Rep. Benjamin Hodge pushes 1% state budget cut – The Star

Kansas City Star; March 19, 2007
Bill would make English official

Kansas capitol notebook

TOPEKA – A war of words could be brewing over a bill making English Kansas official language.

A Senate committee last week removed a critical component calling for expanded state-funded language classes. The House had inserted the provision to assuage concerns of moderates and Democrats who saw the bill as a largely empty political attack on immigrants.

Without the compromise, the bill would face more objections in both legislative chambers. It passed the House earlier this year with the language-class provision.But Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican, proposed removing the provision, which called for spending state money on adult language classes. Vratil said it was wrong to include an issue affecting the state budget since the bill was outside the budgeting process.

The measure is headed to the Senate floor.

As it’s written now, the largely symbolic bill would give English official status. It wouldn’t prohibit local governments from offering services in other languages, however.

Kansas City, Kan., officials say they ll push again next year for more powers to go after blighted properties, now that a Senate panel failed to advance their bill.

The bill, SB 296, would have given local officials an exemption to tight eminent domain rules passed last year. Those rules, which will take effect July 1, say any use of property condemnation for economic development must get legislative approval.

That smacked of micromanagement to local officials, who said they needed greater power to force the sale of troubled properties. That’s what SB 296 would have done.

But on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee couldn’t muster the votes to pass the bill to the full Senate. Instead, the committee recommended further study during the legislative interim.

The bill also was a priority for Wichita.

Candidates for the Amendment Purgatory Hall of Fame during Thursday’s budget debate in the House:

Rep. Stan Frownfelter, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat offered an amendment to add $117,000 to track sexual predators.

“I thought it was a no-brainer,” he said. “I thought they d given me an easy one.”

It failed 60-57.

Rep. Ben Hodge, an Overland Park Republican, attempted a 1 percent across-the-board budget reduction, except for school, debt service and state pension funding. He only got 18 votes.

For those conservatives who believe public broadcasting is the bastion of the liberal establishment, Rep. Virgil Peck Jr., a Tyro Republican, tried to transfer $2 million from public broadcasting to programs for the elderly. It would have eliminated almost all the state subsidy.

It failed 70-40.

To reach David Klepper or Jim Sullinger call 1-(785) 354-1388 or send e-mail to dklepper@kcstar.com or jsullinger@kcstar.com.

Author: DAVID KLEPPER & JIM SULLINGER
Section: News
Page: B2

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