Senator Richard Hilderbrand Newsletter

February 14, 2020 ∙ Week Five
HARD FACTS
Rural Broadband
·      Some estimates show that only 13% of Kansans have access to broadband internet.
·      Some counties, like Meade County, have NO access to broadband internet.
·      While multiple federal grants exist to help promote the expansion of broadband access across the country, the funds are often far too little to have a large-scale impact on improving broadband access.
Learn Online with Universal Class
Universal Class https://kslib.info/uclass is an online resource provided by the State Library of Kansas. Universal Class offers over 500 lifelong learning courses in more than 30 areas of study at no charge. Join a full course with instructors and readings or just watch the lecture videos to brush up on a topic. The wide range of courses offers something for everyone: from accounting to yoga, babysitting to parenting, cake decorating to computer training.
Easy registration and self-supplied password is necessary to use this resource and allows you to resume your work. If the page above asks for a Kansas Library eCard number, you may get one at any library in Kansas. Most people will be automatically recognized as being in Kansas and will not need this step.  Questions: contact the State Library at kslc@ks.gov or 785-296-3296.
FLOOR ACTION – February 12, 2020
The Senate considered the appointment of Laurel Searles, as a member of the Kansas Human Rights Commission on February 12. The appointment was confirmed 40-0. Laurel Searles is the Director of Unemployment Insurance with the Kansas Department of Labor and will serve in the Labor Representative seat on the commission.
Last week I had the chance to testify in support of SB310. This is a bill that I introduced to help insure the integrity of elections in Kansas, by requiring a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote.
GOVERNOR KELLY SIGNS FIRST BILL OF 2020 SESSION INTO LAW
It may be a sentimental note, but it is worth noting. Governor Kelly is expected to sign the first bill of the legislative session this afternoon. (Friday February 14, 2020). It is SB 155 and passed both chambers with only one House Representative opposed(I voted in favor of this bill).
The law essentially changes territory assignments in order to prevent some taxpayers in the city of Valley Center from being taxed twice because of cemetery district boundaries.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN VALUE THEM BOTH AND MEDICAID EXPANSION
Last Friday when the House failed to pass the Value Them Both Amendment, it became apparent that without constitutional protections, state funding of abortion in Kansas became a real possibility. In five other states where a high court has determined a fundamental right to abortion (this is what the Kansas Supreme Court determined last spring in its Hodes & Nauser ruling), later court orders required states to pay for Medicaid patient abortions.  That’s because federal Medicaid dollars cannot be used to fund abortion since the Hyde Amendment was enacted, which leaves the entire burden on an unprotected state with the inability to regulate the abortion industry.
Chuck Weber of the Kansas Catholic Conference pointed out, “abortion is currently a Medicaid-covered expense in 16 states,” including Connecticut where 75-percent of all abortions in 2018 were paid for by state tax dollars. He indicated that without the legislature’s ability to regulate abortion, Kansas could incur those costs as well.
TWO BILLS THAT I CO-SPONSORED ON PROPERTY TAXES GOES TO THE SENATE FLOOR
Click here to read Senate Bill 294 or paste this into your browser:
THE “SPILL BILL” FAVORABLY PASSES THROUGH THE AG COMMITTEE
A 2019 session bill that once caused controversy was amended, then passed favorably, through the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources this week. SB 153 is an act aiming to regulate (and penalize those who cause) spillage of water and soil pollutants. The bill authorizes the Department of Health and Environment to adopt rules and regulations to respond to and report the release of a pollutant.
Additionally, the bill establishes a 24-hour statewide hotline so that individuals can report spills to the KDHE and requires any individual who causes a spill to be responsible for cleaning up the spill.
The amendment that was added creates an exception for any animal or crop waste in the definition of “pollutant” and allows for exceptions for spills that happen during the course of normal agricultural activities.
The bill was sent to the committee of the whole, where it awaits the green light from the majority leader to be sent “above the line” for a vote on the Senate floor.
RAW MILK CAUSES RAW EMOTION IN SENATE HEARING
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources heard two controversial bills on raw milk this week.  Essentially, SB 300 calls for a complete and total ban on the sale of unpasteurized, or “raw” milk, while SB 308 allows for the sale of raw milk (and advertising of raw milk) to be done however dairy farmers see fit, with the caveat that certain warning labels are placed on the product and in advertisements.
Proponents for a total ban on raw milk sales included several dairy producers, who spoke on behalf of the organizations they represent and are concerned with the health and safety of raw milk products. They say that if someone gets sick from the consumption of raw milk, the entire dairy industry is often penalized through lower sales and decreased consumer trust.
Opponents of a total ban included two lawyers, who say a ban on raw milk infringes on consumers’ right to choose what they buy, and producers rights to choose what they produce. Three farmers (two who raise and sell raw milk and one who sells goat meat but drinks raw milk) also testified in opposition of a total ban, saying they fully believe in the safety, and even potential health benefits, of raw milk.
SB 308 was heard the day after SB 300, and testimony was essentially the same. The Kansas Livestock Association, which represents a number of dairy farms across the state, offered three amendments: one technical amendment related to the definition of milk, one to create sanitary standards for raw milk dairies, and one to create a registry system within the Kansas Department of Agriculture for producers who sell raw milk to the public.
As of this publication, SB 308 is slated for final action next week, while SB 300 is not yet (and may never be) on the schedule for final action.
GOVERNOR’S BUDGET DIRECTOR QUESTIONED ABOUT RE-AMORITIZATION
On Monday, the Ways and Means Committee held hearings on SB 321, which is the Governor’s plan to artificially boost her spending by spreading out payments on the Kansas employee pension fund (KPERS) at a $4.4 billion dollar price tag to taxpayers.
On average, KPERS would receive $223 million less each year, which would mean we would not reach our goal of having it 80% funded until 2036 instead of 2029.
Larry Campbell, the state’s Budget Director, supported the Governor’s proposal saying the legislature has missed payments in the past so re-amortizing makes sense because it lessens payments and makes it easier to goal to achieve.  Legislators pushed back saying just because past legislatures may have been irresponsible when making payments, there is no reason to believe it is a good decision when revenues now are exceeding expectations. One committee member asked Mr. Campbell about the possibility of a recession and its implications.  Campbell responded saying he couldn’t accurately predict the timing of a future recession but that if one did hit the plan would “put the state in deep trouble.”
UTILITY STUDY RESULTS ARE IN
The Senate Utilities Committee heard a full report on the Kansas Electric Rate Study from London Economics International, the firm chosen by the committee to complete an in-depth analysis of the causes of Kansans’ high electric bills. The firm completed Phase One of the rate study, focusing specifically on rate-making options and possible ways to improve the competitiveness of Kansas electricity. A.J. Goulding, LEI president, and Gabriel Roumy, managing consultant of the study, spoke for just under an hour about the firm’s process to study electric rates in Kansas.
Our state’s rates have made headlines in the last several months for being considerably higher than the regional average. The LEI study found the primary reasons for these unusually high rates to include high tax rates in the state, slowing consumer demands for electricity, investment by electric providers in complying to strict government standards related to the environment and increasing transmission costs.
FIREWORKS ALL YEAR-ROUND?
On Thursday, the Committee on Federal and State Affairs had a hearing regarding SB 362, which would allow year-round firework sales. According to the fiscal note, The Kansas Association of Counties says year-round sales increases the likelihood that people would set off fireworks when it’s prohibited, which would increase counties’ revenues in fines. On the flip side, some say it could add costs in law enforcement and the court system. The League of Municipalities is worried the bill could result in additional expenditures for local governments to enforce fireworks prohibitions because the public may believe since you can buy fireworks all year long, restrictions on discharging them have changed as well, which would not the case through this legislation.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Monday, February 17
Ø Happy Presidents’ Day!
Ø Hearing and adoption of: SCR 1614 — Supporting Kansas farmers in the Rattlesnake Creek sub-basin in their ongoing effort to protect their water rights and livelihood through a collaborative solution to the region’s water impairment issue. (8:30, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 159-S)
Ø Final action: SB 307 —Updating approved types of personal flotation devices. (8:30, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 159-S)
Ø Hearing:SB 366 — Expanding the expedited occupational licensure provisions for military servicemembers and spouses to all license applicants. (8:30, Commerce, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 371 — Requiring posting of a human trafficking awareness notice approved by the attorney general in certain businesses and public places. (10:30, Judiciary, 346-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 373 — Modifying the crimes of selling sexual relations, promoting the sale of sexual relations and buying sexual relations by changing terminology from “sexual relations” to “a sex act.” (10:30, Judiciary, 346-S)
Ø Hearing: HB 2426: — Revising cross-references in the civil procedure codes. (10:30, Judiciary, 346-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 337 — Expanding the provision of the ACT college entrance exam and workkeys assessments to students enrolled in nonpublic schools. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 353 — Requiring the allocation of sufficient school district moneys to improve academic performance of underachieving students. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 354 — Amending the private and out-of-state postsecondary educational institution act clarify the state board of regents’ authority and provide additional student protections and institutional accountability. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Tuesday, February 18
Ø Final action: SB 251 — Allow businesses to elect to file certain business reports with the secretary of state annually, biennially or triennially. (8:30, Commerce, 548-S)
Ø Update: SB 42 — Amending the meaning of the terms “rebate” and “interest” as used in the real estate brokers’ and salespersons’ license act. (8:30, Commerce, 548-S)
Ø Update: SB 168 — Enacting the Kansas home inspectors’ professional competence and financial responsibility act. (8:30, Commerce, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 383 — Providing for the American legion, knights of Columbus and proud educator distinctive license plates and providing for lowered license plate commitments and costs prior to production. (8:30, Transportation, 546-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 390 — Allowing cement trucks to display license plates on front of vehicle. (8:30, Transportation, 546-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 265 — Requiring the state board of tax appeals to serve orders and notices by electronic means if requested by the party. (9:30, Assessment and Taxation, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 262 — State board of tax appeals; changing time to request full and complete opinion to be based on date of service. (9:30, Assessment and Taxation, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 297 — Requiring appraisal directives to require compliance with uniform standards of professional appraisal practice in performance of property tax appraisals. (9:30, Assessment and Taxation, 548-S)
Ø Hearing continuation: SB 248 — Extraterritorial zoning, subdivision regulations; mailed notice to landowners of record. (9:30, Ethics, Elections and Local Government, 142-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 389 — Adding a definition of “purposes of sepulture” to the law dealing with cemetery corporation. (9:30, Ethics, Elections and Local Government, 142-S)
Ø Hearing: ERO 44 — Renaming the Kansas department for children and families the Kansas department of human services; abolishing the Kansas department for aging and disability services and transferring the functions to the Kansas department of human services; transferring the functions of the department of corrections regarding the juvenile services programs and juvenile facilities and institutions, excluding the Larned juvenile correctional facility, to the Kansas department of human services. (9:30, Public Health and Welfare, 118-N)
Ø Hearing: HB 2467 — Removing the spousal exception from sexual battery. (10:30, Judiciary, 346-S)
Ø Hearing:SB 375 — Providing for the FORWARD transportation program. (10:30, Ways and Means, 548-S)
Ø Hearing:SB 384 — Requiring the state department of education and the Kansas department for children and families to prepare an annual report on educational outcomes for foster care students. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Ø Hearing:SB 410 — Requiring publication of school district bullying policies and requiring a report on bullying incidents at each school district attendance center. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Ø Discussion and possible action: SB 230 — Clarifying the authority of the Kansas commission for the deaf and hard of hearing. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Wednesday, February 19
Ø Hearing: SB 345 — Establishing requirements for the effective disposal of industrial hemp. (8:30, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 159-S)
Ø Final action: SB 366 —Expanding the expedited occupational licensure provisions for military servicemembers and spouses to all license applicants. (8:30, Commerce, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 374 — Allowing employees of salvage vehicle pools to perform vehicle identification number inspections. (8:30, Transportation, 546-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 377 — Designating a portion of K-7 as the Senator Paul “Bud” Burke Memorial Highway. (8:30, Transportation, 546-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 301 — Changing from annual valuation of property for ad valorem property tax purposes to triennial valuation. (This is a bill that I introduced)(9:30, Assessment and Taxation, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 351 — Ensuring that the votes of voters whose names do not appear in the poll book and are otherwise eligible to vote are counted. (9:30, Ethics, Elections and Local Government, 142-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 323 — Altering the terms of an insurance policy not considered a denial of renewal of the policy if the insured is provided proper notice. (9:30, Financial Institutions and Insurance, 546-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 402 — Updating producer licensing statutes pertaining to appointment, fees, licensing, renewal dates, continuing education, suspension, revocation and denial of licensure and reinstatement. (9:30, Financial Institutions and Insurance, 546-S)
Ø Hearing continuation: ERO 44 — Renaming the Kansas department for children and families the Kansas department of human services; abolishing the Kansas department for aging and disability services and transferring the functions to the Kansas department of human services; transferring the functions of the department of corrections regarding the juvenile services programs and juvenile facilities and institutions, excluding the Larned juvenile correctional facility, to the Kansas department of human services. (9:30, Public Health and Welfare, 118-N)
Ø Hearing: SB 355 — Prohibiting psychiatric or psychological examinations of victims of certain sex offenses in criminal cases. (10:30, Judiciary, 346-S)
Ø Hearing:SB 382 — Amending the capital improvement state aid schedule to exclude U.S.D. No. 207, Fort Leavenworth. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Ø Discussion and possible action: SB 337 — Expanding the provision of the ACT college entrance exam and workkeys assessments to students enrolled in nonpublic schools. (1:30, Education, 144-S)
Thursday, February 20
Ø ONE WEEK LEFT UNTIL TURNAROUND DAY!
Ø Final action: SB 308 — Allowing the on-farm retail sale of raw, unpasteurized milk so long as certain labeling and advertising requirements are met. (8:30, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 159-S)
Ø Final action: SB 345 — Establishing requirements for the effective disposal of industrial hemp.  (8:30, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 159-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 247 — Prohibition by cities and counties on the use of photographic traffic signal enforcement system. (8:30, Transportation, 546-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 196 — Expanding the expense deduction to all taxpayers in addition to corporate taxpayers. (9:30, Assessment and Taxation, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 309 — Placing the burden of proof on the county appraiser in certain valuation and classification appeal hearings before the district court. (9:30, Assessment and Taxation, 548-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 412 — Permanent advance voting status extended to any registered voter but such status will end if two consecutive elections are missed. (9:30, Ethics, Elections and Local Government, 142-S)
Ø Hearing: SB 387 — Establishing a healthcare benefits package not covered or affiliated with a health insurer or health benefits plan, to be administered by Kansas state employees’ healthcare commission. (9:30, Financial Institutions and Insurance, 546-S)
Ø Discussion and possible action: SB 252 — Expanding medical assistance eligibility and implementing a health insurance plan reinsurance program. (9:30, Public Health and Welfare, 118-N)
Friday, February 21
Ø 8 AM Session
Ø Many committees will meet on call of the chair.
Thank You for Engaging
Thank you for all your calls, emails, and letters regarding your thoughts and concerns about happenings in Kansas. Constituent correspondence helps inform my decision-making process and is taken into great consideration when I cast my vote in the Kansas Senate. I hope you’ll continue to engage with me on the issues that matter most to you, your family, and our community. If you are on Twitter or Facebook, I encourage you to follow along with the #ksleg hashtag for real-time updates on legislative happenings in Topeka.
Please know that I am fully committed to addressing the current issues in our state, and I am proud to be your voice in the Kansas Senate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *