- Associated Press - Friday, May 15, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The House voted 97-22 Friday to send a bill to the governor that rewrites the rules for teachers, school administrators and other public employees who return to work after retiring.

Lawmakers also scheduled their next meeting for an investigation into a Democratic legislator’s “racist bigots” remarks and are set to address a regulatory compromise that would keep ride-hailing company Uber operating in Kansas.

Public employees are currently allowed to retire but return to work and earn up to $20,000 a year while drawing their pension benefits. Schools regularly use the program for hard-to-fill positions. The program expires at the end of June, but the bill would makes changes to the program after extending it for a year.

Here is a look at the significant actions taken by the Legislature Friday:



Democratic Rep. Ed Trimmer of Arkansas City said lawmakers should have extended the current program for public employees working after retirement and continued working on changes.

“It creates uncertainty,” Trimmer said.

The changes are designed to prevent workers and employers from setting up post-retirement jobs before a worker retires. Also, workers would be allowed to earn $25,000 in their post-retirement jobs.



Republican Rep. Erin Davis from Olathe said a meeting had been scheduled for the House panel investigating remarks by a Democratic lawmaker who labeled as “racist bigots” supporters of a bill ending college tuition breaks for students living in the U.S. illegally.

Davis leads the panel and said it would meet on the day of the Legislature’s formal adjournment ceremony. That date has not been set.

Nine Republican lawmakers complained after Democratic Rep. Valdenia Winn from Kansas City called the tuition proposal a “racist, sexist, fear-mongering bill” in March. She apologized to those “whose lives are being hijacked by the racist bigots” supporting it, according to a transcript of the hearing.

When committee members objected to Winn labeling committee members as bigots, Winn responded “if the shoe fits, it fits,” according to the transcript.



The House was expected to vote Friday on a regulatory compromise that ride-hailing company Uber said would allow it to continue to operate in the state, but the text of the legislation was not ready. It is now expected that the Legislature will address the bill next week.

Uber announced in early May that it had ceased operations in Kansas after the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto on regulations the company opposed.

Under the new measure, Uber and other ride-hailing companies could do private background checks on their subcontracted drivers. They could face lawsuits from the attorney general if drivers were found to be operating with a criminal background. Their drivers would also be required to hold some additional commercial insurance.



For the past 40 years, the Legislature has traditionally scheduled its annual sessions to last 90 days, the length specified in the state constitution for sessions in even-numbered years. The 90th day this year is Saturday, even though lawmakers won’t be at the Statehouse.

They plan to return Monday, for the 92nd day.

Sessions have frequently lasted longer than 90 days, surpassing that mark 28 times since 1975, according to the Legislature’s research staff.

Five sessions have lasted 100 days or more. The longest in state history was in 2002, at 107 days.

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