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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Legislative chambers to trade bills

  • Rep. Christmann watching Senate taxation bill carefully.
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  • The Kansas Legislature is facing a deadline, with the necessity of each chamber to clear bills by this weekend in order to send them to the other house for debate.
    An exception is a Senate bill that contains Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal for more reductions to state income tax and measures that would make up revenue lost as a result.
    SB 78 will probably not be debated until the week of March 11, because of a backlog of other issues, according to Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, quoted for an Associated Press story.
    "I'm watching carefully what the Senate does," said Marshall Christmann, freshman representative for House District 113. "We have to make sure the policies we put together are not harmful to the public."
    Christmann describes himself as pro-life, conservative on issues such as gun control, Second Amendment rights and taxation, but a "blue-collar Republican" in his support of workers' rights and the middle class.
    The House will be sending several issues to the Senate for their consideration.
    One of the most important, according to Christmann, is an expansion of KanCare, the state's new Medicaid program, which he favors.
    "That's not a popular Republican standpoint," he admitted. "I worry about mental health and medical services for the poor."
    A second issue is judicial reform that is heavily debated, with members of the judicial committee about evenly divided on a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would give the governor the ability to pick candidates for Appeals and Supreme Court judges, subject to Senate approval, much like the federal model.
    By the current method, a committee of laypeople and lawyers make the selections.
    The problem has been a lack of access to what's going on in the private commission meetings, Christmann believes. Senators can be voted out if people don't like the judges they are supporting. The proposed amendment puts the choice of the state's top judges in the hands of the people.
    A second proposed amendment that would give the Legislature exclusive rights to set state expenditures for education, "will be explosive," and Christmann can't predict its outcome in the House. In 2005, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that education was not being adequately funded, and in December the Shawnee County District Court ordered the state to increase funding for education by at least $440 million. Christmann believes that type of check and balance is necessary.
    "That's (education of children) our future. If we shortchange our future, we do nothing for the state of Kansas," he said. "I can't vote for it. Most Republicans will probably be voting for it. We need that system of checks and balances. The courts need to be there."
    Page 2 of 2 - Christmann has had a very busy first term, co-sponsoring a number of bills.
    HB 2063 will allow owners of homes and mobile homes that have been destroyed by a natural disaster to receive their taxes back from the state in the form of a reimbursement after they have paid it to the county.
    HB 2168 offers amendments to an already existing bill by reducing the taxes that the State of Kansas wants from dog and horse race tracks from 40 to 20 percent.
    "My overall drive here is to bring jobs to the state of Kansas," Christmann said. "Although these are pari-mutuel in nature they will be long standing jobs that feed and support Kansas family's for decades to come."
    Currently there are no horse or greyhound tracks running in Kansas; Christmann believes reducing the tax to 20 percent of revenues will entice them back and also foster growth in equestrian farms.
    HB 2175 defines what an overly aggressive pat down is and prohibits the separation of parent and children by TSA officers at airports.
    HB 2176 establishes a specialty license plate for passenger cars, light trucks and motorcycles honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
    HB 2199 states that any personal firearm, accessory or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Kansas and that remains within the borders of Kansas is not subject to federal law. The bill defines what would be an "accessory." Also, a firearm manufactured in the state would have to be clearly stamped "Made in Kansas."
    HB 2203 protects religious freedoms in Kansas, regardless of any federal legislation.
    HB 2205 would amend current law regarding adoption, adoption hearings, and time and waiver of notice. Currently, the court fixes the time for an adoption hearing as any time between 30 and 60 days from the date the petition is filed. he bill would remove the minimum time frame of 30 days.
    HB 2324 prohibits abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable fetal heartbeat.
    HCR 5010 is a Kansas constitutional amendment that states human life begins at conception.

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