If you’ve had a week like the one I’ve had, we’ll need a nightcap… So I’m sharing this picture of the Capitol at night (har har) that I took a few weeks ago. Isn’t it pretty?
Due to recent events, I’ve shortened the committee section of this newsletter to focus on action on the tax bill and Medicaid expansion. Nearly everything we did over the last week was overshadowed by three major actions:
The House and Senate votes to pass the tax bill described below;
Governor Brownback’s veto of the bill; and finally,
The House vote to override the veto and the Senate’s vote to uphold the veto.
Please keep reading under “On the Floor.”
Around the District Please join me for upcoming opportunities to engage:
Mitchell County Farm Bureau’s Legislative Coffee on March 4th, 9 am at Guaranty State Bank, 201 South Mill in Beloit.
Clyde Senior Center, April 10th, 7:30.
It was fun to be on Smoky Hills Public Television’s “Kansas Legislature” show Friday, February 17th. The link to watch it should beheresoon.
Jackson, Luke, and Cain Cheney, the sons of my husband’s partner (and good friends) from Beloit.
Congratulations to Dylan Koehn, an 8th grader from Bennington, who won the 8th grade division in the Happy Birthday Kansas Student Photo Contest. Dylan is the son of Devin and Tanya, and it was a pleasure to meet the three of them. Dylan has quite an eye for rural vistas!
These two lovely young women served as pages for me this past week! It was a pleasure to have them at the Capitol.
In the News
Today was my first meeting regarding the KanCare Oversight Committee, which I have been looking forward to, but I’ve spent the bulk of my time and energy this session, working to improve KanCare.
After much procedural drama, Medicaid Expansion had its day on the House floor. Fortunately, this year, the votes exist not only to force debate on these issues, but to pass legislation. For years, health bills were banished from consideration because they would be germane to amendments allowing the state to expand Medicaid to needy Kansans.
Jargon Alert – germane: To amend a bill, the amendment and the bill must have substantially the same topic. The “germaneness” of an amendment can be challenged and then is considered by the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee specifies whether the amendment is germane to the bill and his/her ruling can be challenged by the body with a vote to abide or overrule the chair’s decision. (In other words, what is germane is what the Rules Chair and the body decides by vote.)
HB 2044 allowed Medicaid reimbursement for rehabilitation services provided at clubhouses (original testimony here), so I proposed an amendment to the bill to insert the Medicaid Expansion plan developed by the Kansas Hospital Association and other stakeholder groups. As the carrier of the amendment, I stood for hours of questioning (and pontificating) and fought off a handful of amendments that were never intended to pass, but that you are certain to see on postcards in the 2018 election cycle. After 4 hours of debate, the amendment passed on a voice vote and the amended bill passed81-44. It now goes to the Senate for further committee hearings.
They aren’t the best pictures of me, but they certainly show my frustration as the Vice Chairman during our committee’s hearings. Thanks to the Topeka and Lawrence papers for covering the issue:
The tax bill (HB 2178) passed House Taxation Committee, the full House, and then the full Senate last week, and was sent to Governor Brownback for his consideration. As you read above, he vetoed the plan, the House overrode that veto, but the Senate sustained it by three votes. Retroactive to January 1, the bill would have:
Repealed the LLC, S-corp, and sole proprietor tax breaks enacted in 2012, which exempted them from most state income taxes;
Allowed certain non-wage business income losses starting in tax year 2017;
Restored itemized deductions that were repealed by the Legislature in 2015, notably the deduction for medical expenses will once again be 100% deductible;
Reduced the lowest income tax bracket to 2.7% for individuals making less than $15K and couples making less than $30K;
Established a 5.25% rate for individuals making between $15K and $50K and $30K-$100K for couples;
Restored the third tax bracket for those making more than $50K for individuals and $100K for couples, with a rate of 5.45%; and
Eliminated the “March to Zero” scheduled income tax reductions.
The key factor to remember in this plan is that all three tax brackets are lower than they were in 2012. I voted YES to override Governor Brownback’s veto, it passed 85-40, but the Senate failed to override,24-16.
We held hearings on legislation to change the Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) Bond program, which is one of the main economic development tools used by the state. This program allows the state to issue bonds to cover the construction and certain other costs related to an economic development project, which are then paid back over several years using the sales tax revenue from the district. HB 2184 would extend the program until 2022. In addition, STAR bond project costs would now include expenses for the renovation and expansion of a historic theater. The legislation eliminates the ability of a county commission or school board to object to a proposed STAR bond district, if it is determined that district would have an adverse effect on property tax revenues.
The committee discussed legislation (HB 2235) that would require retailers that do not collect Kansas retail sales and compensating use taxes to provide records of untaxed Kansas sales to the state. A compensating use tax is paid on merchandise purchased from other states and used, stored or consumed in Kansas for which no sales tax was charged at the time of purchase. Such tax is due if the other state’s rate is less than the Kansas rate at the time of purchase. In addition, each retailer that does not collect such taxes would be required to notify Kansas purchasers that those taxes are due on all non-exempt purchases made from that retailer. This bill is likeSB 111, but with key differences. Retailers that have less than $50,000 (Senate version is $100,000) in gross sales are exempt from reporting requirements. Retailers also are not required to send notices to Kansans that have purchased less than $200 per year (Senate version is $500).
Under current law, retailers are required to use tax rates at the location where the purchaser receives the item to figure sales taxes. So, if you live in Beloit and buy something online from Wichita, your sales tax would be figured – and returned to – Beloit. HB 2177 would require retailers to use origin-based sourcing to calculate the local retail sales and compensating use tax rates at the location where the seller receives the order for the item sold.
I will be talking to our local cities and chambers of commerce to learn the specifics of how our businesses and sales tax revenues will be impacted. What are your thoughts on this issue?
I’m disappointed HB 2139 did not get worked in committee and is essentially dead for this year (unless it is amended to another bill on the House floor). It would add a new class of licensees called “dental therapists” to the KS Dental Practices Act. Dental therapists will be able to serve underserved areas of our state with a broader scope of practice than dental hygienists, but not as broad as Doctors of Dental Science (DDS).
HB 2206 would require health plans in Kansas to cover tele-health and telemedicine the same way as comparable in-person health care services. This is a very important bill, especially for rural areas. The issue is very complicated and warranted further study in an interim committee.
HB 2205would add meningitis to the list of vaccinations required for Kansas schoolchildren. The devastating effects of meningitis on those impacted. The vaccineis recommended for preteens and teens 11-12, with a booster 16 years old.
I don’t expect this committee to meet much after the turnaround deadline as the Senate PublicHealth & Welfare Committee didn’t send us bills, so we won’t have much to talk about!
I will keep you posted and look forward to any questions or comments you might have on this or other legislative issues.