Monday, February 3, 2014

Capitol Report: ALEC, broadband, guns, religion

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World


ALEC official in the House

A leading proponent of the theory that lower income taxes produces economic growth will be speaking Wednesday to the House Taxation Committee on "Growing the Kansas Economy."

Jonathan Williams is director of the Center for State and Fiscal Reform with the American Legislative Exchange Council.

He will be speaking to a receptive audience. Tax Chairman State Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, has helped pushed through Gov. Sam Brownback's policy of cutting income tax rates while keeping the sales tax rate high and eliminating or reducing deductions aimed at helping low-income Kansans.

The Kansas Legislature is dominated by members of ALEC, which argues for lower taxes and smaller government, but which critics say produces model legislation to benefit corporations and the wealthy.

Legislation would ban community broadband service

A hearing is set for Tuesday on a bill that would prohibit communities from offering broadband Internet service.

Senate Bill 304 was introduced by a lobbyist for the cable television industry and will be heard by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Supporters of the bill say government shouldn't be competing with private businesses for broadband customers, while critics say cities should be allowed to make decisions that benefit their citizens.

The bill is moving like a high-speed Internet connection. Final action by the committee is scheduled for Thursday, 10 days after the bill was first introduced.

Action set on controversial bills

The House Federal and State Affairs Committee has set aside two days — Tuesday and Wednesday — to work on several controversial bills.

House Bill 2453 would provide legal protection for people with sincerely held religious beliefs from having to provide services or goods to same-sex couples, while House Bill 2473 would prohibit cities from regulating the open carry of weapons.

Quote of the week:

"I always tell my students that pursuing higher education is weather-related. You don't want to work outside on a day like today. You want to get a good education so you can get an inside job." State Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, during a hearing on a resolution in support of increasing number of Kansans getting a postsecondary degree or credential. At the time of the hearing, it was 16 degrees outside with a wind chill of 1 degree.

What's next:

7:15 a.m. Tuesday — Presentation by Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to Senate Ways and Means subcommittee on education, room 546-South.

1 p.m. Tuesday — Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker and Kansas Policy Institute's Dave Trabert speaking to joint meeting of House and Senate Education committees, room 144-South.

1:30 p.m. Tuesday — Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center presents annual report to joint meeting of Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and House Health and Human Services Committee, room 546-South.

7:15 a.m. Thursday — Presentation by KU Medical Center to Senate Ways and Means subcommittee on education, room 546-South.