Proposal would shift Kan. veteran affairs commission to executive

KU Statehouse Wire Service

TOPEKA — Making sure proper funeral arrangements for veterans proved to be a topic for debate and possibly more clarification on the House floor Monday.

In the general order portion of the session, Senate Bill 263 discussed the concern for military service members and the military honors funeral fund. It also abolishes the Kansas commission on veteran affairs making it a part of the executive branch of government.

The KCVA mission statement said it provides veterans, their relatives and other eligible dependents with information, advice and assistance through the coordination of programs and services.

“(The bill) will create a fund where you can donate money to satisfy this honor for veterans,” said Rep. Marco Goico, a major proponent of the bill.

The bill provides more complete and proper services for the veterans whether it comes to health care or burial.

Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, asked if the bill is similar to House Bill 2681, which passed last week. The bill would make shifts with the management of the KCVA and require annual report on the progress to repair problems with the system.

It also looks to give more control to the Gov. Sam Brownback following a state audit with identifying potential fraud and oversight within KCVA.

Goico said it was not the same bill. After discussing it further, Trimmer said it needs to be clarified.

“Now we have a bill that separates this out, we’re sending out two pieces of legislation with a different version of 2681,” Trimmer said. “I hope some of it can get sorted out some how. My point last week was that we should discuss that issue out by itself to avoid confusion. I guess now we’ll see which version we decide to pass.”

Rep. Melanie Meier, D-Leavenworth, also talked about the importance of making sure veterans and funeral arrangements for fallen soldiers were properly handled.

“The federal government is making a lot of cuts and it’s harder and harder for our Kansas veterans to get military honors through the federal government,” Meier said. “With this fund, people can feel like they are supporting their veterans and families can express their gratitude to make sure every Kansas veteran gets the military honors they deserve.”

The bill moved out of general orders and most likely will go into final action later this week.

Another general order on the House floor of note Monday was Senate Bill 357 dealing with hunter education in the state.

Rep. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City, said the bill would increase the number of deferrals from one to two times.

Hunting deferrals are for inexperienced hunters who have not taken the hunting education in Kansas or any other states.

Each deferral can be valid until the end of the current license year in which a hunting license needs to be purchased. The person must be 16 years or older to purchase a license deferral, but must be in the supervision of licensed adult who is older than 18.

Having two deferrals would allow a hunter to have another experience at hunting before the requirement of hunter education.

“This will help determine if some like hunting they can stay into it,” Estes said.

According to the bill, a person over 16 years old may have two separate deferrals with completion of hunter education.

Rep. Ponka-We Victors, D-Wichita, said that there was some opposition from the Natural Resources Committee but they managed to pass it when reducing the proposed deferral from three to two times.

The bill also passed and will be voted on with final action later this week.

Ryan McCarthy is a University of Kansas senior from Lenexa majoring in journalism.