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.
February 24, 2017
The seventh week of session was very active as the 2017 Legislature reached the “turnaround” deadline. Turnaround officially marks the halfway point of regular session. Their originating chamber must pass all bills introduced by this date in order to stay alive. There is an exception for bills introduced in budget, tax, judiciary and the federal & state affairs committees, as these committees are always exempt from deadlines. Some committees met on Monday to wrap up business while the House and Senate debated bills all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The biggest headline of the week came when Governor Brownback announced he would veto the tax bill passed by both the House and Senate. The bill was projected to raise nearly $600M in Fiscal Year 2018 by adding income tax to small businesses and creating a third personal income tax bracket at 5.45% for individuals making over $50,000 or $100,000 for married couples. The bill would have implemented a retroactive start date of January 1, 2017. The following day, the House and Senate considered the option to override the veto. This requires a 2/3 majority of both the House and Senate, which is 84 and 27, respectively. After a lengthy debate, the House voted to override the veto 85-30 but the Senate ended up three votes short of the required 2/3 majority. This sustained the veto and the House and Senate Tax Committees now have to start from scratch. Several new bills have been introduced. Given the momentum of the House since the start of session, it is likely another plan could be considered by mid-March.
Another major headline deals with healthcare policy. Earlier this week, the House Health Committee formally considered action on HB 2064, known as the Medicaid Expansion bill. After an hour’s worth of discussion, the bill was tabled after a close vote. This looked like the death knell for that issue in the2017 session. However, two days later, an amendment was offered on a different healthcare bill debated by the House to add Medicaid Expansion. A robust debate offered the pros and cons of such a change. HB 2044 was amended to include Medicaid Expansion and the bill was passed 81-44. This bill will now be sent to the Senate where it will start the process in the second house.
The House K-12 Budget Committee held a hearing on what is the fifth school finance proposal of the year. This plan, designed by two former education committee chairs, would set funding levels based on school size. Many more plans will be considered in March. The Senate has yet to create their school finance committee.
Next week the Legislature is on a one week break, which allows members to catch their breath back home. They will return on March 6, which will mark the start of an action-packed five weeks until the First Adjournment deadline of April 7.
Information provided by Gaches, Braden & Associates.