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Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich
 

Wrap up of Week 12
in the Kansas Legislature


This next week is our last week of regular session. The Legislature will take a 3-week break from April 9 – May 3rd when we will come back for Veto session. Beginning on Tuesday, April 6th we are in Conference Committees and on the floor. We will gavel in at 10:00 a.m. each day, Tuesday through Friday.

Contact Brenda

This Week at the Statehouse

Final Action the Week of March 29 - 31

This was a 3-day week spent on the floor and most days
we ended our work between 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 pm.


 SB 50 – This is a tax bill that has several components.
  • It will equalize sales tax between on-line companies and our brick and mortar businesses.  It will require the collection and remittance of certain taxes by marketplace facilitators and out of state retailers, but establishes a threshold of $100,000, in accordance with the Supreme Court Wayfair decision.
  • Unemployment Fraud:  The bill would clarify that victims of identity theft would not owe Kansas individual income tax on unemployment compensation that was fraudulently obtained by another individual.
  • Helping Middle Class Families:  Beginning in tax year 2021, the bill would provide individual income taxpayers the option to take Kansas itemized deductions regardless of whether deductions are itemized or the standard deduction is claimed for federal income tax purposes. The bill would, beginning in tax year 2021, increase the standard deduction amounts to $3,500 for single filers; $6,000 for single head of household filers; and $8,000 for married filers filing jointly. These amounts are currently set at $3,000; $5,500; and $7,500, respectively.
  • Helping Kansas Employers: The bill contains a number of provisions to de-couple Kansas tax law from federal tax law, allowing Kansas employers keep money in Kansas and establish certainty going forward, helping keep jobs in our state.  Passed 30-10.  I voted YES.
 
HB 2039 – This bill would require students to pass the Naturalization Test (128 multiple choice questions) “Civics” test in order to graduate with a high school diploma. The bill would require the civics test be composed of a total of 60 questions selected from the naturalization test administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. The bill would also require, for grades 11 and 12, a personal financial literacy course to be at least one semester or two quarters in length.  Passed  24-15.  I voted NO.  This is a local control issue.  Our Boards of Education determine curriculum and graduation requirements, not the Legislature. Teaching to a test does not make better citizens. We already teach civics in American Government classes and financial literacy in our math curriculum. This is government over-reach.  It barely passed the House on a vote of 69 -54.

S Sub for HB 2074 This is a bill to bring “TEFFIs” to Kansas, short for “Technology Enabled Fiduciary Financial Institutions.”  If it becomes law, Kansas will be the preferred jurisdiction for TEFFIs to serve alternative asset investors from across the United States.  Under the bill, Kansas trusts will be established by investors across the United States to hold their alternative asset investments, which will repay loans made by Kansas TEFFIs and provide cash flow to benefit Kansas “economic growth zones”, which largely overlap Rural Opportunity Zones. 

Upon establishing a Kansas Trust which borrows from a TEFFI, the TEFFI customer will be required to make upfront “Mandatory Economic Growth Contributions” representing 2.5% of the asset value of the Kansas Trust, which will fund the  Economic Growth Zones.  It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t and there is no risk to the state.

The potential benefits of the legislation are significant, with the ability to boost the Kansas economy in myriad of ways, including:

Job & Income Growth
  • Small Community Main Street Economic Expansion
  • Construction Development
  • Education Facility Improvements
  • Health Care & Senior Facility Enhancements
  • Joint Ventures & Collaboration with University Systems
It passed 40 – 0.  I voted YES.

Senate Sub. for HB 2153, also known as the Child Advocate Act. This Act would establish the Office of the Child Advocate within the Office of the Attorney General and also create the Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight.

The purpose of the Office would be to receive and resolve complaints from legislators and from persons involved with the child welfare system alleging that the Department for Children and Families (DCF), DCF’s contracting agencies, or the Department of Corrections has provided inadequate protection or care of children and assist the Legislature in conducting oversight of the child welfare system to improve the safety and welfare of children.

By placing the Child Advocate in the Attorney General’s office, it maximizes the ability for decisions to be completely removed from political considerations. For years, administrations from both parties have struggled with problems within DCF, and the creation of a Child Advocate ensures the children will finally have a voice speaking for them.  Passed 31-4.  I voted YES.
 
SB 199 - This bill short-term medical plan that does not cover any pre-existing  conditions. This is insurance that doesn’t cover mental illness, maternity care, prescription drugs or treatment for substance abuse, or any other pre-existing condition…. and a lot of folks call this junk insurance because you might as well just pretend you have coverage. If you have anything in between routine care and cataclysm, you really do not. It is cheap…and some people believe it is better than having no insurance at all and it is an affordable option for some folks.  For those reasons, and the many emails I received from constituents who have used short-term insurance for their college-aged students or extenuating personal circumstances, I “Passed” on this bill.  It eventually Passed 27-6, with seven Senators “passing”. 

SB 100This bill would acknowledge those challenges faced by individuals whose driver’s licenses have been suspended for failure to comply with a traffic citation and then driving under a suspended license because they cannot legally drive to work to pay the fine, which compounds their suspension and fines. Approximately 140,000 Kansans have driver’s license suspensions related to debt (they cannot drive to work in order to earn an income to pay the fine) but the suspension is not related to traffic safety. This would amend, in a statute requiring suspension of a driver’s license for driving when the person’s driving privileges are canceled, suspended, or revoked, a provision requiring the Division of Vehicles to extend a period of suspension or revocation an additional 90 days, to state the suspension or revocation shall not be extended for any additional time if the person’s license was suspended for failure to comply with a traffic citation. Passed the Senate 40-0.

SB 265 – This bill would authorize the Governor’s allotment for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) Death and Disability Program and institute a moratorium on all payments made by KPERS employers for Fiscal Year 2021. This bill would statutorily suspend payments made by the State of Kansas to the Group Insurance Reserve Fund, which is used for the KPERS Death and Disability Program for public employees, from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. For other participating local employers, the bill would statutorily suspend payments to the fund from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. SB 265 would statutorily authorize the Governor’s allotment for the Death and Disability. Passed 39-1. I voted YES.

SB 304  - This bill would remove the expiration date of May 1, 2021, contained in the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Privacy Act. Passed 26-14.  I voted NO.  This is a public health issue that needs to be used, as needed, to ensure we can track community spread of COVID-19. This is the process of finding and identifying people in close contact with someone who is infected with a contagious disease.  Contact tracing has been in use since the 1500’s. Smallpox was eradicated in large part due to contact tracing efforts by the World Health Organization.

HB 2064This bill would amend provisions in the Kansas Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) Act relating to participating members’ election and extension of their DROP periods. The bill would allow an enrolled member who previously elected a DROP period of less than five years to revoke such election, with the employer’s authorization, and extend their DROP period to an aggregate maximum of five years upon making an application to the system. This bill only applies to the Kansas Highway Patrol and the KBI. Passed 40-0.

HB 2077This bill would amend law related to the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission and the Kansas Closed Case Task Force.  Passed 39-1.

HB 2079This bill would transfer certain duties from the Secretary of State to the Attorney General. The bill would amend the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act to transfer responsibilities related to registration under the Act from the Secretary of State to the Attorney General.  It would also amend statutes regarding a substitute mailing address program (“Safe at Home” program) for certain victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking, to transfer responsibility for administering the Safe at Home program from the Secretary of State to the Attorney General.  The bill was a joint effort between the two offices, and the Safe at Home program would be a better fit in the Office of the Attorney General. No other testimony was provided. Passed 37-3. I voted YES.

 HB 2085This bill would create the Students’ Right to Know Act. It would require the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to ensure the distribution of certain information to all students in grades 7 through 12. Information to be distributed would include:
  • The State Board of Regents degree prospectus information;
  • The placement and salary report of the Kansas Training Information Program; and
  • Any other information relevant to students’ understanding of potential earnings as determined by the Department of Labor and each branch of the armed services of the U.S. military. Passed 40-0.
 HB 2101This bill is meant to encourage students to complete engineering degrees in Kansas.  This bill would extend the current transfer of the first $10.5 million credited to the Expanded Lottery Act Revenues Fund (ELARF) from ELARF to the Kan-grow engineering fund - KU, the Kan-grow engineering fund - KSU, and the Kan-grow engineering fund - WSU with each such engineering fund receiving equal amounts of $3.5 million in each fiscal year (FY), for FY 2023 through FY 2032. The transfer first occurred in FY 2013 and is currently scheduled to end with the transfer in FY 2022. The bill would also amend the goal of the University Engineering Initiative Act to continue to generate the same number of engineering graduates per year as is currently set for 2021, 1,365 graduates, to meet the needs of the engineering workforce for as long as the university engineering initiative act is financed with annual transfers from the ELARF.  Passed 37-2. I voted YES.

HB 2106 – This bill would clarify that victims of identity theft would not owe Kansas individual income tax on any compensation that was fraudulently obtained by another individual and would require the Department of Revenue to provide a method for any taxpayer to report whether the taxpayer was a victim of fraud and the amount of fraudulent income for the taxpayer reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
  • It would extend the deadline for the filing of Kansas corporation income tax returns to one month after the due date established under federal law.
  • It would provide that for tax year 2021, for wages paid to employees temporarily teleworking in a state other than their primary work location, employers would have the option to withhold income taxes based on the state of each employee’s primary work location instead of the state where the employee in which the employee is teleworking.
  • It was amended on the floor to exempt social security benefits and amounts received by retired individuals under all retirement plans from the Kansas income tax to the extent such income is included in federal adjusted gross income. Passed 24-15. I voted NO because the amendment would reduce revenues by at least $100M and it was not vetted in Committee.  I rarely vote yes on amendments because it circumvents the committee process.
HB 2114 – This bill would establish the Kansas Senior Care Task Force. The bill would outline the topics to be studied by the Task Force, provide for the appointment and compensation of Task Force members, establish the frequency and location of meetings, require a preliminary and a final report to the Legislature, and require the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) to provide the Task Force with data and information that is not prohibited or restricted from disclosure by state and federal law. The Task Force would be required to study the following topics:
  • Provision of care for Kansas seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other agerelated mental health conditions;
  • Administration of antipsychotic medication to adult care home residents;
  • Safeguards to prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of seniors in the state;
  • Adult care home surveys and fines;
  • Funding and implementation of the Senior Care Act;
  • Senior daycare resources in the state; and
  • Re-balancing of home and community based services.
Passed 38-2. I voted YES.

HB 2121 – This bill would amend the penalties for the crime of mistreatment of a dependent adult or elder person, define the term “absconds from supervision,” and amend law regarding sureties and delivery of a person arrested. The bill would amend the crime of mistreatment of a dependent adult or elder person to raise the penalty:
  • From a severity level 5 person felony to a severity level 2 person felony when the crime involves infliction of physical injury, unreasonable confinement, or unreasonable punishment, and the victim is a dependent adult who is a resident of an adult care home during the commission of the offense; and
  • From a severity level 8 person felony to a severity level 5 person felony, when the crime involves omission or deprivation of treatment, goods, or services that are necessary to maintain physical or mental health of the victim, and the victim is a dependent adult who is a resident of an adult care home during the commission of the offense. Passed 40-0.
 
S Sub HB 2196This bill would create the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council; require the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) to modernize its information technology (IT) infrastructure; make temporary changes to the membership of the Employment Security Review Board; make changes to Employment Security Rates tables; require the Secretary of Labor to provide tax notifications and certain Employment Security Fund Data Reporting; provide for certain employer account protections; provide for transfers of federal coronavirus relief aid or State General Fund moneys to the Employment Security Fund; prohibit the continuation of federal unemployment compensation programs using state funds; adjust thresholds for maximum benefits; modify the shared work program; and make other employment security compensation changes. Passed 40-0.

S Sub HB 2201This bill would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to let to construction on any modernization or expansion project under the Eisenhower Program that would utilize federal stimulus funds regardless of whether at least one phase of each of the remaining Transportation Works for Kansas Program (T-Works) modernization and expansion projects has been let. Passed 40-0.

S Sub HB 2208 – This bill would enact the Rural Emergency Hospital Act and create a category of licensure to enable certain Kansas hospitals to receive federal health care reimbursement as rural emergency hospitals. The bill would require benefits coverage for services provided by rural emergency hospitals if covered when performed by a general hospital or critical access hospital. Passed 38-2. I voted YES.

HB 2244This bill would amend the Commercial Industrial Hemp Act to transfer registration and regulation of industrial hemp processors currently regulated by the Kansas Department of Agriculture to the State Fire Marshal. The bill would also amend law regarding the disposal of industrial hemp; the definition of “hemp products”; unlawful marketing, selling, or distributing hemp products without registration or licensure; and an exception for transportation of industrial hemp between producers and processors. Passed 35-4. I voted YES.

HB 2247This bill designates several highways and bridges across Kansas as memorial highways and bridges, naming them after certain individuals who served Kansas in distinguished ways, including veterans and former elected officials. You can click here for the Supplemental Note that lists the highways, their names, and their locations.  Passed 40-0.

HB 2379This bill would enact the Peer-to-Peer (or P2P) Vehicle Sharing Program Act, which would allow the authorized use of a shared vehicle by an individual other than the shared vehicle’s owner through a P2P program. Passed 39-1.

HB 2390This bill would amend the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) to make certain temporary exceptions in current law permanent. Passed 40-0. 
 
HB 2391This bill would revise and update certain provisions pertaining to business and other related filings and repeal obsolete laws, related to the Secretary of StatePassed 40-0.

SB 283 – This bill extends several provisions of law related to COVID-19
  • In the statute authorizing the use of telemedicine, the bill would amend a provision allowing an out-of-state physician to practice telemedicine to treat Kansas patients, to replace a requirement that such physician notify the State Board of Healing Arts and meet certain conditions with a requirement that the physician hold a temporary emergency license granted by the Board. The expiration date of these sections also would be extended for one year, from March 31, 2021, until March 31, 2022.
  • The bill would amend a statute allowing the Board to grant temporary emergency licenses to practice the professions overseen by the Board to add a provision allowing an applicant to practice in Kansas pursuant to such license upon submission of a non-resident health care provider certification form to the Kansas Health Care Stabilization Fund and without paying the annual premium surcharge required by the Health Care Provider Insurance Availability Act. The expiration date of these sections also would be extended for one year, from March 31, 2021, until March 31, 2022.
  • The bill would amend the COVID-19 Response and Reopening for Business Liability Protection Act to extend the expiration date of the statute governing COVID-19 claim immunity for persons or agents of persons conducting business in the state by one year, until March 31, 2022.
  • The bill would amend a statute in the Act regarding immunity for healthcare providers related to COVID-19 to specify such immunity would apply to claims arising between March 12, 2020, and March 31, 2022, and remove references to a declared state of disaster emergency. Passed 30-10.  I voted YES.
 
HB 2021The bill would authorize the Kansas Development Finance Authority (KDFA), on and after July 1, 2021, to issue bonds, not to exceed $10.5 million, for the purpose of financing the construction of a state veterans home facility located in northeast Kansas, including, but not limited to, in Douglas, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Shawnee, and Wyandotte counties. Passed 40-0.

HB 2143This bill would extend the sunset on an exclusion of certain motor vehicle manufacturer rebates from the selling price for sales tax purposes to June 30, 2024. Passed 39-0.

HB 2245This bill authorizes the Division of Vehicles of the Department of Revenue, to collect emergency contact information and would provide for the use of such information by law enforcement agencies. Passed 40-0.
 
S Sub SB 2104This bill would amend law related to the list of eligible county appraisers, the qualifications of county and district appraisers, appraisal standards, Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) administration and membership, property valuation appeals, judicial review of property tax disputes, BOTA membership, and school district budget certification. Passed 25-14. I voted YES.

SB 124This bill reauthorizes and amends several provisions related to the STAR Bonds program. The bill would alter the eligibility requirements for a project under the program by increasing the minimum required capital investment and projected gross annual sales amounts from $50.0 million each to $75.0 million each or $40.0 million each if the project is in a metropolitan area with a population between 50,000 and 75,000 and the project is deemed of high value by the Secretary. It would also include rural redevelopment projects, as defined in the bill, as being eligible to utilize the program. Passed 30-9. I voted YES.

HB 2238This bill would remove a $500,000 limit on gifts school districts, governing bodies of cities, or both jointly are able to accept for the express purpose of the construction or furnishing of a library. Passed 40-0.

HB 2295This bill would exempt municipal motor grader vehicles from requirements of the Kansas Uniform Commercial Drivers’ License Act. Passed 40-0.

SB 181This bill would create the Elevator Safety Act. The Act would establish requirements for licensure of elevator contractors, mechanics, and inspectors; require elevators to be certified as having been annually inspected; establish the Elevator Safety Advisory Board (Board); assign duties of implementation and administration of the Act to the State Fire Marshal; establish fees for licensure; establish penalties for violation of the Act; and establish the Elevator Safety Fee Fund. Passed 32-7. I voted YES.

SB 290This bill would amend coverage requirements specified in the Health Care Provider Insurance Availability Act (HCPIAA) for all new and renewal professional liability insurance policies for defined health care providers. Beginning January 1, 2022, the bill would increase the required minimum professional liability insurance coverage (termed “basic coverage”) maintained by a defined health care provider from $200,000 per claim and $600,000 per year aggregate to $500,000 per claim and $1,500,000 per year aggregate. Passed 30-10. I voted YES.

HB 2134This bill would codify the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Credit for Reinsurance Model Regulation into statute and amend the Kansas credit for reinsurance statute to add another condition under which a ceding insurer is permitted credit for reinsurance. The bill also would make technical amendments. Passed 38-2. I voted YES.

HB 2165This bill would define all vehicles more than 35 years old as an antique vehicle. Passed 40-0.

HB 2167This bill would add two exceptions to law requiring a license plate to be attached to the rear of a motor vehicle. The bill would allow concrete mixer trucks the option to display a license plate on the front of the vehicle rather than on the rear of the vehicle and would require a dump truck with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more to display a license plate on the front of the vehicle. The requirement for a dump truck to display a license plate on the front of the vehicle would not apply to a vehicle registered as a farm truck. Passed 40-0.

HB 2203This bill would establish the Asbestos Remediation Fund. Passed 40-0.

HB 2218This bill would amend law governing the implementation and administration of the State Health Care Benefits Program to add language regarding the role of the State Employees Health Care Commission, modify the membership and leadership requirements of the Commission, and specify additional reporting information to be provided to the Legislature. Passed 37-2.

SB 172This bill would protect critical infrastructure in Kansas. It would amend the Kansas Criminal Code regarding crimes involving property by establishing four new crimes: trespassing on a critical infrastructure facility (CIF), aggravated trespassing on a CIF, criminal damage to a CIF, and aggravated criminal damage to a CIF. The bill would also allow a judge to order restitution for property damage to any victim of the four new crimes. This bill had previously passed the Senate and removed a handful of provisions to ensure it did not limit First Amendment rights. Passed 37-2. I voted YES.

HCR 5015 –  Federal Impact on State Elections
The Senate followed the House in adopting HCR 5015, which urges the United States Congress to revoke HR1/SR1. If you have not followed this issue, the bill the U.S. House passed along party lines would interfere with the ability of states to conduct their own elections with their own rules. This is a Resolution, which has no teeth…..it just sends a message to our Congressional Delegation.  Resolution passed 28-11. I voted YES.

HB 2332 – This bill would require any third-party who sends out advance voting applications to identify who they are, who the head of their organization is, and a clear statement indicating it is not mailed from the government. We had several confusing mailings during the last election and this would clarify who is sending the Advance Voting Application.  It would also prevent the Governor, the Secretary of State, or the Judicial Branch from altering election laws during an election, as occurred last year in some states. It also broadened the definition of election tampering.  Passed 28-12.  I voted YES.

S Sub for HB 2183 – This is an election bill that has one section I spoke against. Some of the components are simply codifying in law what we currently do in our Election Offices and to make it clear that some actions have consequences. For example….It would make it unlawful for any person to knowingly backdate or otherwise alter a postmark or other official indication of the date of mailing of an advance mail ballot.   It would prohibit a county election officer from accepting an advance voting ballot transmitted by mail unless they first verify the signature on an advance voting ballot envelope matches the signature on file in the county voter registration records. If the signature of a person on the advance voting ballot envelope did not match the signature on file, the ballot would not be counted.  Our offices do this now. It would remove the authority of the Secretary of State to extend the deadline for receiving advance mail ballots. This did not happen in Kansas, but it did in other states.  It would also prohibit any person from delivering an advance voting ballot on behalf of another person, unless the person submits an accompanying written statement at the time of delivery, signed by both the voter and the person delivering the ballot….and one person can only assist with 5 ballots or it is a felony.  This is the section I strongly objected to and asked that it be addressed during Conference Committee.  This is an issue for our elderly and disabled or anyone living in a congregate setting…it creates an obstacle for them that is unfair.  My remarks are in the Journal. Passed 28-12.  I reluctantly voted YES.

Confirmations:

The Senate voted to confirm two appointments:
Daniel Klucas, Office of the State Securities Commissioner – 35-5.  I voted YES.
Appointed by Kansas Insurance Commissioner 

Amber Shultz, Secretary of Labor – Passed 40-0
Appointed by the Governor
 

COVID Vaccination Information



All Adults Can Now Get Vaccines in Kansas .  All adults in Kansas are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as the state enters its final phase of its vaccination prioritization plan. The final phase makes everyone age 16 and older, about 400,000 additional Kansans, eligible for the vaccine.

You can use the “Find My Vaccine” tool at KansasVaccine.Gov to find a vaccine provider close to you. 
 

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

 
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