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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • At the Statehouse

  • Stay informed of the issues under consideration by the Kansas Legislature.
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  •                Stay informed of the issues under consideration by the Kansas Legislature. Committee schedules, bills, and other helpful information can be easily accessed through the legislature's website at www.kslegislature.org. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. I always enjoy hearing from my constituents on the topics under consideration and appreciate the perspective from those outside the Statehouse. 
      
          Reminder: I am serving on the following committees: Chair           Subcommittee on Judiciary and Gaming, Chair           Subcommittee on Corrections & Juvenile Justice, Vice Chair  Subcommittee on Legislative and Elected Officials, 
     
    TransportationEthics, Elections, and Local Government Ways and Means Joint Committee on Corrections & Juvenile Justice
           
    In This Newsletter:      The March to Zero - Moving to a no-income-tax environment.
     
        Protecting Taxpayer Dollars - Union funding of PACs not from government.
     
        Judicial Selection Update  - Appellate Court judges to be confirmed by Senate. 
      
        Advocating with Government $ - No funds for advocating against legal products. 
     
         Enforcing Laws on Rapists - Extending the statute of limitations.
     
         Sexual Exploitation of a Child - Improving the laws, seizing computers.
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    The March to Zero - HB 2059        Leaving more money in the taxpayers' hands is good for business.
      
           On Thursday, the Senate passed the Governor's proposal to ratchet down the state's income taxes over the next five years - completely eliminating income taxes for all Kansans in tax year 2018. The measure also makes technical changes to last year's tax bill  lowering state income taxes this year for joint and single filers and also eliminated non-wage income tax for small business owners across the state.
     
           The bill adjusts the state's income tax rates and severance tax provisions, and freezes the currents sales tax rate at 6.3 percent in order in order to lower income tax rates which benefits all Kansans.
     
            Along with the reduction of the individual income tax, there will be a phase-out of all state tax deductions, with the exception of the adoption tax credit and charitable contributions tax credit.  In the first year, itemized deductions will be reduced by 24 percent, 41 percent 2014-2015, 65 percent in 2016 and 94 percent in tax year 2017. 
         
           Seventy percent of Kansans currently use the standard deduction and will not be affected by the elimination of itemized deductions. Readers should also keep in mind that changes to itemized deductions at the state level do not impacted federal itemized deductions, which are much larger and still available to eligible Kansans. Also, the standard deduction for those who do not itemize has been doubled - this also reduces the effect of the changes to the various itemized deductions and further decreases the tax for those who do not itemize.
     
            The tax plan signed into law last year, reduced the three income tax brackets to two, and lowered income tax rates to 3.0 percent for the lowest earners and 4.9 percent for the highest earners. This bill will reduce the bottom rate to 2.5 percent and further slash the that rate to 1.9 percent in 2016. Top earners will see a reduction of their tax rates from 4.9 percent to 3.5 percent beginning in 2017. After 2017, any state general fund growth over 4 percent will be used to further buy down the income tax rates.
     
           HB 2059 also made some technical fixes to clarify references to certain federal forms and payment schedules, adjust provisions relating to itemized deductions and the food sales tax rebates program, and clarifies exclusions on the new pool severance tax for oll production. The bill also corrects certain statutory references within the Kansas income tax code.  
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           In the past the sales tax was increased in order to spend, this package uses it to buy down income rates that benefit all Kansans. The private market is where true job creation is made and, in order for Kansas to be competitive, state government must leave more of Kansan's hard-earned money in their pockets. Combined with reduced spending, the overall economic package is a major achievement.
     
    On March 14, 2013 the Senate passed HB 2059 by a vote of 21-19.
     
      
    Protecting Taxpayer Dollars - HB 2022        Restricting political activities of public unions and allowing withholding of wages. 
     
            This act bans state or other units of government from making payroll deductions for members of public sector unions for the purpose of contributing to the union's political action committee (PAC). Currently, unions negotiate the amount and frequency of the deduction with government entities. The money from the deduction is contributed to the PAC, but in many cases the member is not given the ability to specify how the deduction is then used.
     
           While the bill would eliminate the option for the payroll deduction, members can still contribute to a PAC by writing a check or setting up an electronic transfer from a bank account. This better ensures each member is making a free and deliberate decision to contribute to union political activities. Furthermore, it is unnecessary and arguably inappropriate for the state or any other local unit of government to be in the business of making payroll deductions for political purposes. The bill also redefines and restricts partisan or political employee organizations. 
     
           The bill also allows employers to withhold a portion of an employee's final wages if the employee does not return property belonging to the employer; fails to repay a loan, an advance, an over-payment for payroll; or replace the employer's merchandise, uniforms or equipment lost or damaged by the employee.
     
    On March 14, 2013 the Senate passed HB 2022 by a vote of 24 to 16.  
     
     
    Judicial Selection Update - HB 2019         Court of Appeal judges to be appointed by Governor and confirmed by Senate.
      
           A few weeks ago, the Senate passed SCR 1601 - a measure to amend the process of selecting Kansas Supreme Court Justices and Kansas Court of Appeal judges. The House has since sent us their version - HB 2019 which includes the same provisions as SCR 1601 concerning Court of Appeal judges except it does not require an amendment to the Kansas Constitution.
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           The bill is now on its way to the governor's office and will be the first bill signed into law this session.
     
    On March 14, 2013 the Senate passed HB 2019 by a vote of 28 to 12. 
     
    Gun Control Advocacy with State Money - SB 45       No use of public funds to advocate against legal products.
     
           The bill prohibits the use of tax payer dollars for gun control advocacy purposes. Specifically, the bill preserves the rights of taxpayers and insures that public funds are not used to pursue a political agenda against legal products.
     
    On March 13th the Senate passed SB 45 by a vote of 32 to 8.
     
    Enforcing Laws on Rapists - HB 2252       Full Senate agrees: get tougher on crime.
     
           This bill eliminates statutes of limitations for the prosecution for rape or aggravated criminal sodomy. The bill allows the prosecution of a sexually violent crime to commence within ten years of when the victim turns 18 years old or older. Also, prosecution of a sexually violent crime may commence within one year of the date the identity of the suspect is conclusively established by DNA testing, or within ten years of the date the victim turns 18 years of age, whichever is later. 
     
    The Senate passed the measure on Thursday, March 14th by a vote of 40 to 0.
     
     
    Sexual Exploitation of a Child - HB 2081       Tuning up the law to be more effective.
     
           The bill that amends current criminal law adding a list of offenses for individuals convicted of solicitation of a child, aggravated indecent solicitation of a child and sexual exploitation of a child. The bill also specifies that authorities could retain any computer, computer system, computer network or any software or data owned by the defendant. In current law, these items are only provided if used during the crime; this also include electronic devices used by the suspect.
     
    On March 14, 2013 the Senate passed HB 2081 by a vote of 40 to 0 
     
         
    2013 Session Dates and Deadlines
     
           Below are remaining dates and deadlines for the 2013 legislative session. As always, each is subject to modification.
    • Fri. March 22           Last day for bills to be considered by non-exempt committee
    • Wed. March 27        Last day for non-exempt bill in either chamber
    • Fri. April 5                First adjournment 
    • Wed. May 8             Veto session begins
      Thank you for the honor of serving you!      I encourage you to contact me. It's always fun to have visitors in the building and you're welcome anytime we're in session. I am in Room 135 E. Please call ahead and let me know you are coming so I can work the schedule - call (800) 432-3924 and leave a message, I'll get back to you. Previous newsletters at: http://www.vote4fitzgerald.com/newsroom.html
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