Government

2013 Legislative Session
6:12 am
Fri February 1, 2013

KS House Passes Automatic Union Contribution Bill

The Kansas House chambers at the Statehouse.
Credit Stephen Koranda

The Kansas House has passed a bill on a 68-56 vote that restricts one type of political fundraising used by public employee unions. The bill would ban public sector unions from making automatic withdrawals from employee paychecks for political purposes.

Under current law, public employees can voluntarily donate to their union’s political advocacy fund out of their paycheck. Supporters of the bill say it keeps workers from being pressured into making the contributions.

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2013 Legislative Session
5:35 am
Fri February 1, 2013

School Board Group Supports Brownback Tax Plan

Some conservative groups are opposing Gov. Sam Brownback's new tax plan because it includes revenue-raising measures along with additional income tax cuts.

But the Kansas Association of School Boards is supporting the plan because it's aimed at filling a $500 million budget gap caused by last year's tax cuts.

The group's position surprised Senate Tax Committee Chairman Les Donovan, when he called on KASB lobbyist Mark Tallman to testify at a recent hearing.

Donovan said he had Tallman down as a proponent, but he wasn't sure if that was correct.

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Government
5:59 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Community Survey Will Gauge Priorities, Your Willingness To Pay For Them

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer speaking to the media Wednesday at City Hall.
Credit Briana O'Higgins

The City of Wichita and Sedgwick County Wednesday unveiled a new plan to help establish the communities priorities for public investments

Kansas state law requires communities have a plan for public spending on infrastructure and facilities to guide elected officials. The plan is called "Community Investments Plan... A Framework For The Future" and will begin with a survey created by Wichita State University. The survey will be mailed this week to a random sample of 25,000 registered voters in Sedgwick County.

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Government
12:54 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Job Applicants' Online Privacy Would Be Preserved With Proposed State Bill

Two state lawmakers from Wichita are seeking support for a measure that would limit employers' access to job applicants' social media accounts. 

Rep. Gail Finney and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau both back measures to keep employers from requiring applicants to provide their usernames and passwords for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  

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Government
7:00 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Mayor Brewer: Wichita's Infrastructure Needs Costly Repairs

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer delivers his 2013 State of the City address to a crowd at City Hall Tuesday evening.
Credit Milt Radford / KMUW

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer delivered his annual State of the City address Tuesday to a crowd at City Hall.

Brewer said the majority of the city's water and sewer systems will need to be repaired or replaced in the next 30 years and the work will cost more than $2 billion.

He also said nearly half of Wichita's streets are below national standards and almost a third of its bridges need repair or maintenance.

Brewer said economic development is vital to increasing city revenue.

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2013 Legislative Session
6:37 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Bill Would Limit Collective Bargaining For Teachers

A bill in the House would limit the bargaining rights of teachers in Kansas.

A committee heard from supporters and opponents of the bill Tuesday. Supporters of the measure want administrators to have more flexibility to hire, fire and assign teachers.

The bill would take out some bargaining rights teachers currently have and would limit what can be negotiated by unions. For example, teacher evaluation processes could no longer be part of contract negotiations.

Some lawmakers say we need to look at new ways of recruiting, hiring and evaluating teachers.

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2013 Legislative Session
5:51 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Lawmakers Hear School Efficiency Suggestions

The head of a school efficiency task force Monday presented school efficiency recommendations to lawmakers in Topeka. The House and Senate education committees are meeting jointly this week to review education issues.

Gov. Sam Brownback formed the task force to look for ways to spend education funding more efficiently.

The task force endorsed cutting back teachers' bargaining rights and reviewing tenure, so administrators have more flexibility in hiring and firing. They also recommended merging school district administrations and redrawing some district boundaries.

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2013 Legislative Session
5:55 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Bill That Limits Unions' Fundraising Options Advances To Full House

A House committee has passed a bill that would stop public unions from making automatic paycheck deductions used for political advocacy.

Currently, union members can agree to deductions from their paychecks that are used for political purposes. The bill would affect teachers and other public workers, and brought up heated debate in the House Commerce Committee.

Opponents of the bill say it takes away an option for public employees to make political contributions.

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Government
1:25 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Should KS Drop Antique Guns From State Definition of 'Firearms?'

Not everyone's happy with a proposal to drop antique guns from the definition of firearms, as part of a bill to change Kansas' firearms regulations. Assistant attorney general C.W. Klebe discussed the proposed changes Wednesday before a Senate committee.

The changes include new regulations that clarify local governments can't bar concealed-carry license holders from bringing guns into their jurisdictions. It's not clear if this regulation change will apply to out-of-state visitors while they are in Kansas. 

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2013 Legislative Session
6:03 am
Thu January 24, 2013

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.

The measure would amend the Kansas Constitution to allow governors to appoint whomever they choose to the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, subject to Senate confirmation. It would scrap the statewide, attorney-led commission that now screens applications.

Currently, the commission nominates three finalists for the governor, who then makes the appointment without legislative review.

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