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Legislative Update Week Four

Senate Bill 4: Fixing the 2015 Budget 

In last week’s newsletter, I mentioned that House Appropriations committee was working on the Governor’s budget revisions for the 2015 fiscal year to address the $278.7 million shortfall.  The bill was amended and passed out of Appropriations on Monday and was debated on the House floor on Tuesday.  The amended version of the Governor’s budget plan contains an increase in expenditures of $120.2 million, of which $45.1 million is from the State General Fund.  The bill also deleted the authority for Kansas State University and the University of Kansas for additional bonding authority in 2015.  Other amendments that were on the bill were approximately $25 million of the $45 million in Capital Outlay Equalization funding that the Governor wanted to delay until June 2015 and the allowance for the Judicial Branch to transfer money from ECourts to fund the court system and prevent furloughs.  Some of the reductions in the bill are:

· $18.4 million for a 4% operating reduction for the remaining months of fiscal year 2015;

· $7.9 million for a reduction in the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System employer contribution rate;

· $4.6 million to reduce Disaster Relief Fund;

· $2.7 million for reappropriation lapses for the Legislative and Judicial Branch and

· $791,720 for salary cost reductions in the Kansas Bureau of Investigations.

The bill also includes transfers that total $247.7 million.  The largest of those transfers was the $158.5 million from the State Highway Fund.  The bill passed the House on Wednesday, 88-34, and the Senate, 24-13, and now goes to be signed by the Governor. 

The Right to Try Legislation 

On Thursday, the House Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing on HB 2004, the Kansas Right to Try Act. This bill would allow a terminally ill patient, to try drugs that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. If a terminally ill patient has been unable to participate in a clinical trial within 100 miles of home, this bill would allow the patient to try drugs that have successfully passed phase one of a FDA clinical trial but have not yet been approved for general use. The same option would apply to a terminally ill patient who has not been accepted into a clinical trial a week after the application was made.

Proponents of the bill testified in committee that the freedom to try unapproved drugs could ease those Kansans suffering with terminal illnesses. They also criticized the length of time FDA clinical trials take, saying these trials can take months for treatment but that treatment obtained under HB 2004 could take only weeks. Similar legislation has already been adopted in Colorado and Missouri; Kansas is one of several other states considering doing the same. 

Earthquakes & Fracking

This week, the House Energy and Environment Committee held hearings on the recent seismic activity in south central Kansas. Media reports have suggested they are linked to the oil and gas industry, specifically a new type of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. The committee invited Rex Buchanan, the director of the Kansas Geological Survey, to testify.

The briefing included information on the state’s seismic monitoring network, which was disabled in 1989 because of a lack of seismic activity. Now that federal funding has been returned, the state operates two seismic sensors as part of the National Earthquake Information Center. Mr. Buchanan discussed the increased oil and gas industry production, which inherently does cause low level seismic activity.

However, Mr. Buchanan made clear that “there is no reason to believe that this seismic activity is caused by hydraulic fracturing.” He addressed the key differences in the techniques used to extract oil: the well-completion technique of “hydraulic fracturing” and the production technique of “salt water injection.” To determine the exact effects of the production technique, last April, the Survey installed temporary seismic stations to further track the activity for additional study.

More information on the state’s seismic network and previous seismic activity can be found at http://www.kgs.ku.edu/.

 Education, Visitors, and Contact Information

Governor Brownback made a statement late Thursday afternoon regarding allotments to Higher and K-12 education funding.  The amount of this allotment would be $44.5 million. The allotment will take effect on March 7, 2015.

Three students from the 109th Kansas House district served as pages in the House of Representatives.  The pages were Aundrea Haberer, Maddisyn Brummer, and Rebecca Denholm.  Accompanying them were Melissa Hawkins and Melinda Brummer.  On Thursday, El Dean Holthus, Smith Center, testified before the Senate Transportation committee for the renaming of K-8 to be the “Home on the Range” Highway.  Senator Elaine Bowers and I provided testimony, as well.   I also met with Jan Peters from the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, Janae Talbott, Russell, Kara Jecha, Timken, and Gary Nelson, Lincoln.

If you have any concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov

It is an honor to serve the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas. Do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas.


Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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