News From the Kansas Legislature – Week 4

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Rep. Bill Sutton

BILL SUTTON’S CAPITOL REPORT

House Targets Human Trafficking

The House considered HR 6045, a resolution opposing human trafficking and urging the dismantling of human trafficking networks. Representative Finch, along with 92 other co-sponsors of both parties, brought the measure forward. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, taking the form of forced labor, sex trafficking and depriving victims of their freedom, human rights, and dignity.

The resolution urged that the “government must bring the full weight of its legal and judicial systems against individuals or organizations that seek to enslave a human being.” The resolution was adopted unanimously.

COLYER SWORN-IN AS 47th GOVERNOR

On Wednesday, February 3rd, Governor Colyer was officially sworn-in as the 47th Governor of the State of Kansas, on the first floor of the Statehouse. Dr. Paul Camarata served as the Master of Ceremonies, and introduced Governor Sam Brownback, the Colyer family, legislative leadership, and other distinguished guests. The oath of office was administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, then followed by remarks from Governor Colyer.

KANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING CENTER’S 50th ANNIVERSARY

On Thursday, the House considered HR 6044, which recognized the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center’s (KLETC) 50th year of service to the Kansas Law Enforcement community and the citizens of Kansas. The resolution was co-sponsored by Rep. Whitmer and Rep. Seiwert. The KLETC is in Rep. Seiwert’s district and serves as the state’s central training center for law enforcement. Today, 431 law enforcement agencies receive basic training courses for new law enforcement recruits, continuing education for veteran law enforcement officers, specialized training, and online web-based interactive distance learning classes. The KLETC trains over 400 new recruits annually and nearly 10,000 enrollees in continuing education, specialized training, and web-based online distance learning courses. The KLETC’s statutory mission is “the promotion and development of improved law enforcement personnel and procedures throughout the state.” The resolution was adopted unanimously.

 

KANSAS GOP CONVENTION

Later this month the annual Kansas Republican Party Convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita, Kansas. The kickoff begins on Friday, February 16, and includes the KSGOP Executive Committee session, a welcome reception, social gatherings with officials and candidates, and a rally with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. Breakfast the next day is hosted by Kansans for Life, and throughout the day district meetings will take place, and Fox News radio host Todd Starnes will speak at the lunch event. Later that afternoon, the state committee will meet and candidate receptions will be taking place, and finally at 7:30 p.m. the Inaugural Gubernatorial Debate will take place.

The debate panel includes: Governor Jeff Colyer, Wink Hartman, Mark Hutton, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer. For a comprehensive schedule of the events, click here.

COMMITTEE ACTION

UNCORK KANSAS TRAILER BILL

On Monday, the House Commerce Committee held a hearing on HB 2502, the trailer bill to last session’s Uncorked bill, SB 13. Sections 1 through 3 of the bill address concerns raised by the Director of Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABC), Department of Revenue. Section 4 makes technical amendments. Section 5 addresses the applicable tax rate of sale of beer, which is dependent on the licensure of the person selling the beer.

Under current law, beer (more than 3.2% alcohol) sold by liquor stores is subject to an excise tax and cereal malt beverage sales by retailers with CMB licenses to subject to sales tax under the Kansas Retailers’ Sales Tax Act. HB 2502 adds a definition of “cereal malt beverage” to the Kansas Retailers’ Sales Tax Act, that includes beer containing not more than 6% alcohol by volume as a “cereal malt beverage.” That definition only appeals to the Sales Tax Act. The amendment allows for retail beer sales by liquor retailers to remain subject to the 8 % excise tax, while sale of beer by CMB licensees would be subject to applicable sales tax rate. The provisions of HB 2502 would be effective April 1, 2019, which is the same effective date as 2017 SB 13.

The bill had three proponents—Robert Alderson, Casey’s General Stores; Amy Campbell, Kansas Association of Beverage Retailers; and Erik Sartorius, Leagues of Kansas Municipalities. Debbi Beavers, Director, ABC, provided neutral testimony. Written proponent testimony was provided by Whitney Damron, Kansas Association for Responsible Liquor Laws and Tom Palace, Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

Debbi Beavers, Director, ABC, noted that the bill provides clarifications on issues that are important to the ABC. The ABC held several meetings during the interim with interested parties on how to address concerns with last year’s bill. The League of Municipalities noted the bill clarifies taxation of “strong beer.” Currently, when CMB is sold in grocery stores and convenience stores, both state and local option sales taxes are imposed. Package liquor stores collect liquor enforcement tax imposed by the state, but sales taxes are not levied. The League’s concern is that cities and counties will lose the revenue they currently receive from sales tax collected on CMBs. Section 5 clarifies that “strong beer” shall have state and local sales tax applied to it when sold by a CMB licensee.

On Tuesday, the Committee passed the bill out favorably.

TRIBAL REGALIA

Both Representative Osterman and Representative Victors testified in support of HB 2498 this week, which would effectively prohibit governmental entities from barring individuals from wearing traditional tribal regalia or objects of cultural significance at a public event.

The two legislators explained the passing along of eagle feathers from an elder family member to a younger family member, as a sign of pride and honor, and serve not solely as a cultural component, but have religious symbolism as well. Some regalia are passed down from generation to generation, and just as others do, Native Americans deserve the right to express themselves.

Liana Onnen, chairwoman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, wore her traditional regalia of her tribe, articulated her support for the bill as well. She explained that previous federal policies have limited the actions and expression Native Americans, and how traditional garb significantly differs from costumes. Tribal regalia conveys the unique cultural heritage of Native Americans.

She and several students also dressed in traditional Native American clothing also appeared before the committee urging the passage of this bill. There would be no fiscal impact.

The committee has yet to take action on this bill.

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE TOUR

On Monday, members and staff of the House Financial Institutions and Pensions Committee toured financial institutions in Topeka to provide members with an opportunity to see financial operations first-hand. The Committee visited Fidelity State Bank & Trust Company, a state charter bank, and Central National Bank, a Federal charter bank. They also visited the Topeka Police Credit Union and heard from Azura Credit Union, both state-chartered. The Community Bankers Association, Heartland Credit Union Association, and the Kansas Bankers Association assisted with the tour.

STUDENT CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT

On Tuesday, the House K-12 Budget and Senate Education Committees meant jointly to hear from Dr. Blake Flanders, CEO, Kansas Board of Regents, Dr. Randy Watson, Commissioner of Education. Dr. Flanders noted that concurrent enrollment is when high school students are enrolled in post-secondary for college credits. This different from a partnership where high school teachers teach the courses. He mentioned the work of the First Generation Task Force, which made a report in June 2017, regarding the barriers and supports that exist for first generation college students. The First Generation Task Force recommended the expansion of concurrent enrollment programs to provide open access and reduce costs for first generation students.

The Board of Regents and Department of Education formed a Concurrent Enrollment Partnership, which met three times in fall 2017 and continues to meet in 2018. Goals of the Task Force include: expand early college access for all qualified high school students, particularly traditionally underrepresented students; increase the number of students graduating from high school and attending college; and maximize the recognition of rigorous postsecondary coursework for purposes of meeting high school graduation requirements.

The Task force reviewed the opportunities that high school have to earn college credit prior to high school graduation. Those are: dual enrollment programs; Advanced Placement (AP) exams; College Level Examination Program (CLEP); International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme; and Modern States Education Alliance. At its January 8th meeting, the Task Force voted to form working groups to make recommendations on: identification of 5 courses offered for statewide delivery; establishment of standardized eligibility requirements for students; agreement on a common rate for tuition/fees; and identification of alternative delivery methods. The working groups recommendations have been made and are currently under review.

INTERNET SALES TAX LITIGATION

On Thursday, the House Taxation Committee met jointly with the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation. The Committees heard from Charles McGuigan, the Chief Deputy Attorney General from South Dakota. The Committees also heard from Bryan Clark, Assistant Solicitor General, from the Attorney General’s Office and Mark Beshears, Department of Revenue.

The briefing centered on the South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., which is a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that will address whether a state may collect sales taxes from online retailers with no physical presence in the state. Clark’s testimony covered the preceding cases, National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue of Illinois and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota.

On October 2, 2017, South Dakota asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision of the South Dakota Supreme Court. Kansas joined 34 states filing an amicus curiae brief supporting South Dakota’s request for U.S. Supreme Court review. On January 12, the U.S. Supreme Court granted South Dakota’s request to take the case. The Department of Revenue presented its compiled data and information on taxation of internet retailers.

CAUCUS CONVERSATION—DCF SECRETARY GINA MEIER-HUMMEL

Secretary Meier-Hummel provided the Republican Caucus with her background information. She was appointed on November 22, 2017. She was previously employed as the Executive Director of Shelter, Inc., which is a non-profit organization focused on crisis intervention for at-risk youth in Douglas County and Northeast Kansas. Prior to that, she worked as the Commissioner of Community Service and Programs for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. From 2011 to 2013, she served at DCF as the Director for Children and Family Services in the Prevention and Protection Services division. Earlier in her career, she worked 13 years at KVC Behavioral Healthcare, one of the state’s two foster care contractors. She began her career conducting child protective service investigations.

The Secretary told the Caucus that her passion is “making the system right for Kansas kids.” The agency is working to prevent kids from coming into the foster care system, safely keeping families together if possible. DCF does need to protect kids if they have to come into the system. She also noted that, “when they’re in custody, they’re in my care.” Secretary Meier-Hummel also covered the agency’s enhancement requests in the Governor’s Budget Report. One request is for 20.0 FTE additional Child Welfare staff in the FY ’18 budget. Other enhancements include shrinkage reduction, a top-to-bottom review, and emergency foster care placement. Additional TANF funds are also requested to be expended for family preservation. DCF’s requests total an additional $3.6 million SGF for FY ’18 and $4.7 million SGF for FY ’19.

Caucus members discussed corrective plans and crisis beds with the Secretary. Majority Leader Hineman noted that the Child Welfare Task Force did a good job of identifying issues and indicated that some could be dealt with internally. The Secretary stated that the Child in Need of Care (CINC) law will need to be updated and that DCF will have something soon on that. In addition, a longer-term proposal will involve the feasibility study that DCF is undertaking on its IT system, so that systems will more readily interface.

The Secretary also took the Caucus through a scenario on how her agency responds from an initial phone call about adult or child welfare concerns. Rep. Becker noted that the Secretary has accepted the challenge or restoring trust for an entire system. Rep. Rooker spoke of the links between Education and mental health services. The Secretary noted the links that exist with programming and early childhood and at-risk. The Secretary stated that DCF has a lot of data to show where kids who need services are. Following the meeting, the agency provided talking points to the Caucus.

FLOOR ACTION

MONDAY JANUARY 29

HB 2437—Concerning days of commemoration; relating to the national day of the cowboy.

The bill was sent to the Consent Calendar by the Federal and State Affairs Committee. The National Day of the Cowboy would be celebrated on the 4th Saturday in July. The bill was requested by Rep. Steven Becker.
Final Action, 121-0

HB 2439—Creating an additional crime of involuntary manslaughter for certain violations of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Rep. Jennings amended the bill to name the provisions of the bill “Caitlin’s Law,” in honor of Caitlin Vogel. Vogel was killed in a wreck caused by a drunk driver. Final Action, 122-0
Bill carried by: Representative Russ Jennings

HB 2482—Expanding the hours of sale of alcoholic liquor by the drink.

Under current law, public venues, clubs, and drinking establishments are prohibited from serving, mixing, or consumption of alcoholic liquor on premises between the hours of 2 AM and 9 AM. The bill changes the hours to 2 AM and 6 AM. Final Action, 75-47
Bill carried by: Representative Sean Tarwater

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 1

HB 2042—Concealed carry licensure amendments under the personal and family protection act fee and extending the medical assistance fee fund

The bill original would recognize out-of-state concealed carry licenses, given that the license holder acts in accordance with Kansas law. The bill was amended by Rep. Whitmer with a technical change. Rep. Landwehr offered an amendment to the bill which would lower the age in which an individual can conceal carry from 21 to 18, given that those individuals be licensed (under current law, only Kansans over the age of 21 may conceal carry). Lastly, Rep. Aurand further amended the bill to require licensure to carry on all college campuses (regents institutions, community and technical colleges). Final Action, 76-44
Bill carried by: Representative John Whitmer

HB 2145—Prohibiting the possession of a firearm by certain individuals

The bill was amended by Rep. Barker (technical) and Rep. Finch (updating language to reflect 2017 changes to domestic violence statutory language). Specifically, this bill would bar the following individuals from possessing a firearm: fugitives from justice, illegal aliens, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor for a domestic violence offense within the past five years, and persons subject to court orders restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening a partner, or a child. These provisions are currently outlined in federal law, but are not instated in state law. Final Action, 120-0
Bill carried by: Representative John Barker.

Sincerely,

Bill Sutton
State Representative, District 43

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