Legislative deadline looms for Kansas lawmakers

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Lawmakers had a full slate of bills up for debate Monday.

35 in the Senate and 14 in the House, but at least 100 more await action of any kind, and lawmakers won’t have time to get to them all.

“This is a good amendment, again we are short on time,” said Rep. Valdinia Winn, a Democrat from Kansas City.

With only two days left to keep their bills alive, lawmakers are scrambling to get discussion here on the chamber floor.

“There is some question as to whether it will ever be heard, and it has to be heard by tomorrow, we have no guarantee that it will. This guarantees that we are debating it now, and that we can have a hearing now,” said Rep. Ed Trimmer, a Democrat from Winfield.

They’ll do whatever it takes, like amending their proposal onto a bill that is up for debate.

“So to avoid chance that this bill would die, I support the amendment brought forward today,” said Rep. Louis Ruiz, a Democrat from Kansas City.

For example, what started out as a discussion about financial literacy in schools, quickly turned into a debate about ethnic studies. The same tactic used on more bills than one.

That’s because any bills that don’t get approval in either the House or the Senate by Tuesday are dead for the year.

“There are exceptions to that. Often times bills will be what’s called blessed, which means they’re exempted from that particular deadline,” said Sen. Anthony Hensley, a Democrat from Topeka.

We’ve told you about several bills Representative Ramon Gonzalez introduced this year.

Like the bill to record police interrogations or to compensate wrongfully convicted individuals like Floyd Bledsoe.

So far neither has made it out of committee, but he hopes at least one is blessed so work can continue.

“The whole hope with the bills we introduce is to get a hearing on them and work them to see if they need to be modified a little bit or what needs to be done,” said Rep. Gonzalez.

If a bill doesn’t make it beyond the committee process this year it’s back to the drawing board when lawmakers reconvene in 2017.

Some of the bills that have already been approved by at least one chamber include limiting the length of legislative sessions, creating a paper free task force, and establishing a staffing and training fund for the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Both chambers will have a new slate of bills up for debate Tuesday.

 

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