Committees pick up pace for turnaround

As we approach turnaround next week, committees are going into overdrive to get bills out to the House and Senate floors. An extremely full week of committee hearings occurred to meet the deadlines set in the Legislative calendar.

To begin the week, the Appropriations Committee worked and passed the Public Municipal Investment Board (PMIB), also known as the unclaimed property bill, out of the committee to the full House for debate. While somewhat controversial, it would cover the current year $340 million budget gap but needs to be repaid over time.

Lately, the Legislature does not have a good record of repaying loans but may be able to do so if the revenues and expenditures can be brought into closer alignment. That’s a nice way to say “increase taxes.”

Thursday we debated the FY17 budget bill on the House floor. The tax committee bill and the PMIB went to the House floor first, and passed, so some serious cutting is avoided for now in FY 2017 and FY 2018.

It is unknown if the governor will veto anything that gets passed, but it is always possible. Overriding a veto is very difficult, requiring two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate.

The FY 17 budget adjustments are called a rescission bill because it is required to cut a few things in order to balance the budget. In reality, the rescission budget bill for 2017 cuts very little but basically maintains what is already in place. It was passed on final action with some opposition on Friday.

Another item of interest seems to be the Medicaid expansion bill that was heard in Health and Human Services Committee. It took four days to hear all those for and against the expansion. It is anticipated the committee will vote on the expansion soon, possibly Monday. The committee vote is expected to be very close and could go either way—if the chairman brings it up for a vote at all.

The concealed carry on college campus bill was not approved in the Senate Federal and State Affairs committee about two weeks ago, but a bill in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee that is about concealed carry at the KU Medical Center was voted on in that committee Wednes­day. It would have extended the deadline for KU Med before they have to comply with allowing concealed carry on the Medical Center campus.

However, that bill failed to get out of committee on a tie vote, so the question of preventing campus carry is likely ended for the session unless a floor amendment is attempted.

On the House floor Wednesday we debated the bill the House Taxation Committee passed out last week (HB 2178). There are two basic parts. This proposal eliminates the exemption for pass through, or LLCs, and it also adds a third tier income tax bracket. The way the bill passed committee, the lowest income tax rate remains the same while the top two tiers include increased income tax rates. The estimated revenues over the long term are expected to be around $480 million annually. The debate was very short and passed on final action the next day.

The Senate brought the House tax proposal to the full Senate on Friday without a committee hearing. It passed the full Senate, 22-18. That means HB 2178 goes directly to the governor, who can sign it, allow it to become law without signature or veto it. Once it reaches the governor’s desk, he has 10 days to decide what to do. While the Senate procedure speeded up the process considerably, it would have been better to have a Senate/House compromise.

There have been many moving parts in the Legis­lature this week, and next week will be similar in that action will be taken on many issues. Turnaround is Thursday and then we will begin the process of looking at bills the Senate has passed across the rotunda.

Rep. Don Schroeder represents District 74, which includes much of the southern half of Marion County.

by Rep. Don Schroeder

Kansas House of Representatives

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