On the 99th day of a promised 80-day session, the Kansas Legislature
finally adjourned for the year. Sine die has been scheduled for June 20.
Other than officially closing the 2013 legislative session, sine die is
important because it allows lawmakers to begin receiving political
contributions. Look for those mailers to be sent out asking for
contributions for next year’s primary and general elections.
A very late effort to expand Kansas Secretary of State
Kris Kobach’s powers to include prosecution of election fraud cases
failed early Sunday morning. This bill would have given the secretary of
state authority to go after voter fraud. The Kansas House voted 45-64
to kill the measure. See Kansas City Star, Kansas lawmakers fail to
expand Kris Kobach’s power, available at http://www.kansascity.com/2013/06/02/4270349/kan-lawmakers-fail-to-expand-sec.html.
Both chambers worked late into the night and early morning with
intent on keeping the calendar set on the 99th day. It costs the state
(taxpayers) roughly $45,000 per day to run the statehouse. Given the
extended veto session taxpayers paid an extra $405,000 to close out the
Oddly enough, money issues were the main reason the Veto Session
dragged on for an extra nine days. Both chambers could not agree on a
tax plan that would help fund the budget and keep the state out of the
red. However, in the end enough arms were twisted for the House to pass a
tax plan (63-51) that included a partial extension of the sales tax
with the possibility of a sales tax buy down should future revenue
exceed 102 percent. The sales tax will be kept at 6.15 percent instead
of reverting back to 5.7 percent as promised in 2010. The tax bill also
adds revenue by reducing income tax deductions, think mortgage interest,
and raises more than $300 million for FY 2014. Add these two taxes
together and the numbers start to look a little better for positive
ending balances. Although the budget does not account for any additional
money for K-12 should the Kansas Supreme Court order it.
From here look for political points to be made calling the tax plan a
tax increase. Democrats and some Republicans see the tax plan as a $777
million tax hike while the governor and his supports call it a tax cut
because it lowers income tax rates over the next five years. See
Once the Kansas House passed the tax plan, the Senate could
comfortably work on the budget without fear of the House adjourning or
leaving town. The budget was a little trimmer that the Senate or
governor wanted, especially for Higher Education, which the governor
wanted to be held static. The House wanted solid cuts to shrink
government and for the most part they got what they wanted. Under the
current numbers state agencies should be good till next spring but
supplemental budget requests are not out of order for 2014.
Finally, the Kansas Legislative Research Department has released two
2013 legislative summaries. These are great resources to find new laws
by specific category and they can be found at http://www.kslegisalture.org/li.
For more information and to find other bills please review the updated Bill Tracking Chart.