Greetings from the snowy statehouse. As I write to you we are finishing our last full week of committee meetings before turn around. Turn around day is the last day that most bills have to be out of their house of origin. In other words, the day when the House has to have acted on most House bills and the Senate has acted on most Senate bills. We will be working a large number of bills in the next week in order to get them out of the House before turn around, and the Senate will be doing the same on their bills.
This week saw interesting developments in the adoption of joint rules between the House and Senate. While we have been in session for over a month, the joint rules had been held up over a dispute about the practice of bill bundling. Bundling occurs in the latter days of the session and involves putting the contents of multiple bills—sometimes as many as 11 different ones—into one bill. Legislators must then choose to vote for all or none of them as these bundled bills are not subject to amendment.
The House took the position that no more than two bills should be bundled together and Senate leadership objected. Their position was that bundling was necessary to get legislative business done. The conference committee—three representatives and three senators—met and attempted to negotiated a compromise. The House rejected the first attempt which raised the cap to five bills. This week the House and Senate both approved a final compromise that limited bundling to no more than four bills with no cap on bills from the Tax Committees.
This compromise is by no means perfect and does not go far enough in my opinion at reducing this practice. However, it does reduce the practice of bundling. By reducing the number of bills that are bundled together we also move closer to having issues stand on their own merits. We reduce confusion about the subjects included in each bundle and we improve the process of thoughtful deliberation that leads to better law making.
This week I was happy to get to meet with representatives from the Elizabeth Layton Center and the Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas. The directors of these two fine organizations shared with me stories of the good that they do in our counties, the countless number of people who are helped, and the pressing need to make sure we invest in mental health services. When we don’t the result is often a far greater cost in law enforcement, medical emergencies and a loss of fulfilling and productive lives for those who can otherwise be helped.
Also this week the Kanas Livestock Association was in town and it was a great opportunity to visit with some Franklin and Osage County ranchers and former ranchers about their thoughts and concerns about the present session. Of primary concern is a proposal that would change the agricultural use value calculation for farm land in our state. This proposal could have a tremendous and negative impact on our state’s farmers and ranchers.
Thank you to all of you who have emailed me and called me. I can be reached at 785.296.7955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your messages and thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you in the legislature.
Representative Blaine Finch
59th District, Franklin & Osage Counties
Kansas State Capitol
Room 167 West
Topeka, Kansas 66612