January 15, 2021
The 2021 session began with state legislators taking an oath Monday, January 11, 2021 to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Kansas Constitution. This happens every four years in the senate and two years in the house. It is a reminder of our duty and the foundation in which our forefathers established and defended.
This session is already unique because of the pandemic. However, it is not unique because of the political games and posturing being played in Topeka – which are disappointing and not what Kansans need or deserve. The gamesmanship and politics surfaced quickly, when legislators opposing bills cried foul at the pace, in an attempt to block legislation. Most people understand we need to complete our work as expeditiously as possible.
Property Tax Transparency, Senate Bill (SB) 13, was available the week before session, as was the Senate Tax Committee schedule. This legislation was contained in last year’s bill CCR HB 2702, that passed both chambers with a supermajority. However, it did not became law because a taxpayer funded government lobbyist asked the Governor to veto the bill and she did. It was at the end of session and time ran out for a veto override. It makes sense to work the legislation at the beginning of the 2021 session, which gives plenty of time for passage. Hopefully, we may not need a veto override because the Governor may realize how important transparency is to Kansas taxpayers.
SB13 has four major parts. First, it would establish a process in the property tax system so that property taxes would not automatically increase but would require a vote of the local government to bring in more money than the previous year. This would stop the shell game of automatic valuation increases resulting in more taxes owed; second, normal maintenance would not increase the valuation of a property; third, county treasurers would have an option to establish payment plans for property taxes; and fourth, it would remove the property tax lid that has resulted in tax increases in many counties over the past few years. The bill passed the Senate 34 to 1. I voted Yes.
Emergency Power Extension, SB 14, would extend the Governor’s emergency powers thru March 31, 2021. Kansas is a part-time legislature and has often turned over legislative authority to the Governor in an emergency. This pandemic has demonstrated that is dangerous. The Governor attempted to shutdown churches on Easter weekend, demanded a statewide shutdown of many businesses, attempted to implement a statewide mask mandate, and the list goes on. However, the bill passed the Senate 34 to 1. As with most legislation, there was some good items in the bill. It was not enough to sway me to support the bill after hearing your concerns of government overreach. During debate, one senator tried to kill the bill and said we shouldn’t let federal money sway us from doing what is right. I guess that senator lost their intestinal fortitude because when it came time to vote, that person chose not to vote yes or no on the bill.
As we face uncertain times, keep in mind Plato’s words, “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others” and the words of Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream, It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.