TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers have mentioned marijuana legalization, political stances and state funding are potential roadblocks to addressing the state’s extreme labor scarcity.
Sen. Virgil Peck, R-Havana, mentioned the Choose Committee on Workforce Improvement wants to speak about legalizing marijuana earlier than lawmakers focus on it within the subsequent legislative session.
Lawmakers handed a movement to advocate the Legislature “proceed with warning” on marijuana laws at Monday’s committee listening to, by a 4-3 vote.
Peck popped the query, saying the concept got here to him earlier that day whereas having a shower.
“I did not give it some thought earlier than having a shower this morning, round 7:30. It occurred to me that this performs into the event of the workforce,” he mentioned.
Peck mentioned marijuana was a major drawback in his a part of the state, with employers unwilling to rent workers who could not cross a drug take a look at. He mentioned marijuana was a security concern and will get in the way in which of actions the place employees needed to function heavy equipment and might be injured.
“Employers are consistently telling me, we have jobs lacking, we won’t discover the employees as a result of they can not cross a drug take a look at and numerous different issues,” Peck mentioned.
Rep. Sean Tarwater, R-Stilwell, mentioned he agrees with Peck that individuals who drink marijuana could cause issues within the office.
Different lawmakers current on the assembly mentioned they have been unable to vote on the advice as a result of the difficulty was not mentioned previous to the assembly. Sen. Brenda Dietrich, R-Topeka, abstained within the vote.
“I believe my solely concern is that we insert one thing that hasn’t been permitted by this committee on the final minute,” Dietrich mentioned. “And I perceive what you are saying, that is simply not an acceptable place for us as a committee.”
Medical marijuana has lengthy been a controversial matter in Kansas, with many proponents of the drug as a much less addictive ache reduction substitute than opioids.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton, D-Overland Park, opposed the advice, saying lawmakers do not need to be drug-tested, together with Kansas employees.
“I do not like the concept of imposing one thing on folks, of building totally different guidelines for us and for them. In order that’s an enormous deal, and I’ve issues as properly, as a result of I believe — in reality, I do know that medicinal and leisure hashish shall be useful in constructing a enterprise, particularly within the higher Kansas Metropolis space , the place it is already legalized in Missouri,” Clayton mentioned.
Throughout the listening to, lawmakers additionally mentioned declining Kansas faculty attendance charges for each private and non-private establishments.
A report offered to the committee discovered that in 2015, 54.1% of Kansas highschool graduates went to public, non-public, or out-of-state schools. In 2020, this price fell to 44.8%, with attendance declining barely every year.
The report additionally discovered that Kansas highschool graduates have been much less prepared for faculty, with a drop within the variety of college students assembly standardized take a look at standards.
In a comparability of ACT credentials from 2013 to 2021, 72% of scholars achieved the ACT English benchmark in 2o13, whereas solely 53% of graduates in 2021 achieved the usual. Math ACT benchmark charges have gone from $51 in 2013 to 32% in 2021.
Suggestions to handle the issue of declining faculty attendance included providing extra monetary assist to college students, recruiting college students from out of state, and enrolling extra historically poorly Kansan teams. served.
Tarwater and Peck mentioned they imagine the decline of public universities in Kansas could also be associated to the liberal nature of those establishments.
“I ponder if it has to do with the truth that the Kansans are nonetheless basically conservative, and our non-public schools within the state do not train our college students among the woke liberal issues that our public universities train,” Peck mentioned.