Kansas legislative information on the internet |
by David Barfield, CHECK Chairman
From the December, 1998 CHECK News (links updated January 2000)
In January another state legislative session will begin as well as a new federal congress. Tracking what is going on in Topeka and Washington, D.C. has always been difficult. Many large special interest groups, including the education lobby, are at a distinct advantage with all resources they have to monitor what is going on. Fortunately we have HSLDA to monitor what is happening in Washington D.C. On a state level however, organizations like ours that depend on volunteer staff, as fine as they may be, have a much more difficult time keeping on top of things, especially when important legislative provisions can be buried in large bills and/or be dealt with at waning moments of the legislative session .
While it does not replace having people at hearings and visiting with legislators, the use of on-line legislative resources can allow us to be more aware of what is happening in Topeka, search for and find language of specific bills, know when hearings will be held, etc. Below is a bit of a primer on legislative information that is available for free via the internet, focusing on Kansas' legislative information. With these tools, we can have an army of us searching and tracking bills of interest from our homes. And we can talk more intelligently with our law-makers, with the specific legislative language in our hands.
The primary web site for Kansas Legislative information is the Information Network of Kansas or INK for short. INK's web site is at www.ink.org. The legislative information is found at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/index.cgi. INK's legislative page is well laid out and I believe with the background provided below, you should be able to find what you are looking for.
An overview of Kansas' legislative process
Before detailing the on-line resources available, below is an outline of the process a bill normally takes through the Legislature. There are exceptions and this is just an overview. For a full treatment of the Kansas' Legislative process, I will refer you to Legislative Research's "Legislative Procedure in Kansas" (http://skyways.lib.ks.us/ksleg/KLRD/citizen.html), available on-line from Legislative Research's link on INK's page (you will need Adobe's Reader, available free on the internet).
Kansas Legislative on-line resources
Legislators get a "daily packet" each day of the legislative session which includes introduced bills, amended bills, the House and Senate Journals and Calenders, etc. All of the documents in the daily packet are available on INK's web site for free on the same day as Legislators receive them. Here is a summary of the on-line tools and a few hints on their use:
A few closing thoughts
Hundreds of bills introduced in our state Legislature each year. As I alluded to above, just because it is introduced does not mean it will see the light of a committee hearing much less further action. We have been fortunate in recent Legislative sessions to have education committee chairs that have been unwilling to hear bills that would seriously impact our current freedom to home educate.
Secondly as helpful as these tools are, it does not replace being there at the hearings and talking with Legislators. So please continue to pray for Kent Vincent and others who are involved in this important work. I would also encourage you to show up at Day Under the Dome next month and meet with your legislator. It is my judgement, and not mine alone, that Day Under the Dome has been significantly used by God to grant us favor before our Legislature.
I trust you will use these tools to be better informed. If you find a bill of concern to the Kansas' homeschool community, please send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of CHECK's officers (see page 2 for names and phone numbers).
The same type of information noted above is also available regarding our federal legislative process at the Library of Congress' web site, Thomas, http://thomas.loc.gov/. Also at the site is a fine, detailed summary of the federal legislative process called, "How Our Laws Are Made" (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/lawsmade.toc.html).
p.s. For those of you with internet access - A copy of this article is on CHECK's web page, including the links which are noted. In addition, I have created a bit of index of the links.
p.p.s. I would appreciate any suggestions for improving the above information. Send them to email@example.com.
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Page last updated 3/17/2000