Last week was the final week of legislative activity before First Adjournment. Early Sunday morning, the Senate gaveled out for adjournment and will reconvene on April 26th or Veto Session. The Senate voted on numerous conference committee reports, a tax reform bill, and a school finance plan. A conference committee is a small, bipartisan, and bicameral committee that works to smooth out the differences between the House and Senate’s version of a similar bill. Once the conference committee reaches a compromise, the negotiated bill is sent to both the House and Senate for a final vote before advancing to the governor’s desk. When the Senate gavels in on April 26th, we will begin Veto Session and will wrap up any legislative loose ends for the year.
In the early hours of Sunday morning and after a night of debate, the Senate voted to concur on a school finance plan that the House sent over earlier that day. On Saturday morning, the House narrowly passed a school finance deal on a vote of 63-56. The House placed their original K-12 finance plan into a Senate bill and passed it to the Senate to either concur or non-concur on the deal. The House’s plan would add $500 million to public school funding over the next five years. The funding plan almost doubles the cost of the Senate’s proposed plan that passed earlier that week. The Senate voted 21-19 to concur, sending it to Governor Colyer’s desk for him to sign. As this article was going to press, it was discovered that a calculation error was made in the bill – watch for a trailer bill to be debated before the entire education package can be turned over to the Attorney General (after the Governor’s signature) for the ruling of the Supreme Court case.
SENATE SCHOOL FINANCE PLAN: Substitute Senate Bill 423 amends the Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act by making appropriations to the Department of Education relating to school finance. Sub SB 423 would phase in a $275 million increase to education funding.
Some major policy provisions included in SB 423 are:
- Base aid for student excellence will increase from $4,006 to $4,258 in 2018-19, to $4,334 in 2019-20, to $4,412 in 2020-21, to $4,492 in 2021-22, and to $4,574 in 2022-23.
- Increase special education funding by $24 million in 2018-2019.
- Expand early childhood funding by increasing state aid for three- and four-year-old at-risk children by $3,000,000.
- Allow all students the opportunity to participate in ACT and ACT Work Keys funded by the state.
- Add $1,760,000 for ABC Early Childhood Program.
- Provide a pilot program for improvement of mental health services for school districts.
- Provides that all high school students may take a college class in Comp I at no cost to the student.
KANSAS TAX REFORM
Senate Substitute for House Bill 2228 amends current law allowing Kansans to receive the anticipated state windfall from federal tax reform. The bill increases the state’s standard income tax deduction and allows Kansans to itemize deductions for state income taxes if they don’t itemize deductions for federal taxation. The bill would accelerate restoration of itemized deductions on state income taxes. Currently, state law allows a 50 percent deduction for medical expenses, mortgage interest, and property taxes in 2018. S Sub 2228 would raise the deduction to 75 percent in tax year 2018 and 100 percent in tax year 2020. The legislation also aims to bring more revenue into the state by taxing international income that is expected to flow back into the United States due to federal tax adjustment. An amendment was placed on the floor to grant a 50 percent state tax credit for donors to exhibit renovations at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene. The bill will allow Kansans to keep the windfall money instead of the state government. It is estimated that the windfall could be around $137 million in the next fiscal year, $179 million in the subsequent fiscal year, and $187 million the following fiscal year. The bill passed the Senate 24-16.
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORTS
House Bill 2470 would allow microbreweries within the state of Kansas to contract with other microbreweries for production and packaging of beer and hard cider. The bill amends law related to the sale of alcoholic candy and to the sale of domestic beer in refillable containers. HB 2470 allows licensed microbreweries in the state to produce beer containing up to 15 percent alcohol by weight. The bill also increases the length of time that certain businesses may serve alcohol to 6AM to 2AM. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 27-10.
House Bill 2606 amends law related to testing for a class M (motorcycle) driver’s license, online driver’s license renewal, and the length of time a commercial driver’s license is valid. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 38-2.
House Bill 2597 would amend law regarding designation of an urban area. The bill amends law when a mayor is considered a member of a governing body. HB 2597 also deals with the compensation, supervision, personnel, and budgeting policies of election commissioners. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 29-10.
House Bill 2542 amends statutes for fees collected by the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) and performance-based budgeting requirements. HB 2542 also creates the Dyslexia Task Force that will conduct a study of issues and report to the Kansas Legislature by January 30, 2019. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 40-0.
House Bill 2583 would create the Noxious Weed Act and repeal current Noxious Weed law. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 35-5.
House Bill 2476 would amend the section of the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) related to the unlawful use of names derived from public records. The bill would create an additional exception to the general prohibition in KORA against selling, giving, or receiving any list of names and addresses from public records for sales purposes. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 39-1.
Senate Substitute for Senate Substitute for House Bill 2386 would amend law related to licensure, certification, or registration qualifications for employment at adult care homes, hospitals, and home health agencies. It would add all employees of the Kansas Commission on Veterans’ Affairs Office to the definition of “safety sensitive positions” found in law. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 40-0.
Senate Substitute for House Bill 2600 would amend the Nuclear Energy Development and Radiation Control Act, provide for the study and investigation of maternal deaths by the Secretary of Health and Environment, and create the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Advisory Council and the State Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program within the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 27-12.
House Bill 2482 would amend law related to contracts between the State and persons or companies who are actively engaged in a boycott of Israel. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 36-1.
Substitute House Bill 2556 would establish the State Interoperability Advisory Committee in statute. Currently, a State Interoperability Executive Committee exists by executive order. The committee would provide input to the Adjutant General’s Department (TAG) for the development and deployment of centralized interoperable communications planning and implementation capacity for Kansas. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 37-3.
Senate Substitute for House Bill 2701 would establish the Statewide Broadband Expansion Planning Task Force. The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 40-0.
Senate Substitute for House Bill 2028would establish the Kansas Telemedicine Act. The bill would also provide for coverage of speech-language pathologist and audiologist services via telehealth under the Kansas Medical Assistance Program (KMAP) if such services would be covered under KMAP when delivered via in-person contact.The Conference Committee Report was adopted by a vote of 24-14.
Senate Bill 324amends the vehicle dealers and manufacturers licensing act. The Senate concurred on House amendments 37-0.
Senate Bill 410updates captive insurance statutes and provides for association and branch captive insurance companies and special purpose insurance companies. The Senate concurred on House amendments 39-0.
Senate Bill 394ensures transparency in state government contract decisions. The Senate concurred on House amendments 40-0.
Senate Bill 275relates to mid-term appointments of credit union council members. The Senate concurred on House amendments 40-0.
Senate Bill 263creates a program to research the use of industrial hemp. The Senate concurred on House amendments 40-0.
CONSIDERATION OF APPOINTMENTS
The Senate confirmed Dwight Keen to serve on the Kansas Corporation Commission. Keen is a co-owner of Keen Oil Co., a Winfield, Kan., oil and gas production company. He has served as Securities Commissioner of Kansas and board chair for the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in economics from Wichita State University and received a law degree from Kansas University. Keen was nominated last month by Governor Jeff Colyer and replaces Pat Apple on the three-person commission after Apple announced in December that he would not seek reappointment.
The Senate confirmed Keen on Saturday April 7th.
GOV. COLYER, COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCE COMMUNITIES TO BE DESIGNATED AS OPPORTUNITY ZONES – Senate District #36
Governor Jeff Colyer and officials from state government agencies have completed a review of Letters of Interest submitted from communities across the state to be considered for designation as Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones are a new economic development tool enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 designed to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities. Based upon the number of low-income communities identified by the Federal Census, the Governor may nominate up to 74 census tracts in Kansas for designation as Opportunity Zones.
In February, the Kansas Department of Commerce announced it would begin accepting Letters of Interest from communities to have their eligible low-income census tracts designated as Opportunity Zones. The communities with census tracts chosen to be included in Governor Colyer’s nominations for designation as Opportunity Zones include Belleville, Cloud County, Jewell County and Rooks County.
HARD FACTS FROM THE KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
- Total tax receipts so far, this fiscal year total $4.8 billion, which is $673.61 million or 16.32 percent above last year at this time and $314.83 million above estimates for the year.
- Income tax collections for the fiscal year are $603.95 million above last year and $325.73 million above current expectations.
- March 2018 tax receipts came in $60.91 million over last March and $39.47 million above current expectations. Individual income tax collections in March were $77.88 million above last year. Sales tax receipts are up for the year by $38.36 million over last year.
Thank You for Engaging
Thank you for all of your calls, emails, and letters regarding your thoughts and concerns about happenings in Kansas. I always encourage you to stay informed of the issues under consideration by the Kansas Legislature. Committee schedules, bills, and other helpful information can be easily accessed through the legislature’s website at www.kslegislature.org. You are also able to ‘listen in live’ at this website or watch live at YouTube Streaming: http://bit.ly/2CZj9O0. The Senate will be in session each day at 10:00AM through the wrap-up session. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. An email is the best at this point in the session.
Thank you for the honor of serving you!
Senator Elaine Bowers
Kansas State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, KS 66612