February 24, 2023
What a difference a week makes? In the two days before turnaround, the halfway point in session, 42 bills were scheduled for debate on the Senate floor, 3 of them were pulled for various reasons. The list of bills is not made available to Senators or the public until the evening before debate. On Tuesday evening, 27 bills were scheduled for debate Wednesday. It makes for an intense environment. Think of it this way. In 7 weeks of session, 280 Senate bills have been introduced, 62 that passed out of committee were selected by leadership for debate on the senate floor and passed to the House. Thirty-eight of the 62 were passed in two days. Here are a few highlights.
Income Tax cuts passed the Senate in Senate Bill (SB) 33 and SB 169. SB 33 would exempt Social Security from state income tax. Some of the amendments that passed during debate include increasing standard deductions each year based on inflation, exempting all retirement accounts from state income tax, and increasing qualifying parameters for the property tax freeze for seniors and disabled veterans that became law last year. The home valuation limit would go from $350,000 to $595,000. The 50% exemption of Social Security from income would be 100%. More Kansans will qualify for the program with these changes. SB 33 bill passed 36 to 3. I voted Yes.
SB 169 would create a single 4.75 state income tax rate without increasing taxes. The bill exempts the first $10,450 for married filing jointly or $5,225 filing single. This exemption is what keeps the 4.75 rate from being a tax increase on lower income earners. Currently, individuals with taxable income of $2,500 or below are not taxed, $5,000 for married filing jointly. But if a taxpayer makes $2501, there is a “cliff”, meaning that a dollar difference results in a taxpayer paying 3.1 percent on the entire income amount. After a single filer reaches the $2,501 threshold, taxable income not over $15,000 is taxed at 3.1, income between $15,001 and $30,000 is taxed at 5.25, and income above $30,000 is taxed at 5.75. For married filing jointly, the thresholds double. It is obvious the 4.75 rate simplifies state income taxes and would get rid of the cliff for low-income filers. It will allow Kansans to keep more of their hard-earned money, instead of growing government. I voted yes. The bill passed 22 to 17.
State Grocery Taxes are scheduled to go to zero in 2025, unless SB 248 becomes law. In SB 248, all grocery taxes, state and local, would go to zero in 2024. It is a big change. Some local governments are against the bill, but it is tax relief that many Kansans need. The bill passed 22 to 16. I voted yes.
Secure Elections by prohibiting ballot drop boxes passed the Senate 21 to 19 in SB 208. I voted yes. Another attempt was made to make odd year elections partisan in SB 210. I did not support this change. The bill failed on a vote of 16 to 24. Write-in candidates for certain elections would have to file an affidavit in SB 221. The bill was brought by election officials that want to save time when counting ballots, so if a person writes in Micky Mouse it will not count unless there is a signed affidavit for Micky. It’s your ballot and you should be able to write-in whomever you please. I voted no, but the bill passed 29 to 7.
Women’s Bill of Rights, SB 180, would designate biological sex at birth, male or female. It will protect women’s sports and stop situations such as males being housed in a female prison because it would require separate accommodations. It should also stop this nonsense on school trips – Eudora girl forced to room with biological male on school-sponsored overseas trip. The Senate passed it on a vote of 26 to 10. I supported the legislation.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.