"Could you rephrase the question?”
– House Speaker Ray Merrick drew a round of laughs for how he jokingly dodged a question about where outlawing topless dancing falls on his list of priorities. Merrick continued, saying the bill introduced in the House last week is low on his agenda. He said he sees it as an individual liberty issue.
That’s how many House representatives would have to vote in favor of changing how state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges are selected to put it on a ballot for Kansas voters in 2014. Conservative lawmakers in the Senate met the two-thirds majority needed last week, but many lawmakers are skeptical conservatives, who have long sought a change, can get 84 votes in the House despite the GOP’s 92-33 advantage over Democrats. (Learn more: http://bit.ly/Y1fO1k)
Public employee unions and their political action committees appeared to trend downward after the House approved a ban on voluntary payroll deductions that are used for political activity in a 66-54 vote. Senate President Susan Wagle predicted it will pass in the Senate. Now attention shifts to several other bills aimed at limiting teacher unions’ collective bargaining rights. (Learn more: http://bit.ly/Tr9hA4)
A Senate panel plans to debate and vote this week on whether to advance Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax cut proposal, which would eliminate the mortgage interest and real estate property tax deductions. A House committee plans to start hearings on the proposal later in the week. Meanwhile, ongoing debate in Washington over immigration policy and a briefing on immigration issues in the Statehouse by Secretary of State and anti-illegal immigration advocate Kris Kobach may also grab headlines. (Learn about the tax debate here: http://bit.ly/Xfc6jP)
— Brent Wistrom
For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BrentWistrom on Twitter.