Here’s what’s driving the debate in the Legislature as the session reaches the halfway point or “turnaround,” the deadline for most bills to be passed in their house of origin.
“Until the final note of the final song is sung, you never know what will happen.”
– Rep. Mario Goico, R-Wichita, describing how floor debates can go in unexpected directions during turnaround week.
“It seems that a lot of the legislation that’s being introduced this year, in 2014, a lot is seeking to further a personal, ideological agenda, or a lot of the legislation is just sort of a gross government overreach.”
– Holly Weatherford, spokeswoman for the Kansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, evaluating the legislative session at its midpoint.
The number of scheduled days left in the legislative session.
Fossils were all the rage at the Capitol last week. The House approved a bill Thursday that would make the pteranodon, a giant flying reptile, and the tylosaurus, a giant aquatic reptile, as the state’s official fossils. That same day, Gov. Sam Brownback was presented with a fossil of juvenile platycarpus, a cousin of the tylosaurus, at his office by fossil hunter Alan Detrich.
Not everyone at the Capitol caught fossil fever. Rep. Mike Kiegerl, R-Olathe, implored his colleagues to vote against the adoption of a state fossil, calling it “foolishness.” Similarly, Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, objected to the bill, writing in vote explanation: “Really? I mean really? I’m going to have to vote no.” So take note, fossilized creatures: It looks like you’re welcome in the governor’s office, but not in Olathe.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on religious freedom on Thursday. The hearing comes after Senate leaders said they would not consider HB 2453, a controversial religious freedom bill that would allow service refusal to gay couples on religious grounds, because it was too broad and discriminatory. Last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill, citing similar concerns. But groups like the Kansas Family Policy Council and Kansas Catholic Conference still want the Legislature to pass religious protections in 2014. Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, chairman of the committee, will seek to address concerns of religious conservatives in the Republican base without setting off another firestorm.
For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BryanLowry3 on Twitter.