House silences Democratic-inspired plea to debate on K-12, guns – Topeka Capital Journal

The Republican-led House tossed aside attempts by Democrats on Friday to force a vote on a public school financing bill and to endorse an indefinite exemption to Kansas’ concealed gun law for public universities, hospitals and mental health facilities.

House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, tried to initiate full-scale debate on the K-12 Education Budget Committee’s plan to raise public school funding $279 million over two years. Democrats prefer increases of $400 million in new state over that period.

Attempts to alter Kansas law opening public buildings to people carrying concealed firearms has been opposed by gun-rights lobbyists and legislators.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing that the people of Kansas are being denied a full and vigorous debate on gun safety or school finance funding,” Ward said. “Many people are asking: Why did you do it today? My answer is: Why not today? It’s day 95 of the session. This should have been covered on day one.”

The typical Kansas legislative session consumes 90 days, but the 2017 session was budgeted for 100 days. The Kansas Supreme Court’s deadline for a new school funding plan is June 30.

Rep. Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway, said the House committee’s school finance package could be ready next week for consideration by the House. It promises to be a lengthy debate driven by amendments from the chamber’s three factions — conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans and Democrats.

House GOP leaders have kept the school bill on hold in an attempt to first push through a tax increase closing a revenue shortfall of $900 million in the next two fiscal years.

Negotiations between the Senate and House on a tax deal haven’t yielded something favored by a majority of legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback, who vetoed a bill in February raising individual state income tax rates and wiping

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