It has been a busy few weeks as we're well into the final brackets of the legislative session. Thanks to the many constituents who have come to visit, as well as to those who have helped with events at home:
I was pleased to welcome Cole and Sadie Walker of Eudora as legislative pages, and spend time with their grandparents Sandee and Tim Morris. I worked with Sandee while I served as Assistant Superintendent in Royal Valley.
With Mia & Dallas Bond of Tonganoxie with grandparents Larry & Lois Meadows. Larry is my campaign treasurer.
Thanks to Kelsey Theis and Justin Johnston for paging as well!
Becky & Katy Plate, were visiting the Capital. Becky is a member of Game On For Schools, from Eudora.
Contact Rep. Karleskint
At the Capitol:
300 SW 10th, Room 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612
Larry Meadows and I bundled up in preparation for the Tonganoxie St. Patrick's Day Parade (in the snow).
With Charlie (Tuna) Conrad. Tuna served as Grand Leprechaun of the parade.
In The News Last week, wildfires spread across much of central and western Kansas destroying homes, property, and livestock. Dry conditions combined with powerful, frequently-shifting winds turned these fires into the largest in Kansas history. By the numbers:
711,950 acres have burned
1148 square-miles, or
1.4% of the total land in Kansas.
There are not yet estimates on the 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.
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 also was heard and passed the Senate Federal & State Affairs Committee this week.
On the Floor Work on the floor has been slow but sure. 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.
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 Federal & State Affairs The Kansas Lottery celebrated its 30th birthday last week and we held a hearing on a bill (HB 2313) to allow tickets to be sold in specialized ticket vending machines. These machines would also allow buyers to check the status of lottery tickets, but not dispense winnings.
HB 2273 would expand the Kansas No-Call Act by regulating “robocalls” by prohibiting these calls unless the caller obtains authorization from the person being solicited and agree to receive the message. It also prohibits such calls before 9 am and after 8 pm. Finally, it prohibits the calls to be made to fire departments, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and other health care facilities.
You’re likely familiar with the Campus Carry bills I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters. One popular solution is to allow each institution to make the best decision for their patrons and students. However, HB 2220 is the “block local control” version of the campus carry bill. It would prohibit postsecondary institutions from adopting or enforcing any policy regarding the ownership, possession, storage, or transport of concealed handguns, and would void any policy adopted prior to 7/1/17.
K-12 Budget The committee continues to review school finance issues. Hearings this week focused on at-risk funding, National Student Clearinghouse data, and school district procurement and health care. It is my understanding that the Chairman wishes to pull different components from the five funding formulas which have had hearings in the committee, and create a unique bill, completely new and different from any of the plans introduced.
The committee also held a hearing on HB 2379, which would require additional transaction-by-transaction reporting by school districts to the Department of Education for all district expenditures. The department estimates that approximately 28.6 million transactions per year would have to be reported to the state. The department also estimates it would take approximately $5 million to update district information systems to comply with this bill.
Agriculture The committee spent time on a few bills to move sunset dates to extend the end-date of fees which help administer various regulations within the Department of Agriculture. They seem to be reasonable fees and had very little testimony.
SB 47 would institute new licensing requirements for animal rescue networks; allow the use of animal foster homes; when the Animal Health Commissioner could revoke licenses (after three failed inspections within 24 months, or refusal of entry to premises); require notification for inspection of first-time license applicants, but also require no notification of inspections for existing licensees. If you’re interested in learning more, the hearing testimony is available here.
Please continue to reach out to me with your ideas and questions. It’s an honor to serve District 42.
Rep. Jim Karleskint
Serving rural Leavenworth & Douglas Counties