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Kansas Lawmakers Head for OT, with Another Bad Collection Report
June 1, 2016

The Kansas Legislature had a bad da y Wednesday.
The ceremonial ending the legislature was upstaged by lawmakers’ failure to find a solution to the school finance problem; increasing the likelihood of a special session and news that the state’s shakes budget situation got worse.
May revenue estimated were $74 million dollar short of projections according the Kansas Revenue Department.
Meanwhile some lawmakers hoped to find a solution to the school finance problem.
Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court declared parts of the school finance plan unconstitutional.
Justices also renewed their threat to lock the doors of Kansas’ public schools without an acceptable solution by July 1.
July 1 is when the new fiscal year starts for Kansas schools districts.
If the court says the funding plan is unconstitutional, districts would not have the legal authority to spend tax money for the schools.
“Well, we need to be on the same page. The senate, the house and the Governor, with a clear direction,” Said St. Rep. Ron Ryckman, Jr. ,the Chairman of the legislative budget committee.
Ryckman says the House was ready to pursue a potential school fix, but Senators were unable to agree on a plan.
House Republicans considered a plan to appropriate $50 million to the state’s Department of Education.
Lawmakers think that would be enough added funding to satisfy the Supreme Court’s belief the funding plan is not equitable.
Then the state’s finance council, consisting of the Governor and legislative leaders, would allocate to the money to districts who may need it.
Some lawmakers still doubt the authority the courts have the authority to shut down the schools.
House Speaker Ray Merrick recalled a 2005 law, passed at the end if another school funding showdown.
“That law was passed by the Senate, the House, signed by the Governor. And in 2005 Kathleen Sebelius was the governor….I don’t think they (justices) have the authority,” he said.
Late Wednesday, Governor Sam Brownback issued a statement saying he would continue to work with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the legislate to find a solution.
Brownback has not officially called a special session, yet.
Merrick says the legislature may have to wait 10 days after adjournment to return for a Special session.

No School Finance Deal Wednesday in Topeka
June 1, 2016

Kansas legislators will not try to deal with the state’s school finance crisis. Say week, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the legislature’s latest school funding plan unconstitutional.
Neither Senate not House Republicans could agree on a way forward with a solution is a
Limited time.
Wed essay is the ceremonial closing of the Kansa Legislature. Known by the Latin phrase, ‘Sine Die’. Loosely translated that means without another day.
The Senate decision not to consider a school Finace solution I creases the likelihood of a special session.
House members also failed at reaching a consensus in their caucus.
One plan that was considered was allocating $50 million to the Kansa Dept. of Education.
The the State Finace Council, made of up the Governor and Legislative leaders would allocate the money, in hoes that will satisfy the state Supreme Court.
Either Governor Brownback or two-thirds of both chambers can call for a special session.
The Supreme Court is threatening to shut the state school system on July 1st, the start of the Kansas school district focal year.

McCaskill Report: Many US WWII Troops. Not Compensated for Secret Gas Tests
June 1, 2016

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill conducted mustard gas tests on unsuspecting soldiers ate in WW II.
McCaskill says the Department of Fense and the Veterans Administration (VA) were reluctant to pay veterans stemming from the experiments.
“It’s a horrible situation,” McCaskill said Tuesday.
The Missouri Democrat announced she is filing a bill to compensate the surviving veterans.
She named the measure the Arla Herrell Act. Harrell is a 89-year old Missouri man who says he was one of the test victims and has been denied benefits, as recently as April 2016..
Harrell says he and other soldiers were gasses as part of military tests at Camp Crowder, a WW II training base in Southern Missouri that is now closed.
McCaskill says only 40 veterans have ever been approved to receive benefits after being parts of the test.
Her office says as many as 60,000 troops may have been involved.
McCaskill says the Department of Defense and the VA Placed the burden of proof to receive benefits on the veterans applying for claims.
“That is beyond outrageous,” McCaskill said.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald says he’ll look into the charges, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Reactions to the Kansas Supreme Court School Ruling
May 27, 2016

Here is some of the reaction to Friday’s Kansas Supreme Court ruling declaring the state school finance system is unconstitutional:

Gov. Sam Brownback:

“It is unfortunate that the Kansas Supreme Court has put at risk the education of Kansas students by threatening to close schools on June 30. The court is engaging in political brinksmanship with this ruling, and the cost will be borne by our children.

“We will carefully consider the implications of the Court’s ruling and its disregard for the proper role of the Kansas legislature.”

House Speaker Ray Merrick:
“The court has yet again demonstrated it is the the most political body in the state of Kansas. Dumping the ruling at 5 p.m. the day before a long weekend and holding children hostage. This despite the fact that the legislature acted in good faith to equalize the record amounts of money going to schools. This court is planning to shut down schools over less than 1 percent of the total education budget. Frankly, I find their actions disgraceful and hope Kansas voters will remember this in November when deciding whether these Justices should be retained.”

House Minority leader Tom Burroughs:
“For years, Gov. Brownback and his Republican allies in the legislature have refused to adequately fund our schools. Today, the Supreme Court finally said enough is enough. Kansas school children deserve better. The legislature should take whatever action is necessary to keep our schools open, something Democrats have been calling for all along.”

Senate President Susan Wagle:
“I will be talking with my colleagues in the Senate about the best course forward dealing with the Court’s ruling–a ruling which tramples the checks and balances enshrined in the state constitution. Certainly this unconstitutional overreach, and making students the collateral damage of judicial activism, should weigh heavily on the minds of all Kansas voters when many of these justices are up for retention in November.”

Ryan Wright, Executive Director of Kansans for Fair Courts
“The Kansas Supreme Court has done its job to once again protect the Kansas Constitution and our children’s right to an equitable education as guaranteed by the constitution. Now, it’s time for the Legislature to meet its constitutional mandate

Judge Rules Kansas Can Continue to Add to Voter Rolls
May 25, 2016

(AP) – A federal judge has denied a request to put on hold pending appeal an order requiring Kansas to add to voting rolls for federal elections thousands of eligible voters who did not provide proof of citizenship when registering at motor vehicle offices.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday instead extended for an additional two weeks a temporary stay of her order. The move gives Secretary of State Kris Kobach more time to register more than 18,000 eligible voters or request a stay from an appeals court.
Robinson cited the “fair amount of administrative effort” to comply when extending her temporary stay to June 14. The previous deadline was May 31.
Kobach has filed a notice of appeal of the preliminary injunction with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals