State lawmakers return to session
Rep., District 70
The legislature will be back in session today for the wrap-up of bills, mostly budget matters. We really don’t know when we will finish, but we must complete the session in 90 days. According to the current legislative calendar, the 90th day of the session will be May 11, and that won’t change, so long as the calendar isn’t modified to accommodate committee negotiations or an impasse.
Here’s a bit of information that might be useful: Most laws become law when published in the statute book July 1 of each year, but many bills signed this month by Gov. Brownback were put on the fast track to become law when published in the Kansas Register. That’s sort of the official state newspaper of Kansas. Publication in the Kansas Register speeds up the enactment date, and is typically used when we want a law to take effect as soon as possible, for one reason or another. This weekly journal contains everything from new state laws being enacted to new agency regulations adopted to various types of official public notices. The Kansas Register is published every Thursday, and you can find it online at http:www.kssos.org/pubs/pubs_kansas_register.asp.
One of the more significant pieces of legislation passed this year is the Workers Compensation revisions bill, HB 2134. This bill is the result of detailed and painstaking negotiation between business and labor organizations as well as the legislature, and both groups believe the bill is an improvement over existing law. The bill will revise some definitions in the Workers Compensation Act, exemptions from compensation benefits, notice of injury, drug testing, administrative hearings, pre-existing conditions, permanent total and temporary total disabilities, wage calculations, caps on benefits, lump-sum retirement benefits, medical treatment, and ancillary provisions.
In addition to injury caused by an accident, as provided by current law, the bill will require an employer to be liable to pay compensation to an employee who has been injured in the course of employment because of repetitive trauma or occupational disease. An injured employee would have to show that the work incident was the prevailing factor that caused the injury.
There’s simply not much else of general interest to report this week. Don’t be surprised, however, if next week’s column is action-packed. We might have a final budget by then, and if not, we’re likely to at least know the major sticking points between the House and Senate.
Please contact me at Brookens70@sbcglobal.net or write me at Kansas State Capitol Building, 300 SW 10th St, Topeka KS 66612; or call (620) 382-2133. Beginning today, constituents may again call my Topeka number, through about May 11, at (785) 296-7636.