Services, LLC in Sabetha, owned by Mike and Marlene Bosworth.

DROUGHT CONDITIONS, EXECUTIVE ORDER

On Tuesday, Governor Colyer signed Executive Order 18-11, which officially declares a Drought Watch, Drought Warning, or Drought Emergency in several counties throughout the state.

The order also authorizes and directs agencies to implement appropriate responses under the Governor’s Drought Response Team.

Drought Watch counties: Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Brown, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Crawford, Decatur, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Geary, Gove, Graham, Jackson, Jefferson, Jewell, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Linn, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, Miami, Mitchell, Nemaha, Norton, Osage, Osborne, Ottawa, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Rawlins, Republic, Riley, Rooks, Shawnee, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wyandotte
Drought Warning counties: Allen, Butler, Chautauqua, Chase, Cowley, Dickinson, Elk, Ellis, Ellsworth, Greeley, Greenwood, Harvey, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, McPherson, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Ness, Rush, Russell, Saline, Scott, Trego, Wallace, Wichita, Wilson, Woodson
Drought Emergency counties: Barber, Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Hamilton, Harper, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Meade, Morton, Pawnee, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Sedgwick, Seward, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner
Click here to view the executive order.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP RESEARCH

On Tuesday, the Agriculture Committee heard testimony on SB 263, which would allow the Kansas Department of Agriculture to cultivate and research the uses of industrial hemp. Principally, the research would be conducted in effort to analyze its required soils, growing conditions, harvest methods, and the potential for an industrial hemp market in Kansas.

Additionally, a pilot program in Russell County would be established to study its effect on economic development and the development of industrial hemp products. Representatives Willie Dove, Steven Johnson, and Troy Waymaster expressed their support, as well as the Department of Agriculture, the Sierra Club, small businesses, and private citizens.

Data was included that showed hemp uses 66% less water than corn, requires virtually no pesticides or fertilizers, and has great potential to improve agricultural and economic activity in rural Kansas. Opponents argued that the provisions of the bill would lead to the legalization of marijuana, while others asserted that this bill would not go far enough concerning hemp.

In March of 2017, the House passed HB 2182 on a vote of 103-18. HB 2182 differs from SB 263, in that SB 263 solely allows the Department of Agriculture, either alone or in coordination with a state institution of higher education to grow, cultivate, and research industrial hemp. Earlier in February, the Senate approved this bill with a final vote count of 36-3. The committee passed SB 263 this week, and has yet to be considered by the Committee of the Whole.

HOUSE STRENGTHENS TIES WITH ISRAEL

On Friday, the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs held a hearing on HB 2778, which would prohibit the state from entering into a contract with a company engaged in the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement against the country of Israel.

The bill’s language is clear that this legislation would ensure vendors contracting with the State of Kansas do not discriminate against Israel. Proponents testified and explained the need to strengthen ties with our ally and trade partner, and would prevent illegal discrimination against the Middle Eastern country. Further, conferees made note of the hardships Jews have experienced in the past, and the need to continue to move forward.

Concerning economics, it was noted that Kansas exports $57 million annually to Israel, and imports $84 million annually from them. The BDS movement hurts that trade partnership while also singles out the only Jewish state on earth. Written-only opposition testimony was supplied by the ACLU.

During the 2017 Session, HB 2409 (now K.S.A. 75-3740e et seq) was signed into law after having received overwhelming approval from both chambers. This bill, now experiencing legal challenges spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union, would prohibit the state from entering into a contract with a company or individual engaged in the BDS movement against Israel. HB 2409 passed the House with 116 years and 9 nays, and was swiftly challenged in federal court (Koontz v. Watson).

The federal district court has preliminarily determined that it was the Legislature’s intent to censor an individual’s freedom of speech.

Rep. Blaine Finch made note of the changes from HB 2778 and HB 2409, and reiterated the Attorney General’s opinion that it was not the Legislature’s intent to inhibit or hinder an individual’s First Amendment rights, but rather to prevent discrimination and emphasize the diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries. By excluding individuals and sole proprietorships in the bill’s language, and highlighting only businesses, it would resolve the constitutional concerns.
The committee has yet to act on this bill.

FLOOR ACTION

Friday, March 9
SB 405— Clarifying animal conversion units for poultry facilities with dry manure systems.

This bill would establish the animal unit measurement calculation for chicken facilities that use a dry manure waste system as the number of laying hens or broilers, multiplied by 0.003. The bill would also require a confined chicken facility to obtain a federal permit if the facility uses a dry manure system and confines 125,000 or more broilers or 82,000 or more laying hens.
Final Action, Monday, March 13, 84-37
Bill carried by: Representative Kyle Hoffman
I voted “aye.”

Monday, March 12
HB 2650— Designating the state rock as limestone, the state mineral as galena, and the state gemstone as jelinite amber.

This bill would designate the official state rock as limestone, the state mineral as galena, the state gemstone as jelinite amber, and the state fish as the channel catfish.
Final Action, Tuesday, March 13, 114-5
Bill carried by: Representative Tory Arnberger
I voted “aye.”

HB 2541— Amendments to the Kansas National Guard educational assistance act.

This bill would amend the Kansas National Guard Education Assistance Act, whereby the definition of “eligible guard member” to require the member not be under a suspension of favorable action flag or currently on the unit unfavorable information file.
Final Action, 119-0, March 13
Bill carried by: Representative Diana Dierks
I voted “aye.”

Tuesday, March 13
SB 267— Updating the effective date of risk-based capital instructions.

This bill would increase the effective date specified in the Insurance Code for risk-based capital instructions, promulgated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for property and casualty companies and for life insurance companies, from December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2017.
Final Action, Tuesday, March 13, 119-0
I voted “aye.”

SB 414— Updating egg repacking requirements.

This bill would allow the repackaging of eggs to be Grade B or better under certain conditions.
Final Action, Tuesday, March 13, 119-0
I voted “aye.”

Wednesday, March 14
HB 2516— Providing immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle related to the rescue of a person or animal.

The bill creates law providing immunity under specified circumstances when a person enters a vehicle, by force or otherwise, to remove a vulnerable person or animal. The bill was requested for introduction by Representative Shelee Brim.
Final Action, March 15, 122-1
Bill carried by: Representative Roger Elliott
I voted “aye.”

HB 2527— Creating the crime of unlawful acts involving automated sales suppression devices

The bill establishes a new crime involving knowingly selling, purchasing, installing, transferring, manufacturing, creating, designing, updating, repairing, using, or possessing certain automated sales suppression devices. The bill was requested for introduction by the Kansas Department of Revenue.
Final Action, March 15, 123-0
Bill carried by: Representative Tom Phillips
I voted “aye.”

SB 335— Including savings and loan associations and savings banks in the state banking code and repealing the savings and loan code

The bill amends and creates law to incorporate savings and loan associations and savings banks into the State Banking Code. Existing Savings and Loan Code is repealed. The bill was requested for introduction in the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee by the Kansas Bankers Association. The House Committee on Financial Institutions and Pensions Committee amended the bill to clarify references to mutual banks.

Representative Jim Ward proposed three amendments to the bill. Two of the three amendments brought by Representative Jim Ward were ruled non-germane. The ruling on the Medicaid expansion amendment was challenged and was sustained by a vote of 77-45.

Final Action, March 15, 122-1
Bill carried by: Representative Randy Powell
I voted “aye.”

HB 2232— Electronic monitoring in adult care homes
Motion to nonconcur with Senate changes
Motion adopted without objection
Motion carried by: Representative Erin Davis

Thursday March 15
HB 2749— Sales tax authority for Jackson county.

This bill would renew the existing sales tax authority for Jackson County to impose a countywide sales tax of 0.3% to finance public infrastructure, subject to voter approval.
Final Action, Friday, March 16, 108-10
Bill carried by: Representative John Barker
I voted “aye.”

HB 2489— Apportionment of corporate income under the multistate tax compact; election.

This bill would clarify the Multistate Tax Compact under Kansas statutory provisions relative to the definition of business income for corporation income tax purposes.
Final Action, Friday, March 16, 110-8
Bill carried by: Representative Tom Sawyer
I voted “aye.”

Sincerely,

Rep. Bill Sutton
Kansas House of Representatives