Last week there were two huge events, both focusing on Governor Brownback. The first was the Senate’s quick and decisive action to kill Gov. Brownback’s tax plan. The bill would have raised around $200 million dollars, well short of the amount needed to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Both republicans and democrats agreed that the bill wasn’t enough and the governor needed to come to the table with a better plan. The vote to kill the bill was 37-1.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but there is talk of reintroducing the bill the governor vetoed earlier, with minor changes such as removing the retroactive provision. Again, the issue is raising enough money to close the funding gap while garnering enough support to withstand a veto. A tricky proposition in the Kansas Senate.
A senate subcommittee also killed the governor’s proposal to consolidate certain boards in state government. These mergers have normally passed both chambers, think KDOT/Turnpike but even the simplest of consolidations are no longer guaranteed. For instance, the governor proposed merging the board of cosmetology and barbering earlier this year. This week the Senate Ways and Means subcommittee decided against that approach and kept the funding for both boards independent.
The second big event of the week was the unconfirmed report that Gov. Brownback will be appointed as Ambassador to the United Nations for food and agriculture.
The Governor has not confirmed or denied the possible job offer, but many see this as a possible way out, given his waning influence in the Capitol. Thus far, the legislature has successfully pushed back on many of the governor’s ideas, causing a significant policy shift in the Capitol. Should Gov. Brownback leave, additional options for passing a tax plan may be available.
The KBA continues to monitor legislative activity. The house judiciary committee began working on senate-introduced bills this week with some minor technical bills receiving hearings. The house judiciary agenda for next week looks very similar.
The senate judiciary committee will be churning through 17 bills next week and looking at a similar number for the week starting on March 20. KBA bills, except for HB 2186, will most likely be heard during the March 20 week. We are working to confirm that information.
Finally, the Kansas Supreme Court is accepting comments of a proposed change to Rule 122, dealing with E-filing. The deadline to submit comments is close of business this Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Comments can be submitted via email.