Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. -- Winston Churchill

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. -- Galileo Galilei

I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell. -- Harry Truman

Location: Wichita, Kansas

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kansas Legislative Update - Sex, Guns, Illegal Immigrant Tuition, and School Finance

Kansas legislators never seem to tire of their efforts to regulate sex, yet are running as fast as they can from an up or down vote on illegal immigrant tuition and solving school finance.

Three measures are in the hopper related to punishing sexually related businesses and making it easier to outlaw what material adults in the state can read or view.

First we have Sub SB 253, which seeks to define the size and content of signs for adult businesses located within a mile of any highway or interstate. It would mandate that there could only be two signs, one no more than 40 square feet with the name, address, phone number and operating hours, and another noting the premises are off-limits to minors. It passed a first vote in the House, and if passed will go to the Senate. Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler said, "It's good for children and families and sends a message that Kansas is a family friendly state." Apparently such signs are only a public menace when near a highway.

Then there is the Porn tax bill, HB 2680, which puts a 10% tax on adult oriented businesses. We had a creative suggestion for this bill, but the House Tax Committee is going to keep it in committee till next year, largely because Utah is being sued over similar legislation.

The third bill, HB 2912 wants to cleanup the language on dirty subjects, by amending the the state's anti-obscenity law to improve the chances of prosecutors charging people for sexually explicit materials. It to needs a final House vote to make it to the Senate.

While legislators are eager on those issues, no similar enthusiasm is being shown to allow an up or down vote on repealing illegal immigrant tuition, being championed by Rep. Becky Hutchins. She has been pushing for getting a floor vote, after attempts to first kill the bill in committee, and then a vote that sent her bill back to committee, by attaching her measure to other bills. So far it has not worked, but the plucky Holton gal has not given up. "She wants a clean vote and until she gets a clean vote, she'll keep bringing amendments," said Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka. "Once it comes up as a clean vote, it'll pass."

This tuition break amounts to $3,926 per semester for a student carrying just 15 credit hours at the University of Kansas, or $7,852 per year. Assuming they graduate in four years, that is $31,408 per student. So far 221 students have qualified, for a total cost of $6,941,168. Of course that will constantly be increasing as new students are approved. Here's a thought - why not take that seven million dollars and the additional millions that it would cost in the future, and establish a tuition fund for the children of legal immigrants. Sure it would mean changing the incentive toward people following the law rather than breaking it, so no doubt our legislature and governor would hate the idea.

Meanwhile, the must solve issue for this legislative session apparently won't be, as there are a number of legislators saying the school finance problem will be headed for a special session. We will be commenting more on school finance and the Kansas Supreme Court in the near future.

Finally, Gov. Sebelious once again vetoed the concealed carry bill that would allow Kansans with a permit to carry firearms, as all but three other states do. Expect a battle to override that veto shortly, which should be a close vote.