2017 Legislative Update 4


It was a privilege to join Senator Pat Pettey and Representative Valdenia Winn at the League of Women Voters Community Forum on Saturday at the KCK Public Library. Legislative Forums provide an opportunity for us to share what is happening in the Kansas Legislature and also to gain valuable feedback from constituents. I appreciate those that took time to attend.

On Tuesday a bill that I introduced, HB 2185, that would restore the ability for local government to require prevailing wage be paid on public projects had a hearing in the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee. In my testimony I stressed that this is not a mandate from the state and would be optional and at the discretion of local communities if they deem appropriate. We know that prevailing wage laws support a highly skilled and safe construction workforce that delivers construction projects more cost efficiently and improves the overall economic health of communities. I am hopeful that the committee will work HB 2185 and pass it out favorably so that it will advance to the full House for consideration.

It is an honor to represent our community in the Kansas House of Representatives.  I very much appreciate your input on matters before the Kansas Legislature so please do not hesitate to contact me.  If I can be of service to you or anyone you know please call my office at 785-296-7371 or email me at pam.curtis@house.ks.gov 

Tax Plan

It was late on Thursday that a bipartisan tax plan won approval in the House Tax Committee. The plan’s key components would largely reverse Governor Brownback’s failed tax experiment, which has left Kansas with a structurally unbalanced budget.

The first step of the comprehensive tax plan is to repeal the LLC exemption. The LLC exemption has allowed the owners of LLC businesses to pay zero income taxes on their business income for the last several years. The third tax bracket, removed by Brownback’s tax experiment, would be reinstated, ensuring that wealthy Kansans pay their fair share. And the measure also makes medical expenses fully deductible which would help many Kansan’s faced with large medical expenses.

The floor vote has yet to be scheduled.

 

Medicaid Expansion Hearings

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the House Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on Medicaid expansion. Currently, the state uses a privatized program called KanCare, which a recent investigation found to be substantively noncompliant with federal regulations. The report found a lack of communication between agencies that put its participants’ health and safety at risk, along with other issues like insufficient overhead that led the federal agency to deny the state’s request for an extension of KanCare.

With the KanCare program in place, Kansas turns down millions of federal dollars every year. Medicaid expansion advocates would like to use those federal dollars to supplement our healthcare system and help our most vulnerable citizens.

Senate Panel Proposes Education Cuts

A Republican Senate Panel put forth a rescission bill this week, proposing further cuts to the education budget. The legislation laid out a 5% cut to K-12 Education, and a 3% cut to the Higher Education Budget. These add up to over $150 million in cuts to Kansas schools.

The rescission bill was scheduled to be debated by the Senate on Thursday, February 9th. The debate was cancelled when Republican Leadership could not convince enough of their Republican colleagues to come on board with a bill that steeply cut education funding again.

 

Bills on the House Floor

We’ve seen several bills pass through the House this week. Here are a few:

 

  • HB 2067, AN ACT concerning the uniform insurance agents licensing act; relating to fingerprinting of applicants for licensure
  • HB 2013, AN ACT concerning elections; dealing with write in candidates
  • HB 2092, AN ACT concerning crimes, punishment and criminal procedure; relating to loss values
  • HB 2054, AN ACT concerning the department of labor; relating to employment security law; records and reports
  • HB 2041, AN ACT concerning courts; relating to court fees and costs; judicial branch surcharge

 

For a full list of bills, please click here.

“It Can Wait”

AT&T “It Can Wait” Simulator Highlights Dangers of Texting While Driving

From your smartphone and your tablet to Twitter, texts and emails, there is no shortage of applications and devices competing for your attention in today’s always connected world. While we’ve become increasingly adept at trying to manage all of these devices at all times, behind the wheel, everything can change in the blink of an eye. A post, a selfie, a text, a scroll, an email—one look is all it takes.

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, between 2009 and 2014, an average of 92 persons per year died in Kansas due to distracted driving. That means distracted driving contributed to nearly one in four fatalities.

To spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, AT&T brought its “It Can Wait” (ICW) virtual reality simulator to the Capitol on Thursday. Lawmakers, staff and capitol visitors all had the opportunity to try out the experience, which simulates, in an immersive but safe 3-D setting, the potentially deadly consequences of glancing at your phone while driving.

The simulator is part of the It Can Wait movement focused on changing behaviors and educating the public about the dangers of smartphone driving distractions. To learn more about the It Can Wait campaign and find resources to help raise awareness about distracted driving, visit ItCanWait.com

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Paid for by Pam Curtis For State Representative. Steve Curtis, Treasurer.