Almost all work was in committees during week five of session. Several bills were passed out of committees so there could be ample work on the Senate floor in the next two weeks.
Legislation 101: Do you remember the School House Rock video, “I’m Just A Bill”? “I’m just a bill. Yes, I’m only a bill and I’m sitting here on capitol hill…” Kansas has a similar bill process that is a two-year bill cycle starting in odd years. There have been 452 senate bills introduced this cycle. A list of the bills can be found online at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/bills/senate/#1.
Once a bill is drafted and introduced, it is usually referred to a committee. The committee may have a hearing, table, amend, and/or vote on the bill. If it passes, it goes below the line for the body of the whole. At this point the majority leader decides if and when a bill will be above the line for debate on the floor. There are rules that allow legislators to pull a bill out of committee and above the line but it rarely occurs since it takes more than a majority and is a high threshold. If the bill makes it to floor debate, it can again be amended. If a majority vote yes during a final action vote, the bill is sent to the other chamber to begin the process again. If a bill is amended in the second chamber, the originating chamber will vote to accept or reject the changes. If rejected, the bill can be killed or a conference committee with three members from each chamber is formed to negotiate the changes and agree on a compromise. Both chambers must pass the compromise before it will go to the governor. The governor can sign the bill into law, veto the bill — an attempt to kill the bill, or allow it to become law without a signature. Two-thirds majority of each chamber can override a governor’s veto, in which a vetoed bill becomes law.
Maybe we can follow a bill along to see how this works. SB 294, that brings transparency to your property tax increases, has been voted out of committee and is now below the line in the Senate. Due to the bill’s popularity, I’ve been told it may be quickly be moved above the line for debate on the Senate floor. I will keep you informed on its progress through the system.
Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS): You may have heard the governor is attempting to mess with KPERS again. Last year, a supermajority of legislators sent a strong message (a veto override) to leave KPERS alone. The governor obviously did not get the message as she is attempting to re-amortize, basically refinance, costing Kansas taxpayers $4.4 billion. As with last year, I will fight to block the governor’s effort to weaken KPERS and put our state in more debt.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District state senator.