Couture-Lovelady: Legislative Update

Travis Couture-LoveladyKeystone Pipeline
President Obama’s refusal to approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would be used to import oil derived from Canadian oil sands to the United States has recently been at the forefront of national policy discussions. Last Friday, the U.S. Senate voted 62 to 37 to back the project as in the best interest of the U.S. because of the jobs it would create and the significant step it would be toward energy independence. This vote was significant because the project received the support of six additional senators from last year when it received 56 favorable votes.

In light of growing support at the national level, the House this week passed HCR 5014, a resolution that urges the U.S. Secretary of State to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline application from TransCanada. The resolution finds that for decades to come the U.S. will remain dependent on imported energy and needs a secure supply of crude oil free from potential threats and disruptions of an unreliable crude oil supply from less secure parts of the world. It also finds that the project will create approximately 9,000 construction jobs as well as thousands of manufacturing jobs. A copy of the resolution stating these findings, as well as others, would be sent to the President of the U.S., the U.S. Secretary of State, and each member of the Kansas Congressional Delegation.

Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund
Oil and gas are major components of the industrial base in many western and southeast Kansas counties. Because these resources will not last forever, the Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund was developed. The money credited to the account currently consists of 12.41 percent of the previous year’s severance tax receipts and is meant to provide some economic relief to the affected counties once these resources are used up.

This year, the governor proposed in his budget recommendation for FY 2014 and FY 2015 abolishing the Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund and transferring that money to the State General Fund (SGF). In response to this recommendation, the House worked on a compromise to keep the fund but to decrease the amount of money contributed to it. This week the House passed that compromise, Substitute for HB 2262, which would lower the percentage annually credited to the fund based on the previous year’s severance tax receipts from 12.41 percent to 8.25 percent. This lower percentage contribution to the Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund would increase the amount transferred to SGF by $5 million in FY 2014 and $6.7 million in FY 2015.

University of Kansas Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center
This week the House passed SB 199 which would establish the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center. This center would focus on scientific advances for adult, cord blood and related stem cell and non-embryonic stem cell research, and therapies for patient treatments. This facility will also produce clinical grade stem cells and facilitate the delivery of therapies. They will conduct clinical trials while also maintaining a resource database for physicians, and provide education training for physicians while informing the public of therapeutic options regarding stem cell advances.

Drug Testing for Government Assistance
An increasing number of states have adopted, or are considering, measures to ensure government assistance is being used for its intended purposes. In 2012 alone, 28 states considered legislation regarding drug testing of welfare (TANF) and food stamp (SNAP) recipients. This session, legislation along these same lines was drafted and passed in the Senate and, this week, was subsequently passed in the House.

The bill, SB 149, would prohibit an individual who fails a drug test from receiving assistance until they have completed drug treatment and job training programs. A second failed drug test would result in the individual having their assistance suspended for a year. Long term suspension would be for recipients who fail a third, or subsequent, drug test. In instances where a parent fails a drug test, the portion of cash assistance allocated for their children could go to a third party to administer on the child’s behalf.

Last February, Congress approved a measure allowing states to drug-test individuals who receive unemployment benefits. Under this legislation, Kansas would also require potential employers who have a job applicant fail or refuse to take a drug test report that outcome to the Kansas Department of Labor. Failure of or refusal to take the drug test would result in the individual losing their unemployment benefits until they complete drug treatment and job training programs. This provision is similar to laws already enacted in Mississippi, Georgia, Arizona and Indiana.

The bill is not intended to be punitive to those who rely on these programs but to identify those with substance abuse problems and assist them in getting the help and job skills needed to be productive members of the job market. The end result must be one that is a responsible, targeted approach to help families overcome the evils of drug addiction and ensure the proper use of welfare and unemployment benefits.

Do not hesitate to contact me if with your thoughts and concerns. I am dedicated to providing outstanding constituent service and your continued communication is vital to that process. You can stay connected by following my Facebook page at and website at As always, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-4683 at any time.


  • http://hayspost american


    • bluekansas

      come on american only 14 spills in the first 2 years of the pipeline. those pipes made in india just don’t cut it.

    • bluekansas

      american are you on twitter

      • AMERICAN

        no, just here and salina post

  • bluekansas

    New Photos From Keystone XL Debate: ‘Imagine Arkansas Spill Times Ten’
    Climate catastrophe would follow tar sands development and spills inevitable, say campaigners

  • bluekansas

    travis, did you know not one drop of the tar oil will be used in the usa. it will all be shipped overseas. it will raise us gas prices in the us though, the refineries will be tied up refining this oil for overseas customers.

  • bluekansas

    Pipedream hits home(s) in tar sands spills in AR & MN and spills in WI & UT:
    What do Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Arkansas all have in common? If you said “None of those teams are in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four,” you wouldn’t be wrong this year, though you also wouldn’t be correct – at least within the boundaries of our topic for today.

    If your answer was, “All four states have experienced massive oil spills within the last year – and three within the last two weeks,” you’d be correct, unfortunately.

    The latest disaster this weekend saw thousands of barrels of thick tar sands oil spewing from a ruptured Exxon Mobil pipeline into a residential neighborhood in central Arkansas. Twenty-two homes had to be evacuated, in a spill that literally saw oil running down residential streets and between houses. Take a look…

  • bluekansas

    Brownback’s tax plan summarized:

    1. Extend the 6.3% statewide sales tax.
    2. Surrepticiously raise local property taxes.
    3. Give millions of dollars of Kansas income tax breaks to “small” businesses like Koch industries while placing all of the income tax burden on the backs of W-2 wage earners.
    4. Eliminate the mortgage interest deduction.
    5. Eliminate the real estate tax deduction.
    6. Somehow use this plan to be viewed as a “tax reducer” to get re-elected in 2014 and move back to Washington DC before the plan implodes, bankrupting Kansas.

    Judicial Selection – the Merit Selection system has worked fine since 1959. Brownback wants to destroy the independence of the Judicial branch of government and appoint Kansas Justices and Judges with a rubber stamp approval by conservatives in the Kansas Senate. This will turn the fair and impartial Kansas Court of Appeals into a conservative kangaroo Court. This will NOT happen to the Kansas Supreme Court.

    Legislature: throw a wrench in this whole plan now. REBUKE the Brownback agenda and residents of kansas need register and get out and vote to defeat these right wing tea party republicans in 2014.

  • bluekansas

    Reducing the EITC is a tax hike on 200k+ working Kansans

    What is the EITC?

    The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) gets and keeps people in Kansas
    working. It can only be claimed by people who earn income through work
    and pay taxes, and the credit is structured to encourage people to work
    more hours. At the federal level, it was designed to offset payroll,
    excise and income taxes paid by families with low- and moderate-incomes,
    leaving them with more to support their children and easing their
    transition from welfare to work. Because working families who receive
    the federal credit also pay a substantial share of their income in state
    and local taxes (sales, excise and property taxes that as a share of
    income hit lower-income families harder than wealthier ones), Kansas
    established its own EITC.

    Who is impacted by the EITC?

    In 2010, 211,262 families in Kansas (or 17.4%) benefited from the
    federal government’s EITC. Those same families received over $80
    million, or $381 per household, through Kansas’s version of the tax
    credit and spent those dollars on basic needs in local communities in
    your district.

    Kansans who work should be able to support their families and meet
    their basic needs. But low pay makes it difficult for many families to
    get by. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) helps families who work pay
    for basic necessities. It encourages and supports work by giving
    low-earning families a boost in income and offsetting some of the taxes
    they pay. And it is the nation’s single most effective tool for keeping
    children out of poverty.

  • bluekansas

    On march 21st 2013

    The House Republicans approved a $400 million middle class tax increase.

    The week before , Senate Republicans approved $500 million middle class tax hike.

    The Governor’s latest tax plan includes a $700 million middle class tax hike.

    All of these proposals were introduced to pay for tax cuts Governor
    Brownback pushed through in 2012, which give the top earners in the
    state an average tax cut of about $20,000 while enabling business owners
    go income tax free.

    None of these plans will generate enough revenue to allow for
    restored funding of Kansas schools. Please share – your neighbors need
    to know what is happening in Statehouse.

    getting rid of brownback and his right wing tea party christian conservatives legislatures is the real challenge for kansans.

    Yeah, it’s pretty courageous to simultaneously block access to abortion for pregnant women while cutting funding for food stamps and other public assistance that would help them support their families. Courageous because many people will call them down as the HYPOCRITES they are.


      Your on a roll tonite, to bad hays area conservatives can,t read

  • bluekansas

    american, i’m from great bend and it’s the same here, just trying to spread the truth around kansas.


      i,m from hays, i,ve check on great bend post. com, but it looked like just a bunch of deadheads on there