Politics & Government

Capitol Beats: Minimum wage hike and mortgage registration fees

Check this spot on Sundays for a few quick hits about what’s driving the debate in the Legislature.

Say what?

“These are for people who go to work at Wal-Mart without insurance for $8 an hour. These are the folks that are serving you in restaurants or coffee shops. They work for a living, and we should reward them, and raising the minimum wage is the way to do that.”

— Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, arguing Wednesday that Kansas should raise the minimum wage. That same day, Gov. Sam Brownback declined to answer a question at a news conference on whether he’d support raising the minimum wage.

“KPERS is how we recruit and retain teachers. When we talk about getting money into the classroom, that’s one of the best ways you get money in the classroom by putting together incentives to say that money doesn’t count, it’s crazy that it’s not counted.”

— Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, explaining why he thinks dollars spent on the teachers retirement fund ought to be weighed when considering the state’s per-pupil education funding

$8 million

That’s the amount of revenue Sedgwick County could lose if a bill repealing mortgage registration fees passes, says Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh. He added that equates to about 130 employees. “That’s equivalency. And we’re cut to the bone now. It (the bill) has the effect of tipping us off balance.”


It was a big week for Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby. The House held two hearings on Howell’s bill designed to protect the rights of people who carry knives and guns statewide. It seems to have a lot of support thus far. Rep. Michael Houser, R-Columbus, told Howell: “You’re preaching to the choir, mostly.”

Howell, who is running against incumbent Jim Skelton in the Republican primary for a seat on the Sedgwick County Commission, also introduced measures meant to secure more state funding for the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch and criticized Sedgwick County commissioners for supporting bonuses for ranch employees as counterproductive to those efforts.

“Jim Howell? Who’s Jim Howell?” Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh joked at the Capitol on Thursday. Unruh said the bonuses – meant to persuade employees to stay on in face of an uncertain future – were necessary to keep the ranch functioning. “I count myself a friend of Jim, but I think on this particular issue the analysis is not on target,” Unruh said.

News ahead

Services for 8,500 Kansans with intellectual and development disabilities were absorbed into the state’s privatized KanCare health program on Saturday after a federally imposed monthlong delay. Republicans expressed cautious optimism that the transition would go smoothly and pledged to monitor the progress. Democrats said the program is not ready and that the change could be devastating for a vulnerable population. The first month of the transition will be key for recipients waiting to see how their services are affected.

Bryan Lowry