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Dear Friend:


It is hard to believe that the 2017 session is rapidly nearing the half-way point. On February 24th the legislature will recess for one week. This point in the process is referred to as “Turn Around.”  Bills from committees that are not exempt committees must pass in their chamber of origination in order to remain viable. Exempt committees include Appropriations, Tax and Federal and State Affairs. These committees have no deadline for bills assigned to them. The pace of work will increase dramatically between now and then.
 

HB 2049 Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act
The committee I chair, Corrections and Juvenile Justice, recently passed HB 2049, the “Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act.” This bill provides for enhanced penalties for those who commit a felony crime against a law enforcement officer, whether on duty or off duty, when the motivation for targeting the individual is proven to be that the individual was targeted because they are a law enforcement officer. A greater prison sentence will be imposed by the court when victim selection is based upon the status of the victim being a law enforcement officer. The House passed this bill on a vote of 112 to 8. I voted in favor of this bill as law enforcement officers place themselves in harms way to protect the citizens of the state. Targeting a law enforcement officer for a criminal act because they are a law enforcement officer deserves a more significant legal response.  I appreciate the work of our dedicated law enforcement officers and feel we should do all we can to protect them from the criminal element in our society.

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Serving the citizens of GreeleyHamiltonKearny, 
and parts of FinneyGrant, and Haskell Counties in Western Kansas.
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Committees:

State Budget
The House Appropriations Committee is continuing work on a Fiscal Year 2017 rescission budget.  There remains a $320 million budget shortfall in the current year even though tax revenues over the past two months were higher than projections.  It is becoming clear that continued reductions in payments to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System are not embraced by many members.  It is also clear that the House is not likely to support a current year cut to public schools.  With these two options removed from the discussion, it is quite likely there will be serious consideration to borrowing the needed funds from the Pooled Money Investment Board with a provision to repay the loan over the next several years.  This solution will allow for state government operations to continue and for schools to avoid a mid- year cut in their operating budgets that could lead to an early end of the school year or staff reductions.  I expect we will resolve the current year budget crisis in the next two weeks.  This process is one of making a choice between a series of bad choices with an eye towards making the least bad choice available.
 

State Taxes
The House Taxation Committee advanced a tax proposal February 9th that will receive consideration by the full House soon. The tax proposal seeks to assure adequate revenue is available to meet state operational needs without continued elimination of highway preservation projects, cuts to public education and higher education, redirection of funds from the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System and other one-time fixes to the ongoing budget crisis facing the state.  Perhaps most importantly, it restores balance and structure to our tax code.
 
The proposal includes restoring taxation on businesses and pass through income, the so called “LLC loophole.)  The proposal also restores the deductibility of health care expenses and increases in the tax rate for all income.  The table below illustrates the various tax rates that were in effect prior to the 2012 tax reform bill and what the new rates will be if this legislation is passed.  It is expected that this tax package will generate approximately $570 million in revenue to meet state budget requirements.  A vote on this proposal will likely be taken in advance of our break later this month.  Nobody likes to have their taxes increased.  While the impact of this proposal from one year to the next will be an increase, when comparing the tax rates in place prior to the 2012 tax legislation to the proposed legislation, Kansans will have experienced a net reduction in their state tax burden ranging from 22.8% for the lowest income earners to 15.5% for the highest income earners.
 
Income Level Pre-2012 Tax Rate Proposed New Rate Net Rate Change Tax Burden Decrease
Single under $15,000
Married under $30,000
3.5% 2.7 -.8% -22.8%
Single over $15,000
Married Over $30,000
6.25% 5.25 -1% -16%
Single $50,000
Married $100,000
6.45% 5.45% -1% -15.5%
 
I am committed to assuring that critical state functions have the resources needed to perform their duties while keeping the tax burden of citizens at the lowest level possible.  I expect a very lively debate will be had on this tax proposal.  I welcome your thoughts on this and all issues facing our state.

 
Please feel free to drop in at my office located in Room 151S of the Capitol, call me at my Topeka office at 785-296-7447 or email me at: russ.jennings@house.ks.gov during the session. 
 
Thank you for the opportunity to serve!


Sincerely,

Rep. Russ Jennings
District 122
Serving Southwest Kansas
Copyright © 2017 Paid for by Jennings for Southwest Kansas, Judy Jennings, Treasurer, All rights reserved.


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