BOWERS: Senate Scene 2017 Wrap-up

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
By Senator Elaine Bowers,  Hays Post

Legislature Adjourns until June 26th
On June 10th, the Senate wrapped up the end of Veto Session and adjourned until Sine Die on June 26th at 10:00 a.m. This was one of the toughest sessions in recent history due to the state’s budget deficit and the Kansas Supreme Court’s school finance ruling. The 2017 session marked the second longest session in history at 113 day (2015 ended with 114 days) however keep in mind 2016 was the shortest session since 1976 at only 73 days. Two hundred and fifty four Senate bills were introduced, 46 were passed during the regular session and either signed or vetoed by the Governor. The Governor has now signed 45 into law this session and vetoed one. By law, The Kansas governor has 10 calendar days to sign the bill into law, veto the bill or allow the bill to become law without his or her signature.

The final day of the 2017 Session is known as Sine Die (Latin for “without a day) and is the ceremonial end to the Legislative session when Legislators come back to wrap up all of their work. This also allows the Governor the opportunity to act on all legislation passed during veto session.

Session End Bills
Senate Substitute for House Bill 2002 – Budget
June 10th, Saturday night, both the Kansas Senate and House took final votes on a budget for FY’18 and FY’19. The plan spends $15.6 billion including roughly $6.4 billion from the State General Fund in FY ’18 and $15.8 billion including roughly $6.3 billion from the State General Fund in FY ’19. The bill provides: A 2.5 percent pay raise for state employees with less than 5 years of service (excluding Highway Patrol law enforcement personnel, legislators, teachers, and licensed personnel and employees at the schools for the deaf and blind), A 5 percent pay raise for state employees who have not had a pay adjustment in 5 years and a 7 percent raise over two years for those who stay at home and take care of family members who qualify for Medicaid-funded home and community-based services.

Income Tax – Senate Bill 30
On June 5th, both the House and the Senate passed Senate Bill 30, on a vote of 69-52 in the House and 26-14 in the Senate. Immediately after the Senate passed the bill, Governor Brownback issued a statement explaining his intent to veto the bill. On Tuesday evening, the Governor vetoed the bill, and it was sent back first to the Senate for a potential veto override. After ample debate, both chambers of the legislature voted to override the Governor’s veto, meaning SB 30 is now law. This bill raises about $1.2 billion over the next two years, closes the LLC loophole, expands income tax brackets from two to three, and raises personal income taxes in all brackets. The bill also restores multiple deductions that were stripped from the tax code in 2012 including the ability to claim medical expenses, mortgage interest, property tax and reinstates a childcare tax credit. Carrying forward losses was also reinstated in SB 30. It is important to note that the new rates are still less than in 2012 tax rates.

School Finance – SB 19
Background and overview

In February, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled on the Gannon v. Kansas case regarding the constitutional equity and adequacy of K-12 public education funding. The Court ruled that K-12 education funding is unconstitutional, and noted that 25 percent of all Kansas students aren’t meeting Rose Standards, a series of targets students must meet to be considered at “grade level.” The Court’s ruling was broad, and allowed legislators the breathing room necessary to do our jobs and create a fair and fundable formula. The Court reaffirmed what the legislature already believed to be true: legislators are the state’s chief policy makers and money appropriators. While the Court did not specify how much, if any, additional money must be funneled into public schools to meet its standards of constitutional funding, the Court did mandate that the legislature create a new, equitable and adequate school finance formula by June 30, when the current block-grant funding formula expires. The Kansas House of Representatives passed its version of a school funding formula 84-39 and the Senate debated and passed our version of a school funding formula 23-16. After both Chambers passed a bill, Senate and House negotiators met in Conference Committees to defend each chamber’s position on the bill, reach an amicable consensus, and kick a bill back out to both the House and Senate for a final vote in the Senate of 23-17 and the House of Representatives 67-55. Now that a new school finance formula has been signed into law by the Governor (June 15th) Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt will argue the state’s position on school funding in front of the Kansas Supreme Court. The Court will then rule on the new school finance formula, although there is not necessarily a set timeline for such ruling. A few highlights of SB19 – adequately fund K-12 education at a level of $4.34 billion as follows: $2.77 billion GSA, $0.48 billion LOB state aid, $0.45 billion special education, $0.06 billion capital outlay, $0.20 billion bond and interest, $0.37 billion KPERS; Incrementally increase BASE aid per-pupil spending, starting with $4,006 in FY’18, $4,128 in FY’19, and adjusted for a three-year rolling average of CPI-U Midwest thereafter. Previous per-pupil spending averaged $3,852; add $12 million per year to special education, equaling $445.6 million in FY 2018 and $457.6 million in FY 2019; Provide funding for all-day kindergarten. Previously, state base aid covered the cost of half-day kindergarten, and local communities were left to decide whether they wanted to offer all-day kindergarten funded at the local level. It will also require the school finance act be revisited every 10 years to ensure that education funding is reasonably calculated on a rolling basis.

Conference Committee reports and final action bills
COMMON CONSUMPTION AREA (House Bill 2277): HB 2277 allows a city or county to establish one or more common consumption areas by ordinance or resolution, designate the boundaries of any common consumption area, and prescribe the times during which alcoholic liquor may be consumed.
SECURITIES COMMISSIONER OF KANSAS (Senate Bill 23): SB 23 establishes the Office of the Securities Commissioner of Kansas as a division under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Insurance and amend law by consolidating certain prosecutorial functions of the Attorney General.
CONCEALED CARRY (Senate Substitute for House Bill 2278): Senate Sub. for HB 2132 exempts State- or municipal-owned medical care facilities and adult care homes, community mental health centers, indigent health care clinics, and any buildings associated with the University of Kansas Medical Center from the requirement that carrying concealed handguns cannot be prohibited unless adequate security measures are in place. Under current law, these facilities are exempt until July 1, 2017, if notification was filed with the Office of the Attorney General.

Governor’s Office of Appointments
The Office of Appointments assists the Governor with the appointment of over 1,000 individuals to serve on Kansas’ boards and commissions. All qualified and service-minded Kansans are encouraged to participate in our state’s government by offering to serve on a board or commission or by recommending qualified candidates. The latest list can be found at among those to consider are State Library Board, Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 911 Coordinating Council, Kansas Volunteer Commission, Kansas Development Finance Authority, Council on Developmental Disabilities and Sentencing Commission. If you are interested in the opportunity to serve or would like to nominate someone, please call the office at 785-368-7097 or send an email to [email protected]

From the State Library
Travel around Kansas

Would you like to know more about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood home? Plan a road trip to Independence. Want to do a Post Rock country tour? Check out the Post Rock Scenic Byway in Russell County. Do you want to see something old? Really old? Visit the Fick Fossil Museum in Oakley. With the start of summer right around the corner, your local library has several books that will inspire a weekend road trip or add interest to an already planned trip. These books at the State Library are a good place to get started:

Summer Reading
Traditionally, summer reading programs in libraries are designed to encourage elementary-aged children to keep reading during summer vacation. Increasingly, teens and adults are included in these programs as well. This year’s theme, Build a Better World encourages children and families to read for pleasure through activities and programs centered around building, construction, and community. Starting June 2, the State Library of Kansas will post a new kids’ digital book of the week every Friday morning on our Summer Reading page Each book stays linked on that page for easy access throughout the summer. Teens and adults can find downloadable audio and ebooks by visiting No login is needed as long as you access the books from the SRP (Summer Reading Program) page. All of the books promoted are used in the internet browser. There is no need to set up apps or download files to enjoy these books.

NFWL/NRA Bill of Rights Essay Scholarship Contest – 20th Anniversary
The National Foundation for Women Legislators and the National Rifle Association are co-sponsoring the 20th Annual NFWL/NRA Bill of Rights Essay Scholarship Contest for college-bound female high school juniors and seniors. A 400-600 word essay on one of three topics which include the 1st Amendment and how women have played influential roles, the National Woman Suffrage Association which lead to the 19th Amendment being ratified and why women only hold 24% of elected offices in America with 54% of the populous of the country. The contest’s six winners will each receive a $3,000 college scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to NFWL’s Annual Conference November 14-18 in Minneapolis, MN where they will network with, be mentored by, and speak to hundreds of women lawmakers from across the United States. To apply online go to or call my office for addition information.

Off Session Contact Information
The 2018 Kansas Legislative Session will begin January 8, 2018 when we will be back in our offices in Topeka. Over the summer and fall, I can be reached at my legislative email at [email protected] or my work email [email protected] My work address in Concordia is 212 E. 6th St., Concordia, KS 66901 and if you are in Concordia, drop by. My daytime work number is 785-243-3325 x2 or email me questions, concerns or ideas for legislative bills for the next session. It is an honor to serve you in the 36th Kansas Senate District and please feel free to contact me anytime.

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