Legislative Update by State Senator Caryn Tyson

Caryn Tyson


February 16, 2024


Debate on the Senate floor was intense on a few issues this week.  One of the most contentious was SCR 1737, supporting Texas efforts to stop illegals from entering the U.S.  The ranking Democrat tried to get the Kansas Senate to say they supported the U.S. Senate border bill in an amendment.  When asked what was in the U.S. Senate legislation she didn’t answer the question.  Reports say it was over $118 billion spending, giveaways to foreign countries, and requirements that wouldn’t stop the border crisis.  Thankfully, her amendment failed.  The original SCR passed, supporting legal immigration and making it clear we support Governor Abbott, Texas, and 25 other states working to protect our borders by blocking illegal immigration and illegal drugs from coming across.  It passed 26 to 12.  I voted Yes.  There will be other legislation to fund the Kansas National Guard in these efforts.


Kansas Public Employment Retirement System (KPERS) currently allows 15% of the funds to be invested in alternative investments.  SB 23 would have removed the 15% limit.  An amendment to increase the limit to 20% passed during debate.  All it did is make a bad bill a little more palatable to get 21 votes.  We stopped this legislation twice last year but could not stop it this year.  It passed 24 to 13.  One legislator that was a banker said his bank wouldn’t risk putting money in those types of investments, but then he voted for the bill.  Another Senator reminded the body that years ago risky investments cost taxpayers and almost broke KPERS.  Legislation was put in place to block alternative investments so it would not happen again.  In the ‘90s, legislation was passed allowing up to 5% of KPERS money to be in alternative investments.  In 2012 it went to a cap of 15% and now 20% is being considered.  The return on these risky investments has been high so some perceive the risk is low.  A gamble, I’m not willing to take with taxpayer money.


KPERS Death Benefits would increase to $6,000 from $4,000 if SB 172 becomes law.  It passed the Senate 25 to 14.  I voted Yes.


Tax deferred savings accounts, ABLE (529A for disabled), 529 (for education), and First-Time Home Buyers contributors would be allowed flexibility in taking subtraction modifications from income in the current or previous tax year when filing their state income taxes if SB 360 becomes law.  It passed the Senate unanimously.


Internet sites would be required to use age verification software if 25% or more of the content is pornographic.  We couldn’t get a solid answer why 25% was selected.  After a lengthy debate, SB 394 passed the Senate unanimously.


Tax Cuts are still a hot topic.  At a coffee, constituents from both parties asked that we support the veto override.  They understand that a political volley is taking place and taxpayers are the ones’ to loose if we cannot override the veto.  If CCR 2284 would become law, over 341,000 low income filers would pay $0 state income tax, and Social Security would be exempt from state income tax.  There are inflation busters on income taxes and homeowners’ property taxes.  Also, the state sales tax on groceries would go to $0 on April 1st.  It isn’t reckless or experimental with over $3 billion in the state coffers and many states have a single rate, including Democrat controlled states like Colorado.  Remember the words of Senator Bob Dole, “The purpose of a tax cut is to leave more money where it belongs: in the hands of the working men and working women who earned it in the first place.”


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



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