TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas committees defeated measures Wednesday aimed at restricting strip clubs and requiring small pension increases for teachers and government workers, likely ending the chances of both proposals this session because of a looming deadline for advancing legislation.
Committees have been holding their final meetings before Friday’s annual “turnaround” deadline, when most bills must be passed out of their chamber of origin or discarded.
The bill that would have prevented strip clubs from selling alcohol, staying open past midnight or allowing lap dance failed to gain enough votes to advance out of the Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. Under the bill, which got a split 3-3 vote in the panel, sexually oriented businesses would face additional restrictions including a ban on operating them within 1,000 feet of schools or places of worship.
Republican Sen. Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick, said that she opposed the bill because local entities were better suited to set such regulations. Republican Sen. Jeff King of Independence said he voted against it because it would distract from more important legislation on the Senate floor.
But Republican Sen. Forrest Knox of Altoona pushed back against the notion that the bill was trivial.
“Many of these issues that the media seems to ridicule, you know I want to say, ‘Give me a break, do we care about the kids in Kansas?'” Knox said. “There are all kinds of very important issues that the Legislature needs to step up and deal with that do have a strong effect on society which has an economic effect.”
Across the Statehouse, the House Pensions and Benefits Committee voted 7-5 Wednesday against a bill that would give retired teachers and government workers small increases in their pension benefits. The bill was designed to boost benefits for retirees to help them deal with increases in the cost of living.
Depending on when the retirees left the workforce, increases would have ranged from 0.5 percent to 3 percent.
Chairman Steve Johnson, an Assaria Republican, said the biggest concern was the long-term cost of boosting benefits as the state is still working to close a projected $9.8 billion shortfall in funding for benefits promised into 2033.
The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee also deferred action on a bill that would have suspended the state’s 2016 presidential primary election, but some lawmakers objected, saying primaries get more voters involved and draw attention to the state. The panel will continue discussions on the issue past the deadline.
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