67th District House Rep. Mike Dodson (R-Manhattan)

House Bill 2196

The Kansas Legislature has cleared one hurdle to overhaul the state labor department.

The House voted 87-36 vote Thursday on House Bill 2196, largely on partisan lines. Among the supporters, 67th District Rep. Mike Dodson (R-Manhattan), says the bill will establish an independent board to oversee the Kansas Department of Labor.

“You’ve got to have people who know what they’re doing providing oversight and then we have to make sure that they put the money, and we’ve provided that, into the IT. We all know what happened because the IT system was so bad, when they tried to get all the checks out they had so much fraud that it just kind of backed up,” he said.

Last month, Dodson said the state’s trust fund has been slashed almost in half by some estimates from its original nearly billion dollar balance prior to the pandemic.

Thursday’s vote came after Gov. Laura Kelly announced plans to more than double staffing those to help unemployed Kansans and to make them available on weekends. The Republican-drafted bill requires modernization upgrades to be completed by the end of 2022, which the department says is unrealistic. Rep. Dodson says it is possible.

“Except for the procurement piece, which I think can move along pretty fast, because they’re already out looking at it. We want this board stood up in 30 days and operation in 60 days. We need to get it going,” he said.

Other area lawmakers supporting the bill included Rep. Ron Highland of Wamego and Suzi Carlson of Clay Center. Democratic Rep. Sydney Carlin of Manhattan voted against the bill, which now moves to the Senate.

House Bill 2264

College athletes in Kansas may soon be able to profit of their name and likeness.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran introduced federal legislation in late February that would allow college athletes to sign endorsement deals, with some restrictions and increase requirements on medical coverage college athletics departments have to provide for the students.

Similar legislation recently garnered state level approval from the Kansas House, which passed on final action House Bill 2264 on March 2, to pave the way for college athletes to sign such deals. Dodson says he supported the measure, but says more uniformity from the NCAA needs to be established.

“My worry is that this is not going to be very good for teamwork. In other words if one person gets a contract, through an agent, and gets $300,000 and the rest of the team doesn’t, I think we’ve got a problem,” he said.

If the bill passes through the full Kansas Legislature, it would only go into effect if 15 other states enact similar legislation. Dodson says uniformity would be the only way to have a level playing field for those athletes.

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