From: Ty Dragoo
This is a WKA report of which I am a executive board member. Good break down and this is FYI...
This week the Kansas Legislature was busy and full of controversy.
On Tuesday the House Commerce Committee worked HB 2325. HB 2325 states that collective bargaining sessions between a public employer or its agent and labor organizations are public meetings subject to the Kansas Open Meetings Act, thus would make collective bargaining sessions for public employees open to the public. It also states that the public has the right to participate in the negotiations. At the hearing last week there was confusion over what exactly is meant by “participation” because it was not defined in the bill. On Tuesday Representative Claeys offered an amendment. His amendment removes all language in regards to “public participation” and it also allows a 30-day limit in publicly filing collective bargaining documents under the Kansas Open Records Act. This bill has not been voted on in committee.
On Thursday morning the Kansas Supreme Court issued part of it’s ruling on school funding. The ruling states that current school funding formula contains unconstitutional inequities for capital outlay and supplemental general state aid. The ruling sets a June 30th deadline to remedy the problem.
Thursday, following the Kansas Supreme Court ruling on school funding, the House met to vote on passing the budget, SB 161. There was some thought that the earlier Supreme Court ruling would impact the final vote since the ruling requires $50 million in additional funding for public schools. However, this turned out not to be the case, and the budget moved forward despite the courts order to increase school funding. The final vote count for the budget was 68-55, thus passing. Many Democrats and Republicans who voted no did so on the fact that this budge does not address the underlying cause of the mess Kansas is currently in, the 2012 tax breaks. The budget contains a draconian measure that is essentially stealing from KPERS by delaying payments.
Thursday in House Commerce there was also a hearing on HB 2576. HB 2576 is another attack on hard working Kansans and local government control. This bill would prohibit cities or counties from adopting employee-scheduling policies for employers, thus blocking any possible fair scheduling ordinances at the local level of government. HB 2576 is called a preemption law because it requires the state government laws preempt or take precedence over city or county laws. Kansas already has laws on the books that preempt not only paid sick days, but also local minimum wage and other ordinances proven to improve workers’ lives. HB 2576 is just another nail in the coffin for workers to exercise their democratic rights to improve their working conditions. It’s obvious that this bill has nothing to do with the well-being of Kansans, but are to give more power to big business. We find it hypocritical that in one case the state legislature is all for “local control” but in other cases they want to remove local control. It seems that when local governments have the power to implement what are seen as “progressive policies”, this is viewed as “a form of collectivism” rather than a cherished conservative principle. The lesson here is that many in the legislature, and their big business special interest groups, support local control when it advances the interests of their campaign funders, yet actively work to undermine local democracy when it threatens profits.
United Transportation Union - SMART
Kansas Legislative Director
523 SW VanBuren Suite 100
Topeka, Kansas 66603
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