TOPEKA — The House of Representatives has been considering several options to improve the fiscal shape of the State Government’s budget. One possible solution which passed out of the House Tax Committee on Thursday, March 30, was House Bill 2395 which makes several changes to the current tax code from income brackets to tax deductions. The greatest change made is that the bill creates a level income tax rate of 5% for all income earners. The bill also retains the income tax exemption for any person earning under $5,000 and those earning $12,500 or less filing jointly.
In addition to this, the standard tax deduction will be increased from $3,750 to $7,500 for joint filers and from $3,000 to $6,000 for single filers. Two other major changes will be that medical deductions will be 100% deductible and that the tax exemption for income earned through Low Liability Corporations (LLCs) will be repealed. The last proposed change in the bill is that the sales tax on food be reduced from 6.5% to 5% beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
Wednesday, April 5th the House of Representatives recommended House Bill 2180 for passage. The bill focuses on privilege fees for the premium revenue of health maintenance organizations, sometimes referred to as MCOs. Currently the privilege fee rate is set at 3.11% and was to be lowered to 2% in 2018 under current law. However, if the bill is passed, the rate will be increased to 5.77% and will be applicable on July 1, 2017. To reflect the increased revenues and costs to MCOs, the bill also allocates increased expenditures to KanCare. This bill passed the House, 103-21. I voted “yes.”
2017 Rescission Budget Bill: Senate Substitute for House Substitute 2052
On Thursday, April 6, the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means met in conference to discuss the final details of the rescission budget bill for fiscal year 2017. We had developed an agreement early last week, however, when discussions began with House members, I realized that many in the House would prefer an allocation to the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS). I called a meeting with the Senate to discuss this item and we agreed to new terms regarding KPERS for the conference committee report. The House’s offer to the Senate was to appropriate $85.9 million to KPERS for the 2017 fourth quarter payment.
The conference committee report was finally approved by both chambers and sent to the governor late Thursday evening.
One of the primary functions of government is to protect its citizens from harm. House Leadership chose to make protecting our taxpayers’ highly sensitive and private personal data a high priority with the creation of the House Committee on Government Technology, and Security. The committee worked diligently to craft HB 2331, which centralizes IT and cybersecurity for the state. It would create the Kansas Information Security Office and establish the position of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
The bill would also replace the Office of Technology Services (OITS) to the Kansas Information Technology Enterprise (KITE). KITE would be responsible for all functions of OITS. These changes would reflect the need to develop and implement comprehensive information security programs, and would centralize all IT and cybersecurity operations for the state. These efforts would protect all executive branch agencies, including the various departments, under one centralized system. The Committee of the Whole amended HB 2331 to exclude KPERS from the bill’s provisions. The bill passed the House 90-28, and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
Kansas Amusement Ride Act
Last Thursday and Friday, the Committee also held hearings on HB 2389, which would amend current law concerning amusement park inspections, permit fees, and would amend other provisions of the Kansas Amusement Ride Act. Proponents of the bill expressed their concern for the safety of amusement park rides and would enforce inspection protocol. In addition, the proponents noted the lack of safety measures in Kansas statute and requested greater inspection training requirements.
Opponents asserted that HB 2389 would subject carnivals and travelling companies to burdensome regulations that may hamper business operations, and that National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO) certifications act as sufficient training for inspectors. Neutral testimony followed and highlighted potential lawsuits, age and size of different rides, and various certifications. The Committee articulated concern for the insurance policy of $100,000, insuring the owner or operator against liability for injury— they identified the need to increase that threshold.
As always, if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me (785) 296-7672, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at email@example.com.
We reached adjournment on Thursday and will return on May 1 for the time that is commonly referred to as “Veto Session.” During the three-week break, I will be back home and traveling the district at various town halls and events.
It is a distinct honor to serve as your representative for the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions. I always appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas, as well.