TOPEKA (KSNT) — Despite action on some specific bills, very little legislation has made it through both chambers yet this year; including the budget and education funding reform.
Now several frustrated lawmakers are facing a looming deadline.
“This is the most dysfunctional session that I’ve experienced in many, many years,” said Sen. Anthony Hensley, (D) of Topeka.
That’s what the Senate Minority Leader said last Friday, and now even some of his Republican critics are conceding he may have a point.
“This year’s somewhat unique in that it’s a slower pace coming to turnaround,” said Sen. Ty Masterson, (R) of Andover.
Democrats remain dismayed that so few bills have been considered in each chamber so far, while the bills approved by committees continue stacking up.
“We’re sitting out here with an $800 million dollar deficit and we’re dealing with issues that are distractions,” said Rep. Tom Burroughs, (D) of Kansas City and House Minority Leader.
Distractions, he says, like designating an official state reptile, and focusing on social issues like regulating foster care and the status of marriage in Kansas.
“There’s this sense that these minor issues are kind of taking the day, but it’s just because now’s the time to take care of it so they don’t interfere when you are on the big issues later,” said Sen. Masterson.
But lawmakers have to act fast. Friday is Turnaround Day, and any bills that aren’t approved by the originating chamber on that date are dead for the year.
Budget and taxation committees are exempt from those turnaround deadlines, and legislators will continue working on the state’s major budget issues in the coming weeks.