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Dear Friend:

March has already proven to be a difficult month for Kansas residents, what with the wildfires that have now claimed hundreds of head of livestock, burned up over 711,950 acres of land, and destroyed more than 40 homes in central and southwest Kansas.
There are not yet estimates on the full loss of livestock and property. Clark County and the city of Ashland, Kansas were hit the hardest, with 85% of the county’s land area burned. Several organizations are coordinating assistance for those affected by the fire, and the state and federal governments are acting to mitigate the impact on Kansas families:
  • The Kansas Livestock Association Foundation and the Kansas Farm Bureau are accepting and coordinating donations here.
  • The Office of the Kansas Adjutant General oversees Emergency Management. Its website is a good source of information and news. 

  • The Kansas Department of Agriculture has information regarding water use, food and assistance efforts, and livestock. 

  • Governor Brownback signed Executive Order 17-01 to assist fire relief efforts.
  • HB 2387 would provide a sales tax exemption for certain property destroyed by this wildfire. The bill passed the House Taxation Committee and the House and Senate this week and is headed for the governor’s signature.
  • HB 2140 which enhances the ability of fire departments to assist each other across state lines, has passed the House and was heard and passed the Senate Federal & State Affairs Committee this week.

  • FEMA has approved Federal Fire Management Assistance Grants for the following counties: Clark, Comanche, Ellsworth, Ford, Lincoln, Ness, Rooks, and Russell.

About the 28th District

Contact Joy

At the Capitol: 
Room 268

At home in Leawood:
3310 W. 137th St
Leawood, KS 66224

Voter Resources

Legislative Information

Strong winds and possible tornadoes ripped through the Kansas City Metro area around the same time, causing significant damage to homes and businesses. The Johnson County Executive Airport lost dozens of airplanes and many still can’t be assessed, due to the instability of the hangers they reside in for now. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of our residents who have suffered losses during these past two weeks.
While the weather conditions have been cause for concern, the past 10 days or so have been otherwise pretty quiet in the Statehouse. All three of my committees finished up our work within the first few days of last week.
While the floor action was slow, it has been a great week for constituent visits!
  • The legislature celebrated Kansas Mental Health Advocacy Day
  • The Jercha family came to visit
  • Max and Owen Dightman served as pages for me one day and their mom, Michelle shadowed me. Rajitha Vadlamudi also served as my page!
  • The Interfaith Action group sponsored Muslim Neighbors Day and we honored the life of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and the two men who survived the shooting in Olathe a few weeks ago. Guest Chaplain Dr. Moussa Elbayoumy, of the Islamic Center of Lawrence provided the invocation and Speaker Ron Rychman offered the following resolution:
From the Kansas House Journal: 
In February, an innocent life was taken in Olathe, at Austin’s Bar and Grill.  Our hearts go out to the family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors of Srinivas Kuchibhotla who are grieving and mourning at home and abroad.  Srinivas was a specialized engineer at Garmin, who came to Kansas to pursue the American Dream. These two gentlemen, Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot, were injured and are still actively recovering.  We are very grateful that both of them could be with us today. They acted in good faith and are heroes, and we would like to thank them. We would also like to thank the India Association of Kansas City, the City of Olathe, and Garmin for providing so much support for the community, and especially for the victims families. This tragedy has devastated Olathe, and while it has been a shock, it has also strengthened our community and reaffirmed our compassion and unity.  This event certainly does not represent our city, our county, or our state.  Thousands have come together to offer love, support, and continued prayers.  These evil acts do not define us, and they will not divide us.  This is Kansas, and acts of evil, like this, have no place here.

Around the District
There are several opportunities to hear from our Johnson County Legislators this coming weekend and I encourage you to attend any of these:
The final Johnson County Public Policy Council Legislative Breakfast Series. This week features Sens. Barbara Bollier and Julia Lynn and Reps. Stephanie Clayton, Erin Davis, Nancy Lusk and Brett Parker.
Saturday, March 25, 7:30 am
DoubleTree Hotel in Overland Park
Save your seat
Rep Jan Kessinger and Sen John Skubal will host our monthly listening session, though I have a scheduling conflict and won’t be on hand (see below). This month our listening session will be at the Berkshire Clubhouse.
Saturday, March 25, 9:00am
Berkshire Clubhouse
4314 W 124th Street, Leawood
You could also join me at the Johnson County Library and League of Women Voters legislative coffee series. Reps Stephanie Clayton, Tom Cox, Cindy Holscher, Nancy Lusk, Brett Parker and I will participate in a panel discussion.
Saturday, March 25, 10 – 11:30 am
Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th Street
The last day for bills to be considered by non-exempt committees is March 24 and first adjournment is April 7. The legislature is in recess until May 1 when we reconvene for veto session. There is still much work to be done!!! So, I hope you will join us at one of these public forums to hear what’s going on in YOUR legislature and express your point of view. It’s important to stay informed and engaged throughout the process.
On the Floor
It has been slow but sure, and we passed a couple of interesting bills:
  • HB 2162 will be a great asset to small business owners who pay sales tax. Approved unanimously by the House, it would increase the threshold filing amounts for retailers to submit sales taxes to the state. The bill would increase the amounts from:
    • $80 to $400 for annual filing;
    • $3,200 to $4,000 for quarterly filings; and
    • $32,000 to $40,000 for monthly filings.
    • Amounts greater than $40,000 would be filed on a prepaid monthly basis.
  •  HB 2168 passed the House, 97-22, would create the Ad Astra Rural Jobs Act. It would create nonrefundable tax credits for taxpayers who invest in businesses in small towns. Beginning in 2020, 20% of the tax credit could be claimed annually over a five-year period. The maximum tax credit that could be claimed in any fiscal year would be $20 million. If you’re interested in reading more, the hearing testimony is available here. I voted YES. 
Committee Work
Corrections & Juvenile Justice
We hosted Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood for an overview of the Lansing Correctional Facility and a proposal for building a new prison that would replace Lansing prison, which was built when Abraham Lincoln was president. We also finished up our work to make improvements to the juvenile justice overhaul (SB 367), passed during last year’s legislative session. We held a hearing on SB 42 (a bill to clarify mandatory minimum sentences), and amended in the provisions of the juvenile justice clean-up bill (HB 2264). We then put the contents of HB 2264 into H Sub for SB 42. This procedural move allows the juvenile justice bill a quicker route to passage because the former has already passed the Senate. H Sub SB 42 passed unanimously in the House on Final Action. 

Government Technology & Security
For most our time this session, GT&S committee focused our attention on hearing testimony concerned with cybersecurity and the vulnerabilities we face in all state agencies. These discussions culminated with the creation of two bills: HB 2331 and HB 2359. HB 2331, as introduced, focused on enacting the Kansas cybersecurity act, relating to the management and security of digital information across all Kansas agencies in the executive branch and establishing a funding mechanism. HB 2359 originally focused on creating the Kansas Information Technology Enterprise (KITE), an entirely new cabinet level agency charged with complete oversight of state information technology. Our committee was fully behind passage of HB 2331, as introduced. But, we had serious concerns about HB 2359 as our discussions progressed throughout the session. During our last week of meetings, as we worked the bill in committee, members were divided as to how to proceed with HB 2331. We had three major concerns: funding, legislative oversight and strategic rollout of a massive organizational change. With two committee amendments, we addressed two of these issues. A third amendment striped out the funding mechanism, leaving it to appropriations to figure out. I supported amendments made in committee which would have started this concept with cabinet agencies as a pilot project to see how it goes before rolling it out to include the entire state government. Ultimately the committee voted for both bills to pass out of committee.
Once that happened, the committee chair decided to combine the two bills into the one (HB 2331) to and name the bill after former Rep. Jim Morrison. Rep. Jim Morrison is somewhat of a legend in the Capitol, especially in Legislative Computer Services. He was infamous for hacking into the state’s computer system to make the point that our security systems were weak! The committee was again divided over whether the two bills should be collapsed into one bill, since many on the committee were still concerned about the idea of creating a new government agency. The committee chairman, Rep. Pete Degraaf broke the tie by voting in favor of the motion to combine the two bills. I voted against the motion, but the motion passed. 

HB 2331 would create the following:
  • Kansas Information Security Office (KISO),
  • The positon of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO),
  • Kansas Information Technology Enterprise (KITE), which would consolidate the Office of Technology Services (OITS) and transfer current OITS employees and offices to KITE. 
Unfortunately, when the bill came to the floor this past week an attempt was made to strip out the very safeguards we had worked so hard to put into place in committee. After lengthy discussion on the floor and multiple attempts to undo the work done in committee, we were successful in keeping the bill intact as proposed by the committee. We will see if the Senate can hold firm on keeping the bill intact. If the Senate does alter the bill, the House will have another opportunity to vote on the bill as amended or offer new amendments.

Transportation & Public Safety Budget
The Alvarez and Marsal efficiency recommendations were the focus of hearings last week for the committee. Discussion centered on the Adjutant General’s Office, Department of Corrections and Department of Transportation.

The Senate did not pass any bills related to my other committees, so it’s unlikely we will be meeting, though I won’t rule it out. March 30 is the final day for bills to be considered, unless they have been “blessed” by having been referred to the Appropriations, Federal & State Affairs, Taxation, or Calendar & Printing Committees. We will finish up all but the school finance plan, next year’s budget, and a tax plan by next week. Those three items are typically finalized during the veto session in May. I have already been warned not to make plans until July, and even then, make sure to get travel insurance!
As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions or concerns. I may not be as quick to respond during the session, but I will respond. And, that’s a promise.

Warm regards,

Representative Joy Koesten, PhD
Kansas House District 28
Serving Leawood and Overland Park
Copyright © 2017 Paid for by Joy for Kansas, Bob Regnier, Treasurer, All rights reserved.

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