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Halfway Point for Kansas legislature
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Mary Jo Taylor

Welcome to the Turnaround break. I hope to see many of you at home while I take a few days off. It looks like we may even have “chamber of commerce” weather for the weekend so it will be good to get outside.  

Turnaround literally means bills must be heard and passed from their original chamber and turned over to the other chamber. Bills not achieving passage are considered dead for the remainder of the session. The content of the bills is always available to be amended into another bill, but the bill number itself cannot be used. 

As with any rule, there are exceptions. The House Federal & State Affairs, Appropriations, and Taxation, as well as the Senate Federal & State Affairs, Ways & Means Committees are “exempt” committees. If at any time, a bill is referred to one of these committees, the bill is exempt from deadlines. 

House or Senate leadership can refer a bill to one of these committees and re-refer the bill back to its original spot to “bless” it, to keep it “alive” and protected from deadlines.

March 7: Great Bend Chamber of Commerce legislative coffee, 10:00 a.m., 1125 Williams.

Around the Capitol

February 24 - 28 is National Public School Appreciation week. I was delighted that a group of students, teachers, and administrators spent their day in Topeka at the Capitol on Feb. 26. Any Kansas school may go through a process of school re-design. Dighton has done this in a creative way that fits very well with their community and culture. The group was set up in the building rotunda. They explained their experience to interested folks. Great learning opportunity for students and audience!

It is so nice to see friendly faces from home when we’re working hard here: 

• Kiowa County: Kristi Cooper, Stacy Barnes, Caitlin Matile

• Pratt County: Vicki Simonsen, Sarah Binford, Mike Cummins, David Inslee, Morgan Hawkins, Taylor White, Crystal Kohman, Shelli Allen

• Stafford Co: Jamie Getty, Julie Lyon,


On the Senate Floor

One of the most controversial bills of the session dealt with sports betting. SB 283 would authorize legal sports wagering in Kansas, operated by lottery gaming facilities. This should be the last Final Four and Super Bowl season where we miss out on revenues generated by our top-notch teams. It passed 23-15 (two voting present), I voted YES. 

SB 295 would prevent county appraisers from increasing property valuations because of normal repair, replacement or maintenance of existing structures, equipment and improvements to properties, but not new construction. The bill passed 38-1.

SB 307 would require Kansans under 12 years old to wear a Coast Guard-approved flotation device while aboard watercrafts in Kansas. If the bill is passed in its current form, it would go into effect on July 1, 2020. It passed 37-3, I voted YES.

SB 308 would allow raw milk products to be promoted beyond the farm itself, so long as “This product contains raw milk that is not pasteurized” is clearly visible on the advertising and bottles. It passed 37-3, I voted YES.

With hopes to expand access to gynecological services in the most underserved parts of the state, SB 381 would add obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) to the list of qualifying residency training programs under both the Medical Student Loan Program and the Kansas Medical Residency Bridging Loan Program. This would authorize the University of Kansas Medical Center to offer loan assistance and enter into service commitment agreements with OBGYN students who agree to practice in medically underserved areas of the state. It passed 25-15, I voted YES. 

Bills passed unanimously:


SB 384 would create an annual report card on educational outcome data for students in foster care, to include:

Graduation rates.

The number and percentage of students promoted to the next grade level,suspended, expelled,meeting academic standards,enrolled in any preschool at-risk programs, and the total number of students enrolled in school districts or nonpublic schools.


SB 326 would allow those between the ages of 21 and 65 to renew their driver’s licenses online. Current law only allows those under 50 to renew online.

License Plate bills: 

SB 302 would remove the requirement of three letters followed by three numerals on regular Kansas license plates. 

SB 383 would create American Legion, Knights of Columbus and Proud Educator distinctive license plates. 

SB 315 would create the Love, Chloe Foundation distinctive license plate. The foundation provides funding and support for Kansas children with cancer, as well as for cancer research. 


SB 272 would prevent the Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) or county appraisers from increasing the appraised value of properties as a result of appeals or informal meetings concerning the properties in question. 

Public Safety

SB 331 would require public agencies to restrict the identifying information of Department of Corrections employees, local correctional officers, local detention officers, Judicial Branch employees and municipal court employees from public access on public websites. 

SB 358 would transfer the approval of ignition interlock devices and the rules and regulations surrounding them to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

SB 404 would change law relating to the termination of parental rights (TPR) when children are conceived as a result of sexual assault, specifically rape, aggravated indecent liberties or incest. Individuals whose parental rights are terminated would have no right to legal custody, parenting time or decision-making responsibilities; to make medical treatment decisions; inherit either from or through the child; and no standing to object to the adoption of the child.

SB 420 would change the definition of sex offender to include anyone who is convicted of installing or using video or photo cameras and similar devices, and sending out photos and videos of identifiable individuals over 18 years old who are nude or engaged in sexual acts. 


The growler bill: SB 221 would allow the retail sale of sealable containers of beer and cereal malt beverages. This would you to take or buy beer served in refillable and sealable containers for drinking elsewhere. 

Removing government red tape: SB 251 would change the requirement that businesses file an annual report with the Secretary of State’s Office from every year to every two years. Read hearing testimony here.


  I was happy to offer SCR 1614, which expresses the support of the Kansas Legislature for farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in the Rattlesnake Creek Sub-basin in south central Kansas. The resolution specifically asks that the state works to protect water rights within the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge as a result of an impairment complaint against the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources. 

If the impairment complaint is successful, it would restrict the use of groundwater for irrigation in the sub-basin. According to information provided by Kansas State University Research and Extension, the sub-basin covers approximately 1,300 square miles. 

Twenty-three percent of the land is irrigated. The Quivira refuge is located at the lower end of the sub-basin and is a stopover in the Central Flyway for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

Committee Work

Agriculture and Natural Resources  

We heard a presentation this week from Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture and Extension.

Public Health and Welfare  

We held some hearings on good bills, but because this committee is not exempt from deadlines, the bills died in committee for failure to bring them up for a vote.

It is an honor and privilege to serve you in Topeka. Please feel free to contact me about these or other legislative issues.

Sen. Mary Jo Taylor serves West Central Kansas including Barton, Edwards, Kiowa, Lane, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush, Scott, Stafford. and parts of Hodgeman and Rice Counties.

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Students, teachers, and administrators from Dighton spent their day in Topeka at the Capitol on Feb. 26.