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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • News from the State House – Week Five

  • Friday marked the last day for non-exempt committees to introduce bills.
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  • News from the State House – Week Five
    Friday marked the last day for non-exempt committees to introduce bills. The House has deadlines for progress
    of bills to help ensure we end the session in the required 90 days. However, this year House leadership has set
    an ambitious goal of getting our work done and ending the session in 80 days. This is very possible, but only
    with hard deadlines like the one on Friday. Committees which are exempt, such as Tax and Appropriations,
    don't have the same time restrictions because their legislative areas typically take the most amount of time and
    are usually required to complete their work before the session can be adjourned.
    You can stay up-to-date with committee schedules and bills and find other helpful information regarding the
    happenings in the statehouse through the legislature's website, www.kslegislature.org. Please do not hesitate
    to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions. I enjoy hearing from you on the topics we are
    discussing in Topeka and I appreciate the perspective from those outside of the Statehouse.
    Kansas State University Day
    On Wednesday this week, the House congratulated Kansas State University for its 150th year as a university
    serving the state. With an enrollment of more than twenty-four thousand students across three campuses in the
    state, KSU is a world renowned research and teaching institution. The oldest land grant act university in the
    country, KSU offers more than 250+ majors and degree programs across a multitude of disciplines.
    Opening Session Prayer
    Each day the Legislature opens our session with a prayer by either the House Chaplain or by a visiting guest
    Chaplain/Minister. On Wednesday of this past week, Representative Willie Dove, District 38 (Bonner Springs/
    Basehor) gave the prayer in song as he sang the "Lord's Prayer. It was a moving and totally awesome event.
    Medicaid Expansion
    On Friday, February 8, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) released the results of an
    independent analysis, done by Aon Hewitt, on the potential enrollment and budget impact of the Affordable
    Care Act's (ACA) implementation to the state Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
    Assuming that moderate statewide population growth will continue and using CY2010 Medicaid/CHIP
    enrollment as a base, the study estimates that if the state chooses not to expand Medicaid, the Medicaid/CHIP
    enrollment will increase by 20,563 in CY2014, ramping up to 41,538 (23,740 for Medicaid and 17,798 for
    CHIP) by CY2016, when the ACA is expected to be fully implemented. The anticipated 10-year (CY2014-
    CY2023) state general fund (SGF) increase for no expansion will be $513 million.
    Page 2 of 4 - If the state chooses to expand Medicaid, Medicaid/CHIP enrollment will increase by 111,880 in CY2014,
    ramping up to 226,003 (25,416 from currently eligible Medicaid, 49,384 from currently eligible CHIP, and 151,
    203 from those newly eligible for Medicaid in CY2016, once the ACA is fully implemented. The anticipated
    10-year (CY2014-CY2023) SGF increase with expansion compared to no ACA will be $1.1 billion.
    Governor Brownback has not yet announced a decision on whether or not the state will expand Medicaid.
    Undoubtedly, an increase of $1.1 billion over ten years to state expenditures is a very significant increase that
    would have an impact on the state's ability to fund its other core responsibilities, such as education. If the
    state expands Medicaid, the ACA does state that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of
    the expansion for the first 3 years and then 90 percent after that. However, if the federal government, which
    is currently running trillion dollar deficits, is not able to make good on its offer, then the impact on the state
    budget would be even greater. (Comments received from officials in Washington D.C. is that the federal
    monies are just not there to fulfill their promises).
    Mortgage Interest Deduction
    This week, the Senate Taxation Committee approved an amended version of the governor's tax plan that he
    proposed at the beginning of the session. Like the governor's proposal, the Senate committee's bill eliminated
    the state mortgage interest deduction. While no tax plan has yet been acted on in the House and several
    different plans are being considered by the House Tax Committee, concern continues to grow over the possible
    elimination of this deduction and it is important to view it in the perspective of broader tax reform.
    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 percent the deduction for married
    couples filing jointly from $6,000 to $9,000. Currently, more than 70 percent of Kansans use the standard
    deduction when filing and will not be impacted by the elimination of itemized deductions, such as the mortgage
    interest deduction.
    It is also important to note that elimination of the mortgage interest deduction at the state level does not impact
    the federal mortgage interest deduction, which is much larger and would remain available to Kansans eligible to
    itemize. Furthermore, the value of itemized deductions at the state level is greatly reduced by the value of large
    reductions in overall tax rates and significant increases in standard deductions.
    Kansas Joins Dodd-Frank Lawsuit
    On Wednesday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced that the state has signed onto a multi-state lawsuit
    Page 3 of 4 - challenging a key provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Kansas
    joined 10 other states on the lawsuit pending before the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.
    The Dodd-Frank bill gives the secretary of the Treasury the ability to order the liquidation of financial
    institutions deemed "too big to fail." In filing the lawsuit, the attorney general noted that such authority
    undermines the property rights of shareholders of any such institutions, including holdings of the Kansas Public
    Employees Retirement System (KPERS).
    Attorney General Schmidt also observed that the new power granted to the Treasury allows the federal
    government to pick winners and losers among investors in large institutions. This is done while circumventing
    state bankruptcy laws and, consequently, without any meaningful court supervision. Not to mention, the fact
    that such action by the Treasury would leave the Kansas taxpayer responsible for the tab.
    Education
    HB 2289 is a bill to stop all funding on the implementation of Common Core Education Standards. Three
    years ago, numerous states signed onto the concept and many are now having second thoughts about continuing
    with the program. Common Core sounds great on paper, but gives away all the state's ability to affect the
    curriculum, the standards, the choice of textbooks and everything one would expect to be the domain of the
    District and the State board of Education.
    Experts in the field of education from several states testified as well as the Kansas State Board of Education and
    the Kansas Policy Institute. We expect to see much more discussion on this topic in the coming week.
    KanCare Educational Meetings
    As a reminder, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has announced it will be hosting educational
    meetings for members beginning next week. The educational tour will take place in 16 cities across Kansas
    from February 18-21, and announcements about these meetings are being mailed to each KanCare household.
    The cities and dates are listed below. For more details, including locations and times, please visit http://
    www.kancare.ks.gov/events.htm.
    Feb. 18 in Dodge City, Manhattan, Winfield and Topeka
    Feb. 19 in Garden City, Salina, Parsons and Kansas City
    Feb. 20 in Colby, Great Bend, Fort Scott and Olathe
    Feb. 21 in Hays, Wichita, Emporia and Atchison
    Taxation
    The Kansas Fair Tax Act of 2013, HB2355 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep Arlen
    Siegfried, last year's House Majority Leader and current Chairman of the powerful House Federal and State
    Page 4 of 4 - Affairs Committee. Thirty-six Representatives signed on to co-sponsor this bill, indicating that they wanted a
    full and complete hearing on this innovative concept.
    The Fair Tax completely eliminates state Corporate Income Tax in 2013, cuts half the Individual Income Tax in
    2014, and completes the removal of the state Income Taxes in 2015. The state will be funded by converting its
    complex Sales Tax system into a simple, broad-based consumption tax that will promote maximum economic
    growth.
    Nine other States are also pursuing implementation of the Fair Tax. To read more about the Fair Tax proposal,
    go to www.Kansas.gov.
    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 or e-mail 785-296-7653 / 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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