April 2, 2021
Property Tax Transparency – GOOD NEWS FOR PROPERTY TAXPAYERS
Senate Bill 13, stopping automatic property tax increases that result from higher valuations, was signed into law. Local property taxing authorities will have to provide notice of any proposed monetary increase and vote to go forward with the increase only after hearing public comments at an announced meeting. The new law has initial payments for the required notices and software changes, removing any excuse to raise taxes because of an unfunded mandate. It will also allow for normal maintenance on your property without increasing valuations, remove the property tax lid that was not working because of all of the exemptions, and allow county treasurers the option to setup property tax payment plans. It will not stop property tax increases; however, it will allow taxpayers and taxing authorities an opportunity to be heard before increases occur.
I worked diligently for a couple of years on this legislation and other bills to help improve the property tax system. I had meetings in locations away from Topeka where myself and other legislators heard the concerns of property tax paying Kansans from around the State. Senate Bill 13 is the results of those concerns. It’s a victory for Kansas.
Closing Power Plants
Talk about a trojan horse – Senate Substitute for House Bill (S Sub HB) 2072 is definitely one. On the surface the bill looks like it helps utility customers, however, it will eventually result in much higher utility bills and puts us on a path for a similar disaster that occurred in Texas. There were two parts to the bill. First, it allows some natural gas companies to bond the expenses for the extremely high rates during the record-freeze earlier this year and pass the expenses on to customers. Second, it allows utility companies to bond and pass on the expenses of closing plants to retail customers, including closing nuclear or coal plants. Think about it, the current debt and expenses to close the plant will be paid by customers “to the benefit of the bondholders, any assignee, and any other financing parties” until they are paid in full. It literally says that in the bill. It is a trojan horse that looks good but guarantees higher utility bills long-term.
I did what I could to block it. What is even more disappointing, the Chairman of the committee put the language in a house bill and the House concurred on the changes. The bill passed the Senate 33 to 7. I voted no.
Say No To A Veto of SB 50
The Governor is considering a veto of SB 50. Members of her tax study group are putting out messages saying if the bill becomes law Kansas would have to pay back federal money because of Biden’s version of the Cares Act. Twenty-one state Attorney Generals (AG) signed a letter challenging this federal overreach, including our KS AG. Most of the items in SB 50 have been voted on several times since 2018, predating Biden’s legislation. SB 50’s major components are: it addresses state income tax increases that resulted from the 2017 federal tax cuts, it increases the state standard deduction by $500, it provides language for collection of online sales tax (which is already the law), it stops any income tax obligation that results from stolen identity, it lines up the Kansas income tax filing deadline with federal dates while extending corporate filings by 30 days.
Too Many Bills
Over 40 pieces of legislation were worked on the Senate floor last week – too many to cover in this update. All of the legislation is posted online at www.kslegislature.org.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.