Five things to watch at the Kansas Legislature today


Tracking at events at the capitol will be nearly impossible today – at least for your humble correspondent – as first-round NCAA tournament games get underway.

As much as today should be a national holiday, it’s not, so here’s a short list of what’s worth watching at the Legislature.

In case you’re wondering, KU tips at 1 if you need to plan on being away from the capitol for a couple hours.

1. Busy day in the Senate today. The chamber will take up one bill banning guns from domestic abusers. The bill flew out of the House but slowed down in the Senate when it was amended to allow throwing stars unless someone intended to use them against someone else. There was some hesitancy to run the bill with the amendment, but Senate leadership believes there’s strong support for the underlying bill.

2. The Senate has scheduled final action on a bill requiring the state’s colleges and universities to adopt policies affirming the right to free speech. Among other things, the bill requires the state’s colleges and universities to allow students and faculty to invite guest speakers to campus regardless of their views. The bill bars colleges and universities from disinviting speakers because their speech might be considered offensive. The bill also bans so-called free-speech zones, areas in public places that are set aside for political protests. Here’s a better explainer of what’s happening.

3. The Senate Education Committee will consider legislation creating an education inspector general. The bill calls for the state treasurer to appoint a full-time inspector general who would be responsible for auditing, investigating and conducting performance reviews of elementary and secondary school spending. The bill comes after a December audit caused an eruption in Topeka when lawmakers found out the state was spending millions more on transporting students than state law required.

4. A House committee holds hearing on a bill creating a transportation task force that will start work on a new comprehensive highway plan. The bill is different from one passed by the Senate, but lawmakers figure to agree on something.

5. The Senate also plans to debate another gun bill that requires Kansas to recognize all valid concealed carry licenses and permits issued by other states. As it came out of the House, the bill would have allowed 18-year-olds to carry concealed weapons and let colleges and universities prohibit anyone from carrying a concealed gun on campus without a permit. A Senate committee narrowed the bill to only apply to recognizing gun permits from other states, but who knows where today’s debate on the bill might lead?