The Kansas Legislature returns to Topeka Monday for a 2022 session sure to be coloured by electoral politics.
With Democratic Governor Laura Kelly operating for reelection towards Republican Lawyer Basic Derek Schmidt and lawmakers making ready for their very own campaigns, each agenda merchandise is more likely to be considered with a watch on November.
Right here’s seven points to observe.
Kansas is without doubt one of the final states within the nation with out some type of legalized marijuana.
A reasonably restrictive medical marijuana invoice, with a restricted checklist of diagnoses and a prohibition towards smokable hashish, passed the House last year.
Sen. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican and chair of the committee that may evaluation the invoice, mentioned he plans to carry an informational session on medical marijuana insurance policies on Tuesday.
Olson mentioned he’s anticipating some within the Senate to need adjustments to the Home invoice, however he’s optimistic that some medical marijuana measure can cross and turn out to be legislation earlier than the tip of the yr.
“I do see some model of this invoice popping out most likely this yr,” Olson mentioned. “I’m not going to carry it up.”
Home Democrats aren’t so positive. They introduced plans final week to introduce two constitutional amendments that may legalize medical and leisure marijuana.
“I hope (the Senate) would act on (medical marijuana),” mentioned Rep. Jason Probst, a Hutchinson Democrat. “However, prior habits is the perfect indicator of future efficiency.”
“I’ve zero religion that they’ll transfer both of these items of laws. We acquired it out of the Home but it surely was a really stringent model.”
Lawmakers plan to introduce payments banning what they think about critical race theory and establishing a mother and father’ invoice of rights.
Essential race principle, a physique of authorized scholarship evaluating the influence of racism on America’s establishments, has turn out to be a catch-all time period in conservative circles for a variety of instruction associated to race and bias.
Legislators held two days of hearings final month that included testimony from parents frustrated over curriculum and the dealing with of the pandemic.
“Our mother and father perceive their rights and that kids shouldn’t be segregated based mostly on race or gender or another purpose,” Rep. Kristey Williams, an Augusta Republican who chairs the Ok-12 funds committee, mentioned final month.
Kelly has known as complaints about crucial race principle a “nothing burger” and reiterated that curriculum needs to be left to high school boards, not the Legislature.
Lawmakers are additionally anticipated to proceed debates from final yr on college alternative, scholar achievement and funding. That would embrace permitting college students to make use of public funds for personal college training.
Final yr, lawmakers expanded an current program of tax credit for funding scholarships to non-public faculties.
“With new, extra conservative college board members it doubtlessly will change the difficulty,” mentioned Rep. Valdenia Winn, a Kansas Metropolis Democrat.
Flush with an enormous funds surplus, Kansas Democrats and Republicans are talking tax cuts.
Kelly and Schmidt have each proposed eliminating the food sales tax this yr.
Kansas’ 6.5% gross sales tax on groceries is the second-highest within the nation. Aid from that burden seems to have robust bipartisan assist.
If there are sticking factors, they are going to most likely be over what sort of meals and whether or not the reduce is handed by itself or together with different tax reductions.
One concern of backers is that if the meals tax reduce doesn’t cross early within the session as a stand-alone invoice, it might find yourself competing with different tax-cut proposals late within the session.
In 2020 Kelly vetoed meals tax reduce as a result of it included different breaks for rich Kansans and multinational firms.
Some conservative Republicans have embraced the thought of limiting tax reduction to staple meals objects. A Democratic invoice makes use of a wider definition that features non-essentials resembling sweet, delicate drinks and dietary dietary supplements.
A associated measure would prolong reduction to non-public hygiene objects, resembling shampoo, cleaning soap, diapers, rest room paper and female hygiene provides.
Kelly has additionally proposed a $250 tax rebate for every Kansan, a proposal that was met by GOP leaders with requires everlasting reductions.
The Kansas Metropolis, Kansas, freshman, repeatedly accused of abusive behavior, will face a second Legislative investigation that would end in his censure or expulsion.
Coleman is charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in Johnson County following an incident along with his brother in October. He was arrested in November for allegedly driving under the influence of medicine or alcohol. Prices haven’t but been filed in that case.
Final yr, lawmakers investigated Coleman and located that allegations of a longstanding sample of abuse had been substantiated. Nevertheless, they declined to behave as a result of Coleman’s habits occurred earlier than he took workplace.
Since his DUI arrest, Republican and Democratic Legislative leaders have known as for Coleman’s resignation. Rep. John Barker, an Abilene Republican who chairs the investigating committee, mentioned he believed it could be “prudent” to attend to start hearings till after the legal instances have concluded.
“It’s type of wait and see,” Barker mentioned. “They’re simply allegations at this level.”
Coleman is one in every of three Kansas lawmakers who confronted legal fees final yr. Rep. Mark Samsel, a Wellsville Republican, pleaded responsible to disorderly conduct after he allegedly kicked a scholar within the groin whereas substitute educating. Sen. Gene Suellentrop, a Wichita Republican, drove the mistaken method down Interstate 70 in Topeka whereas drunk. He pleaded responsible in October to driving below the affect and reckless driving.
All three stay in workplace and can return to Topeka this yr.
On its face, it looks as if a easy train.
As soon as each ten years, lawmakers are required to redraw the boundaries of state legislative and congressional districts to account for shifts in inhabitants revealed by the U.S. Census.
However partisanship normally turns it into a protracted ordeal. Relying on the place the strains are drawn, redistricting can vastly affect the electoral panorama, making and breaking political careers.
This session, Republicans who dominate the Legislature are anticipated to attempt to use redistricting to focus on Kansas’ lone Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Sharice Davids, who represents the Kansas Metropolis suburbs.
On the state degree, count on the Republicans to look to guard their veto-proof majorities within the Home and Senate.
The final time the Legislature took up redistricting, a brutal political struggle between conservative and reasonable Republican lawmakers led to an deadlock that was handed off to federal courtroom. A panel of judges drew maps that compelled a number of incumbents to run towards one another, the worse-case situation for sitting politicians.
Operating within the new districts in 2012, conservatives backed by then-Gov. Sam Brownback succeeded in purging almost all the Legislature’s Republican moderates.
Psychological well being
This difficulty has been simmering for years, however the current death of 17-year-old Cedric Lofton has led to elevated scrutiny.
Lofton, a Black foster little one with mental-health points, died after being restrained on the Sedgwick County Juvenile Consumption and Evaluation Heart. He was taken there after turning into combative with police who responded to a mental-health name by his foster mother and father.
Some lawmakers are in search of statewide reform of the system for dealing with emergency calls involving mentally sick people, emphasizing therapy as an alternative of jail.
Native governments in south-central Kansas are also pleading for a 50-bed state psychological hospital to be constructed someplace within the Wichita space.
And advocates are pushing for greater reimbursement charges for mental-health suppliers to deal with a statewide crucial scarcity of mental-health employees.
Gov. Kelly has requested that throughout the subsequent two weeks the Legislature make everlasting via March two executive orders she introduced Thursday.
The orders carry regulatory obstacles for hospitals and nursing houses as they face extreme staffing shortages introduced on by the most recent wave of COVID-19.
In statements final week, Home Speaker Ron Ryckman and Senate President Ty Masterson every mentioned they might think about the request and believed the manager orders had been wanted on the hospitals.
The Legislature can be more likely to sort out different COVID-19 points.
Conservative lawmakers have additionally indicated plans to broaden work began throughout November’s particular session and pursue extra laws pushing again on COVID-19 vaccine necessities.