Meet & Greet
Informal opportunity to visit about what is happening in Topeka.
Saturday, March 18th
9:30 a.m. – Sirloin Stockade – Arkansas City
Last newsletter failed to address the pleasurable meetings I attended in our District during Pro Forma week Feb 25th-March 6th. Local events allow interaction with constituents, providing opportunities to hear various opinions on current local issues as well as discuss state concerns and House actions.
In addition to the following events captured in photos, I visited South Haven school, the Caldwell hospital, held a “Meet and Greet” at Wellington Economic Development Office, participated in a Legislative Forum for the Sumner County Farm Bureau, attended CNN political analyst Jeffery Toobin’s lecture on the U.S. Supreme Court, and enjoyed Cowley County Women for Kansas speaker Annie McKay, President & CEO of Kansas Action for Children.
Under the Dome
I was pleased to author my first bill last month,HB 2341. Kerri Falletti, Cowley Economic Development Director had explained some months ago of a state program designed to assist rural counties with matching state funds for employee recruitment. Although many counties, including Sumner, had been included in the Rural Opportunity Zone Program (ROZ), Cowley had yet to take advantage of this valuable tool. My first appearance before the House Taxation Committee was to request consideration of Cowley’s inclusion in the ROZ Program. Upon their affirmative vote to accept a bill to committee, a bill number was assigned and it was entered on their roster. Senator Alley agreed to follow my introduction with a concurrent bill to the Senate Taxation Committee in hopes of expediting this valuable opportunity.With this program, individuals who have completed educational requirements/licenses/certificates and move to Cowley County from out of state to accept a hard-to-fill position, could be eligible to receive Kansas state income tax abatement until 2022. Student Loan reimbursements of $1500 per year may also be granted, but must be matched by a local entity to qualify. Nearly a month passed before the Taxation Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill, where I testified to explain our county’s need. Kerri Falletti and Ark City Hospital CEO Virgil Watson made the trip to Topeka for additional testimony. Letters of support from Rep Doug Blex. Rep Ed Trimmer, as well as 8 additional letters from USD’s, both colleges, cities, and businesses were submitted.
Tuesday, Mar 14th, I presented the House Taxation Committee with 5 letters of commitment from companies in Cowley for matching funds for educational reimbursement. As the Committee worked the bill to amendments were presented:
1) Seward County to be included – passed vote, now include in the bill
2) Miami County to be included – did not receive majority vote, will not be includedHB 2341 has been forwarded to the Majority Leader of the House where it is placed in the queue along with hundreds of other bills produced this Session. Bills eventually make it to the House floor for full Chamber vote per priority and time limitations. If it does not rise to the top of priority before April 9th, the bill will continue to next year’s Session.
The talk I hear from colleagues is a proposed Senate tax bill will raise about $100 million less than the House tax plan previously passed, then vetoed by the Governor. The inference I take from this strategy is the Senate leadership wants to see if there is a willingness to find $100 million worth of reductions in the FY 2018 budget.
I envision the rest of March spent trying to pass another tax plan, but this time originating in the Senate. At the same time the House Appropriations Committee will finalize their FY 2018 and FY 2019 budgets to gain a better understanding of how to balance our revenues with expenditures. Coach Bill Snyder says to keep sawing the log when you fail to achieve your desired results. So, we will keep sawing the log until we get our tax policy and budget aligned in a sustainable approach, and move away from the previous strategy of one-time budgeting maneuvers that put the state in an even more dangerous fiscal situation.
The House K-12 Education Budget Committee is continuing to craft a new, constitutionally viable funding formula from the five different plans presented by informed testimony from a variety of stakeholders. It is expected that they will make their proposal to the full House of Representatives by the end of this month. Nearly all observers believe the new finance plan and the Court ruling will require additional funding for K-12 public education. Estimates of the amount vary widely, but are primarily based upon the old formula, which was discarded in 2015. Until a new formula has been studied and adopted it is difficult to estimate any future cost.
Kansas Supreme Court ruling
In the State
Legislative events took a backseat this week as our focus was on the tragedy unfolding out west. Wildfires spread across many areas of central and western Kansas as dry conditions combined with powerful, frequently-shifting winds destroying homes, property, and livestock. As of Friday morning, an estimated 9000 cattle had perished and 711,950 acres had burned. That equals 1148 square miles or 1.4% of the land area of the entire state. Immediate action has been taken to assist our citizens.
- Governor Brownback signed Executive Order 17-01 to assist fire relief efforts.
- HB 2387 was introduced to the House Committee on Taxation on March 13th. It was quickly processed and moved to the House floor where it was passed with a unanimous vote of 122/0 on March 14th to provide a sales tax exemption for certain property destroyed by these devastating wildfire.
- HB 2140, which enhances the abilities of fire departments to assist each other across state lines, has passed the House and awaits action in the Kansas Senate.
Thank you for your support. Thank you for your interest in the process of government and your willingness to engage. Please share this newsletter with others you may know who have yet to provide their emails for me.
Rep. Anita Judd-Jenkins
Kansas House of Representatives District 80
Serving Cowley and Sumner Counties