April 11, 2017
The Senate adjourned the regular session mid-day April 7th. In the past two weeks, the Senate voted on 48 bills, adopted 9 conference committee reports, and passed 7 motions to concur on changes made to Senate bills by the House. Both the House and Senate agreed on a conference committee report to address the current year’s budget shortfall; however, no final legislative action was taken on the budget for the next two fiscal years, nor a tax plan to replace the one vetoed by Gov. Sam Brownback, nor a school finance proposal.
S Sub for HB 2052 fills the FY 2017 budget shortfall, now estimated to be $281 million. Both the House (108-15) and Senate (30-10) agreed to this 2nd conference committee report, which allows the State to borrow from the Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Fund to keep Kansas afloat and fund minimal additional expenditures including disaster relief. This is to be repaid over six years along with payments of $6.4 million for the next 20 years to refund KPERS (Kansas Public Employees Retirement System).
The Senate passed Sub for SB 189 25-15; a minimum budget for FY 2018 and 2019.
This bill changes the budget proposed by Brownback by eliminating his plan to securitize tobacco proceeds, adding a 2% salary increase for state employees and a 5% rate increase for providers of Home and Community Based Services, and restoring unfair cuts to the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. However, the bill fails to provide any of the additional funding needed for K-12 schools, healthcare, highway construction, or the State Water Plan. More changes are expected after the new April estimates are received.
The Senate rejected 3-37 SB 214, a single tier (4.6%) income tax proposal which would have also eliminated non-wage income tax exemptions (LLC Loophole), raised standard deductions, restored medical and property tax deductions, taxed employee contributions to Board of Regents retirement plans (consistent with current tax on employee contributions to KPERS) and reduced food sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5%. However any rate increase to generate adequate revenue would place more burden on low and middle income taxpayers.
In the debates on budget and tax policy, some say “too much,” I say “not enough.”
We have voted on several budget and tax bills. We even passed one tax bill, but Brownback vetoed it, and the Senate fell three votes short of overriding his veto. In the past four years, the Legislature put Kansas in debt rather than admit that the tax experiment has failed. Most of the Senators who are now arguing that we need to do more to cut expenditures were the ones who had the opportunity to find cuts in past years and could not. I believe we should not further erode government services when the real problem is a disastrous tax policy.
As has been noted in the news, there is a lot of work ahead. One way or another we will create a balanced budget. I am hoping we do that by changing our tax policies to raise enough money to address our needs. The House has proposed a plan for school finance; the House Appropriations and the Senate Ways and Means Committees will meet April 27th and 28th to work on the budget before the legislature returns May 1st. I continue to hope that there will also be opportunities to reconsider Medicaid expansion, re-establish limits for concealed carry, begin a tax on internet sales, and adopt changes to the Open Meetings and the Pet Animal Acts.
I am again reporting on votes taken in the Senate. I always appreciate your comments.
In the past two weeks, I voted “No” on two bills, a motion to concur, a report and a resolution:
H Sub for SB 13, 27-11, allowing stores now licensed for cereal malt beverages to sell beer with up to 6.0% alcohol starting in 2019; 3.2 beer will likely be harder to obtain yet I believe there should have been a bill introduced to allow for a full hearing and that tax issues be addressed; a “trailer bill” has been promised for next year
SB 214, 3-37, the “single-tier” income tax proposal that Brownback supported
S Sub for HB 2053, 27-12, enacting the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act
HB 2095, 38-2, authorizing the Secretary of Transportation to issue restricted operating permits for 90,000 lb. loads
HCR 5003, 27-13, urging Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to the Constitution
I voted “Pass” only on HB 2219, 25-13, establishing requirements for diabetes information reporting
I voted “Aye” on 16 bills and committee reports that passed with some “No” votes:
SB 86, 30-9, changing access to public records, fees, and format of state legislature meeting minutes
SB 146, 39-1, reauthorizing the 20-mill school finance levy and the $20,000 residential exemption
Sub SB 189, 25-15, the appropriations bill for fiscal years 2017-2020
S Sub for HB 2026, 37-3, amending review processes for managed care organizations under Medicaid
HB 2030, 35-4, reducing the age from 18 to 12 for a pharmacy student or intern to administer a vaccine on a child
HB 2044, 25-14, expanding Medicaid and establishing KanCare Bridge to a Healthy Kansas
HB 2067, 38-2, amending application requirements for resident agent licensure
HB 2092, 39-1, changing penalties for various crimes according to monetary value
HB 2136, 35-5, establishing license fees for companies using motor fuel dispensing devices
HB 2137, 38-2, allowing city and county governing officials to volunteer as a firefighter or in medical services
HB 2153, 35-5, amending the Scrap Metal Theft Reduction Act and laws regarding fee funds
HB 2212, 38-1, extending the life of the Post-Secondary Technical Education Authority
HB 2213, 39-1, authorizing the Kansas Board of Regents to collect fees for certain institutions
S Sub for HB 2304, 27-13, amending requirements for employees and volunteers in child care facilities
HB 2312, 38-1, changing administrative appeals processes for fertilizer orders, review of water orders
HB 2313, 30-10, amending the Kansas Lottery Act to allow lottery ticket vending machines
Most bills and reports considered in the past two weeks, 29, passed unanimously:
SB 135, permitting driver’s license examiners to choose to change from classified to unclassified service
SB 138, changing the requirements for working after retirement under KPERS
SB 179, creating and amending crimes related to human trafficking
SB 186, allowing supplemental Medicaid reimbursement for certain providers of emergency medical transportation
SB 202, adopting a compact between the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe and the State
SB 205, expanding the definition of service for members of KPERS
SB 217, requiring certain language and formatting changes in the Department of Aging statutes
HB 2006, filling county commission vacancies when vacancies are created by increasing the number of districts
HB 2025, changing laws around licenses and fees for the Board of Nursing
S Sub for HB 2027, changing billing requirements for physician services
HB 2041, extending sunset provision for judicial charges on docket fees
HB 2043, permitting Insurance Commissioner to examine liability and workers compensation pools as necessary
HB 2054, amending the Employment Security Law related to the Kansas Sentencing Commission
S Sub for HB 2055, modifying definitions in the Kansas Pharmacy Act to match federal standards
HB 2085, amending supervision requirements for people convicted of sexual violence
HB 2094, expanding definition of municipality to improve local government cooperation in inter-local agreements
HB 2102, allowing county commissioners to adopt schedule of meetings by resolution, special sessions by majority
HB 2110, allowing out-of-state trust company to establish branches in Kansas
HB 2111, revising death benefits for surviving spouses under the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System
HB 2118, amending requirements and exclusions pertaining to liability of Health Care Stabilization Fund
HB 2128, allowing the Governor’s Domestic Violence Review Board to review cases in closed meetings
HB 2140, adopting the Great Plains Interstate Fire Compact to prevent and control forest fires
HB 2158, revising deadlines for advance voting ballots, allowing ballots mailed before the election ends to count
HB 2170, requiring bicyclists to use certain reflectors or lamps when riding between sunset and sunrise
S Sub HB 2174, establishing distinctive license plates for people with disabilities
HB 2191, technical changes to law pertaining to hunting and fishing regulations
HB 2217, creating standards for use of emergency opioid antagonists approved by FDA
HB 2301, amending public records law pertaining to trial jurors
HB 2329, delaying cessation of unemployment insurance benefits until separation pay is paid