Legislative Update by State Senator Caryn Tyson

Caryn Tyson


March 29, 2024


Tax Relief is still being worked on, but it took an odd turn.  After the House gutted Senate Bill (SB) 300, which was a bankers’ tax bill, and put the contents of House Bill (HB) 2844, which contained many of the tax cuts being considered, in SB 300, and created House Substitute for SB 300.  They passed it 123 to 0.  The Senate President ruled the bill materially altered.  Senators could have challenged the ruling, but it hasn’t been challenged.  There are similarities in House Substitute for SB 300 to the bill the Senate passed, SB 539.  I am working to pass tax cuts for Kansans, especially property tax relief, exempting Social Security from state income tax, and other provisions.


Death Certificates could now be signed by a licensed physician, surgeon, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, coroner, deputy coroner, or special deputy coroner if HB 2358 becomes law. It passed the Senate 39 to 1.  I voted Yes.  As with any bill returning to the originating chamber, the chamber can either concur, not concur and go to conference, or rule it materially altered and assign it to a committee.  Most likely, the House will not concur and it will go to a conference committee.


K-12 Enrollment counts would change so that schools would use the greater of the preceding-year or current year on September 20.  There are other counting changes and the bill was amended on the floor to help schools that are struggling with a declining population.  SB 386 passed on a vote of 33 to 6.  I voted Yes.  We need to delve deeper into our K-12 school funding and spending.  Of the billions of dollars being spent on K-12 funding, a greater percentage needs to get to the classrooms and teachers.  The bill now goes to the House.


Unclaimed Property could be used to invest and possibly make money for the state.  It may sound like a good idea, but what happens if the investments lose money and the property owner is found?  It can and has happened.  Legislators in the past blocked risky alternative investments because it almost broke KPERS and cost taxpayers.  How they forget.  The return on investments has been high so some perceive the risk to be low.  Taxpayers will end up footing the bill for unclaimed property if these investments lose money.  It’s a gamble I’m not willing to take.  HB 2577 passed 38 to 2.  I voted No.  The bill returns to the House since it was amended.


Death or Disability to a police animal would be an increased penalty of a mandatory 90 days imprisonment and a minimum fine of $10,000 plus expenses such as veterinary treatment, funeral, and replacement.  It is understandable we don’t want these animals harmed, but let’s strengthen the penalties for people who are harmed and not overdue for an animal.  HB 2583 passed 25 to 15.  I voted No.


Harm or Death to law enforcement or emergency responders for drivers who do not move-over another lane away from emergency responders would have increased penalties not less than $7,500 for death and $1,000 for harm.  The current fine for not moving over for emergency responders would increase from $195 to $400.  SB 426 passed 39 to 1.  I voted Yes.


Public Utilities would not be able to use eminent domain for wind or solar facilities.  SB 457 passed the Senate 38 to 0.


Energy Companies would be able to defer 90% of depreciation expenses and balances could be included in the utility’s rate base.  If the bill becomes law, these changes could begin 7/1/2024 after the utility notifies the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC).   There are other provisions, like allowing for a new gas-fired plant to be built in Reno County.  My concern is our ever-increasing energy costs and HB 2527 in its current form doesn’t address that.  The bill passed 38 to 2.  I voted No.  The bill returns to the House since there were amendments.


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


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