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Wrapping up the legislative session
Sen. Mary Jo Taylor serves Kansas 33rd district which includes the following counties: Barton Edwards, Kiowa, Lane, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush, Scott, Stafford. and parts of Hodgeman & Rice Counties - photo by Tribune file photo

Jargon Alert

A bill doesn’t typically pass one chamber in the exact form as it passed the other chamber. After passing the second chamber, the chamber where the bill first was passed can disagree (nonconcur) with those changes and require a conference committee be convened.
• The chair, vice-chair, and ranking minority members of the House and Senate committees which passed the bill comprise the conference committee.
• Those six legislators hammer out differences between the versions passed by each chamber, and submit a committee report with those changes.
• The committee report cannot be changed and must be passed “as-is” by both the House and Senate before heading to the governor for approval. If one chamber does not pass the report, the bill stays in the committee for continued deliberation.

STAFFORD — We are at the “Drop Dead Day” deadline where all bills not exempt from deadlines are struck for the remainder of the session. Again, the topics can still come up as amendments onto bills, but the bill number itself is dead for the year. The jargon you’ll see in this newsletter includes: Conference Committees and Concur vs. Nonconcur, and they are related.
Committees worked diligently the week of March 19 to move bills out of committee, and we spent the week of March 26 on the Senate floor debating those bills. Conference committees will meet April 2-4 and we will consider exempt bills and conference committee reports on April 5-6, then adjourn for staff to complete the paperwork for the regular session. We will return for Veto Session on Thursday, April 26 and will have much more information about state revenues once taxes are mostly received in mid-April.

Around the District
I plan to have two legislative coffees in April, one in Rush Center on Wednesday, April 18 at Golden Belt Telephone, 103 W. Lincoln Street, time to be announced, and one in Larned on Saturday, April 28th, location and time to be announced.

In The News
Though the first education funding plan of the session will be debated in the House on Monday, April 2, work has been ongoing since the Gannon V decision was released in October 2017. For those who are interested, I’ve compiled a document that provides some history, context for current research, studies, and recommendations, as well as an overview of the House bill.

On the Floor
Ag Issues
HB 2583 would repeal the existing noxious weed law, establish a 13-member State Noxious Weed Advisory Board to report on program effectiveness and make recommendations for the use of state funds. The bill also would make it illegal for individuals to import, plant or grow plants declared noxious weeds. The House approved an earlier version of the bill 101-16 and the Senate passed it 36-4. It will go to conference committee for negotiation.
HB 2628 passed the House and Senate unanimously, and would allow the City of Pratt to dissolve any airport authority it creates by the city adopting an appropriate ordinance. The city would acquire the property of the authority subject to any leases or agreements made by the authority. The House agreed 122-2 with changes made in the Senate, and the bill is on its way to the governor’s desk.
Extended hunting season: HB 2558—The Senate unanimously approved a bill that would extend the season for hunting and collecting game birds on controlled shooting areas from Sept. 1 to April 30. Current law ends the season on March 31. The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously and without changes, so it is under review by the governor.

Dozens of schools across Kansas do not have access to adequate bandwidth to the internet (many in our Senate district). This is a serious educational issue when preparing students for the global economy. S Sub HB 2701 would create the Statewide Broadband Expansion Planning Task Force. The task force would work to evaluate the broadband needs of Kansan and consider recent Federal Communications Commission action. Both the House and Senate passed this bill unanimously, but it was heavily amended in the Senate and will go conference committee for negotiation.
Have you been on a guided pheasant hunt? SB 301 would require hunting guides and outfitters to register with the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The bill would allow the Department to charge an annual registration fee of $100 and assess a fine of $500 to outfitters or guides who don’t register. The Department also would be required to maintain a list of registered guides and outfitters on its website, which will be a great asset to help our hunting tourism industry here.
It passed the Senate 31-9, I voted yes.

These bills both passed the Senate and the House agreed to changes we made, so they are headed for the governor’s desk:
In my Public Health & Welfare Committee, we debated and passed HB 2496, which would allow Kansas to join the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which would allow RNs and LPNs to have one multi-state license with the privilege to practice in Kansas and in other states that are members of the compact. The House approved the bill 116-1, and the Senate passed it unanimously.
If you have a loved one in or considering long-term care, the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program serves as a helpful navigator and troubleshooter in the process. This program serves as an advocate for the rights of individuals in long-term care facilities who bring complaints to the Department for Aging and Disability Services. HB 2590 would require the Secretary of the department to provide oversight and monitoring of the ombudsman office, including an assessment of how the program is performing its responsibilities and functions set out in state and federal regulations. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously.

SB 449 would allow taxpayers to deduct up to $3,000 ($6,000 for married filing jointly) cumulatively to both a 529 Education Savings Plan and a 529a ABLE Savings Plan for each designated beneficiary. Current law does not allow deductions for contributions to an ABLE plan. ABLE stands for “Achieving a Better Life Experience.” Money from these accounts can be withdrawn tax free when used to pay for qualified disability expenses. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is under consideration by the House Taxation Committee.
Currently, sales taxes collected at the Kansas State Fair are deposited into the State General Fund just like any other sales tax. However, the State Fairgrounds are in dire need of infrastructure repair and improvements. SB 415 would require all state sales tax collected by the Fair itself and by any retailer doing business at the Kansas State Fairgrounds to be deposited into the State Fair Capital Improvement Fund. This is an excellent way for the prosperity of the fair to pay for its upkeep. It passed the Senate unanimously.

Transportation & Public Safety
The following bills passed as follows and are under negotiation in conference committee:
HB 2599 would allow the state to offer several different kinds of distinctive license plates, it passed the House unanimously and the Senate 36-2, I voted yes:
• Choose Life
• City of Wichita
• Special Olympics
• Veteran of the Korean War
• Veteran of Operation Desert Storm
• Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and
• Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom

HB 2606 exempts individuals who renew their driver’s licenses online from taking a vision exam. However, individuals renewing online would be required to submit a vision test from a licensed eye doctor to certify that their vision meets the requirements for driving under Kansas law. Only drivers between the ages of 18-50 years old can renew online. The House approved this bill, 120-2, and the Senate passed it 35-5, I voted yes. Current law requires driver’s carrying hazardous materials licenses (HAZMAT) renew those licenses every five years. HB 2511 would move commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) renewable every five years instead of every four years so they could be taken together. Hearing testimony is available here. The House and Senate passed this bill unanimously.

The following bills passed the Senate, but further action has not been taken:

HB 2639 would allow the Department of Health and Environment to set and collect a fee for fingerprinting individuals maintaining, residing, working or regularly volunteering at child care facilities.The House previously passed this legislation, 111-6, it passed the Senate 36-4, and will likely be sent to a conference committee to negotiate differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill. View testimony here.
If you buy a car and are offered manufacturer’s rebates, SB 367 would remove the amount of those cash rebates from the sales price for sales taxation purposes. In other words, you shouldn’t have to pay sales tax on money you don’t actually spend! It passed the Senate unanimously.

Legal Issues
Under current law, individuals charged with a felony may be committed to a state security hospital or a county or private institution to be examined for competency. Individuals charged with misdemeanors may be committed to state, county or private institutions to be examined for competency. HB 2549 would clarify that defendants, regardless of the type of charge, could be committed to a state security hospital or any appropriate state, county or private institution to be examined for competency. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, but in different versions, so it is under negotiation by a conference committee.

If you’ve watched the drama unfolding in the race to be Kansas’ next governor, you know there are no rules regarding age (or species, for that matter) to file. HB 2539 would require every candidate for Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and State Insurance Commissioner to be a qualified elector of Kansas (at least 18 years old to run). Candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor must be at least 30 years old. The bill also would require a candidate for Attorney General to be licensed to practice law in Kansas. This bill passed the House, 94-28., and the Senate 29-9, I voted yes. View hearing testimony here.

Committee Work
Public Health & Welfare
Insurance coverage for doctor’s appointments (or other health professionals) is currently covered differently than in-person appointments. Considering the potential hospital closures in rural Kansas and the long distances to many providers, access to quality medical care, especially specialists, has been a challenge and HB 2674 will help save lives in rural Kansas. It would provide insurance coverage parity for standard in-person medical care and care provided by real-time, two-way interactive radio, visual, or audio-visual communications. It passed the House unanimously.
• Because the dental therapists bill (SB 312) that is so important to rural Kansas seemed to be stuck in the House committee, our committee added it into this bill. HB 2674 passed the House unanimously, SB 312 passed the Senate 38-2. The committee passed this bill to the full Senate for debate. Because HB 2674 was introduced in the House Taxation Committee, it is exempt from deadlines and is open for consideration through the end of the session.
It is an honor and privilege to serve you in Topeka. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions about these or other legislative issues important to you.

Sen. Mary Jo Taylor serves Kansas’ 33rd district which includes the following counties: Barton Edwards, Kiowa, Lane, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush, Scott, Stafford. and parts of Hodgeman & Rice Counties