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Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich

June 3, 2019
Veto Session May 1-4, 2019

The 2019 Legislative Session lasted only 77 days. We concluded our business at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 5th of what is normally a 90-day Legislative Session. By finishing early, we have been told the state will save approximately $858,000, or $66,000 a day.  The Legislature completed its work on the state budget, taxes, and other legislative matters during the 4-day veto session.

In our Community

It is always a great time at the Combat Air Museum flipping pancakes and serving breakfast to our veterans and supporters as a fundraiser for the museum.  Bob Carmichael, Perkins owner/manager, brings the pancake batter and sausages and watches our valiant efforts on the grills!  I had the honor of serving on the same shift as our District Attorney, Mike Kagay….former City Councilman, John Nave…..WIBW anchor Chris Fisher….and Shawnee County Commissioner, Bob Archer.  We had a great time!

 
On May 1st, it was my pleasure to be the guest speaker at the Shawnee Heights National Honor Society Induction!  What a wonderful group of young scholars who truly epitomize the 4 pillars of NHS….Character, Scholarship, Service, and Leadership.

 
Washburn Tech Dean, Clark Coco, is retiring and leaving us! He has done a fabulous job of significantly growing enrollment at Wash Tech and forming tremendous business partnerships to bring innovative programs to our students who are interested in a technical career.   Dean Coco will be deeply missed.  In honor of his retirement and good work, I presented him with a Tribute from the House of Representatives on May 29th.

 
I share office space at the Capitol, 165-W, with Representatives Emil Berquist (Park City) and Ron Ellis (Meriden).  Ron and I have shared space now for 3 years!  We said goodbye to our wonderful office assistants on May 4th……Karla Billen and Casey Kiernan!  They were both new this session, but they worked so hard for us and greeted our visitors with a smile and a helpful attitude. They kept our calendars, organized our committee work, tracked our bills and made sure we stayed on schedule.  Karla and Casey made our office a joyful place to come to work each day.  We gave them a little “send off” on the last day of session and wished them all the best! They were a special team.

At the Capitol

Budget

On Friday May 3, the House advanced SB 25, the Budget Bill, which contained supplemental appropriations for FY 2019 and funds for FY 2020. The bill passed the House, 79-45, and the Senate, 26-14.  There was a bit of drama surrounding this budget as many of us tried to force the Senate to debate Medicaid Expansion by not passing a budget.  This got quite a bit of attention in the press, but, as you know, our ability to block the budget failed after many many hours of arm twisting and flipping votes. At the end of the day, after all of the contentious debate, this is a good budget and includes the additional funding for schools and increases to various state agencies. I voted YES.  Below are some key items and lots of detail about this budget. 
 

FY 19

  • Department for Children and Families: Family First Prevention Act ($452,516); 26 Full Time Employees authorized for Child Welfare
  • Department of Transportation: allowed transfer of up to an additional $50 million from SGF to the state Highway Fund.  A total of $216 million will be available to accelerate funding of delayed T-Works projects.
  • Department on Aging and Disability Services: $3.7 million ($2.4 million SGF) for Community Mental Health Centers providing Crisis Center services, Clubhouse Model Programs, and  Client Assessment Referral and Evaluation (CARE)
  • State Hospitals: Revenue shortfall addressed ($5.9 million)
  • Eligibility and backlog issues at KDHE Clearinghouse: Additional funds of $2.2 million will expedite the process
  • Department of Corrections: $35 million in additional dollars to address issues system wide.
    • $12.5 million for pay increases for corrections officers at El Dorado Correctional Facility;
    • $16.4 million to address to provide contract beds, addressing population concerns across the corrections system.
    • $4.5 million is available to be allocated towards Hepatitis C treatment for FY 20, on top of the $1.5 million appropriated for FY 19.
    • $3 million added for Housing Adult Female Offenders;
    • $344K for Stab Vests for Corrections Officers
    • The Governor declared a State of Emergency at the El Dorado Correctional Facility on February 12th.  No executive action was taken during the remainder of the session—the infusion of $35 million addresses all concerns.  The State Finance Council will have authority to release $26.7 and oversee improvements.
  • Department for Children and Families: Foster Care Families First Funding match of $6.9 million included; additional 16 Full Time Employees
  • Department of Education: $4 billion of funding is included in this bill.  Also included is $5 million for Safe and Secure Schools Grants
  • Department of Transportation: additional State Highway Funds of $166.4 million
  • Board of Regents: Provide funding of $26 million above the Governor’s recommendation. 
  • State Employee Pay:2.5 percent pay increase for all state employees, including Judicial branch, but not those otherwise receiving a pay increase in FY 20; Statewide elected officials and legislators are not included. 
  • Health Care Assessment Improvement Program in KDHE: Increases the current rate charged to hospitals from 1.83% to 3.0%.  The additional rate increase would draw down the federal matching funds and continue to support Medicaid provider rates.  Adds $14.2 million for this purpose.
  • Mental Health: Provided an additional $5 million in grants to Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs).
  • Home and Community Based Services (HCBS): Added $6 million ($2.5 million SGF) to reduce the waiting lists for Medicaid HCBS waivers for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and physical disabilities.
  • HCBS Reimbursement rates increased: Added $10.1 million ($4.2 million SGF) for 1.5% increase in rates for HCBS waiver services providers and added $6.8 million ($2.8 million SGF) for 1 % increase in rates for nursing facilities.

Keeping Our KPERS Promise: 

The Legislature made it a priority to pay off $115 million of KPERS debt.    SB 9 invests $115 million into our public pension system and makes good on a payment that was deferred in 2016.  On February 22, the House adopted SB 9 on a vote of 117-0.  I voted YES. The Governor signed the bill into law on March 8.

We also approved a $56 million transfer to KPERS that was approved by the 2018 Legislature.  The Governor had recommended the elimination of the transfer.  By restoring the transfer in the Conference Committee Report on SB 25, we made good on a promise to KPERS retirees and continues the goal of reducing the unfunded liability of KPERS.  The House passed the bill, 79-45 on May 4. I voted YES.
 

Industrial Hemp and Economic Development:

The Legislature provided a boost to the state’s agricultural economy, with the approval of the Conference Committee Report on HB 2167.  The CCR requires the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA), in consultation with the Governor and the Attorney General, to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding how the KDA will monitor and regulate the commercial production of industrial hemp within the state, in accordance with federal law. The bill also establishes the Commercial Industrial Hemp Program.  The House passed the bill, 114-3. I voted YES. The Governor signed it into law on May 1.
 

Taxpayer Transparency:

The Legislature passed HB 2144, the Community College Taxpayer Transparency Act.  The bill requires community colleges to publish certain information on their websites, including tuition rates, student fees, total cost per credit hour, and the percentage of student who reside in the community college district, outside the district, and international students.  The House concurred with the Senate amendments in conference on April 4, with a vote of 116-6.  I voted YES. The Governor signed the bill into law on April 16.

The Legislature approved the Conference Committee Report on HB 2223.  One component of the bill is the requirement regarding certain analyses and reporting of economic development to be done by the Legislative Division of Post Audit and the Department of Commerce.  The Legislative Post Audit Committee is to conduct a systematic and comprehensive review, analysis, and evaluation of each economic development incentive program every three years.  The Department of Commerce is charged with establishing a database for the purpose of disclosing information on economic development incentive programs, which is defined to include certain income tax credits and locally-granted property tax exemptions in addition to various programs administered by the Department. This bill was approved unanimously by both chambers and signed by the Governor on May 10, 2019.
 

Claire and Lola’s Law

During Veto Session, the Legislature came to an agreement on SB 28, also known as Claire and Lola’s law, which would provide an affirmative defense for individuals with cannabidiol treatment preparation (CBD oil) with trace amounts of THC for patients with certain medical conditions.  While CBD oil is legally allowed in Kansas, CBD oil with trace amounts of THC cannot be legally sold in Kansas.  This bill permits the possession of such oils, but only for a patient with a medically diagnosed chronic disease or medical condition causing serious impairment of strength or ability to function, including impairments that cause seizures.  These patients must also be under current and active treatment by a physician and must possess a letter from their physician explaining the need for such treatment.  This bill passed in honor of the Hartley family.  Two children of theirs, Claire and Lola, were diagnosed with microcephaly and other ailments.  Claire passed away in 2018, and the Hartley family hopes to provide relief for Lola with CBD oils and other treatments. SB 28 passed House 87-36 and passed the Senate 27-8. I voted YES.  This bill was signed by the Governor on May 20, 2019.
 

Tax Plans that were vetoed

As a reminder, SB 22, which was an attempt to decouple from the federal tax code and allow Kansas taxpayers to itemize deductions and allow some corporate exemptions, was vetoed on March 26th and that veto was sustained with no action taken by the Senate.

The House made another attempt at a modified (less expensive) tax plan by passing the Conference Committee Report on HB 2033 on May 4, with a vote of 83-41. I voted YES.  This bill would allow individual expensing deductions for tangible property and computer software and would require all taxpayers claiming the Kansas expensing deduction to offset the amount of federal expensing deduction claimed.  Amounts attributable to the disallowance of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) premiums paid by financial institutions would be exempt from Kansas income tax, starting in tax year 2019. Global Intangible Low Taxed Income (GILTI) would be taxed at 5% for tax year 2018, and would be fully exempt from Kansas income tax, starting in 2019. Lastly, Kansas income taxpayers would be allowed to carry forward net operating losses for 20 years, starting in tax year 2018 (length of time doubled from 10 years).

The bill also would require out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales tax and would require the sales tax collection for most internet-based transactions.  Hotels and similar products sold over the Internet would not be taxed.  With the implementation of the internet sales tax provisions, a “buy-down” rate would be applied to the food sales tax rate (currently 6.5%).  Beginning on July 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021 and each January thereafter, annual growth in Internet sales tax receipts greater than 3% above the 2018 total compensating use tax receipts.  The Department of Revenue predicts that the total additional revenue would be able to reduce the food sales tax rate to 6.0% in FY 2020, and then 5.3% in FY 2021.  This bill was vetoed by the Governor on May 17, 2019.

Sine Die – May 29, 2019

We returned to the Capitol on May 29 at 10:00 a.m. for Sine Die, the ceremonial last day of session. Sine Die provided us an opportunity to implement critical disaster relief efforts to address the severe flooding and tornadoes that have impacted our state and to address the Governor’s vetoes.  There were 8 legislators absent for Sine Die….2 Republicans and 6 Democrats.  A veto override requires 84 votes, so absences can be problematic.
 

Tax Plan Veto

The House was not successful in overriding the Governor’s veto of HB 2033 (Tax Plan) as described above. The vote was 78-39.  I voted YES.
 

Budget Vetoes

The House successfully voted to override the Governor’s funding cuts on an 86-30 vote. Many legislators voiced disapproval at these cuts to critical areas of the budget.  I voted YES.
 
The items vetoed by the Governor and restored by the Legislature include:
  • KPERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM – this will fund the KPERS retirement system for our teachers, law enforcement and other public retirees, by restoring a $51 payment to KPERS.
  • OPIOD ABUSE PREVENTION –to maintain a proven resource to combat the opioid crisis, we restored $705,000 for the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (KTRACS).
  • COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH – we restored funding for our community mental health centers. The Governor vetoed $1.885 million for Community Mental Health Centers supplemental funding and community aid, along with $38,646 SGF for the Client Assessment Referral and Evaluation (CARE) program. Our community mental health centers provide critical services for our families and teens in crisis, so this was a definite need for our Chambers.
  • TECHNICAL EDUCATION & READING PROGRAMS – this was important to fund our technical colleges and reading improvement programs. The Governor vetoed $1.2 million for reading programs designed to bridge the achievement gap for our students. In that line-item she also vetoed funding for Technical Education incentives and the Teach for America program. We restored that funding.
 

Disaster Relief for Flooding Victims

The House and Senate passed HCR 5015, which secures disaster relief funding for communities across the state that have been impacted by severe flooding. The resolution also allows the state to request life safety resources, equipment, technical assistance, commodities, and other resources from the federal government during the recovery period, which extends to January 2020. The following 56 counties will be eligible for response and recovery actions as the water recedes. Additional counties may be added if continued weather causes additional damage.
 
Allen, Anderson, Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellsworth, Franklin, Geary, Greenwood, Harper, Harvey, Hodgeman, Jefferson, Kingman, Leavenworth, Lincoln, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Rush, Russell, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, and Woodson.
 

Supreme Court Decision
on Gannon – still waiting!


On May 9, 2019 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the final piece of the school funding formula that the Legislature approved this year – an inflationary factor – and included in the 2019 appropriation from the SGF.  Many believe that this last step will meet the adequacy requirement, although it is highly likely that the Court will retain jurisdiction just to make sure the Legislature continues to meet its obligations in subsequent years.  It is also significant to note that the final piece of the school finance plan passed this year had the agreement of the Republican-controlled Legislature, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and the State Board of Education.  We are still waiting to hear the Court’s decision.

If you wish to view all introduced legislation in the House, you can find it at this link: http://kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/bills/house/  
As this session has now ended, I want to thank all of you for your engaged and strong support. Our work this session represented a plethora of complicated issues to solve, difficult decisions to be made, and consensus building with  colleagues, some who were new to the House this year.   I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to work with others to make good public policy and do no harm, while advocating for my own constituents.   I appreciate the faith you have placed in me to represent your interests at the Capitol.  Feedback is always my friend, so I absolutely appreciate your phone calls and emails.

Contact Me

If you have any questions about legislative activities or want to share your views on any issues, please feel free to email me or call me at home.  The Legislature is not in session and no one is answering the phone in my Capitol office.   You can email me at: Brenda.Dietrich@House.ks.gov  or call me at 785-861-7065 (H) or 785-221-3853 (c)
 

Brenda S. Dietrich
Room 165-W State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, KS     6612
785-296-7648

Contact Brenda

Room 165-W
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66610
Phone: 785 296-7648
Email Brenda


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