School funding, state highways, bump stocks among focus of upcoming legislative session

TOPEKA (CAPITOL BUREAU) – Although finding a way to pay for K-12 education will dominate the upcoming legislative session, there are other issues lawmakers in the House are looking to tackle.

“It’s hard to ignore school finance, that will be the dominant issue, but there are other unmet needs and things that we need to do as a state that will require funds as well,” said House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton.

Hineman explained those needs include funding state highways and KAPERS.

“Our contributions into KAPERS retirement system, we have amped up the level of contribution in recent years, but it’s still not adequate and that’s an issue we still have to deal with,” he said.

Right now there are ten pre-filed bills in the House. One of those bills is being put forward by Topeka Democrat, Representative Vic Miller, and would ban the possession of bump stocks for semi-automatic weapons.

“To my thinking there is no redeeming purpose for a bump stock other than allows mad men to kill more people and kill them faster,” said Miller.

Representative Miller says this legislation comes after 58 people were killed in a mass shooting during a Las Vegas music festival last year.

“This is what I believe to be a common sense approach, I would reject any amendments that serve to otherwise control weapons that people have,” added Miller.

Miller’s bill isn’t the only one targeting gun safety this session, another bill would make it a crime to leave a loaded gun in a public place. Hineman said both are bills the house will look at through the committee process.

“These issues are worthy of conversation and study,” said Hineman.

Another issue lawmakers are looking to tackle: what to do with money from the federal tax cuts?

“With the tax cut in Washington our utilities are going to get a huge windfall and how do we distribute that? I’d like to see us put that in consumers’ pockets instead of shareholders’ pockets,” said House Minority Leader, Jim Ward, D-Wichita.

Some lawmakers say there could be some bills from last session lawmakers could take another look at, like the bill on amusement park safety.

“We’re going to have to go back and look at that again and clean it up if necessary, safety first,” said State Rep. Ron Highland, R-Wamego.

The session kicks off next week.