Friday, February 15, was the last day for non-exempt committees to introduce bills. Exempt House committees include Taxation, Appropriations and Fed and State. Early in the session our leadership set a goal of 80 days, instead of the usual 90 days. I think we can meet this goal. Committee members are working hard and bills are being brought to the floor of the House at an ever increasing pace. You can stay up to date by visiting our legislature website, www.kslegislature.org.
Events At The Capitol This Week.
Kansas State University Day - 2013 All-Kansas Academic Team
On Wednesday House members recognized KSU, Kansas State University officials, Provost April Mason and Faculty President Jim Bloodwood. They joined us as we congratulated KSU for serving the state of Kansas for the past 150 years. We celebrated the many KSU accomplishments with K-State purple ice-cream and chocolate chip cookies.
On Thursday, House members had the opportunity to meet and recognize fifty college students, members of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. These students were chosen from 19 community colleges from across Kansas for their academic excellence, campus and community leadership skills and for actively applying those skills in their communities. Many of these students will be representing Kansas on the All-USA Academic Team which will be announced later this year.
Kansas Joins Dodd-Frank Lawsuit
This week Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced that the state has joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging a key provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Consumer Protection Act. Consumer Protection sounds good but what about the property rights of shareholders? Allowing the federal government to order the liquidation of financial institutions that it believes are "too big to fail" circumvents state bankruptcy laws and could leave state taxpayers holding the tab.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KDHE, released its report on the Affordable Care Act, ACA, concerning its potential enroll and budget impact on the state's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP. If enrollment increases at its present pace, and If Kansas chooses not to expand Medicaid and CHIP, the cost to taxpayers will increase by $513 million. If Kansas chooses to expand Medicaid and CHIP, by the time ACA is fully implemented the state's general fund would need to increase by 1.1 billion over the next ten years.
Page 2 of 4 - Here are the big concerns. A 1.1 billion dollar increase to the State's General Fund spending over the next ten years will undoubtedly impact the state's funding in other vital areas such as education and public safety. Assuming the federal government, which is currently running a deficit in excess of 16 trillion dollars, can not continue to fund its part of the deal Kansas taxpayers would be faced with an even greater fiscal burden. I do not believe Kansas, or the federal government, can continue down a road of fiscal irresponsibility.
Governor Brownback and Kansas legislators have already taken steps to turn our economy around. We're supporting policies that encourage business to locate in our state. That has helped us energize our economy and significantly reduce unemployment. Our only hope of being able to meet future funding requirements for programs we already have is to grow the economy. Part of this plan is the elimination of the state's income tax. This helps small businesses to grow and Kansas citizens to prosper. Kansas is one of several states where good fiscal policies have energized the economy and created jobs. New wealth is created when jobs are plentiful and small businesses and citizens have more of their own resources to invest in private sector initiatives. Kansas is in a position to lead. We're showing Washington how it's done.
Mortgage Interest Deduction
This continues to be a concern to many folks. Although the governor's tax plan calls for eliminating the state mortgage interest deduction it also doubled the standard deduction for single head of households and increased the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly. Most Kansans, over 70%, use the standard deductions and are not impacted by mortgage interest deductions. Federal mortgage interest deductions, which are much greater, remain available for Kansans who are eligible to itemize. The vast majority of Kansans will be paying less in taxes despite the loss of mortgage interest deductions. Keep in mind as Kansas moves towards NO state income tax income tax deductions become irrelevant. If the state isn't taking money from your pay check there's no need to ask for some of that hard earned money back. You'll get to keep it all.
Final Action Votes
Each week more and more bills make their way to a final action vote in the House. The intensity of the work being done by committees and legislators is increasing. We've been busy. This week most of the bills are what might be referred to as low profile or low impact bills.
HB 2034, HB 2081, HB 2041 & HB 2065 - These bills dealt primarily with law enforcement issues. All passed with the support of well over 100 legislators.
Page 3 of 4 - HB 2059 - Made some technical changes to improve and fix some issues with the tax reform bill passed last session. This bill passed by a vote of 122 to 2.
HB 2015 - Regarding marriage, This bill clarified the definition of gifts given by one spouse to another with regard to creditors. Gift must be given legally and not to avoid creditors. This bill passed 116 to 8.
HB 2141 - Removed antiquated, unused, election laws relating to school districts. Passed 123 to 0.
HB 2011 - Kansas University is currently allowed to setup license plates with the school's logo. This bill extends that to motorcycle plates. Passed 109 to 14.
On Monday, February 17, the House will be taking final action on HB 2213 & HB 2228. Both bills deal with KPERS issues. HB 2066 dealing with physical therapy and referral issues and HB 2030 - A bill concerning veterans and non-resident hunting permits.
Several bills, bills that have generated an elevated level of interest, including HCR 5002, a Constitutional Amendment that concerns judicial selection, will be considered next week. You can view the details of these and other pieces of pending legislation by going to www.kslegislature.org
My committees for the 2013-2014 sessions are:
Elections Monday & Wednesday 1:30pm Room 281N
Ag and Natural Resources Monday thru Friday 3:30pm Room 346S
Children and Seniors Tuesday & Thursday 9:00am Room 218N
Local Government Tuesday & Thursday 1:30pm Room 281N
House sessions convene at 11:00am unless notified differently by the speaker. Turn Around, March 1st, is the day that all bills originating in non-exempt House committees must be passed by the House as a whole in order to be considered by the Senate. Our session this year is moving fast and it's beginning to look like completing the session in 80 days might be possible.