Another big day on Monday as the House and Senate plowed through large volumes of bills as the Easter weekend break approaches. Here’s a look at seven of the most important stories you may have missed from Monday that you need to know:
- Almost 30 business, medical and social welfare groups from across the political spectrum are urging lawmakers to reject a bill discouraging vaccinations and limiting the state health secretary from mandating new innoculations.
- Republican House leadership introduced a resolution calling on the Legislative Coordinating Council to revoke any executive order issued by the governor that establishes new protocols for masks. A vote is set for Tuesday.
- The Kansas House on Monday tentatively approved a tax bill that could cost the state treasury almost $300 million over three years, compared to the tax bill costing more than $1 billion that was passed by the Senate.
- The Kansas House on Monday gave first-round approval to a bill that’s intended to protect critical infrastructure but criticized as chilling free speech. The bill creates new penalties for trespassing or damaging critical infrastructure and rewrites the state’s racketeering law to include four new crimes and allow a judge to order restitution for property damage to any of the victims.
- The Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee voted 13-8 to approve a bill legalizing medical marijuana. Here’s coverage from The Associated Press.
- The Kansas House on Monday gave preliminary approval to a bill allowing Kansas to pay more for private lawyers who take on defense cases for the state. The bill removes the cap that limits the pay to $80 an hour for assigned counsel, much lower than the going market rate for private attorneys. The bill sets assigned counsel compensation at a rate not to exceed $100 an hour through June 30, 2023, and at a rate not to exceed $120 an hour on and after July 1, 2023. The current rate of $80 an hour was set in 2006 and is now 64% less than than the market rate of $225 earned by private attorneys.
- The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony on a bill authorizing a vote for slot machines at Greyhound Park Sedgwick County. The bill would
require the signatures of at least 5,000 qualified voters in Sedgwick County and would require the election to occur within 150 days after the petition has been validated by the Sedgwick County Commission. It also would reduce the tax on slots to 22% from 40%. The bill would abolish greyhound and dog racing in Kansas. The bill would provide a means for allowing the state Supreme Court to decide whether expanding gambling in Wichita would violate the state’s noncompete agreement with the casinos.