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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • News fromt the Statehouse

  • The second week of the 2013 legislative session was a short one due to the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday.
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  • News from the Statehouse - Week Two
    The second week of the 2013 legislative session was a short one due to the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday. Committee work is beginning to pick up with more bills introduced and more bills being received for consideration. Perhaps most significant this week though, was the House debate of rules to govern
    the body for the 2013 and 2014 sessions. The House votes every two years to adopt such a set of rules and next
    Monday the House will take a final vote of approval on those proposed for the next two sessions. Things will only continue to pick up next week and I look forward to keeping you informed of the legislative progress being made.
    Tax Policy
    Last week, I discussed the governor's State of the State to continue Kansas on a path to no state income tax. As
    you might imagine, this issue continues to be on the front burner this session. While the governor's tax bill has
    not yet entered the committee process, the governor has provided some more details of what he will propose in
    this regard.
    As I noted last week, the governor would like to see the state's bottom individual income rate reduced from
    3% to 2.5% in tax year 2014 and then to 1.9% in tax year 2016. Additionally, as was too noted last week, he
    would like to reduce the current top tax rate of 4.9% to 3.5% in tax year 2017. The reductions in the bottom
    rate would equate to reductions of 16% and 24%, respectively and the reduction of the top rate would equate to
    a 28% reduction. In total, these reductions would account for $500 million in tax relief for Kansas taxpayers
    and the governor proposes that any revenue above 4% be used to further ratchet down the rates.
    I have also previously noted that in exchange for lowering the overall rates, the governor's plan would leave
    the sales tax flat at its current rate and would also eliminate some current income tax deductions. The proposed
    deductions to eliminate would be the mortgage interest deduction and the property tax deduction. Again,
    changes to the itemized deduction at the state level do not impact federal itemized deductions, such as the
    federal mortgage interest deduction; these will remain in place.
    Resulting from the tax bill signed last year, the current law for tax year 2013 doubles the standard deduction
    from $4,500 to $9,000 for single head-of-household filers and increases by 50% the deduction for married
    couples filing jointly from $6,000 to $9,000. The governor points out that 70% of Kansans use the standard
    deduction and therefore would not be affected by the elimination of the itemized deductions such as the
    Page 2 of 3 - mortgage interest or property tax deduction. Also, the value of itemized deductions is significantly reduced
    when large reductions to the overall rates are made and the standard deduction is substantially increased.
    The House is committed to working this session to providing further tax relief for Kansans and to creating a
    competitive business environment. The private market is where production occurs and in order for Kansas to be
    competitive for jobs, state government must leave more money in the pockets of Kansans. Job creators tend to
    go where the money is and for too long Kansas' high taxes have driven them to states where there is little or no
    state income tax like Texas and Florida. The House will no doubt follow the governor's lead in this area so that
    money for job creators is available here in Kansas.
    Pay Go
    This year the House Rules Committee again included the rule Pay Go. This rule states for any amendment to an
    appropriations bill on the House floor which seeks to increase spending, an equal amount of spending must be
    found and reduced for the amendment to be debated. This simple rule helps the House keep a firm grasp on the
    spending levels of the state of Kansas. The rule in no way limits debate or prevents a legitimate amendment to
    fund a certain program from entering the bill, the only issue is spending must be reduced as well. This rule is
    set by the House and under certain extraneous circumstances can be suspended; however, this is not typical.
    Over the past two years the House has had the Pay Go rule in place with great success. We have been able to
    hold the line on spending and ensure the state has a healthy ending balance. This has been critical for ensuring
    the state can pay school districts on time, be able to fund disaster relief, and provide agencies with some
    certainty in funding. Next Monday, the House will vote to retain this important budgetary tool in HR 6004.
    Second Amendment Issues
    Several bills are forthcoming regarding sales, transfer, possession and all other aspects of guns, gun accessories,
    and other types of self defense weapons. These bills are designed to preserve and secure our Second
    Amendment Rights.
    Constitutional Amendments
    There are two Constitutional Amendments that are being worked. One is regarding the judicial selection process
    and the other is known as the Economic Freedom Amendment.
    For anyone wanting to track the events at the Statehouse and learn more about the issues, please go to
    Page 3 of 3 - kslegislature.org.
    As bills start coming out of their assigned committees, the next few weeks promise to be fast paced as we
    continue striving for an 80 day session in lieu of the normal 90 days.
    The best legislation involves a collaborative effort between the people and their representatives. I encourage
    you to let me know your thoughts on the issues discussed by the legislature and others which might be affecting
    you. Please feel free to call 785-296-7653 or e-mail at John.Bradford@house.ks.gov and I'd be happy to
    discuss any topic you are interested in. Thank you for the honor of serving you!

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