24 Feb Kansas Statehouse Insider – Week Seven
This week was “Turnaround” for the Kansas legislature, where all bills that are not otherwise exempt must be passed out of their chamber of origin in order to remain alive this year. The most heavily watched issue this week was a bill passed by the Senate allowing sports betting at the four state-owned casinos, and internet gaming on professional sports and college sports, and horse racing (but not greyhound dogs). Made lawful by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, the state’s 10 percent tax on these activities is estimated to bring in around $10 million in its first year. The other closely-watched issues of Medicaid expansion and a constitutional amendment on abortion remain alive for further debate. Lawmakers finished their worked around noon on Thursday, and then adjourned for a few days before returning Wednesday, March 4.
Here are some of the highlights from this week:
Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS)
On Wednesday, February 26 the House Committee of the Whole passed HB 2503 favorably. This bill authorizes the transfer of $268 million from the state general fund to the KPERS fund during fiscal year 2020, and eliminates certain employer contribution payments. The bill was amended on the floor of the House to remove a section which would have re-amortized a portion of the KPERS unfunded actuarial liability over a 25-year period – something that had been proposed by Governor Kelly.
Property Tax Levies for State Institutions Building Fund
On Monday, February 24, the Senate Tax Committee held a hearing on SB 466, a bill which would discontinue state property tax levies for the Kansas educational building fund, and state institutions building fund, and would instead provide financing from the state general fund. The funds are partly used as dedicated funding for building projects at the regent universities. The bill would remove 1.5 mills from the overall mill levy on all real property owners.
Income Tax Exemption for Public Utilities
On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed Senate Bill 126 favorably on a vote of 40-0. The bill would exempt certain public utilities from paying an income tax and also exclude the utility from factoring the cost of this income tax in setting their utility rates. The income tax exemption under the bill would be a permanent exemption. The purpose of the bill is to lower utility rates and make Kansas more competitive. According to some conferees on the bill, the measure could save over two million Kansas residential and industrial rate payers between $40 and $50 million every year in lower energy rates. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Allowing Contract Electricity Rates for Some
On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 339. As amended, the bill would allow electric public utilities to set contract and discounted rates for certain facilities. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Vocational Training Liability Bill Advances
On Wednesday, February 26, the House Committee of the Whole passed House Bill 2507 favorably. This bill limits a business’ exposure to liability from injury to a student participant in a school-sponsored vocational programs at the business’ worksite. The intent of the bill is to cover students during these vocational training activities in the same manner as they would be covered during school-sponsored sports activities. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Reciprocity for Licensures and Certifications
On Monday, February 24, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development advanced SB 366 out of committee favorably. The bill would amend occupational and professional licensing standards for regulatory agencies to receive and review applications from military service members and military spouses. The bill would apply to any individual applicant for licensure, reciprocity, or reinstatement. The bill would allow agencies to maintain their current processes if reciprocity standards contained within existing law are more favorable. However, if current processes are less favorable to an applicant or there are no current processes, the agency would be required to issue a license if the applicant has a valid license in another state with substantially similar licensing requirements or if the applicant has met work or experience requirements if no similar license is issued by the other state. The bill would require the agency to issue a temporary registration while an applicant completes additional licensure requirements if doing so would not jeopardize the safety of the public. A similar bill, Sub for HB 2506, was passed by the House.
High Performance Incentive Fund
On Wednesday, February 26, the House Committee of the Whole passed HB 2702, a bill which would decouple the High Performance Incentive Program tax credit from the requirement to participate in either the Kansas Industrial Training (KIT) or Kansas Industrial Retraining (KIR) workforce training programs. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Senate Resolution on Rattlesnake Creek Sub-Basin
On Wednesday, February 26, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed, on a vote of 37-0, SCR 1614. This Senate Resolution supports Kansas farmers in the Rattlesnake Creek sub-basin in their ongoing effort to protect their water rights and livelihood through a collaborative solution to the region’s water impairment issue. Multiple agricultural stakeholders testified in support of this measure before the Senate Committee on Agriculture.
KDHE Chemical Spill Notification Bill Advances
On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 153 favorably. The bill would authorize KDHE to establish reportable threshold quantities of chemical spills in rules and regulations. The bill would also allow the agency to provide technical guidance during a clean-up response, and permit cost-recovery from the responsible party for any state expenses for response to a release. The bill would also provide KDHE the ability to levy penalties for illegal dumping, the refusal of the responsible party to clean up a release, or the lack of timely reporting of a release. Your association worked with the agency to amend the original language in the bill to limit the effect of agriculture chemicals, and limit the total amount of civil penalty authority. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Securing Forage Loads
On Thursday, February 27, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 267 favorably. This bill would change the penalty for failing to properly secure a load of forage feed material. The bill would make this a simple traffic infraction, rather than a higher category misdemeanor driving offense. The bill was intended to address the hauling of silage and other forage material. Following the hearing, the bill was amended to limit the bill to only apply to forage materials.
Dump Truck License Plates
On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 390 favorably. As amended, the bill would authorize placement of a license plate on either the front or rear of any motor vehicle used as a form of a dump truck and having a gross weight of 26,000 pounds.
Directed Hemp Destruction
On Thursday, February 27, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 345 favorably. This bill would amend the Commercial Industrial Hemp Act to establish the requirements for effective destruction of industrial hemp produced in Kansas by individuals licensed under the act. The bill would require the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) to develop a plan for disposal of industrial hemp with state and local law enforcement agencies and affected parties. This plan must be approved in advance by state and local law enforcement agencies. Employees or agents of the KDA could be required to be fingerprinted and to submit to a state and national criminal history record check for which the agency would pay associated costs. Local and state law enforcement officers and agencies would be required to assist in the taking and processing of fingerprints. The bill would also allow KDA and state and local law enforcement agencies to seek reimbursement for costs incurred in conducting this disposal. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Human Trafficking Postings
On Thursday, February 27, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 371, a bill concerning human trafficking and requiring the posting of notices offering help to victims of human trafficking in certain businesses and public places. SB 371 would make postage of these notices mandatory in any place required to post employment notices under Kansas law. The bill would also require the notices to be placed in public places including convenience stores and truck stops. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Annual Corporate Registration
On Thursday, February 27, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 251, concerning the annual filing requirement for Kansas business entities. SB 251 would allow these reports to be filed annually, biennially, or triennially. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
Broadband Deployment Grant Program
On Wednesday, February 26, the House Committee of the Whole passed HB 2618 favorably, a bill which establishes the state broadband deployment grant program in the department of commerce to encourage the deployment of broadband in the state. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
KDA to Restrict Pesticide Applicator Financial Security
On Wednesday, February 26, the House Committee of the Whole passed HB 2463 favorably. Existing law provides the means by which a pesticide business may prove financial responsibility in order to obtain a license. As amended, the bill would remove the provision of a “letter of credit” from those means. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Rural Opportunity Zone Extension
On Monday, February 24, the House Tax Committee held a hearing on HB 2721, a bill which would extend the eligible time period for the Rural Opportunity Zone Loan Repayment Program to July 1, 2023. Under current law, no resident could enroll or participate in the Rural Opportunity Zone Loan Repayment Program after June 30, 2021.
Property Tax Bill Action
- On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 294 favorably on a vote of 39-0. This bill would establish notice and public hearing requirements prior to approval by a governing body to exceed its certified tax rate for property tax purposes. This bill, patterned after Utah property tax law, would require local taxing jurisdictions to lower the mill levy in order to keep the budget flat if property valuations in the jurisdiction increased. The stated goals of the Utah property tax model are taxpayer protection, increased accountability to tax payers, and increased transparency in the process. The model would prohibit automatic property tax increases from increases in property valuations, as usually happens when valuations rise. The model is intended to offer a balanced approach by allowing greater transparency and more local control by allowing local governments the flexibility to pay for the services their constituents say they want. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
- On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 266 This bill would remove designations awarded by the IAOAO as qualifying credentials for county appraisers. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
- On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 272 favorably on a vote of 40-0. This bill would prohibit the Board of Tax Appeals from increasing the appraised valuation of a property to an amount greater than the final determination of the appraised value by the county appraiser, or from increasing the appraised valuation as the result of an informal property tax appeal. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
- On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 265 favorably on a vote of 40-0. This bill would require the state board of tax appeals to serve orders and notices by electronic means if requested by the party.
- On Wednesday, February 26, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 262 This bill clarifies the time for any aggrieved party to request an appeal or a full opinion from the Board of Tax Appeals. As amended, the bill would allow 21 days after service of the Board’s decision to request a full opinion.
- On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 264 favorably out of committee on a vote of 40-0. This bill would remove county appraisers from the list of persons eligible to be appointed to office of appraiser in certain instances.
- On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole passed SB 297 favorably on a vote of 40-0. This bill would remove language requiring appraisals to be performed in accordance with generally accepted appraisal standards promulgated by the Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation, and would replace it with a requirement to comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). Additionally, the bill would remove a county appraiser’s authority to require compliance with additional standards and would require that if the Director requires compliance with additional standards that those additional standards do not conflict with USPAP.
- On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Tax Committee passed SB 309 favorably out of committee. Under current law, a taxpayer has the option to appeal any summary decision or full and complete opinion of the Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) that would allow for a new trial with the district court. SB 309 would place the burden of proof on the county appraiser to initiate the production of evidence to demonstrate the validity and correctness of the property valuation or classification of residential or commercial property before an appeal de novo to the district court. There was a motion by Senator Vic Miller to amend the bill to remove a taxpayer’s option to appeal a BOTA decision de novo to the district court.
On Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Tax Committee passed SB 273 favorably out of committee. This bill would allow taxpayers, or anyone representing the taxpayer, to attend a Board of Tax Appeals proceeding by audio or video electronic communication.
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