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Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich

March 10, 2019

The month of March will shortly become very busy at the Capitol!  Many bills were “blessed” before Turnaround (the half-way point) in our calendar and are moving through committees and headed to the floor of the House.  We will soon be voting on bills the Senate sent our way. Just as a reminder, last year the House introduced 434 bills and the Senate introduced 254 bills.  At the end of the session, only 58 bills were passed by both chambers.

Before we get to the action on the House floor…..….I wanted to share some things that I have been involved in the past 2 weeks.


It was my pleasure to host a page from Topeka Collegiate School last week. Maddy Bernal and I took a picture in the Speaker’s Chair, just for fun!  She had a great day touring the Capitol and paging for the House!  We had to re-schedule this day because of snow day conflicts, so I am glad she could come visit!

 

Jessica Lehnherr, United Way of Greater Topeka CEO, stopped by the office last Thursday to talk about the many programs United Way supports throughout Topeka and the state and to drop off some Live United cookies.  She reminded us of the 2-1-1 help line and we talked about the best way to promote it for our communities.

On Tuesday evening several local officials served “Hotcakes for Hope” at Countryside United Methodist Church as a fundraiser for GraceMed!  We had a great turnout and lots of good food for an important cause.  Much thanks to those who participated, including the volunteer cooks!


Wednesday, we had a “Blockfest” with Parents as Teacher educators, students and families in the Rotunda!  Parents as Teachers is a wonderful program that is designed to provide children the best possible start in life. It is an evidence-based parent education and family engagement program serving parents through personal visits, group connections, health, vision, hearing and developmental screenings, and finding family connections with other community services.  Such an invaluable program for our state!

At The Capitol

SB 22.  The House passed a modified version of this bill on Friday, March 8th on Final Action with a vote of 76-43Several Legislators were absent on Friday so the vote total is 119 rather than 125.  This bill will now either be sent to a House/Senate conference committee or the Senate could just concur with the amended bill.  Regardless, it will eventually end up on the Governor’s desk and she can either sign it, veto it, or let it sit unsigned for 10 days and it would become law. 
 
What does the bill do?
For Individuals – adjusts the Kansas tax code so that Kansans with itemized deductions that total between $7,000 and $24,000 can continue to itemize on their state income taxes even if they no longer itemize on their federal income taxes. Some middle-income tax filers might not itemize at the federal level this year due to recent changes Congress made to the federal tax code to raise the standard deduction. Without this bill, these middle-income tax filers would no longer be able to itemize at the state level, triggering a higher state income tax liability for these families.

For multi-national companies – clarifies language in the Kansas tax code so that changes in the federal tax code do not trigger unintended tax hikes at the state level for business owners. Right now, Kansas companies that do business outside of the United States pay taxes on those profits at the federal level. Those profits are not taxed at the state level and never have been. Without this bill, these Kansas companies would be subjected to additional taxes at the state level, making Kansas a more expensive state for businesses to operate in.

For brick and mortar businesses—eliminates an unfair playing field that makes it cheaper for out of state businesses to sell to Kansas customers because they don’t have to collect sales taxes like Kansas businesses do. Removes liability from individual Kansans to track, record, and report out of state purchases and places that liability on the out of state merchant where it belongs.

For every Kansan who buys groceries—lowers the food sales tax by 15% so every Kansan will see that benefit every  time they go to the grocery store.

SB 9
On March 8, Gov. Kelly signed Senate Bill (SB) 9, the $115 million appropriation to repay money owed to the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) that was passed unanimously by the House and Senate. 

School Finance Up-date

On February 28, we learned that the Schools for Fair Funding (SFFF) group had submitted corrected testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance.  The SFFF had testified at the February 6 hearing on SB 44 that the group would drop its lawsuit against the state if the Legislature approved the Governor’s proposed school finance changes.  However, on February 26, amended and supplemented testimony was provided by the SFFF lobbyist.  He indicated there needs to be more funding provided to the Base State Aid Per Pupil in years 2, 3, and 4 in the bill.  The BSAPP would need to reach the Total Targeted Aid of $3.7 billion in FY 23.  The state would need to expend an additional $270 million to make up the difference and be compliant with the Gannon VI decision, according to the SFFF.  The SFFF would still support SB 44, if the additional expenditures were authorized. 
 
Base # (current law)   Base # (SB 44)  Base# (SFFF)
FY 20  $4302                 $4436                 $4436
FY 21  $4439                 $4569                 $4697
FY 22 $4576                  $4706                 $4958
FY 23  $4713                 $4846                 $5219
 
We are still working toward a solution and I do not know what the answer will be yet, but everyone is committed to solving this as expeditiously as we can.  It probably feels like thing are moving very slowly, but there are a lot of people involved in this and it is a bit of a messy process.

Medicaid Expansion Roundtable Discussions:

On March 6-8, the Health and Human Services committee hosted a roundtable discussion on Medicaid expansion, featuring 15 participants representing numerous proponent and opponent organizations. On March 6, the discussion began with a presentation by Kari Bruffett, Vice President for Policy at the Kansas Health Institute (KHI), who provided an overview of updated estimates of enrollment and costs associated with Medicaid expansion that were released by KHI on March 5.

On March 7, the committee continued the roundtable discussion with a focus on the need for data showing the health effects of expansion. Participants discussed the link between coverage and health outcomes as well as the resulting health effects in states that already have expanded Medicaid.

On March 8, the committee wrapped up the discussion on Medicaid expansion with a focus on how the state portion of expansion would be funded, estimated to be about $47 million a year. Participants also discussed the impact of Medicaid expansion on the financial condition of hospitals, especially those located in rural parts of the state, and the issue of uncompensated care currently being provided by hospitals and other health care providers in the state.
 

Legislation to Address Foster Care Concerns

The House debated HB 2103 a week ago. The bill enacts the statutory provisions that are necessary for the state to meet the requirements of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The FFPSA allows for a federal match with Title IV-E funds for certain child welfare system evidence-based prevention services and programming, starting October 1, 2019. Having additional funds to support prevention services is crucial in stemming the growing numbers of Kansas kids in foster care. The Kansas Legislative Research Department provided the following information about the number of Kansas children currently in foster care.


The House voted 122-1, to send the bill to the Senate. The Legislature will continue to look at foster care issues, especially during considerations of the budget bills, and in the Children and Seniors Committee.

Highlights for the Week of March 11-15


Next Week’s Highlights

Monday, March 11:
  • 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on: SB 71—Eliminating the expiration of the postsecondary technical education authority and requiring a report to the Legislature; SB 128—Requiring at least nine safety drills to be conducted by schools each year including fire, tornado, and crisis drills – Education Committee
Tuesday, March 12:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Hearing on: HB 2326—recognizing licenses to carry a concealed firearm issued by other jurisdictions—Federal and State Affairs Committee
  • 3:30 p.m. – Hearing on SB 49—Authorizing the Secretary of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to establish fees for cabins operated by the Department and camping permits at state parks—Agriculture Committee (discussion/action on Thursday March 14)
  • 3:30 p.m. – Hearing on HB 2244—Authorizing the use of cannabidiol treatment preparation to treat certain medical conditions—Judiciary Committee
Wednesday, March 13:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Budget Reports: Legislature and Legislative Agencies; Department of Transportation; Hearing on: HB 2122—appropriations for FY 20, 21, 22 for various state agencies—Appropriations Committee
  • 9:00 a.m. – Hearing on: HCR 5009—Making application to the U.S. Congress to call a Convention of the States—Federal and State Affairs Committee
  • 12:00 p.m. – Presentation of Performance Audits, Legislative Post Audit Operations, Consent Calendar Items—Legislative Post Audit Committee
Friday, March 15:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Discussion on: Report of Subcommittee on Sports Wagering—Federal and State Affairs Committee
  • 9:00 a.m. – Informational Briefing: Office of Rural Prosperity, Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers—Rural Revitalization Committee

Reminder of Dates

Thursday,
March 27th
Last day to consider non-exempt bills not in originating chamber.
Friday,
April 5th
Drop Dead Day.  No bills considered after this date except bills vetoed by the Governor or Omnibus Appropriations bills.
Wednesday,
May 1st
Veto Session begins.
Friday,
May 17th
Day 90.

Contact Me

If you have any questions about the activities in my committees or want to share your views on any of the issues before the legislature, please feel free to email me or call my office.
 

Representative 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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