The 2017 Session of the Kansas Legislature began last week on Monday, January 9th. My committee assignments for this year include: Government Technology and Security, Children and Senior's, Elections and the Judiciary Committee. The calendar will remain full over the next few weeks as bills are introduced and committees begin their work. You can follow the legislative session online at www.kslegislature.org
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I both value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 452-S, Kansas Statehouse, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. Additionally, you can e-mail me at email@example.com.
State of the State Address
Governor Sam Brownback gave his 2017 State of the State address on Tuesday, January 10th. Brownback referred to Kansas as the “envy of the world,” and assured a rather subdued Legislature and audience that his tax plan is working. This claim is easily refuted by the fact that our state’s budget deficit is nearly $1 billion.
Brownback’s tax plan, passed in 2012, allows the exemptions of income taxes for LLCs. This was supposed to bolster job creation – however, Kansas is experiencing negative job growth. The Governor also asked the Legislature to pass a bill addressing the 2016 fiscal year budget shortfall by the end of January.
In addition, Gov. Brownback suggested performance-based pay for teachers, proposed the creation of a dental school at KU Medical Center, and announced that he would present a structurally balanced budget.
Governor’s Budget Report
The governor’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, delivered a briefing of the Governor’s Budget proposal on Wednesday morning. The proposal includes the following:
-Doubling taxes on tobacco and alcohol sales, with a $1 dollar tax per pack of cigarettes
-Delaying $75 million in payments to K-12 until 2018
-Removing $13 million from the Extraordinary Needs Fund
-A transfer of $15.4 million from the State Highway Fund in 2017, $288.3 million in 2018, and $293.1 million in 2019
-Securitization of the state’s tobacco funds
-Extend the KanCare contracts for one year
-Create a dental school at KU Medical Center
-Create a scholarship for teachers who agree to work in rural areas of Kansas
Special Election Bill
President-Elect Donald Trump has chosen Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo from Congressional District 4 as his CIA Director, which will leave a vacancy in that district upon his confirmation. A Representative of the U.S. Congress can only be elected by the people, not appointed, which will force a special election for that seat. The bill (HB 2017) passed easily through the Kansas House on Thursday, extending the deadline for military ballots, establishing a process for Libertarian candidates to be on the ballot, and lowering the number of signatures required for a petition candidate.
Persons who are registered as unaffiliated can only get on the ballot by petition. Instead of requiring 17,000 signatures, the number has been lowered to 3,000. Amendments to the bill included establishing a time frame to begin gathering signatures (only after the governor has declared the vacancy), and changing the time frame that the Board of Canvassers can accept mail ballots.