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  • Writer's pictureJeff Pittman

Sen. Jeff Pittman's 2022 Legislative Update #11

March 28, 2022 IN THIS ISSUE:

I am honored to serve as your Senator. My office is located in 124E. Please feel free to contact me at or . Also feel free to forward my email to someone who may be interested in subscribing.

HOSTED INTERNATIONAL OFFICER AT FT LEAVENWORTH Having served as an ally in Iraq and Afghanistan and in NATO HQ, I was glad to recognize the German officer Holly Shehorn Pittman and I sponsored this year, LTC Obermeyer who is attending the Command & General Staff College. Fort Leavenworth's CGSC has operated since 1895 international military officers from around the world have come to Fort Leavenworth to study military art and science, educating field grade officers to be agile, innovative, and adaptive leaders within increasingly complex and uncertain environments, LTC Obermeyer stands as a representative of that program, especially the role of the over 120 international officers from over 90 different allied countries that come to Kansas. With the Ukrainian crisis afoot, it reaffirms the importance of our allies to the USA and its strategic military and economic interests.

SUMMARY - NEARING THE END OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION This past week was a grind! Working well into the evening each night while on Wednesday we worked from 9 am well into the early morning hours of the next morning, ending around 2 am, to finish Senate floor debate on bills and topics that had mostly come out of the House or that had been languishing in one or more committees. Where the legislative process works like a funnel with hundreds of bills under consideration in each chamber, with each process step resulting in fewer and fewer bills likely to become laws, last week was the point of the funnel where it narrows into the final spout. Next week, each of the bills passed out of that process in either House or Senate travels through the narrow part of the spout to be worked through in final conference committee propositions. Conference committees are the final negotiations between the House and Senate in our bicameral legislature. One could argue that it becomes markedly less democratic at this point, as the committees are made up of a chairman of a committee and a vice-chair, as well as the ranking minority member of that committee of each chamber. That's a three-on-three negotiation, dominated by the majority party, largely influenced by majority leadership. The conference committee portion of the process is arguably the least transparent part of the process to the public, yet also the most influential when it comes to the majority leadership getting much of their agenda through. This is because ANY topic that has passed either the House or the Senate is available to be put in these negotiations. In other words, if a crazy idea has come out of either chamber, but couldn't be passed in the other chamber, it is still possible to be inserted into the negotiations for the final version of any given bill. However, it is also the opportunity to fix particularly bad legislation that had passed and have a bill improved. After a negotiated final version of a bill is agreed to by the conference committee, it is up for another vote but cannot be amended by anybody unless it goes back to the conference committee. Next week features a slew of conference committee negotiations where bills will be stuck together and eventually, we will send finalized bills to the Governor for approval or veto. Anything vetoed can be considered when we return in early May during an approximately 10-day period dubbed 'veto session'. Thus, while we passed some 50 bills last week out of the Senate, with some bills that were not great in my opinion and others that were, it is by no means finalized though the table is set for what will finally come out of that legislative funnel.

SENATE FLOOR BILLS Most of these passed, though not all of the Constitutional Amendments did. Here is what was passed out last week, with a little blurb about what the bill is basically about for your further perusal. As stated above, there will be more negotiation on many of these through the rest of the process: HB 2510 : A bill that modifies some of the highly regulated insurance industry, this modifies how they can invest their money. HB 2564 : Modifies state statutes to adhere to federal statutes for risk-based capital institutions. SB 455 : Would allow students to go between whichever school districts they want. See notes elsewhere in this newsletter. SB 496 : As written about in last week's newsletter, this bill puts a lot of burden on teachers during a particularly tough time coming out of the pandemic, as well as opens the door much wider for those not wanting any vaccines for kids at school. SB 484 : Would ban transgender athletes in women's sports from kindergarten onwards. SB 340 : Fixes some aspects of the Promise scholarship act, enacted last year, but also sunsets it in 2027. HB 2299 : Extends search warrant execution time from 96 hours to 240. Retains protections that if info is learned in that time that changes conditions, it can invalidate the warrant. Brought by law enforcement. HB 2712 : Creates a statutory commission to address the upcoming USA 250th anniversary events HB 2456 : Enables parents/grandparents to pre-purchase lifetime hunting/fishing licenses for youth. HB 2537 : Allows a citizen to request a hearing from the Insurance Commissioner. HB 2386 : Has to do with dental insurance transparency in reimbursement rates. HB 2239 : Property tax-effective freeze for seniors over 65, known as Golden Years legislation. S Sub for HB 2597 : Amends current laws put in place from last year's SB40 that creates processes for cities/counties when their effective tax rate is not revenue neutral. Also contains a series of carve outs for zoo, a particular hotel, antique trailers and a host of other provisions lumped together. It had way too many cats and dogs, and creates extra bureaucracy for local governments in my opinion. HCR 5014 : Would put to a popular vote a constitutional amendment that would put in place the ability of the Legislature to more quickly change/revoke government agency rules. I like the policy, but unfortunately it would be used as a one way statute on majority controlled legislature versus a minority party governor. S Sub for HB 2056 : An anti-ballot box and advanced voting measure, described elsewhere in this newsletter. SB 489 : A bill that would strip county and state health officers of many abilities. HB 2466 : A bill that wouls require the Computing Knowledge Act. While I like the idea of having technology in the classroom, the legislature has gotten overly involved with dictating curriculums onto school boards, without looking at complete curriculum needs. HB 2228 : This bill has been a long time delayed, so glad it came out finally. It allows sexual assault examinations by child advocacy centers and also puts expected processing guidelines in statute for law enforcement for rape kits. HB 2607 : Extends the time limitation for habeas corpus motions. These motions guarantee against any detention that is forbidden by law. Typically, habeas corpus proceedings are to determine whether the court that imposed sentence on the defendant had jurisdiction and authority to do so, or whether the defendant's sentence has expired. HB 2377 : Modifies DUI and Interlock Device regulations, like the costs and 90-day waiting period to apply for the IID. It also increases third and fourth conviction penalties. SB 155 : Establishes the universal newborn screening program to aid with early intervention in childhood conditions. S Sub for HB 2448 : A measure to put more hurdles in place for those receiving federal food stamp benefits, typically amounting to a little more than $100 per month. HB 2151 : A bill that would facilitate communication and investigation in adult abuse/exploitation cases. HB 2608 : Makes changes to how the courts can collect financial penalties from those convicted of crimes. HB 2280 : Would make pharmacists follow doctors' prescriptions no matter what, especially in off-label usage of medications like ivermectin, would not allow any investigations into doctors making these prescriptions and would allow parents to opt out of all childhood vaccine regimens for their kids due to philosophical reasons. HB 2541 : Shifts fees from judicial branch to the state general fund, described as a better funding mechanism by the Chief Supreme Court Justice. HCR 5030 : A resolution recognizing the definition of antisemitism as that defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). HCR 5022 : Would put on the popular ballot a constitutional provision that would require sheriffs to be elected. This passed both chambers so will be on the ballot. SCR 1621 : Would put on the popular ballot that would change the constitution to dictate a change in the supreme court selection process. This failed so will not be on the ballot. SCR 1620 : Would put on the popular ballot that would change the constitution to dictate a 2/3 majority from both the House and Senate would be required to raise any tax, only a simple majority for any tax reduction. This failed so will not be on the ballot. HB 2490 : Modifies the ABLE savings program to protect the program for disabled citizens, where the program at the state is out of alignment with federal requirements. HB 2559 : This bill would create the Kansas Cotton Boll Weevil Program to fight the burgeoning cotton industry in Kansas. This took up over 3 hours of floor debate! S Sub for HB 2458 : The Senate removed the contents of the original bill and put in an important bill that protects eye doctors from being sued when certifying vision for driver's license, where it is specified that is all they are doing... not performing a complete evaluation of driving competency. HB 2363 : An important bill for our less fortunate folks who find themselves in court, the bill would allow the state to pay appointed counsel at a rate higher than what the statute currently allows. HB 2547 : A bill previously passed out of the Senate, this bill addresses very specific captive insurance policies for TEFFIs. SB 438 : Related to audits of elections. The proponent stated that there is a constant need to improve and enhance the election audit process, and that local election officials were involved in the development of this legislation to ensure unattainable mandates would not be imposed. HB 2489 : OSBC legislation that further refines laws around the new TEFFI industry. SCR 1619 : This non-binding resolution urges the adoption of the 2021 Special Committee on Taxation’s conclusions. While these may be good suggestions, I find it disingenuous to adopt a resolution that urges us to do the very thing we could do through solid work in our tax committee and in conjunction with our budgeting committee. HB 2476 : Establishes wildlife and parks license plates, as well as Silver and Bronze star license plates. HB 2110 : Establishes a pilot program for the state health care plan to cover pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections. Say that 5 times very fast! HB 2605 : Makes changes to the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas. HB 2703 : HB 2703 would require that the My Reemployment Plan Program be mandatory for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits. SB 546 : Establishes a broad framework to now allow autonomous (driverless) vehicles on the roads of Kansas. While I support the technology, I did feel as though the statute was put together in a rush, has holes when looking at liability limits and strips powers from cities/counties. HB 2462 : Modifies outdated appointment procedures for the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations. HB 2481 : Allows for a buyback program for KP&F, similar to what is already allowed in KPERs. SB 541 : A COVID and KEMA related bill, it would prohibit any governmental entity or public official from ordering or otherwise requiring a person to wear a face mask as a response to a contagious or infectious disease. HB 2416 : A bill that would require compensation to businesses for any future shutdown. Various other property tax propositions were added into the bill on the Senate floor. HB 2595 : Modifies titling statutes for antique cars to not requiring formal inspections if older than 50 years. S Sub for HB 2567 : An important bill that helps Fort Leavenworth and surrounding schools, this bill would modify how federal impact aid is dispersed in Kansas, as well as how bonding assistance is calculated for school districts that qualify. SB 351 : Another election bill, this one regarding electronic poll books and a chain of affidavit custody sign-offs. This one has some arbitrary processes advocated for by only one proponent stuck in and is not a really well-thought-out strategy for election security as it stands. HB 2568 : Allows for home offices for mortgage companies.

35TH INFANTRY DIVISION HEADQUARTERS As a State Representative, I actively supported Kansas’ investment in upgrading the locally based 35th Infantry Division Headquarters and Mission Training Complex Barracks four years ago. Today, now a Senator, it was great to see the project’s culmination with the ribbon-cutting ceremony. This facility expands the readiness training capabilities tenfold with 102,000 sq ft from a previous 15,000, ensuring Kansas will continue to be the home of this key operationally ready infantry division that is currently activated and forward-deployed as of January 21, 2022. We are happy to be the 35th’s home base and are in deep gratitude for all the members’ service to the state and country.

ELECTION BILLS Special note on election bills...we have debated a number of bills this session that undermine our election system or make it more difficult for Kansas voters to access the ballot. The Secretary of State has repeatedly attested to the integrity of our state’s elections. Those advancing these bills have justified the disenfranchising consequences of these bills by suggesting that they are necessary to restore confidence in our elections. The legislature has embraced policies over the years to promote security, while also ensuring accessibility and participation. S Sub for HB 2056 restricts that access and disenfranchises Kansas voters in service of a politically expedient lie. Some of the most egregious parts of the bill include: ● Limiting counties to having one ballot box per county unless there are more than 30,000 registered voters; ● Limiting drop boxes to only be available during the operating hours of county election offices; ● Removing the 3-day grace period for ballots to arrive when they were postmarked by Election Day; ● Requiring ballot boxes, like the secure ones we have in Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties, have two people monitoring them at all times, one from each party. These restricting hurt working families and those who have a difficult time making it to the polling location on election day. These policies are unnecessary and promote a lie that voters are somehow cheating here in Kansas. When Kris Kobach spent millions to investigate that, he never found evidence of ballot box issues. The bill narrowly passed by a vote of 22 to 17. Contents of this and other election bills will undoubtedly show up again next week during the conference committee process next week.

PARENTS BILL OF RIGHTS BILL (PBOR) A repeat of how I described this last week....with a name like that, what could be wrong? The simple fact is the bill is unnecessary and borderline dangerous in what it could be used to do by an aggressive attorney general. It has veiled language about not the civil rights act of 1964, a section that allows for parents to decide not to vaccinate their kids for anything, a section that allows anybody to challenge and basically open the door to censoring books in libraries for whatever reason, and puts in place burdensome reporting requirements that tie the hands of teachers. Borrowing from a piece written by the Kansas Interfaith Action Executive Director: "Most if not all the important provisions in the PBOR are already in place. It’s easier than ever to know what kids are learning in school; every school district has online portals that keep parents in nearly real-time touch with their students’ curriculum and performance. ... What we have seen in other states is that when such laws are passed, books are pulled from libraries and curriculums, teachers and administrators are harassed, and important lessons about our country’s history and culture are suppressed...The PBOR indicates a level of hostility from some legislators toward public education in Kansas..."

BANNING TRANSGENDER PARTICIPATION IN SPORTS As I mentioned last week, leadership has decided to re-politicize the public's complicated views of transgender individuals, by having yet another vote on the same language that didn't pass last year. I think this bill goes to far by including kindergarten through fifth grade. As I noted in my explanation of vote: "Competitive high school and college sports are already regulated by KSHSAA and the NCAA to address trans athletes in competition and we should observe and evaluate their leadership as they develop rules that keep women's sports competitive and fair, especially at these competitive levels. SB 484, however, has been constructed to divide our voters. This bill unfairly targets elementary kids all the way down to kindergarten and originally contained genital inspections which goes too far for me. It targets a population in broad strokes that is at a higher risk of suicide. It has economic risks for Kansas with regard to factoring against us for NCAA, FIFA, and other tournaments. This bill on transgender athletes was a solution in search of a problem, as we have not had a problem here in Kansas and we should look for better frameworks to deal with this issue."

HOSTING LOCAL XAVIER ELEMENTARY KIDS Enjoyed having the third and fourth graders from Xavier Catholic Elementary Schools up into the heights of the Capitol and talked about Brown vs the Board of Education ending segregation in our schools.

IMPORTANT STATE PHONE NUMBERS As I stated before, it is a special honor to serve as your State Senator I both value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 124-E 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7522 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. Additionally, you can e-mail me at You can also follow the legislative session online at My Legislative Facebook Page: My Twitter Account: My Website: Below is a list of numbers I often receive requests for during the Legislative Session. I hope you will find this information helpful.

Child Abuse Hotline (800) 922-5330 Consumer Protection (800) 432-2310 Crime Tip Hotline (800) 572-7463 Crime Victim Referral (800) 828-9745 Department on Aging (800) 432-3535 Driver’s License Bureau (785) 296-3963 Fraud Hotline (800) 432-3919 Attorney General (888) 428-8436 KPERS (888) 275-5737 Governor’s Office (877) 579-6757 Highway Conditions (800) 585-7623 Housing Hotline (800) 752-4422 KanCare Consumer Assistance (866) 305-5147 Kansas Jobs (785) 235-5627 Kansas Lottery (785) 296-5700 Kansas State Library (800) 432-3924 Legislative Hotline (800) 432-3924 School Safety Hotline (877) 626-8203 Social Security (800) 772-1213 DCF (785) 296-1491 Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-8255 Tax Refund Status Info (800) 894-0318 Taxpayer Assistance (785) 368-8222 Unclaimed Property (800) 432-0386 Vital Statistics (Birth Certificates) (785) 296-1400 Victims of Human Trafficking (888) 373-7888

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