The Statehouse Report

Topeka Capitol

The Statehouse Report is published each week that the Kansas State Legislature is in session and provides high-level overviews of the status of current legislation that affect the business community.

January 8, 2018

The 2018 Kansas Legislature is off to a running start. Session officially began Monday, January 8th, as legislators returned to Topeka. Committees met to start business, which included forecasting policy issues and bill introductions. There is a sense of urgency under the dome given the growing to-do list of policy initiatives with the main focus on funding schools.

Governor Brownback delivered his annual State of the State address Tuesday evening. His address highlighted his positive view of the state and plans for the upcoming session. Governor Brownback’s supplemental budget attempts to address the Supreme Court’s school finance ruling by increasing K-12 funding by $600M over the next five year without a tax increase. The Governor also outlined several education and higher education benchmarks to become more competitive with neighboring states.

The Governors plan for increasing K-12 $600 million each year for the next 5 years including 2019 does not have any specific method of identifying the funds except through taking from the state general fund. In 2019, the Governor’s budget suggests that $13,850,000 comes from the children’s initiate fund. Needless to say, the response by legislators from both parties was not supportive of this budget.

The State of the State address was clouded around the uncertainty of the governorship. Governor Brownback had hoped to be confirmed by the United States Senate for President Trump’s appointment by the end of 2017. But, instead he has been again nominated for the position and will need to go through confirmation hearings. Until then, we still expect to see Lt. Governor Colyer take on more responsibility for the legislative agenda.

The first week of session yielded changes. Representative Greg Lakin, a physician from Wichita, resigned his seat for a high-level job at the Kansas Department of Health & Environment. Representative Steve Alford resigned his chairmanship of House Children & Senior’s Committee after controversial comments made during a legislative forum.

Committees began work Tuesday and Wednesday with dozens of new bills introduced. Education committees are still digesting the Supreme Court decision on K-12 financing while budget committees review the Governor’s proposal for fiscal policy.

Also this week was the long awaited finance reports of the multitude of candidates running for Governor. Lt. Governor Colyer leads the way with over $600,000 raised on the Republican side and Josh Svaty with $192,000 on the Democrat side. None of the candidates have filed for the office, and the filing deadline is June 1, 2018.

The Governor’s budget includes $3 million for the Education Superhighway, which would bring broadband to all schools in Kansas.

Next week will be a short week with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but committee activity will grow more intense with each passing day.


Information provided by Gaches, Braden & Associates.


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