Legislative Update By State Senator Caryn Tyson
March 22, 2019
There is a spending problem in government, especially Kansas State government. The Senate passed a budget according to the Chair of Ways and Means that, “is more than the Governor asked for.” Senate Bill (SB) 75 appropriates $17.2 billion all funds and $7.1 billion of State General Funds (SGF). Since 2013, State expenditures have increased over $3 billion – a 19% increase in less than 7 years for all funds. The SGF increased $1 billion in that same time-frame – a 14% increase. This is not sustainable! SB 75 had a few good things, but not enough to justify the out-of-control spending. The vote was 21 Yes to 18 No. I voted No.
The Senate Tax Committee, which I chair, passed SB 91, an attempt to lighten the tax burden for senior citizens, disabled veterans, and Kansas taxpayers. SB 91 would freeze property taxes on a home via a tax credit for people over 65 who make less than $30,000 a year, and for disabled veterans. The bill would also increase the standard deduction for an individual to $3,500, up from $3,000. Married filing jointly would increase to $8,500. After the massive spending increases passed in the budget, cutting taxes is an attempt to reel in government growth.
Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ): SB 125 would extend the ROZ five more years to 2026. The program is a state income tax credit for people moving into an approved rural county from out of state. The bill passed Yes 29 to No 11. SB 135 would increase the number of counties in the ROZ program by eight: Atchison, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Ford, Franklin, Miami, and Pottawatomie. There are 73 counties in the program. If the bill becomes law, the entire Senate District 12 would be included in the ROZ. SB 135 passed Yes 30 to No 8. I voted Yes on both bills.
Kansas Closed Case Task Force would be established with SB 102. It creates a task force to create and implement a plan for uniform protocols for law enforcement to follow. The process does need to be identified. However, what makes legislators the experts in establishing the protocols and procedures relating to data hits in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). SB 102 would have two legislators co-chairing the task force. It’s just another layer of bureaucracy. The vote was 39 to 1. I voted No.
The Kansas National Guard Educational Assistance Program would be updated by House Bill (HB) 2123, removing a requirement that eligible members of the Kansas National Guard have at least one year remaining on their enlistment contract to qualify for education assistance. HB 2123 would allow Air National Guard members to participate as they can only re-enlist 90 days prior to their end of service. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
Kansas sales tax statutes name some exemptions for specific groups, like a Rotary club in Wichita, while all other Rotary clubs in Kansas do not enjoy the same sales tax exemption. In an attempt to create a fair tax code, SB 178 sets parameters for non-profit community care organizations so that if an organization qualifies they get the sales tax exemption and do not have to go through the legislature to get their name added to the statutes. During debate on the Senate floor, an amendment was added that would require one sales tax exemption of equal or higher dollar amount to be removed when one is added. Sales tax exemptions total over $3 billion. The bill passed unanimously.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.