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Kansas Legislation this week…All you need to know to get ACTIVE

Wednesday, February 8
Last day for Individuals to INTRODUCE bills.
Friday, February 10
Last day for Committees, except by committees listed above, to INTRODUCE bills.
Friday, February 24 (Turnaround Day)
Last day to CONSIDER BILLS IN HOUSE OF ORIGIN, except by committees listed above.
Wednesday, March 21
Last day to CONSIDER BILLS NOT IN HOUSE OF ORIGIN, except by committees listed above.
Saturday, March 31
No bills considered after this date except BILLS VETOED BY GOVERNOR, OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS ACT

Communicating with a Legislator

You can find complete contact information for any Legislator by using the House and Senate Rosters including their email addresses, other contact and basic biographical info, their mailing address, Capitol office, committee assignments and other useful information.

For voice communication, use the toll-free Legislative Hotline to contact your legislator. Leave a message with your name and number and topic of your call and request they call you back. That number is (800) 432-3924 and is available 8-5 on days the legislature is in session. If you are in Topeka, you may call 296-2149 instead.

If you have comments on a bill that you want placed into the record, there is a defined procedure you should follow. If you are going to send in comments, it is best to go through a member of the committee handling the bill or your own representative or senator to insure delivery. If your legislator is not on a committee considering a bill you are interested in, don’t let that stop you from sending in comments. When a legislator is serving on a committee they have a broader charge to represent all Kansans, regardless of where they live.

The Calendars are prepared each day, but cover only what either chamber will be doing that day when they meet together as a whole. Near the beginning, the Calendar lists bills that are being sent to committee that day along with their subject line. (To read the full bill, you have to download it separately.) Thus, reading each day’s Calendar is a good way to keep up with new bills. Of course, as the session proceeds and the deadlines for introduction of bills are passed, you will see fewer and fewer new bills listed. However, some types of bills can be introduced later than others so it is still useful to keep an eye on this even late in the session. Lower down in the Calendar is a list of the bills that are up for vote by the full body on that day and the order in which they will be considered. The Calendars always show ALL bills that are available for them to consider as a chamber of the whole. In reality they never consider every bill on that list until the very end of the session or on “turnaround day” when bills have to make it through a chamber to stay alive. Rarely do all the bills listed on the House or Senate Calendar actually get voted on the day they are listed, usually only the first few and sometimes one or none.
All Calendars, from the first day of the session up to the current one, are linked from
the Main House page or Senate page.

If you want to read a bill, go here:

Either scroll through the list on the left or type the bill or resolution number in the search field on the right and click the submit button. You will then be taken to a page where you can download the pdf file of the current version of the bill. As the session progresses and a bill is worked, the bill will be revised to show any amendments made to it. Amended versions have bold text at the very top showing which body made changes. Those changes will be shown in different fonts corresponding to which body made the changes. Any text that is deleted from the previous version will have a line through it. Often you will also find download links on this page for fiscal impact of the bill or supplemental notes. The supplemental notes incorporate a “plain language” version of the bill and sometimes its intent and/or who supports or opposes the bill, so they are very useful. The history of the bill will also be on that page.

If a bill is revising a previous statute, you may need to read that statute to understand the full intent of the bill. You can read the statutes on this website. You will need to scroll down and read the chapter headings to get into the relevant area of the law you are interested in, or if you know the statute number use it to drill into the resource. This is not the official State of Kansas website for statutes. That is here, but it is not intuitively navigable. If you want to you can get the statute number from the other website and use that to drill into the official website – if you can.

If a bill is revising a previous statute, you may need to read that statute to understand the full intent of the bill. You can read the statutes on this website. You will need to scroll down and read the chapter headings to get into the relevant area of the law you are interested in, or if you know the statute number use it to drill into the resource. This is not the official State of Kansas website for statutes. That is here, but it is not intuitively navigable. If you want to you can get the statute number from the other website and use that to drill into the official website – if you can.

Lastly, if you want to get more of a feel for what was said and how the different members voted, you need to read the Committee Minutes and the Journals . These are the official record of those meetings.

The Journals are posted fairly quickly, usually by the evening of that day. They are an abbreviated “minutes” of the full body. They tell what happened on the day in question, including recorded votes. Reading them thus gives some hindsight on what happened on a given day in the full body.
They are linked from the Main House page or Senate page

The Committee Minutes are – eventually – also available on the web. Some committees get their minutes online quicker than others, so depending on which committee you are tracking, you may not be able to get them as quick as you would like. Some committees will also post submitted testimony from proponents and opponents, which can be interesting reading. To access the minutes for the House and Senate committees, navigate to that committee’s web page:

That’s it! By using these tools you too can follow what is going on under the dome. While this is no substitute for being there in person, it is nonetheless a definite improvement over just reading the paper or watching the 10 o’clock news!

To summarize:

Look ahead by using the Calendar
Read the bills (and any of the statutes they may be modifying)
Track the bills to find out when votes were taken
Look up the Journal and Committee Minutes to see who voted yea or nay

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Links!

Find out who your rep or senator is

Main Legislative bill page

The House and Senate Rosters

Main Senate page

Main House page

House and Senate Committees

Contact Congress from all 50 states

The KS courts

United States List of Commitees

Congress Tracker

Library of Congress

Kansas Legislative history here

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