Legislative Update

By State Senator Caryn Tyson

February 24, 2017

2017 Session – Week 7

The message some are sending out is “we want a massive tax increase now!” when they demanded support of Substitute for House Bill (Sub HB) 2178. The bill would have been the largest tax increase ever, even more than the sales tax increase in 2015 (which I did not support). This huge, half-billion per year tax increase would have been retroactive, starting 1/1/2017. You might not think that is a big deal, as we are only in the second month of the year; however, it could take two to four months to implement. You would have to decide whether to increase your withholding to handle the increase for the entire year, or owe a lump sum at the end of the year. This tax increase passed both chambers but was vetoed by the governor. His veto was upheld in the Senate.

Sub HB 2178 was bad policy. I voted against this massive tax increase and to sustain the veto. Some legislators didn’t know the amount of tax increase or that the bill was retroactive; they just knew that it was a tax increase and it would “stop Brownback’s 2012 tax policy.” As legislators, our job is to govern. Understanding the policy that we are voting on is critical. It appears that too many people are putting political sound-bites before sound policy.

The last week before the halfway point of session, both chambers raced to pass legislation to the other chamber. This is not a good way to conduct business. To make it worse, Tuesday the Majority Leader told senators they would have six more bills to debate on a day they had already been working 17 bills. This would give us less than two hours to prepare for debate and request any amendments. I strongly requested that leadership reconsider this reckless schedule so that we could be more diligent in working the bills. The expedited process is not a good way to conduct the State’s business.

One such example is Senate Bill (SB) 154. The bill seemed fine but after reading it, I found that the only way to file a complaint with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability (KDADS) would be via KDADS ‘hotline.’ You could not write a letter, email, or submit a complaint in any other manner. Why should there be a law requiring you complain via a phone call to a hotline? There were 38 Yes votes and 2 No votes. I voted No.

Another bill that needed work but also passed the chamber is SB 144. It would prohibit the use of hand-held wireless devices in construction and school zones. Distracted driving is already against the law. If we try to list every type of distraction, we are bound to miss something. I voted No. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 21 Yes and 17 No.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.


Office Telephone: 785.296.6838

Telephone: 913.898.2366

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