Senate Substitute for Substitute for HB 2052 – Rescission Bill
On Thursday, the Senate debated Senate Substitute for Substitute HB 2052. Commonly referred to as the “rescission bill,” S Sub for Sub HB 2052 makes appropriations revisions for FY’17. This bill is a large piece of the overall budget puzzle – it authorizes the borrowing of enough funds to close the FY’17 budget shortfall – and its passage is a large step forward in relieving the state of its ongoing budget deficit. This bill was introduced in and passed by the Kansas House of Representatives before making its way to the Senate. While the House used the Governor’s budget plan as a springboard, the Senate Ways and Means Committee opted to amend the bill to borrow about $149.2 million less than in the Governor’s proposal, including borrowing $104.4 million less from the State General Fund (SGF) than the Governor initially proposed. On the floor, the Senate debated multiple amendments pertaining to possible across-the-board cuts for the remaining fiscal year – including proposals for a two percent cut, a one percent cut, and a .5 percent cut. Ultimately, the measure failed, and no further agency cuts are expected to be made to FY’17.
Because the Senate amended this bill after the House passed it, it will go back to the House for another vote, where the House must either 1) accept the Senate’s amendments, which would send the bill to the Governor’s desk, or 2) deny the Senate’s amendments, triggering the need for a Conference Committee. A Conference Committee is a small, bipartisan and bicameral committee that works to smooth out the differences between the House’s and Senate’s version of a similar bill. Once the Conference Committee comes to a compromise, the committee’s version of the bill will be sent to both the House and the Senate for a final vote before sending the bill to the Governor’s desk. The next part of the budget debate will likely include changes to the tax policy. We anticipate to vote on an income tax bill in the coming weeks.
Other final action bills from the week
SB 137 – Relating to death benefits for certain Kansas police and firefighter surviving spouses
SB 137 would allow a Kansas police officer’s or firefighter’s spouse to receive an immediate lump-sum benefit equal to 100 percent of the member’s final average salary, if the member’s death was service-related (current law only allows a lump-sum to equal 50 percent of the member’s final average salary). When a service-related tragedy occurs, we must do all that we can to ensure the member’s spouse and family are taken care of, in the same way that the member devoted their life to taking care of Kansans. This bill sends a strong signal to our police and firefighters, and their families, that we value them and will not neglect their families, should tragedy strike.
HB 2387 – Tax Break for Repairing Wildfire Damage
With taxes being one of the hottest debates this session, the Senate set aside its tax policy disputes to unanimously approve a state sales tax exemption for purchases of supplies to repair fencing burned in the wildfires that burned more than 650,000 acres in Kansas. HB 2387 would provide farmers and ranchers with a sales tax exemption for all property and services purchased during 2017 or 2018 necessary to construct, reconstruct, repair, or replace any fence used to enclose agricultural land that was damaged or destroyed by wildfires occurring in 2016 or 2017.
SB 117 – Declaring Blackberry a Noxious Weed
SB 117 amends the Noxious Weed Law which permits the board of county commissioners to declare a plant to be a noxious weed within the boundaries of their county. The bill would add the everbearing blackberry and the Himalayan blackberry (both not edible) to the list of noxious weeds.
SB 184 – Authorizing the Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center
SB 184 enacts the Kansas Intelligence Fusion Act and establish the Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center (KIFC). The KIFC is a collaboration among federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, as well as certain private-sector entities. The center helps with intelligence analysis and also will promote and improve intelligence sharing among public agencies at both the state and federal level. The primary fusion center provides information sharing and analysis for an entire state. These centers are the highest priority for the allocation of available federal resources, including the deployment of personnel and connectivity with federal data systems. SB 184 also codifies the current practices of the KIFC. This bill was supported by the Kansas Adjutant General whose mission is to protect life and property through planning, coordination and synchronization of state and federal resources, to provide a ready military, emergency management, and homeland security capability for our state and nation.
KSReady.Gov – a very useful website for this spring
With the unpredictable Kansas weather, this state’s portal to information and resources on emergency planning and preparedness for the public, businesses, schools, children, elected officials and first responders is a very useful tool for this time of the year. On this website, the Kansas State Response Plan identifies 22 natural and man-made hazards that may occur in the state, everything from floods to radiological events to earthquakes. While we can’t always prevent tomorrow’s disasters, we can prepare ourselves to face them by taking steps today. Other important links to be found on this helpful page are chemicals which shouldn’t be mixed (Don’t Mix Chemicals! Read the Label First! Campaign), the Kansas Preparedness Challenge (prepare for whatever comes our way), Geographic Information Systems (G.I.S.), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), Rapid Damage Assessment Resource Kit and Long Term Community Recovery. You can also access the National Weather Service, Kansas Homeland Security, US Department of Homeland Security, Kansas voluntary organizations active in disasters and local County contacts.
On Monday, March 14th, 2017, Captain Scot Kerns, Wing Chaplain, Kansas Wing Civil Air Patrol and pastor of Lincoln, Kansas, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, was invited to serve as the Senate Chaplain for the day as my guest. Here are the words he shared with us:
Almighty God, You rule over all. All authority comes from You. It comes from You to those servants who make and administer our laws. In Your Holy Word it says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there
is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” So it is then that we pray for these Your servants of the Kansas Senate. We ask that you guide them in their matters of deliberation and as they make decisions that they would benefit all residents of this state. Residents of Kansas including all the volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol. It is the dedicated volunteers of Kansas Wing Civil Air Patrol, whom distinguish themselves in service to their communities, the state and our nation. We pray for all those of the Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force. We give thanks for all servants of the Civil Air Patrol who are dedicated to giving back to the communities through its three missions – Emergency Services, Aerospace Education, and Cadet Programs. Here now I pray that together all as servants – we might see how You finally came to serve us. I pray that all might always look to You, the Chief Servant, the Lord, Jesus Christ till that life everlasting. Amen
From the State Library
The Kansas Constitution, including the Ordinance, Preamble, and Bill of Rights, is available to print in a pocket-sized version from the State Library’s website http://kslib.info/constitution. Just click on the link and follow the instructions. A helpful diagram shows how to fold and where to cut to assemble your booklet. Helpful tip: print double sided and flip on the long edge.
Visitors from Senate District #36
We had another busy week with visitors from home including the 7th Grade students from Concordia and the 2017 Lincoln County Leadership Class visited Topeka and had lunch with former Lincoln County resident Tom Tunnel and his staff at the KGFA headquarters. Tom is now the President of Kansas Grain and Feed Association in Topeka. The Leadership Class took the Dome Tour to the top of the Capitol followed by the Senate Session at 2:30PM where they watched the Senate floor debate.
As always, I’ll keep you updated on the activities of the Senate while we continue through the second half of the session. I always encourage you to stay informed of the issues under consideration by the Kansas Legislature. Committee schedules, bills, and other helpful information can be easily accessed through the legislature’s website at www.kslegislature.org. You are also able to ‘listen in live’ at this website. The House meets at 11:00AM and the Senate at 2:30PM. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. An email is the best at this point in the session.
Thank for the honor of serving you!
Senator Elaine Bowers (R-Concordia), 36th Dist.
Kansas State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, KS 66612