The Legislature did almost all of their work on the respective chamber floors last week. The Senate looked at around 50 bills in three days.
The House had over 75 bills over the same three-*day timeframe. When legislation is pushed through at that pace it doesn’t always get thoroughly vetted. I work diligently to read and study legislation and at that pace it makes for a busy week.
Tax: Remember, the Senate Tax Committee passed SB 91, an attempt to lighten the tax burden for senior citizens, disabled veterans, and Kansas taxpayers. The bill was buried in a special committee. In an attempt to save part of SB 91, I amended SB 104 to include the portion of SB 91 that would help low-income seniors and some disabled veterans with their property tax. It is a first step in addressing our out-of-control property taxes. I also moved to amend SB 104 so that small businesses and individuals in Kansas would be able to claim expense deductions for certain tangible property on their state income tax return, like corporations are allowed. Both amendments passed without objection. The base bill SB 104, would require anyone who is paid to prepare income tax returns to sign the return they prepared, in partial or whole, and to provide their federal Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The bill is an attempt to cut down on fraudulent tax returns. SB 104 containing both of my amendments passed the Senate without objection.
We need a complete study on our Kansas taxes so I approached the Governor and asked for a Blue Ribbon study. It would take a look at all of our taxes and fee structures. Kansas taxes are some of the highest in the nation. According to the Tax Foundation, Kansas is eighth highest in the nation for state and local sales tax combined; ninth highest for state sales tax; in 2016 Kansas was 15th highest for property tax. Wallet hub, a personal finance website started in 2013, has Kansas listed as 43rd (1 being the lowest) in the nation for property tax on vehicles. It is time to take a detailed look at Kansas taxes and how we pay for government.
The Governor vetoed SB 22. The bill would have stopped another Kansas tax increase that is a result of the Federal tax changes in 2017. The Senate and House passed the bill. The Senate passed the original bill and changes made by the House that made it more than just dealing with the Federal tax changes. The House added decreasing sales tax on food by 1% and requiring online vendors collect and pay Kansas sales tax. There will be an attempt at a veto override. It will be close.
SB 219 would require scrap metal dealers when receiving metals such as aluminum, copper, brass, lead, and other nonferrous metal, to send pictures of the metal, name, address, and photo ID of the seller to a database maintained by the KBI. The KBI and Attorney General aren’t just collecting names of bad players but also people who have not broken the law. In 2015, the Scrap Metal Theft Reeducation Act passed. It was not implemented in 2016 or 2017 because of complications with the database. In 2017 and 2018, the Legislature suspended the dealer fingerprint, the $1,000 registration fee, and the database. Instead of continuing to work on a solution, they introduced SB 219. It created another fund for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and gave KBI authority for the database, although the original Scrap Metal Fund stays with the Attorney General’s office. For the past two years. I fought to stop the madness but couldn’t convince a majority of Senators this year. One Senator railed about how the Scrap Metal Theft Act went too far but voted to continue the madness! It makes no sense. Hopefully, the House will be able to stop this unprecedented collection of customer data by law-enforcement.
There were too many bills worked last week to list in this update. A list of bills worked each day can be found on the Calendar at: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/chamber/calendars/
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.