KASB Daily Education Roundup, Mon. Feb. 25

Republicans on Monday remained on a collision course with Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, over tax cuts, which could affect school funding.

On the last day of committee action before the unofficial midway point of the 2019 legislative session, the House Taxation Committee approved an amended SB 22. The measure now goes to the full House.

As approved by the Senate, the bill would reduce tax revenue by nearly $190 million in the next fiscal year with three quarters of that tax cut going to corporations and the remainder to some Kansans who itemize on their tax returns. The House tax committee amended the bill with changes that would reduce the state sales tax on food from 6.5 cents per dollar to 5.5 cents per dollar and collect internet sales tax on some internet purchases.

Kelly has criticized the tax cutting efforts, saying that the Legislature needs to address state revenue needs, including adding the inflation adjustment for schools called for by the Kansas Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the House Children and Seniors Committee recommended approval of HB 2346, which makes changes to standards for school-administered vision screening plans. Proponents of the bill say the state needs to update its vision screening process. The bill would require screening for every student in pre-school and kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10 and new students in grades not requiring screening. The bill would also establish a commission to oversee vision screening requirements, collect data and help identify resources to offer free or low-cost eye exams to children who fail vision screenings.

The committee also approved HB 2360, which allows entities providing care to children, the elderly or disabled to request Kansas Bureau of Investigation criminal background checks.

But several bills weren’t acted on and Tuesday and Wednesday are reserved for full House and Senate action.

The House Education Committee didn’t act on HB 2288 on religious freedom for students and teachers. And neither House Education nor K-12 Education Budget considered any of the bullying bills that have had public hearings.

The Senate Education Committee advanced SB 199, creating the A-OK program allowing certain adults to earn high school equivalency credentials by participating in pathway oriented postsecondary classes. But the committee took no action on SB 148, which would impose new requirements for school districts on bidding.

A discussion on Monday’s developments can be seen on KASB’s Facebook page.

On Tuesday, scheduled for debate in the Senate are two education bills: SB 16, which would allow districts to expend at-risk funds on certain evidence-based programs and SB 128, requiring schools conduct four fire drills, three crisis drills and two tornado drills. No education bills are scheduled for discussion in the House on Tuesday.

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