Senate adjourned at 4:20 p.m.
House followed at 5:05 p.m.
Final votes on seat belt bill, texting while driving prohibition and transportation plan end the session.
With a budget and the tax increase that pays for it on its way to the governor, Kansas lawmakers adjourned Tuesday evening, ending one of the more contentious sessions in memory.
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The Legislature started the year facing a deficit hovering around half a bill dollars — even after $1 billion in spending cuts last year. Lawmakers quickly chose sides, with some favoring more cuts and others preferring a tax hike to avoid new reductions to schools and social services.
The session’s checkmate moment came just after 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, when the House voted 64-61 in favor of a 1-cent sales tax hike. The revenue boost will raise the $314 million needed to balance the budget and cost the average Kansas family an extra $266 annually.
With the session’s key challenge over, lawmakers returned Tuesday afternoon to take final votes on a bill strengthening the state’s seat belt law and a new 10-year, $8.2 billion transportation plan.
Tuesday marked the 89th day of the 90 session.
Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, first suggested the sales tax hike, and said Tuesday he will sign the bill into law.
“The one-cent sales tax is a temporary solution which prevents permanent damage to our children’s education, our communities’ public safety and the care we provide to vulnerable citizens,” he said in a statement.
Sleep-deprived lawmakers were divided over the outcome, with conservative Republicans saying the tax hike was the wrong move during a recession.
“It is no small thing that we have done to the people of Kansas,” said Sen. Karin Brownlee, an Olathe Republican. “We can’t afford to do this to our families and businesses. The recovery is slow enough already.”
In other legislative news:
* Texting while driving will be prohibited under legislation sent to Parkinson late Monday night by the Senate. The bill would make sending or receiving a text message while driving a crime, though it wouldn’t prohibit the use of cell phones. Violators would be subject to a $60 fine. Parkinson has said he will sign the bill into law.
Twenty-three states already outlaw the risky behavior. Kansas and Missouri already prohibit young drivers from texting while driving.
Police would be able to pull over vehicles if any adult in the front seat isn’t buckled up under legislation given final approval in the House Tuesday. Currently, police can ticket drivers for not wearing a seat belt, but only if they’ve been pulled over for another offense.
The legislation would also impose a fine of $5 on violators; the fine, which includes court costs, goes to $10 July 1, 2011. State law already requires children and young adults to buckle up. The change makes the state eligible for $11 million in additional federal dollars.
Parkinson said he supports the measure.
Similar bills in previous years always ran into trouble in the House. Several members said Tuesday they worry it’s overly intrusive.
“We are selling our freedom for $10 million,” said Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican.
But enough lawmakers in the House supported the idea this year. It passed 68-55.
“We will have saved lives,” said Rep. Jerry Henry, a Cummings Democrat.
* The House gave final approval to a transportation plan that sets out how the Kansas Department of Transportation will spend its share of the sales tax hike. It also raises registration fees for heavy trucks by $100, and increases the department’s authority to issue bonds by $1.7 billion.
The measure, which now heads to Parkinson, calls for highway repair and improvement, aviation, rail and public transit projects.