Greetings from the Kansas Statehouse where it is sunny and 70 degrees. As I write to you, it is the first day of spring and we are a mere two weeks away from the first adjournment of the session. Discussions about school finance are under way and the buzz in the Capitol is about the numerous plans for coming up with the $129 million needed to fund the state’s portion of education equalization.
We likely will see a combination of some one-time money — funds that can only be had this year and not in future ones — coupled with some diversion of ongoing funding streams, such as the $16 million proposed to be spent on all-day kindergarten as part of an opening proposal. With time drawing short, the proposals and counters will be coming quite quickly and I will try to keep you posted as time permits.
In other news, I was honored to carry Senate Bill 308 in the House today. That bill allows Kansans to add their mobile phone numbers to the “no call” list. The Kansas no-call list was started in 2002. In that year, the best-selling mobile phone sold 15 million units nationwide and featured a screen that was 1.5 inches wide. The big development that year was the addition of a color screen. A lot has changed in 12 years. Apple sold 150 million iPhones last year alone and many Kansans now use their mobile phones as replacements for their land lines. Under our current law, those mobile numbers can be added to the federal no call list, but there is no state law mechanism to enforce the list. SB 308 will allow the Kansas attorney general a state-law basis to enforce no call protections for mobile phones.
The attorney general worked with such telecom companies as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, along with the AARP, to come up with a bill that would provide good consumer protections and work within the current technological environment. With a vote on final action set for Friday the bill will be sent to the governor for his signature.
Also this week, we were able to consider bills that would: expand insurance coverage for therapy for children with autism; address concerns raised about our veterans affairs commission by a post audit study in order to provide better services to our brave men and women in uniform; and expand options for courts to sentence juvenile offenders to alternative programs designed for rehabilitation.
Blaine Finch is a Kansas House member, representing Franklin County.