The KBA Advocate is the weekly KBA legislative newsletter that contains up-to-date information on legislation that impacts your practice. It is only published when the legislature is in session and is sent to all KBA members electronically via the KBA Weekly.
In the second week of the legislative session things appear to be settling down. This week was anchored by the State of the Judiciary Address given by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss. The crux of the 40-minute speech was the issue of salaries for judicial branch employees and judges. Chief Justice Nuss pointed out that Kansas ranks 50th in employee pay even after last session’s 2.5 percent increase. The Judicial Branch experiences employee turnover at five times the national average. Every staff position within the judicial branch has a starting wage below market value. Nuss pointed out that when Wal-Mart phases in their new starting wage of $11 per hour, it will be nearly the same as a starting wage for certain court positions. The court is losing employees to Wal-Mart, Target etc., due to salaries. You can read about the salary issue here: http://bit.ly/2FVoLaR
In the Senate Judiciary Committee, hearings were held on SB 199 dealing with appeal bonds. This bill creates a small business category for appeal bonds by defining a small business as having 50 or fewer employees and no more than $50 million in annual revenue. The bill also retroactively applies to any appeal that has not been resolved filed prior to the effective date of the bill. KTLA opposed the bill while the KS Association of Defense Counsel supported it. This bill was originally introduced by the Kansas Chamber.
The House Judiciary Committee also held hearings this week with SB 181 being heard on Thursday. SB 181 would authorize a district court judge to enter into amnesty programs for traffic fines. These fines are a dedicated revenue stream for the judicial branch, and the amnesty program would cost the court some money. The bill was supported by Judge Phil Journey and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau. Both believe that this type of penalty to be a tax on the poor.
Two groups opposed the bill: Kansas District Judges Association and the Kansas Association of District Court Clerks & Administrators. Both groups stated this would create extra work for clerks which would require at least four full-time employees. For its part, OJA created an ad hoc committee to study municipal court fines and fees and draft a report with recommendations. This committee is chaired by Municipal Court Judge (City of Salina) Brenda Stoss. The committee did not make any recommendations.
Both judiciary committees have full schedules this week as a host of family law bills, criminal bills and administrative measures are discussed and/or set for hearing. Look for the House Judiciary Committee to discuss civil asset forfeiture late next week while the Senate Judiciary Committee spends Monday discussing Human Trafficking.
There is actual video footage of the exchange up on YouTube now. See; http://bit.ly/2CSpw6G. Rep. Alford resigned both of his committee chairmanships and issued a formal apology.
Second, Missouri Governor Eric Greiten admitted to an affair before he was elected. The report goes on to allege that Greiten attempted to use personal sensitive photos to blackmail his mistress. See: http://bit.ly/2CPoIeP; See also: http://bit.ly/2mkYn1g. There are Missouri legislators calling on Greiten to resign.
Third, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback gave the annual State of the State address on Tuesday evening. Many thought Lt. Gov. Jeff Coyler would be giving the speech since Brownback was in line for a U.S. Senate-confirmed Ambassadorship. The US Senate vote never came, so Gov. Brownback was obligated to give the speech. He focused on K12 spending and recommended adding $600 million over five years to school funding. He also stated he wanted to add 150 school counselors a year for 5 years as well.He stated that this could be done with no new taxes.
Republican leadership responded quickly to the $600 million proposal and the governor’s budget, and it was not kind. Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) is quoted as saying “I’m not sure what the logic is behind this” proposal. Rep. J.R. Claeys went even further tweeting “The governor has waved the white flag of surrender from the dome, and tossed every ally he had left under the bus... Then put the bus in reverse... Then lit fire to the bus.” Senate President Susan Wagle also made comments criticizing the governor’s plans. See: https://twitter.com/APjdhanna.
This will be a hard sell for many conservatives. How they plan on approaching the governor’s recommendation and the court’s deadline remains to be seen, but this is not a good start.
Fourth, there is a growing concern about transparency in the Capitol regarding bill introductions. In the past, it was not uncommon for a bill to be introduced without a known sponsor (which means if you were not in the room when the bill was requested, you would never know who requested it.) On some occasions, conceptual bill would be introduced without a sponsor, making it hard to track the origin of any one proposal.
This year many committees are altering rules to allow more transparency into the bill introduction process. This is true for House Judiciary and House Federal and State Law Committees. This will be helpful going forward, but it is not without controversy. For instance, last Wednesday, two democrats objected to the introduction of a bill citing transparency concerns because they did not know what exactly was in the bill. This was the first time I ever witnessed an objection to merely introducing a proposal. The committee debated the objection and voted on the objection, ruling to allow the bill to be introduced. This is a highly unusual process for bill introductions. However, it happened again on Wednesday when a legislator objected to the introduction on a budget proposal from the Governor’s Office in a different committee. It will be interesting to see if this pattern holds, and we see more objections to bills being introduced.
Fifth—committee hearings start next week. We will see hearings on SB 181, dealing with fines and fees; SB 199, dealing with appeal bonds; and a few carryover bills from 2017. The KBA continues to track legislation of interest to its members and you can find it here: https://www.ksbar.org/bill_tracking
The Kansas Legislature returned Monday, January 8, 2018. Traditionally, the first week is rather uneventful. The primary goal of legislators and committees is to acquaint themselves with chamber rules, committee assignments and new staff members. However, this year, committees began meeting and hearing proposals almost immediately. For instance, the House is already considering K12 spending initiatives while the Senate grapples with other K12 issues.
There are also two pre-filed bills aimed at gun laws. One, HB 2442, introduced by Rep. Vic Miller (D-Topeka), would prohibit “bump stock” attachments for semiautomatic firearms such as the one used in the Las Vegas mass shooting this past summer. The other, HB 2243, introduced by Rep. Boog Highberger (D-Lawrence), would create a new crime of abandoning a firearm.
The Office of Judicial Administration also introduced a pre-filed bill, SB 261, which transfers the duty of property appraisals from a judicial administrator to the director of property valuation.
It is also important to remember that 2018 session is an outbound year which means that bills introduced during the 2017 session carry over and can still be granted hearings and passed through the normal legislative process.
The KBA will continue to monitor the following bills:
To stay informed on the 2018 Legislative Session, you can visit www.kslegislature.org
There you can find bills, meeting times/dates, committee rosters and ways to contact your legislator. You can also find a helpful session planner.
At the KBA website – www.ksbar.org – you can find the 2018 Bill Tracking Chart, legislative testimony and an interactive legislative map.
Look for weekly KBA Advocate every Tuesday. This blog will summarize the previous legislative week. Also, please follow us at @KansasBarLeg for live twitter reactions to the 2018 session.
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The Kansas Legislature formally adjourned Sine Die yesterday bringing the total days in the Capitol to 114, tying the record for the longest session in Kansas history. However, the end did not come without some rumbling of a veto override of the governor’s veto of two provisions consolidating certain aspects of KanCare. The Governor made the line-item veto when signing the state budget on Sunday. The line item veto focused specifically on modifications to the Medicaid services for Kansans with disabilities. The Governor said in a statement that the language was overly broad, and the administration wanted to work with stakeholders before any changes were made. See; http://kansaspublicradio.org/kpr-news/governor-brownback-signs-kansas-budget-blasts-spending-levels
This veto drew a quick response from Rep. Jim Ward who supports the consolidation on some KanCare systems and believes the legislature has a vital role in overseeing services provided to the most vulnerable Kansans.
These two line-item vetoes bring the veto tally to six for the session, two tax bills, three KanCare-type proposals and one on lottery vending machines. The legislature was only able to override the tax proposal. To override, the Senate needed to have 27 votes and the House needed 84. The prospects were unlikely.
Despite the two line-item vetoes, the Governor did sign off on the state budget, although a bit begrudgingly. The Governor stated that “I am signing the budget, despite my concerns about excessive spending, to avoid a break in core functions of government and to provided state workers with well-deserved pay increases.” Gov. Brownback believes the budget is bloated in areas and failed to make any of the consolidations/cuts championed by the efficiency study. See; http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2017/jun/25/kansas-gov-brownback-signs-156-billion-state-budge/
How the court rules will determine if a special session is needed. Some in the Capitol believe that the court will uphold the first-year funding but find the second year inadequate. This would give the legislature the summer off, but would leave a seriously pressing issue to be decided in 2018—an election year.
The 2017 Legislative session will officially close on June 26th when both chambers adjourn Sine die. This will bring the running day total to 114 days, tied for the longest in Kansas history. So, what did we get for these 114 days?
The bill, Senate sub for HB 2002, has an all fund total of $15.6 billion over the three-year span and $6.4 billion for just FY18. The bill makes the following expenditures:
-Adds $141.4 million to KPERS;
-Adds a 2.5 % raise for all employees with less than five years of service and 5.0 percent adjustment for state employees who have not had a pay adjustment in five years; and a 2.5 percent adjustment for judges and non-judicial staff in FY 2018;
-Add $20.3 million for Home and Community Based Services;
-Add $10.5 million for community health centers;
-Add $4.6 million for Osawatomie state hospital;
-Add $1.1 million for KS BIDS Habeas Corpus proceedings.
The legislature passed a tax plan, SB 30, that will cover the expenses listed above. Over the next two years the tax plan is expected to increase revenues by $1.2 billion dollars.
The bill is expected to increase SGF receipts as follows: ● FY 2018—$591.0 million; ● FY 2019—$633.0 million; FY 2020—$617.4 million; ● FY 2021—$584.4 million; and ● FY 2022—$590.3 million.
The plan accomplishes this with the following adjustments:
-Three tiers of income tax: 3.1%, 5.25% & 5.7%.
-Eliminate Glide Path to Zero
-Elimination business pass-through exemption (LLC Exemption).
-STAR Bond authority extended for 3 years; 1-year moratorium on new projects.
-Medical, mortgage interest and property tax deductibility reinstated; 3-year phase in.
-Child care tax credit reinstated.
The bill is retroactive to January 1, 2017 with modified rates for this year: 2.9%, 4.9% & 5.2%. The new income brackets are as follows:
The legislature also passed a new school finance plan. this plan resembles the old formula and rescinds the block grant approached passed some years ago. The basics of the new formula include:
-Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE) per pupil spending of $4,006 for school year 2017-2018, $4,128 for school year 2018- 2019, and adjusted each year thereafter according to the average percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all urban consumers for the Midwest region during the three immediately preceding school years.
-A 33% cap on the Local Option Budget (LOB) by a resolution of the school board when the BASE is less than $4490.
All tolled the Kansas Legislature introduced 688 bills, 93 Resolutions and 24 Concurrent Resolutions. The legislature passed 111 bills, the governor signed 108 bills, vetoed 2 tax bills and allowed 1 bill (conceal carry) to become law without his signature. This works out to just of 18% of all bills introduced became law.
You can review all bills passed to date (6.20.17) here:
The Kansas Legislative Session ended this past weekend but not before tying the record for longest session in Kansas history. The session was extended due to tax, budget and school finance issues. Both chambers passed a tax plan and then began work on the budget.
The tax plan (CCR for SB 30) passed in the House Chamber first on a vote of 69-52 while the Senate was nearly there when they adopted the bill 26-14. The tax plan will raise $591 million in FY 2018, and $633 million in FY 2019, but it will run into some issues four years out.
Key components of the tax package are as follows:
- Three tiers of income tax: 3.1%, 5.25% and 5.7%.
- Eliminate Glide Path to Zero
- Eliminate the business pass-through exemption (LLC Exemption).
- STAR Bond authority extended for 3 years; 1-year moratorium on new projects.
- Medical, mortgage interest and property tax deductibility reinstated; 3-year phase in.
- Child care tax credit reinstated.
The bill is retroactive to January 1, 2017 with modified rates for this year: 2.9%, 4.9% & 5.2%.
The new income brackets are as follows:
$30,000 - $60,000 5.25%
Late Monday night (June 5th), as the Senate was about to vote on SB 30, the Governor issued a statement that he would veto the measure upon receipt. True to his word, he vetoed the bill midday Tuesday.
To override a gubernatorial veto, both chambers must garner 2/3 majority of its members. The Senate requires 27 votes, and the House requires 84.
The governor's Tax Plan Veto was overridden by the Senate on a 27-13 count and by an 88-31 vote in the House.
Regarding the judicial branch, I am happy to report that HB 2041—extending the judicial branch surcharge fund—was approved by the Governor on May 26th. As approved, bill also contained provisions from HB 2053, dealing with debts owed the courts and the process for collecting those debts.
In addition, the judicial branch requested an extension of the DUI reinstatement fee to help fund its budget. The court receives a percentage of the fees collected for reinstatement of a driver’s license following a DUI conviction. Annually, this amounts to nearly $950K. The House passed this bill on April 7th on a 72-52 vote. The conference committee added necessary language to HB 2041 raising the fee from $59 to $100, so the court will receive its increase of $41 per reinstatement, that will go toward nonjudicial personnel salary fund.
The remaining judicial budget issues concern personnel increases. The Omnibus Budget Conference Committee came to an agreement around midnight on Friday, June 9th to provide all state employees a pay increase of 2.5%. This is a move in the right direction, but it is far from the $20 million requested by the Judicial Branch, and its off by 9% from the original House position.
With the passage of the state budget, the Kansas Legislature ended a 113-day session. If you count Sine Die, the largely ceremonial final day of the legislative session, the 2017 session ties the record. The legislature dealt with some awfully large items this year including rolling back the 2012 tax policy, closing the LLC loophole, drafting a new school finance plan, creating a foster care task force and addressing human trafficking laws, to name a few. What consequences legislators face remain to be seen, but the election is only 17 months away.
Special thanks to the hardworking staff of the Kansas Revisor’s Office, Legislative Research, Post Audit, IT, Legislative Coordinating Council and Administrative Services. We couldn’t do it without these dedicated public employees, nor would we want to.