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Thu January 24, 2013
Top Morning News 1.24.13
House to discuss union fundraising; Proposal would move spring elections to the fall; Despite looming cuts, Gov's council wants to keep military in the state.
House Bill Would Limit Union Fundraising Abilities
A Kansas House committee is preparing to debate a bill that prevents public employee unions from automatically deducting money from members' paychecks to finance political activities.
The Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee will take up the bill Thursday.
Republican legislators and business groups supporting the measure say it will protect workers from having to contribute to political activities they don't support. They say workers who support unions' activities can still write checks themselves.
But labor officials say joining their organizations and paycheck deductions are voluntary and see the real goal as crippling their fundraising. Democrats and GOP moderates blocked such a measure in 2011.
Spring Elections Could Soon Be In The Fall
A proposal in the state Legislature would move the spring local government elections to the fall. Secretary of State Kris Kobach shared the plan with lawmakers Wednesday.
Despite Funding Cuts, Council Wants To Keep Military In Kansas
The Governor's Military Council will make their case for maintaining the presence of the armed forces in Kansas ahead of likely cuts in defense spending.
During their meeting with Gov. Brownback Wednesday, the council focused on the potential loss of spending and personnel at Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth and McConnell Air Force Base. The Department of Defense projects it will cut 114,000 personnel nationwide by the year 2021.
The council is also watching the competition among states to house the new KC-46 air refueling tanker. Earlier this month, the Air Force named McConnell and Topeka's Forbes Field as finalists. Decisions on where to base the tankers are expected later this year.
Proposal Would Change Judicial Selection Process
A proposal to give Kansas governors and lawmakers more power over appointments to the state's appellate courts cleared a legislative committee Wednesday.
Turnpike Authority President To Testify On KDOT Merger
Turnpike Authority President Michael Johnston will testify at the House Appropriations Committee about Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal to merge his agency with the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The authority is responsible for operating and maintaining the 236-mile toll road that stretches from Kansas City to the Oklahoma border south of Wichita.
Brownback has estimated the state could save $15 million in each of the next two years by combining KDOT and the Turnpike Authority.
2013 Legislative Session