Our thoughts and prayers are with the folks in Oklahoma impacted by the recent tornadoes. It certainly puts things in perspective about what’s important.
The Legislature is about to pass the 90th day of the session. The tax and budget committees are talking. The budget conference committee approved a budget yesterday that will likely be approved if a tax bill can be agreed upon as well. More to follow on this one!
LEGISLATURE AND NRA SILENCE DEBATE
HB 2162 was passed by the House yesterday and sent to the Governor for his signature. This bill is worth some discussion because it may be one of the most disturbing bills passed this session. The bill says that no state dollars can be spent to lobby about gun control. This includes any federal laws, any state laws that may be before the Legislature, and any local regulations about gun control that might be considered by your city council, township, university, school, or county government. The legislators who support the bill say it protects your second amendment rights. Those who oppose it say it abridges your first amendment rights. The executive branch and legislative branches were exempted from these restrictions.
Why did this bill come before the Legislature? Because the National Rifle Association did not like local governments standing in its way. They wanted local officials to shut up and the Legislature made it happen.
Here’s the scoop. The NRA wanted a bill to require local governments to allow concealed carry in all public buildings where there were no guards or metal detectors at the door. Universities, schools, and local governments lobbied against the bill because they thought they should get to say what happens in their jurisdictions and in their buildings, not the Legislature. That bill did pass, but the NRA didn’t like the opposition. To silence any future opposition the Legislature passed HB 2162. Now state dollars cannot be used to lobby for or against any bill regarding gun control by anyone outside of the Legislature or executive branch.
What is bothersome about this bill? First, this bill is not about protecting your second amendment rights. They are safe and sound in Kansas. What this bill means is 1) the NRA owns the Legislature and 2) the Legislature is willing to silence debate on issues. The question we should be asking is, “What’s next?” What other topics will the Legislature decide it doesn’t want educators, cities and counties to weigh in on?
It doesn’t matter where you fall on gun control in regard to this bill. I voted for concealed carry myself. But it serves none of us well when we silence the debate on any issue. If you want to know how your representative voted on this bill, let me know.
The tax conference committee will meet again this morning to continue work on a tax package. Once that is agreed to, things can move forward, as a provisional budget agreement was made yesterday. There are lots of ideas on the table. The only consistent proposal is that they will keep the elimination of taxes on businesses and reduction in taxes for the wealthiest Kansans passed last year in the name of creating jobs.
Ideas for increasing other taxes to make up the deficit center on raising the sales tax, eliminating some deductions, and reducing the standard deduction. For example, they seem to be nearing agreement on lowering the standard deduction. The proposal will cost single heads of households and married couples about $81 million more on their 2014 tax bill. This would apply to the approximately 2/3 of Kansas tax filers who do not itemize deductions. More to follow!
There will be a two-day community conference on June 7-8 at the Ramada Hotel in Topeka entitled “Don’t Believe the Hype: Dismantling Myths about Black Student Achievement”. This conference is for any parent, educational policy maker, educator, citizen or high school student interested in helping Kansas students of color succeed in school. The cost is $100 and includes lunch both days. There are reduced fees for just one day. Contact Betty Young at USD 501 for more information at 295-3000 or at email@example.com . The conference is sponsored by the Topeka Alliance for Black School Educators and the Kansas Alliance for Black School Educators.