The Kansas Legislature made several significant moves the last week of January. First, Gov. Kelly announced her Medicaid Expansion bill. The bill officially introduced by Rep. Wolfe Moore (D- Kansas City) will cost around $15 million. It is the same bill that the House debated a year ago. See; https://governor.kansas.gov/governor-kelly-releases-medicaid-expansion-bill/; See also; https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-gov-kelly-goes-medicaid-expansion-plan-almost-worked#stream/0
Not to be outdone, Senate President Susan Wagle looks to quickly pass out of committee a tax cut bill aimed at the federal tax windfall. That bill, SB 22, if approved, will allow Kansas residents to take advantage of the increased federal standard deduction while being able to itemize on their state taxes. See; http://www.hutchnews.com/news/20190129/sen-susan-wagle-plans-swift-action-on-kansas-tax-reform-test-of-veto-power; See also; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190131/kansas-corporations-line-up-for-majority-of-senate-panels-191-million-in-tax-breaks?nocache=1
The cost of the bill runs around $200 million in year one. It would put Gov. Kelly’s budget agenda in jeopardy by eating up some of the revenue she would need to fund expansion, school finance and DCF increases. If all those things passed along with SB 22, the state would be in the red by 2020. See; https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190131/sen-anthony-hensley-senate-president-susan-wagle-should-take-own-advice-not-squander-surplus
Also in play is SB 9 that transfers $115 million from the state general fund to pay for KPERS. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended this transfer on January 30th. This would be another blow to the Kelly agenda since the governor wants to amortize KPERS, save this money now and put it towards other programs.
Last week, the KBA testified on three bills and set hearings for two more. The KBA supported HB 2020 dealing with attorney registration; SB 20 extending the surcharge docket fee and HB 2039, Tribal Judgments.
The KBA once again supported extending the surcharge docket fee. There was little opposition to SB 20, and it should move smoothly through the House. On a broader judicial salary note—The National Conference of State Courts released its judicial salary report last week. Kansas now ranks dead last for district court judge pay. Here is a link to that report. https://www.ncsc.org/salarytracker
HB 2039 is a judicial council bill, and it to faced little opposition. However, a friendly amendment was added by Rep. Ralph that made it quite clear this bill would not alter the sovereign rights of tribal nations. Rep. Carmichael also wanted the record to reflect that HB 2039 had nothing to do with Sharia Law.
This week is a busy one for the KBA:
Monday, February 4th—House Judiciary; Hearings on HB 2072, amending the uniform arbitration act; HB 2105, updating the LLC act. The KBA introduced both bills and plan to testify.
Tuesday, February 5th—Senate Judiciary; Hearing on SB 55, uniform partition of heir’s property act. The KBA will also host the WBA legislative reception from 5-7 pm at the Gernon Law Center, 1200 SW Harrison, in Topeka.
Wednesday, February 6th—Slam Dunk CLE in Manhattan at 10:20; Kansas Supreme Court State of the Judiciary speech at 12:30. The KBA is sponsoring the reception after the speech.
Thursday, February 7th—KBF Board meeting at the KBA offices. Court Appreciation dinner 6-9pm at Topeka Country Club.
Friday, February 8th—KBA Board meeting at the KBA offices
Saturday, February 9th—Title Standard Committee meeting in Wichita. Discuss SB 55, HB 2038, automatic revocation upon divorce, Contract for deeds proposal.
Things are really picking up at the Capitol; it’s a good place to visit. Come visit and look around. Something interesting happens every day.