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Dear Friend:

It has been a productive two weeks in Topeka as we are busy moving bills through the committee hearing and voting process, and then to the full Senate for more debate and voting. At the end of the month, bills are required to have had their turn in their House of Origin and be sent to the other chamber for review, or they “die” or are absorbed into other legislation. Keep in mind though, legislation (especially the bad stuff) never really dies – it just finds a new host…
 
This is your last chance to complete my 2019 legislative survey! Results are coming in by the hundreds and I’m grateful for your strong participation. Please share with your neighborhood networks. 
 
I want to thank you in advance for your patience with me this session. At this point, I am serving on four standing committees that meet regularly. In addition, because I serve on the Ways & Means Committee (budget), I have also been assigned to serve on SIX subcommittees dealing with pieces of the budget. This means I am rarely (if ever) in my office and my ability to respond to calls, emails, or even visits has been severely limited until after our budget work is submitted. Again, thank you for your patience – no one ever said this work was easy, but it is certainly consuming nearly every waking minute!

On the Home Front
What an honor it will be to have my friend, Attorney General Derek Schmidt join us for my next town hall meeting with Rep. Jan Kessinger. Save the date and join us!

Saturday, February 23
9-10 am
Leawood City Hall,
Main Floor Council Chambers

Senate District 11 Resources:

What a great turnout at the Johnson County Library’s legislative coffee earlier this month! More than 100 voters showed up for a great conversation on a wide range of topics and they found an equally wide range of positions. Photo credit to District 11 constituent Zahid Awan.
Representatives of all six Johnson County school districts came to Topeka for our Johnson County delegation luncheon: Tom Mitchell (BVSD Board), me, Todd White (BVSD Superintendent) and Rep. Kessinger.
Rep. Jan Kessinger and I enjoyed meeting up with constituents Katie McClaflin-VanWagner and Mike Fleming at a reception in Topeka sponsored by the Johnson County Bar Association.
Around the Capitol
Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, Lawton Nuss, delivered his annual State of the Judiciary address. You can review the text here.
  • One little known fact he mentioned that you might not have taken the time to compute – Abraham Lincoln became president just five weeks after Kansas became a state!
  • From my previous newsletters, you may already know that Kansas judicial employees are the lowest paid in the entire country. Justice Nuss noted that when a federal magistrate judge position recently opened up (at 50% higher pay than KS district court judges), 12% of the district judges in the state applied for that one position.
On the Senate FloorFloor Livestream– Senate Calendar
SB 9 passed unanimouslyto transfer $115 million from the State General Fund to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) for FY 2019 (this fiscal year). The bill now goes to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration. This is a necessary down payment on our commitments to shore up stability for the pension system.
 
SB 22 is the “decoupling” (and other much more complicated tax policy changes) bill I mentioned in my last newsletter: 
  • It would provide around $400 million in corporate and individual tax cuts. 
  • On the business side, beginning in tax year 2017, Kansas would not tax deferred foreign income. 
  • The bill would require certain deductions used in determining federal adjusted gross income for repatriated income be added back for Kansas income tax purposes prior to figuring Kansas adjusted gross income. 
  • In addition, global intangible low taxed income (GILTI) would not be subject to Kansas income tax. 
It passed 26-14, I voted NO. With a revenue report just a few days ago that showed Kansas revenues missed their estimates (on which the budget is based) by $49 million in just one month, we simply cannot afford the uncertainty this bill would create.
 
Committee Work
Transportation– Live Audio (JS, DG)
  • SB 41– The committee discussed a bill to clarify current law that seat belt violations are considered traffic infractions.
  • SB 40– This legislation would prohibit officers from issuing warning citations for traffic violations related to approaching emergency vehicles.
  • SB 62– This bill would allow emergency vehicles operating as police vehicles to not use visual and audible signals (lights and sirens) where such signals might alert individuals to flee, cause the destruction of evidence and make monitoring for possible criminal activity more difficult. There are several other situations outlined in the bill.
Ethics, Elections & Local Government – Live Audio(JS)
We held a hearing on SB 7, which would move the election of officers within each school board’s members from July to the second Monday in January. On the whole, I’m not sure this is something that needs to be legislated from Topeka at all. Boards should elect leadership when it works best for their budget and hearing timeline. Government is best when it’s closest to the governed!
 
We also received an update on the state of cities and counties in Kansas from the Kansas Association of Countiesand the League of Kansas Municipalities.
 
Utilities – Live Audio
The committee reviewed the Kansas Corporation Commission’s utility rate study as well as an internal rate study performed by Evergy (the new name for merged KCP&L and Westar). We had presentations from the following groups: 
  • Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB)
  • Kansas Industrial Consumers Group – thanks to Johnson County local Jim Zakoura for presenting.
  • Manufacturing Services Division of Spirit Aero Systems
We also held hearings on the following bills:
  • SB 24 seeks to cap the ability of utilities to recapture costs of expanding or improving electric transmission. The bill would tie the rate of return to the investment rate of return determined by the investment trustees which oversee the KPERS investment pool. 
  • Current law allows cities to require companies providing telecommunications services to sign a contract ordinance with the city. SB 68 would prohibit cities from requiring such a contract in the case of wireless telecommunications services. We hosted multiple days of hearings on this topic – supporters, opponents, and neutral testimony each had a committee meeting to share their positions.I can see both sides of the issue and have some concerns about interference with other communications services if no entity has a contractual relationship to enforce certain telecommunications rules, but am looking forward to the debate as this moves forward.
Ways & Means– Live Audio(JS, DG)
The committee heard a briefing on the Kansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (K-TRACS) from the Board of Pharmacy. This is a voluntary program to help doctors and pharmacists track the use of opioids and other narcotic substances, as well as track purchases of over-the-counter medicines that can be turned into methamphetamines. This is why you have to sign a form and show your driver’s license now when you purchase Sudafed, most “DM” cough and cold medicines, and of course prescription pain medications.
 
Ways & Means Subcommittees:
We held hearings to learn about the budget requests from the following agencies and departments under each of the topic areas covered by the SIX budget subcommittees on which I serve.
 
Transportation Subcommittee
I am fortunate to serve as the Chairman of this subcommittee, but if you keep reading, you’ll see why we haven’t found time to meet yet. This is going to be a big piece of the budget puzzle, so it’s helpful if some of the nuts and bolts get figured out first, then we will know what we have to work with from an infrastructure perspective.

Social Services Subcommittee
·     Kansas Neurological Institute
·     Parsons State Hospital
·     Veterans Affairs
 
Judicial Subcommittee
This subcommittee has not yet met. 
 
Health Subcommittee
·     Health Care Stabilization FundBoard 
 
General Government Subcommittee
·     Board of Tax Appeals
·     Department of Commerce
 
Education Subcommittee
·     State Historical Society
·     State Library

It is an honor to serve you in Topeka. Please feel free to contact me anytime regarding these or other legislative issues. 

Very truly yours,

John Skubal
Senator, 11
th District
913-469-6641 (H)

Copyright © 2019, All rights reserved.


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