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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A proposal in the Legislature would move the spring local government elections to the fall, so they would coincide with state and national elections. The goal is increasing turnout in local elections, which is sometimes quite low. Secretary of State Kris Kobach discussed the plan with lawmakers Wednesday.
Kobach supports moving the spring elections if lawmakers take additional actions. The problem is that the district maps for the spring elections for local offices do not line up with the state office districts from the fall elections.
Gov. Sam Brownback has proclaimed Wednesday "Armed Forces Appreciation Day" in Kansas.
The governor says it's "a chance to show our deep gratitude for their service and sacrifice--and the sacrifice made by their families. Today we pledge our support for them in peace, in crisis, and in war."
Gov. Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt have proposed a bill that would strengthen the state's human trafficking statues, with an emphasis on protecting children from sexual exploitation.
The bill they'll submit to the state legislature establishes a Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund to support trafficking survivors. Mandatory fines on people convicted of human trafficking and related sex crimes will pay for the fund. The bill also provides for special procedures for children who have been subjected to human trafficking.
Gov. Sam Brownback would like to use some the state's highway dollars to help cover the cost of bussing children to and from public schools.
Brownback proposed Wednesday that the state divert $193 million normally set aside for highway projects to school transportation programs during the next two fiscal years. The diversion would be almost $97 million each year.
The Kansas Senate has passed a new rule that will make it harder to increase spending in budget bills.
The rule is known as "pay as you go," or "pay-go." It requires any budget amendment added on the Senate floor to be offset with an equal cut in spending. That means once a bill leaves committee, the overall amount of spending can't be increased.
Opponents of the change say it stifles senators, because they can't add spending to the budget for things their constituents would want.