News from the Kansas Legislature

Veto Session Recap by Representative Bill Sutton

0
1255
Daddy Daughter Ball 2014

This was a difficult legislative session.  My responsibilities were increased by chairing the General Government Budget Committee, and my frustrations were increased as well.  I guess that just goes with the territory.  As challenging as this session was, it is an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the 43rd District.

FAST FACTS

  • The Legislature will reconvene for Sine Die on June 26th, at 10:00 AM
  • From 2012 to 2016, Human Services caseloads increased nearly $144 million (7.1%)
  • From 2012 to 2016, all other expenditures decreased by almost $127 million (6%)

VETO SESSION RECAP

“Veto Session” is typically a time when the Legislature takes action on gubernatorial vetoes.  This year, the Legislature completed its Veto Session in 43 days. Governor Brownback promptly vetoed the tax bill, SB 30, which was later overridden by the House and Senate and effectively became law. The Legislature also completed work on a new school finance formula, providing certainty for schools and allocating a total of $488 million over the next two years.

Both the House and the Senate will reconvene on what is known as “Sine Die,” a single day for the Legislature to consider action on potential vetoes from the governor.  Sine Die will be held on June 26th, where both chambers will have the opportunity to respond to actions of the Governor that may have taken place following adjournment

K-12 SCHOOL FINANCE LEGISLATION SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR

Last Monday, the House debated and approved the Conference Committee Report (CCR) on SB 19, with a vote of 67 to 55.  The Senate then ran the report, adopting it with a vote of 23 to 17. The bill was signed by the Governor on June 15.

The CCR reflects months of deliberative work by the K-12 Education Budget Committee and the Conference Committee.  The Budget Committee examined each component of the formula, looked at issues concerning Kansas schools, and thoughtfully debated each provision that comprised its final product, HB 2410.

The $488 million over the next two years poured into K-12 education largely includes:

  • Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE) increases to $4,006 in School Year (SY) 2017-18 and to $4,128 for SY 18-19.  Beginning with SY 19-20, BASE increases are tied to the Midwest CPI.  Estimates are: $4,190 in SY 19-20, $4,253 in SY 20-21, and $4,317 in SY 21-22.
  • At-risk weighting is increased from .456 to .484, which follows a Legislative Post Audit recommendation.
  • Virtual education funding remains the same as in prior legislation.
  • All-Day Kindergarten is funded at 1.0 FTE for all students.
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding will continue to be funded at a .5 weighting.  The Kansas State Department of Education will further study the CTE cost and provide a report to the Legislature by January 1, 2019.
  • Low and high enrollment are reinstated and will reflect the law prior to SY 2014-15.
  • The Local Option Budget remains the saw as current law
  • Early Childhood Funding is increased for the 4-year old at-risk programs.
  • $2.6 million is set aside for school districts that have large enrollment declines.
  • Sets a cap on the amount of bonds to be approved by the State Board of Education, based upon the bond amount paid off during the preceding year.

The Kansas Department of Education has created documents on the CCR, which it shared with superintendents following the signing of the CCR.   The following links are to the policy provisions, column explanation for the school district runs, and the school district runs.

http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/School%20Finance/Action%20Items/SF17-232–Major%20Provisions%20%26%20Est_%20State%20Aid–6-5-17.doc

http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/School%20Finance/Action%20Items/SF17-232–CX–6-4-17.doc

http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/School%20Finance/Action%20Items/SF17-232.xlsx

TAX CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT

It should come as no surprise to you that the legislature passed a tax increase.  When you consider the oil & gas sector’s struggles, combined with the agricultural sector’s struggles, revenue, though growing, couldn’t keep pace with the increased budgetary spending.  Add to that the pressure by the Supreme Court for education funding, and we all knew that a tax increase was coming.  There were some legislators calling for (and voting for) tax increases before the budget was even completed, and before the school finance formula had been drafted!

The size of that tax increase may surprise you, however.  Only in government does it make sense to pay for a school funding formula that adds $488 million dollars to education over the next two years with a tax increase that collects $1.2 Billion over the same period!

For those people who lobbied for a “fair” tax plan, this is fair.  Everyone’s taxes are going up.

Last Monday, the House took up the CCR on SB 30.  The report contained income tax bracket changes and rate increases.  Also included were itemized deduction changes, along with a moratorium on STAR bond projects during the first year of extending STAR bonds.  The House approved the CCR, with a vote of 69-52.

I regret that I had only one “no” vote on this piece of garbage.

The Senate vote was 26-14.  For tax year 2017, the state would utilize a three-bracket system of 2.9%, 4.9%, and 5.2% for individual income tax.  For tax year 2018 and all years thereafter, the following tax brackets would apply for individual income tax: 3.1%, 5.25%, and 5.7%.  According to the Department of Revenue, the state is expected to take an additional $591 million from Kansas taxpayers for FY 18 and $633 million in FY 19.  In addition, the child and dependent care tax credit was reinstated, and itemized deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes would be increased to 75% for tax year 2019 and to 100% in tax year 2020.  Lastly, 50% of medical expenses would count towards itemized deductions for tax year 2018, and the exemption for non-wage business income would be repealed.

Last Tuesday, the Governor vetoed SB 30.  The Governor issued the following message: “I appreciate the efforts of members during this intense lawmaking process.  We have worked hard in Kansas to move our tax policy toward a pro-growth orientation. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 30 takes us backward in that effort. We can and we must balance our budget without negatively harming Kansas families.”

The Senate successfully overrode the governor’s veto, with a vote of 27-13, followed by the House with a vote of 88-31.

This bill has become law, via an overridden veto.

BUDGET CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT

Last Thursday, the House passed Sub. for SB 109, which contains the Claims against the State, the Mega bill appropriations, and Omnibus bill appropriations.  The vote was 99-23.  The Senate passed its budget components in S. Sub. for HB 2002 (Omnibus) and Sub. for SB 189 (Mega).

Last Thursday, the House and Senate budget negotiators began deliberating.  They continued their work throughout the day on Friday, reaching agreement just before midnight.  Additions agreed upon include state employee raises and Home and Community Based Services provider rate increases.  Efficiency measures included were: procurement and health care taskforces regarding K-12 Education; Healthy Birth Initiatives taskforce; Regents Institutions efficiency report before interim Legislative Budget Committee (excluding KU, who has already implemented an efficiency review); and the on-site state employee health clinic.  Mental health funding very closely reflects the House’s positions on increased funding support for the Community Mental Health Clinics and adequate funding to address the recertification issues at Osawatomie State Hospital.

$2.7 million was also appropriated for an on-site State Employee Health Clinic, which was first proposed by the Department of Administration.  The clinic, which would be built within the greater capitol complex, would help further the wellness goals promoted by the State Employee Health Plan—all state employees would have the opportunity to receive medical care without the loss of work productivity.  Several studies show that this project will reduce medical expenses for the state, thereby creating the potential to save millions while retaining efficiency.

On Saturday, the Senate considered the CCR on Sub. for HB 2002. The Senate passed the report with a vote of 27-11. The House debated the measure and passed it, with a vote of 88-27.

The final omnibus highlights for include:

  • $563 million towards KPERS for FY 18, $148 million more than the governor’s recommendation (KLRD)
  • $24.2 million towards Community Mental Health Centers
  • $15.9 million for Osawatomie State Hospital
  • $2.0 million for domestic violence prevention grants

The governor has yet to take action on this bill.

KPERS PAYMENTS

  • Over the three years (Fiscal Years 2017, 2018, and 2019) the State will pay or promise to pay KPERS $1.63 billion, of which $258 million will be layered or paid over 20 year periods.
  • The $1.63 billion is the statutory amount that is due to KPERS over the three fiscal years.
  • Assuming the layering payments are made, this will represent 3 years of the State paying at the statutory rate.  The last year that the full statutory rate was paid was Fiscal Year 2014.
  • No payment for the delayed $155 million payment from Fiscal Year 2016 in Fiscal Year 2018.  That amount will be added to the unfunded actuarial liability.

Note:

The Legislative approved employer contributions in HB 2052 and HB 2002 include:

  • A reduction from the existing statutory rate for FY 2017 of $64 million from the School group.  The reduction will be repaid on a 20-year, level dollar amortization starting in FY 2018 ($6.4 million annually). Total employer contributions that will be paid or promised to be paid in FY 2017 are $481 million.
  • The FY 2016 contribution reduction plus interest that was scheduled to be repaid by the end of FY 2018 will not be repaid ($115 million)
  • The contributions for the State/School group for FY 2018 will be the full statutory contribution rate of 12.01% of covered payroll, as scheduled, plus the first installment of the FY 2017 reduction repayment of $6.4 million.
  • The contributions for the School group for FY 2019 will be reduced by $194 million.  That reduction will be repaid by the School group over 20 years on a level-dollar amortization ($1.94 million annually).  The second installment of $6.4 million on the FY 2017 contribution reduction will be paid.  Total employer contributions that will be paid or promised to be paid in FY 2019 are $614 million.

LEGISLATURE STRENGTHENS TIES WITH ISRAEL

I had the pleasure and honor to help navigate this bill through the legislative process.  HB 2409 was first proposed earlier this session in effort to combat the Palestinian-led boycott against Israeli businesses and entities—known as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.  Israel shares a unique relationship with the United States, and is one of the few democracies in the Middle East.  Specifically, HB 2409 would prohibit the state from entering into a contract with an individual or company engaged in such a boycott against Israel.  In addition, the Secretary of Administration would have the authority to waive this prohibition if they determine the prohibition is not practicable.  The bill received wide support from various groups and legislators on both sides of the aisle.  The House initially passed this legislation in April with a vote count of 116-9, and later agreed to minor amendments where Democrats withdrew their support.  The final bill was approved by the House on June 7th, passing with 99 Yeas and 13 Nays.

The bill has been signed into law.

KANSAS LOTTERY BILL VETOED

On Thursday of this week, the governor vetoed HB 2313, which would amend the Kansas Lottery Act to allow lottery ticket vending machines and bingo vending machines, and extend the Kansas Lottery sunset date to July 1, 2022.  In addition, the State Debt Setoff Program would be amended to allow the withholding of a person winning a prize, should they be listed in the state debtor files.  The withheld prize money would then be deposited into the Setoff Clearing Fund. The conference committee report was approved by the Senate 34-4 and then by the House 98-19.   In vetoing HB 2313, the governor made the following comment:

“This bill serves as an expansion of lottery ticket sales that will negatively impact our communities and our neighbors. The Kansas Lottery has a disproportionately negative effect on low income Kansans. Rather than investing limited resources in games of chance, our goal is to help low income Kansans find a path to self-reliance and independence through education, work, and savings.”

The Legislature may act on this veto come Sine Die.

FIREARM LEGISLATION BECOMES LAW WITHOUT GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE

On Thursday of this week, HB 2278 effectively became law without the signature of Governor Brownback, after sitting on his desk for ten days.  The bill will exempt community mental health centers, state-owned hospitals, and the University of Kansas Medical Center from current concealed carry laws.  The governor issued the following statement on Thursday:

“The right to bear arms is essential towards preserving our freedoms and maintaining self-government. Working to secure second amendment rights, while balancing logistical and safety concerns from state mental health hospitals, I assembled stakeholders to forge a solution. I endorsed an agreement that accomplished this goal. While second amendment advocates concurred, this reasonable compromise was ultimately rejected by health care representatives. Nevertheless, this bill does appropriately address safety concerns at state mental health hospitals. As a result, I will permit House Bill 2278 to become law without my signature.”

I disagree with the Governor’s assessment of this bill.  This bill does nothing to protect anyone from gun violence.  The premise that those who intend harm will somehow be turned away by a “No Gun” zone is preposterous.  The reality here is that administrators didn’t want to pay to install security devices that really would protect people on the premises.  Rather than admit that they weren’t going to protect anyone, they chose to pretend that a “No Gun” sign would do the trick.

This bill has become law, without the governor’s signature.

 

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS THIS SESSION

There weren’t many, but here are some good achievements.

Law Enforcement Protection Act – SB 112

The Legislature passed a bill that would increase the punishment for crimes specifically targeting members of law enforcement.  If an offense is found to be motivated to target officers of the law, while an officer is performing their duties or solely due to the officer’s position, the offender would face an enhanced penalty.  Evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of a hate crime against law enforcement must be apparent before an enhanced penalty is given. This bill was signed into law.

Juvenile Justice Reform – SB 42

The Legislature passed a bill that would prioritize the needs of troubled youth with reliable alternatives, while also holding them accountable.  Immediate intervention programs for these individuals would also be made available to ensure that adolescents are not trapped in a cycle of crime and poverty.  The Kansas Juvenile Justice Improvement Fund would also be established, to primarily fund the evidence-based programs that were implemented as a result of SB 367 from 2016.  In the rescission bill, HB 2052, $6.0 million from the SGF was transferred to the Department of Corrections to fund evidence based programs.  This bill has been signed into law.

Simon’s Law – SB 85

The Legislature passed Simon’s Law, which would prohibit hospitals from instituting a do-not-resuscitate order on a child’s medical chart without the explicit parental consent.  This will protect Kansas children and families from complications concerning DNRs, as seen with the Crosier family.  In 2010, Sheryl Crosier gave birth to Simon, who was diagnosed with Edward’s syndrome and several heart defects.  Unaware to the Crosiers, doctors imposed a DNR on Simon’s medical file and as his oxygen saturation levels began to fall, professionals did not attempt to rescue him.  Simon’s law ensures that parents are fully aware and agree to instituted DNRs, in effort to protect children and families from similar tragedies.  Kansas is the first state in the nation to approve of this pro-life legislation.  This bill has been signed into law.

Woman’s Right-to-Know Act Updates – SB 83 / HB 2319

The Legislature passed a bill which would enhance the Woman’s-Right-To-Act, which ensures that pregnant women receive the necessary information concerning abortion, and provide consent before an abortion is performed.  This bill would require abortion providers to disclose their name, medical education history, any administrative disciplinary action against them by the Board of Healing Arts, and whether they have malpractice insurance.  This information and more must be revealed to a woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours prior to the procedure.  Kansas abortionists have a history of lacking the essential training in gynecology/obstetrics, and some received their training over 50 years ago.  This bill ensures that pregnant women are given as much information as possible before undergoing this procedure.  This bill was signed into law.

Wildfire Relief – HB 2387

The Legislature passed this bill which would provide financial relief for those affected by the wildfires in early March of this year.  A temporary sales tax exemption would be enacted for properties that suffered fire damage, specifically for all property and services purchased to reconstruct, repair, or replace any fence used on agricultural land that was damaged or destroyed.  In addition to this bill, the Governor signed Executive Order 17-01 that waived certain regulations, to hasten the delivery of hay, feed, fencing material, and other materials being shipped to the devastated areas.  In addition to this, HB 2052, which was signed into law, provides an additional $6.0 million for disaster relief expenditures for FY 2017.  This bill has been signed into law.