A second report for today from Karl Peterjohn of the Kansas Taxpayers Network.
The senate Republicans have weighed in and made a significant impact today. A majority of the GOP Senate caucus met with their leadership and made it clear that they would not be involved in other votes on school finance until the constitutional amendment protecting legislative powers issue is resolved.
This is important for a number of reasons. It is a message to the Senate President Steve Morris and the rest of the leadership that their positions are in some jeopardy without keeping a majority of the GOP caucus behind them. Second, it provides leverage for some house Democrats who would like to vote for a constitutional amendment but are being pressured behind the scenes by their leadership starting from the governor’s office and working its way down that want to keep the Democrats together (only one house D voted for the amendment last weekend) but some members do not want this to be locked into a position defending the court.
Since 84 votes are needed to pass any constitutional amendment in the house and there are 83 Republicans some Democrats will have to vote for this amendment since there are at least a handful of die-hard liberals led by lawyers Tim Owens and Ward Loyd who have publicly criticized on the house floor the senate passed amendment protecting the legislature’s fiscal powers in the strongest words possible. Any amendment would go to the voters in August.
What has made this turn of events quite interesting is the unified senate GOP support for the amendment with every senate Republican voting for this proposal. This includes some very liberal GOP legislators.
The house goes in at 4 PM (right now) and school finance is on the agenda. However, they were expected to start this debate at 11 AM and it has been postponed. It could be postponed again but even if a school finance expenditure bill is passed, the payment for this in the form of either higher taxes or expanded gambling must be resolved too. That’s why the senate’s position on the amendment is critical.
Quick passage in the house of a constitutional amendment followed by a supplemental appropriation for the schools could lead to a quick end to this special session. A lot of balls are still in the air and depending on which ones come down and how soon, will determine the outcome of this special session.