The 2019 regular session is over, first adjournment. All that is left is veto session (scheduled 17 days in May this year) and sine die. The Senate attempted to finish all of our work during session. The House had other plans.

Tax: I made every attempt to negotiate with the House on moving tax legislation forward before the close of session and we had agreements on a majority of items. However, in less than two hours, the House Tax Conference Committee Chairman receded on agreements and by the next morning negotiations completely broke down. The House Chairman decided to wait until veto session. As a result we could lose some good policy that passed the Senate. The policy includes allowing small businesses to expense certain purchases, freezing property taxes for low income seniors and for some disabled veterans, allowing certain counties to hold elections for a change in sales tax, providing a sales tax exemption on gold and bullion, extending the Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ) program for five more years, increasing the number of counties in ROZ, and other tax legislation that passed this year. Hopefully, there is time and a desire to complete the work during veto session. It isn’t about one person or legislator winning or losing — it’s about Kansas taxpayers. You deserve a win!

The Governor’s veto of SB 22 was a setback for Kansas taxpayers. SB 22 would have stopped tax increases as a result of 2017 Federal tax changes,. It takes 2/3 majority, 27 votes in the Senate and 84 in the House, within 30 days of the veto to override a Governor’s veto. It doesn’t appear the votes are there in either chamber. Myself and other legislators aren’t giving up but the odds are slim.

Budget: Negotiations between the House and Senate budget conference committee broke down Thursday evening and was postponed until veto session. The legislature will need to pass a budget during veto session. That is the only legislation required by law.

K-12 Funding: Negotiations between the House and Senate were tense regarding school funding. They did come to agreement on SB 16 Conference Committee Report (CCR). To quote the House Majority Leader regarding SB 16 CCR, “…the never-ending cycle of school funding litigation. The plan adds over $360 million to the K-12 budget on top of the $3.13 billion in new funding approved over the last [few] years. It also includes an inflationary measure that will increase K-12 funding between $50 and $100 million each year…forever. This isn’t about supporting school districts and providing a quality education to our children. This is a state being held hostage by trial attorneys who continually sue for more. These same trial attorneys have already come out publicly saying this increased spending is not enough and they expect the Kansas Supreme Court to strike it down and demand an even greater ransom.” He goes on to say, “This funding plan is fiscally irresponsible… Kansans deserve better.” The CCR passed the Senate on a vote of Yes 31 to No 8. I voted No because Kansans and Kansas schools deserve better than a fiscal promise that Kansas taxpayers CANNOT afford.

Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) Health Plans: HB 2209 CCR allows KFB to establish health care plans available to KFB members. It is not insurance but will provide an alternative healthcare coverage. The vote was Yes 28 to No 11. I voted Yes.

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