“We’re respectfully requesting your absence ”
That’s how Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce politely booted newspaper reporters from a Senate Republican strategy session on the eve of the group’s wide-ranging, five-hour debate on tax cuts that resulted in approval of a major tax cut plan that’s expected to force significant cuts to state services. The Associated Press formally objected to the private session on behalf of the AP, Wichita Eagle, Kansas City Star and Topeka Capital-Journal.
That’s the number of Republican senators who opposed a sales tax increase in the face of budget woes in 2010 who opted to continue that sales tax hike indefinitely to accommodate income tax cuts. Democrats called it hypocrisy. Republicans defended it as part of an overall tax reduction they say will spur growth and as a way to prevent cuts to education caused by the tax cuts.
The number of places Kansans with concealed-carry licenses can bring firearms appears to be trending upward. The House strongly backed a plan last week that makes local governments allow qualified people to carry in most public buildings unless they control access with metal detectors and guards. A Democrat who opposed it said that out of fairness people ought to be able to bring guns into the Capitol as well. The idea was approved, and it accidentally also lets people openly carry guns in the Statehouse. That concept is likely to get stripped from the bill.
A move to push back renewable energy standards has been revived, and some expect a national TV crew to come to town as some conservative Republicans look to give energy companies more time to meet standards requiring certain amounts of peak energy use to come from alternative sources, such as wind turbines. Lawmakers will also continue debate on a plan to drug test anyone suspected of using drugs while getting unemployment or welfare benefits. Meanwhile, a Senate panel will work on a proposal to further deregulate telephone companies, and lawmakers will continue a complicated dialogue over how to cut spending and taxes without causing too many political headaches.
For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BrentWistrom on Twitter.