In an effort to keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we will again be featuring regular update columns during the 2014 session from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Emily Perry, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Check back on Mondays to find out what’s been happening the past week in Topeka. Rep. Clayton submits this week’s update:
We have reached the Turnaround deadline in the Kansas House. This past week we worked 59 bills on the House Floor. Those bills are now ready to be worked by the Senate, and the House will prepare to work the bills sent to us by the Senate. At this point in the session, all bills have been considered and passed by their committees and passed out of their House of Origin, or they are “dead” for the session. If a bill is referred to an “exempt committee” at any point during its tenure, it is exempt from this deadline and can be considered at any time during the session. These bills are called “blessed.” House exempt committees are Tax, Federal & State Affairs, Appropriations, and Calendar & Printing.
There are several “blessed” bills upon which I have cast a suspicious eye. Remember, when you see great efforts being made to keep a bill alive, the first thing you should ask yourself is why your legislature has such a strong sense of urgency to pass this legislation, and why said legislation is necessary in the first place. I often jokingly refer to bills that don’t die as “zombie bills,” but truly, there is nothing funny about many of these pieces of proposed legislation. It is important to remember to stay vigilant until the conclusion of legislative session in even-numbered years- only then is all potential legislation truly “dead.” I do not often speak for my fellow legislators here in northeast Johnson County, but I can say with conviction that the five of us want to hear from you about proposed legislation that concerns you.
The Transparency and Accountability Act continues to generate conversation in and out of the Statehouse. As many of you may recall, I researched, wrote, and introduced legislation that would make it a statutory requirement for the Kansas Legislature to live-stream video and audio of all of our committee and chamber proceedings on the Internet. The bill that I sponsored, HB 2438, the Transparency and Accountability Act, stalled largely in part to the nearly $1 million fiscal note that was attached to the bill.
I worked with Senator Kay Wolf to craft a smaller-scaled, fiscally conservative version of the Transparency Act. SB 413 (also referred to as the Transparency Act) requires audio and video streaming in the four largest committee rooms. It does not include audio and video in the House or Senate Chamber. This bill, while much smaller than what I initially pursued, is a step in the right direction. It is an exempt bill, meaning that it can be worked or heard at any time in the Session. It is currently in the Senate Fed and State committee, awaiting a hearing. I have been told that a hearing will be scheduled for March- so I am actively seeking people to provide written and/or oral testimony in favor of the bill. If you want to help by providing testimony, please contact me. This is your state government that you all pay taxes for- and I firmly believe that our proceedings should be easily available to you in all media forms.