Kansas senators approved a bill Thursday that would require many of the state's elected officials and applicants for certain welfare benefits to undergo drug testing.
Applicants for Temporary Assistance to Need Families (or TANF) would undergo testing, as well as the governor, legislators and other state workers. Supporters say the measure is designed to help poor residents kick their addictions, get job training skills, and find employment. Opponents say the bill perpetuates the stereotype that poor people are also drug users.
Supporters say a bill to require some recipients of state benefits to be tested for drug use will help people improve their lives, not punish them.
Senate Vice President Jeff King told the Commerce Committee Wednesday that the proposals in Senate Bill 149 will help those receiving assistance payments or unemployment benefits to receive treatment and find employment.
The Kansas Senate Assessment and Taxation committee endorsed most of Gov. Sam Brownback's tax plan Tuesday. The committee spent fewer than 10 minutes discussing the governor's proposals before approving the bill. The legislation could move to the full senate for debate next week.
Gov. Brownback wants to phase out personal income taxes in Kansas over the next four years. The committee kept the governor's call to balance the tax cuts by making a temporary sales tax hike permanent. However, they cut his proposal to eliminate an income tax deduction for property taxes on homes.
A Kansas Senate committee has delayed debate on Governor Sam Brownback's tax proposal. A mistake at the Statehouse printing office meant the scheduled debate was left off the official Senate calendar for Tuesday.
Senator Les Donovan, a Republican from Wichita, said he didn't want to work on the tax plan without letting the public know about it. Donovan added, though, that senators could use some more time to prepare for the debate.
Incoming Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce has filled out his staff with a former congressional intern and an aide to the state House speaker.
Bruce chose Kara Evans to be his legislative director. Evans recently graduated with a bachelor of arts in political science and government from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. Evans has worked as an intern for Republican U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Bruce has also hired Katrina Abraham as his executive assistant. Abraham held the same position for outgoing House Speaker Mike O'Neal.
State Senator Steve Abrams of Arkansas City says he plans to run for president of the Kansas Senate.
Abrams, a Republican who has represented the 32nd District since 2008, says he would champion conservative principles if he is chosen Senate president. He promised to insist on civility while working with Gov. Sam Brownback and the House to promote a conservative agenda.
State Senator Susan Wagle, a Republican from Wichita, also plans to run for Senate president, if she defeats Democrat Patrick Cantwell, also from Wichita, in the November 6 general election.