2016 Heats Up

With a budget crisis for the fifth year after a national recession, the first two weeks of session have started out relatively slowly. We are seeing a few bills introduced and heard in committees, including bills fixing legislation such as the severability clause in a judicial bill, tying funding in with policy that was ruled unconstitutional.

This year, I continue to serve on Agriculture, Natural Resources, Corrections and Juvenile Justice, and Judiciary. In Natural Resources we have been looking primarily at bills that deal with western Kansas water issues.

In Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice, we started with a bill the chairman promised to hold hearings on at the start of this year dealing with changes on first offense marijuana charges, allowing limited use for hemp oil to minimize seizures in children and allow certain research universities to study industrial hemp varieties, production and utilization.

The bill was worked Tuesday and the portion pertaining to medical hemp oil for seizures was inserted into another bill to be heard in the Senate Health Committee. The portion on industrial hemp research was stripped completely. The chairman shared that another bill pertaining to this was introduced in the House and may be heard in the Agriculture Committee.

The bill that will be forwarded to the Senate floor would amend the possession of marijuana so the first offense would be a class B nonperson misdemeanor, a second offense would be class A nonperson misdemeanor and third offense would be a drug severity level 5 felon. Of the first time offenders, the Kansas Sentencing Commission testified that 98.5% are non-person offenses, and we are locking them up when we need more bed space for violent offenders. Senate Bill 20 was also attached to increase penalties for people who break into homes.

Also on Tuesday, Senate Agriculture extended the work of the Local Food and Farm Task Force (SB 314). The bill was designed to encourage local farm to food access and limit barriers to increase locally grown produce. As conventional farms increase in acreage, many small farmers (under 1,000 acres) are diversifying into alternative crops. There is now market demand to provide farm to food venues. Other areas of focus are identifying food deserts and getting food to them. Food deserts can be anything from drought and dry areas in western Kansas to inner city areas without a grocery store. The decision to extend the study one more year happened because many of the areas they studied were not able to be explored deeply enough. Click here to read the report.

Bringing this initiative closer to home, it ties in with our Harvey County Farm and Food Council that officially began last month. Having the ability to share success stories to increase markets for small farmers and provide local fresh foods to our area will promote healthy eating and increase our local economy.

An interesting bill was introduced in the House Federal and State Affairs that would decrease the number of school districts from 286 to 132. What that means to you is counties with 10,000 or fewer public school students would have one district. Counties with more than 10,000 could have more than one district if the school is larger than 1,500 students. That would basically make Harvey County one district and consolidate the northern school districts in Sedgwick County.

A few concerning questions would be: Do we want to give up local control? Will we lose opportunities to buy food and products from our local businesses? How much money will it really save in the area of administration where superintendents are also the school principal in smaller districts?

I want to thank you for your letters and emails on important issues we have been dealing with. If you would like more information, please sign up for my electronic e-news. I am able to insert pictures of citizens who come up from our district. I also try to keep up with some of the bills of interest from the district and provide links for the texts and summaries of the bills.
Email me at Carolyn.mcginn@senate.ks.gov. Please place “enews” in the subject line.

If you have a child or grandchild who would like to serve as a page this year, I still have dates available. Please call my office (785-296-7377) and visit with my assistant Da’Nella Anderson who will get you scheduled.

For other information about the 31st district, updates, and news articles, please go to my website at: www.workingforkansas.com.

Barth Hague, CEO of Mirror Inc. visiting Senator McGinn at the State Capitol. Thank you to Mirror for helping individuals and families get back on track.

Senate General Orders and Confirmations
February 3, 2016

Below are a list of bills the Senate has debated and approved.
SB 19 An act concerning administrative procedure

Sub SB 22 An act concerning courts

Sub SB 182 An act concerning the department o Health and Environment

SB 242 An act concerning public officers an employees

S Sub HB 2049 An act concerning controlled substances

HB 2387 An act concerning emergency medical services

Sub SB 99 An act concerning height and length of vehicles and loads

SB 225 An act concerning interstate compact for recognition of emergency personnel licensure

SB 243 An act concerning the state civil service board

SB 349 An act concerning commercial driver’s licenses

SB 341 An act concerning the Kansas medical assistance program

SB 318 An act concerning the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority

Sub SB 65 An act concerning firearms

S Sub HB 2365 An act concerning appropriations for FY 2016

Click here to see the list of confirmations approved by the Senate.

Pages serving in the Senate last week are from Wichita Independent School.
Left is Jack Bergeson and right is Alex Cline

While loading working livestock a couple of weeks ago, I had the experience of being broadsided knee high by one of our sheep. I failed to be in a good offensive stance and did some damage to my knee that required surgery on Monday. I am following the bills via internet, phone calls and emails. I plan to be back next Monday when session picks up for turnaround (bills passing chamber of origin).

Working for Kansas, Working for us!

Due to the large volume of emails, I am occasionally not able to respond to all of your comments. Please know that they are read, and if it is urgent please email my senate email address at carolyn.mcginn@senate.ks.gov or contact my office at:
785-296-7377 during session.

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Senator Carolyn McGinn
Working for Kansas
Paid for by McGinn for State Senate, Leslie J. Ward Treasurer

Working for Kansas, P.O. Box A, Sedgwick, KS 67135