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Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich

Wrap up of Week 5
in the Kansas Legislature

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Virtual Meetings this week:

 
Most meetings are either Web Ex or in Zoom format this session. 

 
Monday, Feb. 8th Alzheimer’s Association
  Humane Society Legislative Fund
Tuesday, Feb. 9th Kansas Interfaith Action
Wed, Feb. 10th Kansas Passenger Rail Caucus 
Thurs, Feb. 11th SNCO Medical Society
  METL with local Chamber hosting
  American Heart Association

My Committee Work

 
Financial Institutions/Insurance – (Same committee members, same Chair).
  • Bills we will have hearings on next week:
    • -SB 135 — Providing membership in the KP&F retirement system for security officers of the Department of Corrections.
    • -SB 178 — Providing for Trust Company charter conversions.
Education
  • Bills we will have hearings on next week.
    • -SB 173 — Extending the high-density at-risk student weighting, requiring certain transfers to the at-risk fund of a school district and establishing requirements for school district at-risk fund expenditures and for identification of students eligible to receive at-risk programs and services.
    • -SB 144 — Making the high-density at-risk student weighting of the Kansas school equity and enhancement act permanent by removing the sunset.
    • -SB 93 — Requiring the allocation of sufficient school district moneys to improve academic performance of underachieving students.
       
  • Deliberations Agency Budgets
    • -Kansas State Department of Education
    • -Kansas School for the Deaf
    • -Kansas School for the Blind
Federal and State Affairs
  • Bills we will have hearings on next week.
    • -SB 108 — Creating the Veterans Benefit Lottery Game Fund and transferring moneys to veterans service programs.
    • SB 109 — Requiring the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office to submit an initial application for a VA State Veterans Home Construction grant.
    • -SB 190 — Creating the Kansas Protection of Firearm Rights Act to restore the right to possess a firearm upon expungement of certain convictions.
    • -SB 181 — Creating the Elevator Safety Act to require inspections of elevators and licensure for elevator installation and repair.
       
  • Confirmation hearing on: Colonel Michael T. Venerdi- Brigadier General and Director of the Joint Staff, Kansas National Guard, at the pleasure of the Governor.
     
  • Hearing on Agency Budgets:
    • -Kansas Lottery
    • -Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission
 
Transportation
  • Bills we will have hearings on next week.
    • -SB 116 — Decreasing the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program Alternate Delivery Project Threshold, authorizing usage of federal stimulus funds and KDOT bonding authority.
    • -SB 127 — Modifying the eligibility requirements for restricted driving privileges, increasing the age for eligibility to renew drivers' licenses online to 65 and allowing drivers' license renewal notices to be sent electronically.
    • -SB101 — Approving the operation and use of electric-assisted bicycles and regulating the use thereof.
    • -SB20 — Designating a portion of United States highway 69 as the Senator Dennis Wilson Memorial Highway.
    • -SB-26 — Designating a portion of K-7 as the Senator Bud Burke Memorial Highway.

Final Action Items

 
Senate Bill 61 –  Expanding the Low Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program
 
This week, the Senate debated SB 61, a bill to expand the Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program. As a lifelong educator, I am passionate about the work done in our public schools to educate Kansas children. The current program provides tax credits to individuals to fund scholarships to students who receive free lunch and only those students in the 100 lowest performing elementary schools.  SB 61 would expand the eligibility to children who receive free or reduced lunches in Kansas and be available to children in any public school in Kansas.
The expansion parameters no longer focus on the original intent…..kids living in poverty (free lunch students) and giving them options if they attend school in the 100 lowest performing elementary schools in Kansas.
 
Unnecessarily expanding this program provides a distinct advantage to urban school districts, especially those in Wichita and KCK, who make up 93 percent of the current scholarships. More than half of Kansas counties (59) do not have a private school and would not be able to utilize this program. It is particularly difficult to establish equity across our state in urban and rural schools with education dollars.  We should not put students and communities at a further disadvantage by diverting money from the system and leaving 59 counties out of the program. 
We have a constitutional duty to educate the children of this state in our public schools.  The unintended consequences of this bill will likely erode our public school system by taking students out of high performing schools and diverting tax dollars to private schools.  For these reasons, I voted NO. It passed the Senate 24-14.
 
Senate Bill 22 – Tax Bill

This week, the Senate debated SB 22, aimed at tax reform. I support many of the provisions of this bill, as evidenced by the fact I am on record having supported them before. However, the Legislature has yet to put together a budget or finalize changes to the Kansas Emergency Management Act.  It would be irresponsible to pass a bill with a fiscal note that is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars without first taking care of our obligations. 

I whole-heartedly support tax reform in our state, but I think we have to be conservative in our approach and responsible in our actions.  This bill tries to be all things to all people, which just isn't realistic. We need to set some priorities and take one step at a time. We have seen the ramifications of going too far, too fast and we do not want to spend the next several years fixing that problem, rather than building upon incremental progress. 
 
Again, I support many measures included in this bill, such as allowing families to itemize on state taxes and helping businesses by “decoupling” the Kansas and federal tax code.  However, several other items were added to SB 22 during floor debate that I could support, such as raising the standard deduction and exempting social security and retirement benefits from income taxes, but…we did not have a fiscal note on the cost of these additions….some estimating it could be as much as  $1 billion dollars in 3 years.
 
With the many unknowns and the size of the fiscal note, I was not able to support it. I agreed with the Chair of Senate Ways and Means who voted NO and echoed my thoughts….”not knowing our exact costs, we haven’t put our budget together yet and we need to balance our budget.”  I look forward to continuing work on our constitutional obligations and continuing debate on how we can responsibly enact tax reform, which I hope includes a reduction in the sales tax on food.  I voted NO. It passed the Senate, 24 to 15.
 
SB 32 allows school districts to pay the tuition for a student's dual or concurrent enrollment in a postsecondary educational institution and requiring a tuition waiver for foster children who are dually or concurrently enrolled. Passed the Senate 39-0.

SB 36 permits employees of salvage vehicle pools to perform vehicle identification number inspections and salvage vehicle pools and dealers to apply for ownership documents for vehicles that are disclaimed by insurance companies. Passed the Senate 39-0.
 
SB 55 would clarify the authority of healing arts school clinics to provide healing arts services. The bill would allow schools statutorily exempted from State Board of Regents  approval requirements to be exempted from the prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine. Passed the Senate 39-0.

SB 58 would add a provision to the Kansas Criminal Code that would prohibit the filing of certain liens or claims against real or personal property and provide for criminal penalties in such instances. Passed the Senate 39-0.

SB 64 amends the Kansas Private and Out-of-State Postsecondary Education Institution Act to clarify the State Board of Regents’ authority over private and out-of-state institutions. The bill would allow an institution currently exempt from the Act to apply to the Board for a certificate of approval if it is required for the institution to be eligible to receive federal Title IV student financial aid. Passed the Senate 39-0.

SB 70 repeals the sunset on an exclusion of certain motor vehicle manufacturer rebates from the selling price for sales tax purposes. Current law excludes cash rebates granted by manufacturers to purchasers or lessees of new motor vehicles if such rebates are paid directly to retailers, but this provision is scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2021. Additionally, the bill would exclude discounts and coupons that are reimbursed by a third party from the definition of “sales or selling price” for the purpose of Kansas retail sales tax.  Passed the Senate 26-11


COVID Vaccination Information

 

Reminder…the best source of information for receiving vaccinations in Phase 2 is through the local health department.  If you have any questions or issues that I can help you with regarding the vaccination distribution process….please call me at any time.  785-296-7648.
 
For Shawnee County:

Individuals or organizations that fit the criteria and are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 2 are encouraged to complete the following survey:

https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6149227/Shawnee-County-Health-Department-COVID-19-Vaccine-Interest-Form

For Wabaunsee County:

The website www.wbcounty.org  contains useful information from the Health Department.

There is a relatively new web-site that is being updated regularly with COVID Vaccine information from KDHE that might be of interest, as well. It is located at www.KansasVaccine.gov
 

Follow our work in the Legislature

In this time of COVID and a lack of public access to our Chambers, if you are interested in actually seeing what we are doing, then I encourage you to find us “virtually.”

Here are links to help you:

Kansas Legislature YouTube – Here you can follow the legislature live as it happens, or access archives of past sessions and committee meetings.

Kansas Legislature Audio – Here you can listen in on session or committees when they are in session, or access prior committee meetings, as well.

Kansas Legislature website – www.kslegislature.org - has extensive information on legislators, committees, bills, and past sessions.
 

Contact Me

Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do for you.  I am honored to represent you in the Kansas Legislature.
 
STATEHOUSE OFFICE:
Room 223-E
State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-7648
Brenda.Dietrich@senate.ks.gov
 
HOME:
Brenda S. Dietrich
6110 SW 38th Terrace
Topeka, KS   66610
Home phone:  785-861-7065
 

Contact Brenda

6110 SW 38th Terrace
Topeka, KS   66610
Home phone:  785-861-7065
Email Brenda


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