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Dear Friend:
Thanks to my House colleagues, Reps. Patty Markley (on my right), Sean Tarwater, and Abe Rafie for joining me for a town hall meeting last Saturday morning. 
This week is the “Turnaround” deadline when bills must be “turned around” from the chamber where they started to the other chamber. Bills not heard in and passed out of a committee, and passed the full Senate by now are considered dead for the session. The content of those bills never really dies as the language can be amended into another bill, but the bill number is dead for the remainder of the session.
  • For every rule, there is an exception. If a bill is heard in, or at any point sent to the Senate Assessment & Taxation, Ways & Means, the House Taxation, Appropriations, or either chamber’s Federal & State Affairs Committees, it is exempt from these legislative deadlines and can be considered at any time.
  • The Blessing of the Bills: One of the last actions taken before the turnaround deadline is for House and Senate leadership to move bills from one committee into an exempt committee, and then back where it was. This “blesses” the bill because it has touched an exempt committee.

Senate District 11 Resources:

The Senate debated 34 bills this week alone. The legislature had Monday and today off, allowing legislative staff to complete paperwork and update the website with all the recent bill activity. Next week, we begin hearing bills in committees that passed the House this week, and they begin hearing the bills we passed. 

Fun Facts:
  • More than 4% of all job holders in Kansas are employed by hospitals (one of the many reasons I support Medicaid Expansion as a job creator). State hospitals account for 75,659 indirect jobs as well (Wichita Business Journal)
  • In 2017, the number of Kansans unemployed decreased to 61,879, the lowest number of unemployed people in the state in 15 years (Kansas Department of Labor)
On the Floor
This week’s legislative calendar - Live Stream
Private prisons: SB 328 would require prior legislative authorization for any state agency to enter into an agreement or take any action to outsource or privatize security operations of correctional or juvenile correctional facilities operated by a state agency. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
HB 2106—The Senate unanimously approved legislation that would remove red tape and duplicative licensing requirements for alcohol and drug addiction treatment organizations that have received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Services, the Joint Commission, the Council on Accreditation or another national accrediting body approved by the Department, by passing separate state accreditation. In addition, the bill would require the Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) to inspect accredited treatment facilities to determine compliance with state licensing standards. The House approved this legislation last year with a 125-0 vote. Hearing testimony is here.
The brunch bill flew through the House and Senate in just five weeks! HB 2482 would expand the hours that people could drink alcohol in bars, clubs and other establishments from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following calendar day. Current law allows drinking from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following calendar day. Farm wineries, microbreweries and microdistilleries would be allowed to sell alcoholic products in their original containers between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. on any day. Current law limits the sale of alcohol on Sundays at farm wineries from noon to 6 p.m., and at microbreweries and microdistilleries from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The House approved an earlier version 75-47, and it passed the Senate 35-5, I voted yes. Hearing testimony is available here.
Current law only allows individuals to be eligible for a discounted senior cosmetology license if they have practiced for at least 40 years and are at least 70 years old. SB 398 would reduce that age to at least 60 years old with 10 years of licensure. It passed the Senate 39-0.
A number of bills dealing with industrial hemp have moved through the legislature in recent years. SB 263 would allow the Department of Agriculture, either alone or in coordination with a state higher education institution, to grow and cultivate industrial hemp, as well as promote the research and development of industrial hemp. The bill would allow individuals to participate in the research program under the oversight of the Department. View hearing testimony here. It passed the Senate 36-3, I voted yes.
Doctors, nurses, counselors, among others are “mandatory reporters” of suspected abuse. Due to their frequent interaction in emergency health situations, SB 311 would add certified emergency medical services attendants to the list of individuals required to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents in adult care homes and other related facilities. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
You might recall my description of the “expensing” bill that was discussed in Assessment & Taxation Committee a few weeks ago. SB 303 would allow individual taxpayers to claim a tax deduction for purchases of machinery and equipment, retroactive to tax year 2017. The Department of Revenue estimates the bill would cost $21.1 million in FY 2019 I assumed it would die, but it passed the Senate this week 31-8, I voted yes.
SB 265 would amend the crime of incest to specify the phrase “otherwise lawful sexual intercourse or sodomy” does not include the crimes of rape or aggravated criminal sodomy as defined in the Kansas Criminal Code. SB 265 would clarify that unlawful sexual acts will be prosecuted and punished as rape or aggravated sodomy, rather than receiving a lesser sentence under the incest statute. It passed the Senate 39-0.
SB 336 would provide compensation, tuition assistance, and state health care benefit programs to individuals who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. Under this bill, those individuals would receive $50,000 for each year they were wrongfully imprisoned. It passed the Senate unanimously.

Committee Work
Ways & Means
The committee welcomed another update from the Department of Revenue, and have heard, worked, and passed a few “rats and cats” bills. The real action has been in the subcommittees where each budgetary topic area has debated their respective budgets. To give you an idea, the Subcommittee on Corrections debated 11 budgets alone!
  • Jargon Alert: After a hearing has been held on a bill, it is eligible to be “worked” or brought up for discussion among the committee. Committee members can offer changes (amendments) to the bill or make a motion for passage to the full Senate for consideration or to table the bill for later conversation. At this point in the session, tabling a bill kills it due to legislative deadlines. Bills which are not “worked” as of Monday, February 19 cannot be considered for the remainder of the session.
As we work to put together budgets, we are basically putting together wish lists for projects with priority on those that drive economic development or financial need.

Among a busy week of churning bills out of the committee before the Turnaround deadline, we heard an informational briefing on digital license plate production as the state transitions from traditional metal plating.
The committee approved SB 391 to bring Kansas law into alignment with federal law. It prohibits emergency vehicles from weighing more than 86,000 pounds, gross weight, as well as enforce other maximum weights on vehicles depending on the type of axle the vehicles have. The bill passed the Senate 40-0. 
Assessment & Taxation
The committee heard a briefing on property tax valuation concerning grain elevators. Another briefing was given by Board of Tax Appeals and Kansas County Appraisers Association.
Members held a joint briefing with the House Taxation Committee on the impact of federal tax reform in Kansas. As it currently stands, the Kansas budget stands to benefit about $140 million each year for the next few years.
The committee held three days of hearings on a bill to require fee parity for “customer-generators” of energy. Customer-generator means the owner or operator of a net metered facility which is powered by a renewable energy source and meets other qualifications. SB 322 would require utilities to equalize those fees compared to regular customers, with no additional standby, capacity, interconnection, or other fee or charge. The bill did not make it out of committee.

It is an honor to serve you in Topeka. Please do not hesitate to contact me about these or other legislative issues. 

Very truly yours,

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

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