Check this spot on Sundays for a few quick hits about what’s driving the debate in the Legislature.
— Rep. Ron Ryckman Sr., R-Meade, responding with amusement to House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, issuing a statement that the Legislature should end its session 20 days early to save taxpayer money.
— Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, defending her bill that would allow parents to spank children to the point of redness or bruising. She said she was only trying to qualify the state’s corporal punishment laws. A committee chair said the bill was dead.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that strengthens the Hard 50 statute on Thursday, so that 50 years is the presumed sentence for premeditated cases of first-degree murder.
Finney grabbed national headlines after her bill that would have enabled parents and teachers to spank children to the point of bruising received widespread criticism. She said the bill was intended to protect parents who use corporal punishment from being wrongly accused of child abuse. Corporal punishment is legal in Kansas, but Finney said it is not clearly defined. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett and others have said the distinction is already clearly drawn.
House Republicans breathed a heavy sigh of relief to see the spotlight shifted onto a Democrat. Both Finney and House Republicans who passed HB 2453 the previous week were mocked on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” in a segment titled “The States: Meth Labs of Democracy.”
The House Taxation Committee is weighing two bills that would redress the perceived inequity between the YMCA and private health clubs. Senate Bill 72 would give tax exemptions to private health clubs, while House Bill 2498 would take away tax exemptions from the YMCA. Committee members have been giving mixed signals about which option they prefer.