This week, the Senate will be on the floor all day. There will be many bills to consider, with 16 bills being on General Orders in just the first day. March 29 is the last day to consider non-exempt bills not in the originating chamber. April 6, is known as “Drop Dead Day,” and being the first adjournment. The Senate will reconvene on April 26, which begins the veto session. During this time, the Senate will have the chance to override any vetoes made by the governor.

Floor Action:

Designating the State Rock, Mineral, Gemstone, and Fish (HB 2650): House Bill 2650 designates the state rock as greenhorn limestone; the state mineral as galena; the state gemstone as jelinite amber; and the state fish as the channel catfish. This bill passed the Senate 38-0.

Self Service of Beer from Automated Devices (SB 433): Senate Bill 433 allows licensed public venues, clubs, and drinking establishments to provide self-service beer to customers from automated devices in the same manner as is permitted for wine under current law. The licensee must monitor the dispensing of beer and must be able to control such dispensing. This bill passed the Senate 37-3.

Regulating Access to Law Enforcement Recordings (HB 2571): House Bill 2571 modifies the statute governing disclosure of video or audio recordings made and retained by law enforcement using a body camera or a vehicle camera. HB 2571 would add a provision requiring the agency to allow the listening or viewing of the recording within 20 days after the request is made by the person who is subject to the recording or any parent or legal guardian if the subject is under 18 years old. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Providing Compensation for the Wrongfully Convicted (HB 2579): House Bill 2579 creates a civil cause of action allowing claimants to seek damages from the state for wrongful conviction. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Urging the KCC to Lower Retail Electric Rates (SCR 1612): Senate Concurrent Resolution 1612 urges the State Corporation Commission (KCC) to have regionally competitive retail electric service rates and urges the KCC to take any and all lawful action to reduce Kansas electric rates to such levels and maintain the rates and such levels. This concurrent resolution passed the Senate 40-0.

Modifying Certain Fees in the Kansas Postsecondary Educational Institution Act (HB 2542):

House Bill 2542 removes the June 30, 2018, sunset on a statute authorizing the Kansas Board of Regents to fix, charge, and collect fees for state institutions domiciled or having their principal place of business outside the state of Kansas. The bill would also remove fees concerning program modification; om-site branch campus reviews; renewal of registration of a representative; and changes in institution profiles. This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

Armed Forces Appreciation Day:

March 22 was Armed Forces Appreciation Day at the Capitol. Outside the statehouse, members of the Kansas National Guard showcased military equipment including specific equipment used to help fight wildfires.

Gov. Jeff Colyer signed two proclamations Thursday regarding appreciation of armed forces. The first officially declared March 22nd as Armed Forces Appreciation Day in Kansas. The second proclamation declares Thursday, March 29th as Vietnam War Veterans Day, honoring Kansans who fought in the Vietnam War.

John Steuart Curry was hired in 1937 to portray the story of Kansas in murals on the second floor. Curry created many of the murals in the second floor, included the famous portrayal of John Brown. Curry’s work was cut short, however, after a resolution was passed stopping him from completing his murals. Curry’s termination likely came about due the controversy surrounding his paintings, including controversies over using John Brown as the focal point, “the color of the Hereford bull, the length of the woman’s skirt, and the curling pig’s tail.” Curry died before having ever signed his famous murals. (Kansas Historical Society)

Adoption Protection Act:

This week the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee held hearings on SB 401, the Adoption Protection Act. The bill works to protect faith-based adoption agencies from being forced to place children in homes that violate their religious beliefs. The bill would ensure that faith-based organizations cannot be denied permits, licenses, or authorizations due to their refusal of placing children in certain homes.

There are currently no laws that restrict organizations that do not receive state funding from their placement criteria, but SB 401 is meant to act as a proactive measure. Proponents of the bill want to ensure that faith-based organizations are free to serve and be protected from any future policies that might target them.

Opponents of the bill say it is discriminatory against same-sex couples since faith-based adoption agencies would be allowed to deny child placement to those couples.

The Kansas Department of Children and Families supports SB 401, saying that it allows for more adoption agencies to help place the 7,000 children that are currently in DCF custody.

Sen. Richard E. Wilborn represents the 35th district in the Kansas Senate.