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Dear Friend:
We are at “Drop Dead Day”, where all bills not exempt from deadlines are struck for the remainder of the session. Again, the topics can still come up as amendments onto bills, but the bill number itself is dead for the year. The jargon you’ll see in this newsletter includes Conference Committees and Concur vs. Nonconcur, and they are related: 

Jargon Alert
A bill doesn’t typically pass one chamber in the exact form as it passed the other chamber. After passing the second chamber, the chamber where the bill first was passed can disagree (nonconcur) with those changes and require a conference committee be convened. 
  • The chair, vice-chair, and ranking minority members of the House and Senate committees which passed the bill comprise the conference committee. 
  • Those six legislators hammer out differences between the versions passed by each chamber, and submit a committee report with those changes. 
  • The committee report cannot be changed and must be passed “as-is” by both the House and Senate before heading to the governor for approval. If one chamber does not pass the report, the bill stays in the committee for continued deliberation. 
Committees worked diligently the week of March 19 to move bills out of committee, and we spent the week of March 26 on the Senate floor debating those bills. Conference committees will meet April 2-4 and we will consider exempt bills and conference committee reports on April 5-6, then adjourn for staff to complete the paperwork for the regular session. We will return for Veto Session on Thursday, April 26 and will have much more information about state revenues once taxes are mostly received in mid-April.

Senate District 11 Resources:

Around the District 
The legislative town hall that took place on March 24th went very well. The attendees were engaged and asked great questions. During the April break, I’ll be visiting some schools in the Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission Districts and returning to work at Kaw Engineering. In addition, I hope to spend some time at our farm and with family. 
 

In the News
Though the first education funding plan of the session will be debated in the House on Monday, April 2, work has been ongoing since the Gannon V decision was released in October 2017. For those who are interested, I’ve compiled a document that provides some history, context for current research, studies, and recommendations, as well as an overview of the House bill. 
 

On the Floor
This week’s legislative calendarLive Stream
Casey Friend is a 4th grader and an Overland Park constituent who was studying our state’s various “designated” items when he noticed we had no official rock, mineral, or gemstone. He came to the legislature with his ideas and strong arguments for each. His recommendations were turned into HB 2650. The bill woulddesignate the state rock as limestone (you’re probably as surprised as me that this wasn’t already the case), the state mineral as galena (a city in southeast Kansas is named for it), and the state gemstone as jelinite amber, also found in southeast Kansas.
 
Extended hunting season: HB 2558—The Senate unanimously approved a bill that would extend the season for hunting and collecting game birds on controlled shooting areas from Sept. 1 to April 30. Current law ends the season on March 31. The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously and without changes, so it is under review by the governor. Read hearing testimony here.
 
Commerce
Dozens of schools across Kansas do not have access to the internet. This is a serious educational issue when preparing students for the global economy. S Sub HB 2701 would create the Statewide Broadband Expansion Planning Task Force. The task force will work to evaluate the broadband needs of Kansans and consider recent Federal Communications Commission action. Both the House and Senate passed this bill unanimously, but it was heavily amended in the Senate and will go to conference committee for negotiation. View hearing testimony here.
 
Under current law, the High Performance Incentive Program (HPIP) provides certified companies a 10% non-refundable income tax credit for capital investments that exceed $50,000 (or $1 million in five metro counties, including Johnson County). This credit can be carried forward for up to 16 tax years if the company is recertified in the year the carry forward is used. SB 334 would extend the timeframe that HPIP tax credits could be claimed. Beginning in tax year 2018, 75 percent of the amount of HPIP credits that remain unused at the end of 16 years could be carried forward from year to year until used by the company. This bill is strongly supported by the Johnson County business community and Chambers of Commerce. It passed the Senate unanimously.
 
Education
I’ve met with a number of local parents with the JoCo Dyslexia parents group to discuss their concerns and challenges with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). They requested a bill to require the State Board of Education to develop rules and regulations for the appropriate screening of students for dyslexia and related disorders. The House instead forwarded a compromise. Sub HB 2602 would create 19-member Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia and other reading comprehension impairments. The task force would advise and make recommendations to the Governor, Legislature and the State Board of Education. I know this compromise is not quite what parents had hoped for, but it is a solid start. It passed the House 110-7, and passed the Senate unanimously. 
 
Health
HB 2496 would allow Kansas to join the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which would allow RNs and LPNs to have one multi-state license with the privilege to practice in Kansas and in other states that are members of the compact. The House approved the bill 116-1, the Senate passed unanimously, then the House agreed 123-1 to the Senate’s changes, so it’s on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature. View testimony here.
 
If you have a loved one in or considering long-term care, the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program serves as a helpful navigator and troubleshooter in the process. This program serves as an advocate for the rights of individuals in long-term care facilities who bring complaints to the Department for Aging and Disability Services. HB 2590 would require the Secretary of the department to provide oversight and monitoring of the ombudsman office, including an assessment of how the program is performing its responsibilities and functions set out in state and federal regulations. The bill passed the House unanimously. Hearing testimony is available here.
 
Taxation
Currently, sales taxes collected at the Kansas State Fair are deposited into the State General Fund just like any other sales tax. However, the State Fairgrounds are in dire need of infrastructure repair and improvements. SB 415 would require all state sales tax collected by the Fair itself and by any retailer doing business at the Kansas State Fairgrounds to be deposited into the State Fair Capital Improvement Fund. This is an excellent way for the prosperity of the fair to pay for its upkeep. It passed the Senate unanimously.
 
SB 449 would allow taxpayers to deduct up to $3,000 ($6,000 for married filing jointly) cumulatively to both a 529 Education Savings Plan and a 529a ABLE Savings Plan for each designated beneficiary. Current law does not allow deductions for contributions to an ABLE plan. ABLE stands for “Achieving a Better Life Experience.” Money from these accounts can be withdrawn tax free when used to pay for qualified disability expenses. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is under consideration by the House Taxation Committee. 
 
Transportation & Public Safety
The following bills passed as follows and are under negotiation in conference committee: 
HB 2599 would allow the state to offer severaldifferent kinds of distinctive license plates, it passed the House unanimously and the Senate 36-2, I voted yes: 
  • Choose Life 
  • City of Wichita 
  • Special Olympics
  • Veteran of the Korean War 
  • Veteran of Operation Desert Storm 
  • Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 
  • Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom 
HB 2606 would exempt individuals who renew their driver’s licenses online from taking a vision exam. However, individuals renewing online would be required to submit a vision test from a licensed eye doctor to certify that their vision meets the requirements for driving under Kansas law. Only drivers between the ages of 18-50 years old can renew online. The House approved this bill, 120-2, and the Senate passed it 35-5, I voted yes. View testimony here.
 
Current law requires driver’s carrying hazardous materials licenses (HAZMAT) renew those licenses every five years. HB 2511 would move commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) renewable every five years instead of every four years so they could be taken together. Hearing testimony is available here. The House and Senate passed this bill unanimously.
 
The following bills passed the Senate, but further action has not been taken: 
 
HB 2639 would allow the Department of Health and Environment to set and collect a fee for fingerprinting individuals maintaining, residing, working or regularly volunteering at child care facilities.The House previously passed this legislation, 111-6, it passed the Senate 36-4, and will likely be sent to a conference committee to negotiate differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill. View testimony here.
 
Current law restricts golf cart driving on certain streets and highways to only daylight hours. HB 2486 would allow golf carts to be driven on certain streets provided they are equipped with lights required by law for motorcycles. Testimony is available here. The legislation passed the House, 84-29, and the Senate 36-4, I voted yes. 
 
If you buy a car and are offered manufacturer’s rebates, SB 367 would remove the amount of those cash rebates from the sales price for sales taxation purposes. In other words, you shouldn’t have to pay sales tax on money you don’t actually spend! It passed the Senate unanimously. 
 
Legal Issues
Under current law, individuals charged with a felony may be committed to a state security hospital or a county or private institution to be examined for competency. Individuals charged with misdemeanors may be committed to state, county or private institutions to be examined for competency. HB 2549 would clarify that defendants, regardless of the type of charge, could be committed to a state security hospital or any appropriate state, county or private institution to be examined for competency. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, but in different versions, so it is under negotiation by a conference committee.
 
Elections
If you’ve watched the drama unfolding in the race to be Kansas’ next governor, you know there are no rules regarding age (or species, for that matter) to file. HB 2539 would require every candidate for Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and State Insurance Commissioner to be a qualified elector of Kansas (at least 18 years old to run). Candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor must be at least 30 years old. The bill also would require a candidate for Attorney General to be licensed to practice law in Kansas. This bill passed the House, 94-28., and the Senate 29-9, I voted yes. View hearing testimony here.
 

Committee Work
Transportation
Members heard an update on KanLicense Project, which is a Department of Vehicles(DOV) modernization project started in 2008 to replace the DOV’s aging mainframe system used for driver licenses, inventory management and motor vehicle titling and registration. The updated, modern system is designed to be more efficient, easier to use and maintain.
 
Ethics, Elections, and Local Government
SB 49 would allow Election Day voter registration. The bill would establish the requirements for individuals who are not yet registered to get registered and vote on Election Day at a precinct voting site or a satellite advance voting site. I don’t see this bill going anywhere, though I wish it were easier to register to vote, especially for our elderly citizens who don’t have ready access to their birth certificates.
 
Ways & Means
Sub HB 2359—This legislation, passed by the House unanimously, would create the Kansas Cybersecurity Act. As part of the act, the bill would establish the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), who would be appointed by the Governor and serve as the chief expert and authority on policy and other matters related to cybersecurity. In addition, the bill would establish the Kansas Information Security Office that would be managed by the CISO. Finally, the bill would clarify the duties of executive branch agency heads on cybersecurity issues and how agencies work with the CISO. This bill was originally introduced in 2017 to create the Kansas Information Technology Enterprise. Testimony for House hearings is available here. It passed the House unanimously, and because our committee is exempt from deadlines, we can still pass the bill out to the full Senate, but have yet to do so. 
 
We finalized and passed the Senate’s changes to the existing two-year budget (SB 269) to the full Senate, where it passed 34-6, I voted yes.  Highlights include:
  • $1 million for “tiny-K” programs for early childhood education
  • $1.5 million for technical education
  • $9.6 million for case management services for Kansans who are frail, elderly, or disabled
  • $4.7 million for state employee pay increases for those who did not receive last year’s increase (meaning those who have not had an increase in 5-10 years)
Utilities
The committee debated and passed HB 2701, the Broadband Task Force legislation you read about under Floor Action, and we hosted an expert from U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s office on federal broadband issues.

It is an honor to serve you in Topeka. 

Very truly yours,

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

Copyright © 2018, All rights reserved.


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