News From the Kansas Legislature – Week 9

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Rep. Bill Sutton

KANSAS SAFE AND SECURE SCHOOLS ACT

Last Tuesday House Republicans unveiled the Kansas Safe and Secure Schools Act, a comprehensive approach to make schools safer for our kids by ensuring coordination with schools and local law enforcement to improve school security infrastructure. Principally, HB 2773 would do the following:

1. Coordinate with the Kansas State Board of Education and other agencies to develop statewide standards for safe and secure school buildings.
2. Empower local school districts to coordinate with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies to review and evaluate current building infrastructure policies and procedures.
3. Establish the Safe and Secure Schools Grant Program with funds that can be used for improvements to any facet of the school safety and security plan including infrastructure and training.
4. Provide standardized firearm safety education programs that may be offered by school districts.
5. Appropriate funds to the Department of Education, which will be used for two FTE positions to review and evaluate school safety and security plans.

The provisions of this bill would encourage schools to make improvements, such as reinforced doors, additional security cameras, and training opportunities to enhance the overall security of school grounds. The Safe and Secure Schools Act will advance communication between local school districts and law enforcement.

A safe and secure learning environment is one of the highest priorities in our state, and this establishes an opportunity for all Kansas school districts. Additionally, for the purposes of promoting the safety and protection of students via education, the State Board of Education would be required to establish curriculum guidelines for a standardized firearm safety education program.

HOUSE COMMITTEE DEBATES HB 2740 TO HIKE PROPERTY TAXES
House Tax Committee held a hearing this week on a bill that, if passed, could nearly double the statewide mill levy from the current 20.0 mills to 38.43 mills in 2021. This would mean an increase in property taxes collected nearly two-fold.

Estimated property tax revenues from the current 20.00 mill levy for FY 2019 are $670.3 million.

The Kansas Department of Revenue estimates HB 2740 would increase revenues from the mill levy by a total of $234.9 million in FY 2019, $445.4 million in FY 2020 and $640.5 million in FY 2021.

Last year, Kansans were forced to accept a massive $1.2 billion retroactive tax increase, even affecting those with low incomes. On top of that, many Kansans are facing higher property taxes because of a Johnson County’s controversial valuation process. To further burden hard-working taxpayers of Kansas by sharply hiking the statewide mill levy is unacceptable. Just as I opposed the tax increase last year, I stand in firm opposition to proposals such as HB 2740

OFFICIAL STATE ROCK, MINERAL, GEMSTONE, AND FISH

On Tuesday, the Committee on Federal and State Affairs heard testimony on HB 2650, which would designate the official state rock of Kansas as limestone, the official state mineral as galena, and the official state gemstone as jelinite amber. The bill was brought forward by Casey Friend, a fourth grader attending Trailwood Elementary School in Overland Park, Kansas, who stated that he has always been interested in geology. He conducted his own research to discover that Kansas had no designated official state rock, mineral, and gemstone, and therefore wanted to make a change.

Friend explained that limestone is commonly found across Kansas, galena attracted a large mining workforce to Kansas, and jelinite amber was discovered in the bedrock near the Smoky Hill River. Jackson Svaty, a nine year-old from Topeka Collegiate School also testified, principally in support of the state gemstone provisions of the bill. Svaty explained how difficult it is to obtain jelinite amber, as it is only found at the bottom of Kanopolis Lake.

Chris Tymeson, chief legal counsel for the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism expressed his support for the bill’s passage. He also noted how Kansas is one of four states that has yet to designate a state fish. The committee decided to amend the bill to label the channel catfish as the official state fish, as it is found in almost every body of water in Kansas.

Due to the steps taken to improve transparency of the legislative process, Friend’s classroom was able to watch and listen to their classmate testify before the committee, and were even able to experience HB 2650 pass out of committee favorably. This bill has yet to be considered by the Committee of the Whole.

ECONOMIC INCENTIVES TRANSPARENCY

On Monday, the House Taxation Committee worked HB 2572, which concerns making economic incentives data more centralized and transparent. The bill was requested for introduction by Representatives Kristey Williams, Erin Davis, and Dan Hawkins. Rep. Williams presented an amendment to remove the contents of the bill and replace with new language.

House Sub. for HB 2572 requires that the Department of Commerce collect data from economic development incentive programs that provide more than $50,000 in annual incentives. This data from multiple years would be stored in a database and would be searchable on the Department’s website. Specific information would be provided, including names or counties and recipients who receive benefits from various programs, including STAR bonds. Descriptions and histories of the programs, along with purpose, goals, and qualifications would also be included.

Another component is the program cost and return on investment. The Committee adopted the Substitute bill amendment and advanced it favorably to the House for its consideration.

On Thursday, the House Committee of the Whole debated the measure. , the bill passed the House with a vote of 114-7.

WILDFIRES

Over the past week, fires have burned across the state, fueled by dangerously dry conditions and strong winds. Governor Jeff Colyer issued disaster declarations for the following counties: Barber, Clark, Ellis, Greenwood, Harper, Kingman, Logan, Reno, Smith, and Stevens. On Tuesday, firefighters battled a wildfire in Greenwood County. On Wednesday fires were fought in Wabaunsee County, near I-70 and Vera Road, and in Hamilton County, along the Colorado border. Kansas Army National Guard helicopters delivered water through aerial support for some of the fires.

According to a Wednesday press release from the National Guard, “Approximately 50 fires were reported to the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka since Monday, burning more than 25,000 acres. Aerial and ground firefighting resources were coordinated by the SEOC through the Kansas Forest Service and Kansas Army National Guard to augment fire suppression efforts by local responders. Soldiers of the Kansas National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation, along with troopers from the Kansas Highway Patrol and personnel from the Kansas Forest Service provided aerial and ground support to local crews battling fires in Ellis and other counties yesterday and the Greenwood County fire today.

The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka is providing support and coordination of state and federal resources as requested by the counties. County emergency managers may continue to report incidents and request state assistance to augment local response and recovery actions through the state’s 24-hour emergency notification line.”

PAGE DAY

On March 1, I had the pleasure of having Joseph Claire and Ryche Vernon page at the capitol. There wasn’t much activity on the Floor that day, so we took the Capitol Dome tour. I’m happy to report that we all made it up the 297 steps and back down.

RESOLUTION ON RELATIONS WITH TAIWAN

On Thursday, Representative Mason brought forward a resolution to strengthen the sister-state relations between the State of Kansas and Taiwan. A total of 46 Representatives signed on to the resolution.

The resolution notes that Kansas and Taiwan entered into a sister-state relationship in 1989. The resolution supports the signing of a Bilateral Trade Agreement between Taiwan and the United States and also reaffirms support for increasing Taiwan’s international profile. Taiwan ranks as Kansas’ 3rd largest import country and 12th largest export destination in 2016. Kansas and Taiwan signed a memorandum of understanding on the mutual recognition and exchange of drivers’ licenses in September 2017. Representative Mason was joined by Jerry Chang and Forster Lee.

DRIVER’S LICENSE RENEWALS AND VISION SCREENINGS

On Tuesday, the House debated HB 2606. The bill specifies the vision test requirements for applicants meeting qualifications for electronic online driver’s license renewals.

A current requirement that a driver’s license examiner administer an eye exam before the renewal of a driver’s license would be waived under certain conditions: online applicant must be at least 18 years old and less than 50 years old; must certify under penalty of the law that vision meets requirements in continuing law; must certify under penalty of the law that applicant has received an examination by a licensed ophthalmologist or licensed optometrist within the previous year; and must authorize the exchange of information (medical and vision) between the Division of Vehicles and applicant’s ophthalmologist or optometrist.

The waiver provisions of the bill expire on July 1, 2022 and a report is required to be made to the House Transportation Committee by February 1, 2022. The report would detail the online renewal process and its effects to safety on the state’s roads and highways.

The bill increases the convenience of online renewals and could have the impact of reducing the number of driver’s license examiners. On Wednesday, the House approved the bill with a vote of 120-2.

CAUCUS CONVERSATION

On Wednesday, the caucus heard from Dr. R. Scott Beyer, Extension Poultry Specialist from the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University. He provided an update on Kansas Poultry Production. Dr. Beyer was one of the proponents testifying on SB 405 in the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday.

He explained the advantages Kansas would have in poultry production: grain; location; farm ground; water; farm communities; and agriculture base. He discussed the poultry feed processing, which involves cereal grain and soybeans. He provided information on hatcheries. He noted that very little odor is anticipated. Poultry litter would be composted and returned to the ground as fertilizer, recycling Nitrogen and Phosphorus. SB 405 was debated by the House on Friday.

FLOOR ACTION

Monday, March 5
HB 2332— Revisions to membership of the information technology executive council

This bill would amend the membership of the Information Technology Executive Council (ITEC) to 15 voting members and require meetings to be held quarterly. The provisions of the bill specify the specific membership and appointing authorities.
Final Action, 115-0
Bill carried by: Representative Keith Esau
I voted “Aye”

HB 2359— Substitute for HB 2359 by Committee on Government, Technology and Security – Enacting the Kansas cybersecurity act for executive branch agencies.

This bill would enact the Kansas Cybersecurity Act, in which the position of the Chief Information Security Officer would be established as well as the Kansas Information Security Office.

Final Action, 115-0
Bill carried by: Representative Keith Esau
I voted “Aye”

Tuesday, March 6
HB 2416— Income tax credit for certain purchases of goods and services by a taxpayer from qualified vendors that provide employment to individuals who are blind or severely disabled.

This bill would enact a new income tax credit for tax years 2018-2022 equivalent to 15% of expenditures on goods and services purchased from non-profit businesses providing a certain level of health insurance benefits, with at least 30% of their employees residents of Kansas with disabilities. The credit would be capped at $500,000 for each vendor each tax year.
Final Action, 122-0
Bill carried by: Representative Les Mason
I voted “Aye”

HB 2606— Renewal of drivers’ licenses; vision requirements.

This bill would specify vision test requirements for an online driver’s license renewal.
Final Action, 120-2
Bill carried by: Representative Leonard Mastroni
I voted “Aye”

Wednesday, March 7
HB 2757— Due process for terminating teachers’ contracts.

This bill would grant due-process for Kansas teachers who have completed two to three consecutive years of employment, and have been offered a subsequent contract.
Final Action, 73-48
Bill carried by: Representative Mary Martha Good
I voted “Nay”

HB 2758— Publication of school district bullying policies.

This bill would require school districts’ anti-bullying plans to include consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, or similar forms of harassment. Additionally the bill would require a procedure for reporting such bullying, including anonymous reporting. Such plans must be adopted and implemented by the local school board, and must be published on the district’s website.
Final Action, 120-1
Bill carried by: Representative Willie Dove
I voted “Aye”

Thursday, March 8
HB 2572— Requiring the department of commerce to create a database of economic development incentive program information.

This bill would require the Department of Commerce to establish a database for the purpose of disclosing information pertaining to the state’s economic development incentive programs.
Final Action, 114-7
Bill carried by: Representative Kristey Williams
I voted “Aye”

Friday, March 9
SB 405— Clarifying animal conversion units for poultry facilities with dry manure systems.

This bill would establish the animal unit measurement calculation for chicken facilities that use a dry manure waste system as the number of laying hens or broilers, multiplied by 0.003. The bill would also require a confined chicken facility to obtain a federal permit if the facility uses a dry manure system and confines 125,000 or more broilers or 82,000 or more laying hens.
Final Action, yet to be taken
Bill carried by: Representative Kyle Hoffman
I voted “Aye”

HB 2106—License renewal of treatment centers.
Motion to concur with Senate changes
Motion adopted, 121-0
Motion carried by: Representative Dan Hawkins
I voted “Aye”

HB 2362—Establishing the alcoholic beverage control modernization fee.
Motion to concur with Senate changes
Motion adopted, 111-0
Motion carried by: Representative Troy Waymaster

HB 2470—Alcoholic beverages; microbreweries; contract brewing.
Motion to nonconcur with Senate changes
Motion adopted without objection
Motion carried by: Representative John Barker

HB 2482—Expanding the hours of sale of alcoholic liquor by the drink.
Motion to nonconcur with Senate changes
Motion adopted without objection
Motion carried by: Representative Les Mason

This Week’s Highlights

• Monday March 12: House Judiciary Committee: Hearings on: SB 281Protection orders for human trafficking victims under the protection from stalking, sexual assault or human trafficking act and SB 309Providing for the disposition of judicial branch docket fees in FY 2020 and FY 2021: 3:30, Rm 112-N
• Tuesday March 13: House Federal and State Affairs Committee: Hearing on: SB 307Amendments to the Kansas amusement ride act concerning home-owned amusement rides and agritourism activities: 9:00, Rm 346-S
• Tuesday March 13: House K-12 Education Budget Committee: Hearing on: HB2445Amending the Kansas school equity and enhancement act regarding local option budget provisions, certain weightings, capital outlay expenditures and repealing provisions of
the CLASS act: 1:30, Rm 346-S
• Wednesday March 14: House Health and Human Services Committee: Hearing on: SB 312 Licensure of dental therapists: 1:30, Rm 546-S
• Wednesday March 14: House Agriculture Committee: Hearing on: SB 263Creating a program to research the use of industrial hemp: 3:30, Rm 582-N
• Wednesday March 14: House Taxation Committee: Hearings on: HB 2569Concerning income taxation; doubling the standard deduction for tax year 2018 and all tax years thereafter and HB 2761Allowing an individual to itemize deductions in Kansas despite not itemizing on their federal return: 3:30, Rm 346-S
Friday March 16: Joint Meeting of the House K-12 Education Budget Committee and Senate Select Committee on Education Finance: Presentation on Dr. Lori Taylor’s Cost Study by Jeff King and Curtis Tideman, Attorneys: 1:00, Rm 346-S

Sincerely,

Bill Sutton
Kansas House of Representatives