Kansas Capitol Review – Week Two

Kansas Capitol Review – Week Two

Kansas Capitol Review Week One (Jan. 20 – 24)

By: KARA Government Affairs Staff

The second week of the 2020 Kansas Legislative Session kicked off on Tuesday, Jan. 21, following the observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday. The week saw a flurry of bills introductions and hearings, while hearings on Medicaid expansion and a constitutional amendment on abortion consumed most of the oxygen in the capitol. A summary of some of those issues below.

Tomorrow’s Agribusiness Leaders (TAL) Class Visits Capitol
Kansas Grain and Feed Association (KGFA) and Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association (KARA) welcomed the 23rd class of Tomorrow’s Agribusiness Leaders to Topeka on Jan. 21 for the program’s first of three sessions.

The program, which began in 1998 and has graduated more than 200 members, is a jointly-sponsored initiative of KGFA and KARA designed to hone leadership traits as well as teach members of the associations about the state and federal legislative and regulatory process.

The first session included an overview of the associations as well as conversations and meetings with Kansas’ secretary of agriculture Mike Beam, attorney general Derek Schmidt, government affairs specialists from peer agriculture associations and visits with legislators at the Kansas Capitol. The class also introduced themselves in front of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources committee and received a tour of the capitol.

“I had no real idea of how the Legislative process worked,” said Aaron Anderson of Nutrien Ag Solutions. “After sitting in on Senate hearings, I learned how a bill gets introduced. I also learned that our legislators want to hear from us and how easy it is to reach out to them.”

Kansas House Leadership Rolls Out “Make Kansas Work” Plan
On Thursday, House leadership outlined a “Make Kansas Work” plan that is intended to benefit rural economies, health care, encourage homeownership, and boosts to $100,000 the tax floor for Social Security recipients. Bills will be introduced shortly on this five-point plant, including:

  • Rural Hospital Innovation Act: $30 million in grants to 100 counties of the 105 counties to respond to health-care needs.
  • A first-time homebuyer savings account: allows tax-deductible contributions by parents and grandparents to savings accounts for their children to buy homes in Kansas. The accounts could shelter from taxes up to $24,000 per person or $48,000 per couple.
  • Targeted Employment Act: allows businesses to contract with integrated workshops where people with disabilities who work alongside welfare recipients could receive a tax credit for those contracts.
  • Raising the current $75,000 exemption from state income tax to $100,000 for Social Security recipients in an effort to allow those Social Security recipients to continue working while avoiding state income taxes.
  • The “Kansas Promise Act”: offer scholarships to Kansans who complete certification or two-year jobs programs in high-need areas for skilled labor. Recipients would have to work part time or perform community service and commit to remaining in Kansas at least two years after certification/graduation.

Lieutenant Governor Briefs Committee on 2019 Rural Prosperity Listening Tour
On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the Senate Ag Committee received a presentation from Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers on his 2019 Rural Prosperity Listening Tour. The Lt. Governor stated that the high property taxes was the number one issue that was mentioned during the tour. Other issues stressed were: the importance of rural healthcare (30% of rural hospitals are financially insecure); the need for better internet accessibility; the importance of rural transportation infrastructure; the need for a larger labor force; and more adequate housing in rural areas.

Property Tax Focus
This week saw hearings on multiple bills concerning property taxes in the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation. Your Association joined other business stakeholders in testifying in support of these measures, and will support additional legislation intended to strengthen the rights of Kansas property tax payers. Here is a breakdown of the hearings this week:

  • Senate Bill 262: the bill would clarify the time for requesting full and complete opinion from the Board of Tax Appeals would be 14 days after service of the Board’s decision.
  • Senate Bill 263: the bill would require notice of the estimated property tax dollar amount to be stated on the property tax notice. The purpose is to increase transparency in property taxes.
  • Senate Bill 264: the bill would allow PVD to remove persons from a list of eligible county appraisers due to termination in one or more counties and notification when the person no longer holds office of county appraiser. This bill would give PVD more authority to remove appraisers from PVD’s approved list.
  • Senate Bill 265: the bill would give the option for a party or their attorney on record to receive notices or orders from the Board of Tax Appeals by electronic means.
  • Senate Bill 266: the bill would require appraisal courses for county appraisers and BOTA members to be approved by the Kansas real estate appraisal board.

Bill Filed to Remove Certain Recent Gains on Reining in Agency Regulations
On Thursday, Jan. 23, the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs held a hearing on House Bill 2411 . The bill would roll back certain changes made by legislation passed in 2018 which amended the Rules and Regulations Filing Act to place heightened scrutiny of fiscal notes on proposed state agency regulations. Your association testified on the bill and requested certain specific changes be made. We will work with other stakeholders in putting together an amendment for the committee when the bill is taken up for final action on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

Kansas Attorney General “Public Litigation Coordination Act” Scheduled for Hearing
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt requested introduction of House Bill 2461, a bill which would require local units of government to coordinate with the Attorney General in order to enter into a contract for legal services on a contingency fee basis. The bill is intended to allow for the state to exercise greater control over large suits such where the state – or local units of government – are the plaintiffs, rather than allowing each subordinate unit of government to enter into independent lawsuits. The bill represents good public policy for both the state and for industry. A hearing is scheduled for this bill in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 3:30 p.m., in room 346-S.

Corporate Quorum Requirement Bill Heard
On Thursday, Jan. 23, the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs held a Hearing on House Bill 2401, a bill which would provide an exception to the quorum requirements for shareholder meetings for certain corporations. The bill would amend existing law establishing the requirements for a quorum of stockholders of a corporation for the purposes of conducting the business of the corporation. In addition, the bill would amend existing law regarding the process by which a corporation can amend its articles of incorporation to allow amendment by a quorum voting at a special or annual meeting, if the corporation has over 500 stockholders and its articles of incorporation or bylaws provide that no stockholder may vote more than one share. The bill is meant make it easier to create and expand food cooperative grocery stores. Proponents to the bill included multiple Representatives and the Mercantile Exchange grocery store in Lawrence, Kansas.

Public Utility Income Tax Exemption
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Senate Utilities Committee will hear a bill carried over from last session. This bill, Senate Bill 126, would exempt certain public utilities from paying an income tax and also exclude the utility from factoring the cost of this income tax in setting their utility rates. The purpose of the bill is to lower utility rates and make Kansas more competitive.

Click the button below to view all of the bills being tracked by your association. You can read a brief summary of the bill, the actual text of the bill, the history of the bill and upcoming actions. If you have any problems using the Bill Tracker, please contact Trae Green (trae@kansasag.org).