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Dear Friend: 

The 2017 legislative session was one for the record-books, but in a good way. We dealt with a number of hot-topic issues: passed a biennial (two-year) budget, a balanced tax plan, an attempt at Medicaid Expansion, and a school finance plan, in addition to dozens of other bills important for Kansans across the state. This newsletter will provide a broad overview of a handful of bills of general interest, but there are other bills speci c to your industry and family which you will nd detailed in the following updates from the Kansas Legislative Research Department:

In early September, Tyson Foods announced that, after receiving support from some of the state and local leaders representing Leavenworth County, they had plans to open a poultry complex in Tonganoxie. I do not believe that Tonganoxie is a good fit for a poultry plant and am concerned about the environmental effects of a poultry complex being located in our community. The known negative aspects of this development strongly outweighed the potential benfits. Many of you shared these concerns with me and were vocal and proactive after the announcement of these plans. Thankfully, on September 19th, Tyson Foods released an open letter to the Leavenworth County Community stating that the plans would be put on hold after Leavenworth County Commissioners retracted their support and “resolution of intent,” a pledge of $500 million in revenue bonds to build the plant. Tyson Foods states that they are still interested in the Leavenworth County location, “but will prioritize the other locations in Kansas and other states that have expressed support.“ I have included a link to the Tyson Foods’ statement in its entirety here.

Contact Rep. Karleskint
At the Capitol:

300 SW 10th, Room 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612

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Douglas County

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The Kansas Supreme Court forwarded a decision in the Gannon school nance lawsuit, striking down the existing block grant as unconstitutional. A new formula was required before funding could be distributed to schools for the new scal year beginning July 1. The legislature wrote a new distribution plan based on the 1992-2014 formula with significant improvements. During the past legislative session, I served on the K-12 Budget Committee that created the formula. The Court allowed the plan to go into effect while deliberations regarding the constitutionality and adequacy of the plan continued. The amounts below were provided to districts to fund all-day kindergarten and other increases as determined by their local boards. On October 3rd, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the plan unconstitutional because it does not include enough funding and increases inequities among districts. The legislature will now need to determine what actions are necessary to best comply with the intenton of the decision. The amounts below reflect how our districts fared with the new formula, some having to deal with losses, while others are able to spend the new funds. 

  • Tonganoxie USD 464: -$67,085
  • Eudora USD 491: $788,877
  • Easton USD 449: -$2,486

In early June we passed a tax plan that not only repealed key components of the 2012 tax plan, the LLC tax break, and the “March to Zero” automatic income tax cuts, but also restored deductibility of medical expenses, mortgage interest, property taxes paid, and the child and dependent care tax credit. The tax plan will phase in all of these changes over the course of a three-year period. Immediately after its passage by both the House and Senate, Governor Brownback vetoed the bill. His veto was promptly overridden in both chambers. I voted YES to override the veto.

State Budget; Senate Sub. for HB 2002
The House and Senate budget negotiators worked for days to develop a compromise between the budgets passed by their respective chambers. The final compromise (S Sub HB 2002) was debated and though it isn’t perfect, it starts us down a path toward solvency. In sum, the bill:

  • Begins to restore funding to KU and K-State, which bore the brunt of recent cuts.
  • Adds funds for the state’s mental hospitals and senior care,
  • Begins to fund the State Water Plan.
  • Provides 2.5% raises to most state employees – they haven’t seen raises since 2009.
  • Allows the KS Department of Transportation (KDOT) to borrow $400 million to restart T-Works projects delayed to previous legislative sweeps from the roads plan. 

The budget passed the House 88-27 and the Senate 27-11. The governor signed the bill into law on June 24th and the new budget went into effect on July 1.

A few years ago, the legislature passed a bill allowing guns in public buildings, including hospitals and college campuses. Facilities were able to apply for a waiver to delay the time in which the law went into effect until June 30th, 2017, to provide time to prepare for adequate security measures to be installed. The  bill that  passed both chambers provides an exemption for mental hospitals, public hospitals, long-term care facilities, community mental health centers and KU Hospital. The governor allowed the bill to become law without his signature. 

The Women’s Right to Know Act, SB 83, requires that additional information regarding the physician performing an abortion to be provided to a woman at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. Information that must be provided includes but is not limited to the name of the physician, the year in which the physician received a medical doctor’s degree and the name of any hospital in which the physician has lost clinical privileges.

KIFC is a collaboration of federal, state, local and tribal agencies along with private sector entities dedicated to protecting the life, liberty, and property in Kansas and the Great Plains region. SB 184 requires the Adjutant General’s Department to provide facilities, budget and administrative support for the KIFC and establishes the Fusion Center Oversight Board. The board is     comprised of members who obtain federal security clearance to the appropriate level who will lead the KIFC through the adoption of new rules, regulations, policies and procedures.

With children dying in Kansas foster care homes and several lawsuits, the legislature spent time reviewing the Department of Children & Families’ procedures, staffing levels, and job requirements. House Substitute for SB 126 requires the Secretary for Children and Families to establish a Child Welfare System Task Force to study the child welfare system in the state of Kansas. We hope through this task force we will learn new and valuable insights which will positively influence the child welfare system as a whole and the families involved. 

HB 2174 creates two distinctive license plates, authorizes decals on distinctive license plates to indicate transportation of a person with a disability and expands the acceptable decals indicating military honors on certain military-related license plates. The license plates established are the Autism Awareness Fund and the Kansas 4-H Foundation Fund. 

House Substitute for SB 21 establishes a new working-after-retirement rule. For retirees under the age of 62, there is a 180-day waiting period before returning to work. If the retiree is 62 or older, the current 60-day waiting period applies. 

SB 201 amends the Consumer Protection Act to include members of the military to the definition of “protected consumer.” The Act applies to the elderly, persons with disabilities, veterans, surviving spouses of veterans, members of the military, and immediate family members of the military.

The Kansas Pharmacy Act changes the minimum age for a person to receive a vaccine, other than the influenza vaccine, from a pharmacist or pharmacy student or intern under direct supervision and control of a pharmacist from 18 to 12 years of age. This will help improve access to vaccines in underserved areas, lacking in health providers

Current law allows “full-strength” beer, wine, and spirits to be sold only at liquor stores, while grocery and convenience stores are allowed to sell 3.2% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) beverages. A hard-fought compromise will keep wine and spirits only at liquor stores, while allowing grocery and convenience stores to begin selling full-strength beer in 2019. 

The bill increased the fine from $10 to $30 for an adult who is not wearing a seatbelt in a passenger car that is in motion. $20 of the $30 fine will go to the Seat Belt Safety Fund and will be used to educate children about proper seat belt use and occupant protection. The failure to wear a seat belt will continue to be treated as a violation that does not impact the individuals driver license.

I look forward to continuing our work together to bring accountability, transparency, and reality-based budgeting to the Kansas Legislature. Please do not hesitate to contact me about these or any other issues facing our state. I am grateful for the honor of representing your voice in Topeka. 

Thank you, 

Rep. Jim Karleskint
Serving rural Leavenworth & Douglas Counties
Copyright © 2017 Paid for by Karleskint for Kansas, Lois Meadows, Treasurer, All rights reserved.

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