Monday, March 10, 2014

GUEST COMMENTARY: Willie Dove Legislative Report

By Kansas Rep. WILLIE DOVE, Kansas House of Representatives

The House passed HB 2555 opening arrest and search warrants to the public. The affidavits outline the reasons police give to judges to obtain the warrants. Currently, Kansas law treats these affidavits as closed documents unless they are obtained by a court order.

This bill will make the documents public unless the prosecutors successfully petitions the court to seal them. HB 2555 puts the burden of proof on the government to keep the affidavits secret rather than the public having the burden of proof to open them.

The House also passed HB 2552, requiring timely payment of claims by the KanCare Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). The bill requires payment of most claims within 30 days, and all others withing 90 days. It also requires 12% interest be paid on late payments. This bill will help doctors, nursing homes and hospitals better manage their finances, and keep state government and its contractors accountable for money owed.

Also passed this week was HB 2430, a yearly update on the Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK) initiative, first passed in 2009. PEAK promotes job opportunities in the state by giving companies incentives to relocate to Kansas. This year's update requires wages paid to be equal to or in excess of the county median wage.

Participating companies are also allowed to apply for a two-year extension. Since the program's inception, more than 9,900 jobs have relocated to Kansas, along with $1.1 billion in capital investment. The 158 participating companies have secured a total of 18,000 jobs, which includes relocation, expansion and job retention.

Rural Opportunity Zones are another Kansas success story. In 2011, Governor Brownback proposed a plan to stop the outward migration of our rural communities by providing tax cuts and student loan repayment to entice out-of-state people to relocate to rural communities in the state. As a result, outward migration has slowed from 16% in 2011 to 4% in 2013. Last week, the House passed HB 2417 to add the counties of Cherokee, Labette, and Montgomery to the program.

The House addressed an unfair property tax issue in the state by passing HB 2456. The bill expanded commercial classification to included companies manufacturing cement, lime or similar products. There are two cement companies headquartered in Kansas; one in Neosho County, one in Allen County.

One of the companies saw its industrial machinery and equipment unilaterally reclassified as real estate in 2012, doubling its property tax bill. HB 2456 will help keep these two American-owned companies in Kansas and ensure their ability to compete with out-of-state cement companies is not hampered by government.

Hundreds of Kansas school children were on hand to celebrate the state's history with the designation of the sea creature Tylosaurus and the flying Pteranodon as state fossils in HB 2595. Fossil hunter Alan Detrich called the designations "a great tool to get children inspired. It intrigues children to pick up a book and read about it."

Keep in touch with me about your opinions on issues affecting our district and state. You can reach me at or call 913-909-5866.