Denouncing porn: House lawmakers in Topeka are pushing for pornography to be recognized as a public health hazard by passing House Resolution 6016.
The move would not affect any laws in Kansas.
“If it passes, it’s a statement from the House that we are opposed and we find that pornography is bad for society (and) the state of Kansas,” said Rep. John Barker, an Abilene Republican. “Basically, that’s it.”
Rep. Randy Powell, an Olathe Republican, said he supported the resolution because it would raise awareness of the health hazards of pornography.
“We can protect the coming generations from the many damages and negative progressions created by pornography viewing,” Powell said.
Law enforcement officials and conservative lobbyists also testified for the resolution. Speaking against it: No one.
Nazi comments: Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, denounced comments made recently by a Republican colleague who compared Planned Parenthood to a Nazi concentration camp and said he planned to ask Senate Republican leaders to take action.
Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican, drew national attention this week for writing a letter that compared Planned Parenthood to Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp.
Fitzgerald wrote the letter after a donation was made in his name to Planned Parenthood.
If nothing else, Hensley said, he’d like to see the Senate leaders condemn Fitzgerald’s comments.
“I think they were outrageous and completely out of line,” Hensley said.
Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, said he had no comment when asked about Fitzgerald’s comparison.
Moving for transparency: Republican Senate leaders said this week that they plan to bring more transparency to the Kansas Senate next year.
Led by Senate President Susan Wagle, the Republican officials said in a press release Friday that all Senate floor meetings and full committee hearings will be livestreamed online starting during the 2018 session.
Video will be available from the Senate floor, while audio will be streamed from the committee hearings.
And in an immediate change, meeting minutes will now have to detail who requested that a bill be introduced in the Legislature.
Real ID: Republican legislative leaders on Thursday said they expect debate to resume after spring break on legislation putting Missouri into compliance with the federal Real ID Act.
The federal law sets minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. Missouri is one of a handful of states that is not in compliance, and if that doesn’t change by January, Missourians may no longer be able to use their license to board a commercial airplane.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, said he has the votes in the House to approve legislation that would allow the state to issue two versions of Missouri’s driver’s license: One that is compliant with Real ID and another that isn’t.
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, said he delayed action on the bill to give critics of the Real ID law time to work with Missouri’s congressional delegation to see if Missouri could get an exemption that would stave off any consequences of non-compliance.
But the bill will return to the Senate floor sometime after lawmakers return from spring break on March 27.
“I’m confident it’s going to pass,” said Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican sponsoring the bill.
Charter schools: After hours of debate this week, the Missouri House narrowly approved legislation expanding charter schools across the state. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Charter schools are publicly funded, tuition-free public schools that operate independently of the established public school system. Currently they operate only in Kansas City and St. Louis.
The bill approved in the House would allow charter schools to open in any district where at least one building meets less than 60 percent of state standards.
Critics of charters say they lack accountability and often perform worse than traditional public schools. But supporters argue they give students and parents in struggling schools another option to improve their education.
“Wealthy people already have a lot of choices in where they send their kids in this state,” said state Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican. “Poor people don’t. They’re stuck with the school based on district boundaries.”