After nine weeks, House proposals to benefit working families languish in committee

At the start of the 2009 legislative session, Democrats in the Kansas House and Senate unveiled a series of legislative proposals to help working Kansas families during this difficult economic year.  After nine weeks, none of these proposals have been considered on the House floor.

"The Senate has been our only partner in advancing legislation to help working Kansans," said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, Lawrence.  "We have yet to even receive committee hearings on House proposals."

The legislative package introduced in January proposed raising the state minimum wage, establishing a prevailing wage, strengthening worker compensation laws, strengthening worker misclassification penalties, lifting the wrongful death cap and protecting workers' rights. Throughout the last several months, some of the largest employers in Kansas have tremendously scaled back personnel, including Boeing, Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna, Goodyear and General Motors.

"This week, the Department of Labor reported an alarming increase in unemployment across the state," said Rep. Louis Ruiz, Kansas City, the ranking Democrat on the House Commerce and Labor Committee.  "In this difficult economic time, we have a responsibility to make struggling Kansans a top priority."

One Senate bill to raise the state minimum wage received a committee hearing in the House Commerce and Labor Committee last week.  House Bill 2249, which proposes to strengthen the Kansas Whistleblower Act, is the only House proposal to receive a committee hearing.

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will give us an opportunity to help working Kansas families tremendously, but we must not stop there," said Rep. Tom Burroughs, Kansas City, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.  "With so many of us struggling to provide basic necessities for our families, we cannot simply aim for the lowest common denominator.  We have to do everything in our power to ease the impact of this economic recession on working families."

The following proposals have stalled in House committees since early February: House Bills 2277, 2294, 2278, 2279, 2312, 2281, 2175, 2218.

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