Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Freshman lawmakers carry their first bills

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer | 2/15/2013

Franklin County’s two freshman legislators recently completed a proverbial rite of passage in carrying bills to the Kansas House floor.

State Reps. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, both carried bills this week relating to their respective committees.

Franklin County’s two freshman legislators recently completed a proverbial rite of passage in carrying bills to the Kansas House floor.

State Reps. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, both carried bills this week relating to their respective committees.

“It was great to be in the well of the House and to be involved in the process of moving a bill,” Finch, who sits on the House judiciary committee, said Friday before the House gavel sounded. “Now the bill has to go to the Senate to be considered there. Who knows if it will pass there.”

Carrying a bill entails a legislator from the bill’s committee of origination explaining the bill to the House body and then responding to questions from members. Finch’s bill — HB 2015 — clarifies current statute concerning marital property. If signed into law, the bill would deem that gifts given before a marriage by a person’s spouse cannot be liable for use against that person’s debt, according to a release from House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell.

The bill, Finch said, was rather complex because it dealt with the definition of property. The bill previously was introduced in the House but failed to pass, Finch said.

During this attempt, however, the Ottawa native proved to enhance the bill’s chances of becoming law, as it overwhelmingly passed the House with a 116-8 vote, Finch said.

“This bill was suggested by the bar association a few years ago,” Finch, who earlier in session was elected chair of the House Freshman Republican Caucus, said. “Being part of making good policy was reassuring.”

Merrick seemed to be impressed by Finch’s legislative prowess and commended the former Ottawa mayor.

“Representative Finch is doing a terrific job getting involved with the process,” Merrick said in a release. “He did a great job carrying the bill, and I look forward to seeing him play more and more of a role in our chamber.”

Jones, a member of the Health and Human Services committee, carried a bill Thursday and encountered a healthy discussion on the matter.

“It’s been good,” Jones said of carrying the bill. “The debate was good.”

Jones explained HB 2066, which, if signed into law, would allow patients to go to physical therapists without first receiving a doctor’s referral, according to a release from Merrick’s office. The House gave initial approval of the bill Thursday via voice vote. The measure passed 98-16 Friday in the official House vote.

“Representative Jones did a great job carrying the bill, even though there was lot of debate,” Merrick said in a release. “It’s important for freshmen to get their feet wet in the legislative process, and Rep. Jones has done so with enthusiasm.”

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