Back to Top

Legislative Update - Veto Session

Veto Session

On Thursday, April 23, the House Appropriations Committee met to discuss the latest consensus revenue estimates that were released on Monday, April 21.  The release of the modified consensus revenue estimates for fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017, greatly impact the budget and tax policy that the legislature will need to address for the state of Kansas.  During the meeting, we were notified that even if the Governor’s tax proposal passes, that which is an increase on tobacco and liquor taxes and then a slight reduction then freeze on the lower tax bracket, we would still need to address a projected shortfall of approximately $131 million in 2016 and $80 million in 2015.

Then on Wednesday, the legislature returned to the statehouse to begin the process of wrapping up the 2015 legislative session.  These final weeks of the session are typically referred to as Veto Session and during this time conference committees meet to deliberate on different positions from the House and Senate.  However, the largest items still yet to be discussed in each chamber before we can complete the session are the budgets for fiscal year 2016 and 2017 and a tax policy to address the evident shortfalls.  There has been minimal discussion this week on the state budget for the next two fiscal years, although tax policy finally had a discussion this week.  The Senate Tax Committee tabled the Governor’s position of raising tobacco and liquor taxes, however, the committee supported an increase of property taxes by $46.  Another agriculture land property tax increase of $3 an acre was proposed, however I do not foresee that bill moving forward.  The House Tax Committee discussed an increase of consumption taxes from the current rate of 6.15% to 6.50%, a $0.05 increase on the motor fuel tax, and an increase of the same amount to red or dyed diesel fuel.  These have just been discussions in both chambers’ tax committees and neither chamber has voted on a tax policy on the respective floors.

Overriding Governor’s Veto on Uber Bill

On April 20, Governor Sam Brownback vetoed a regulatory bill on rideshare services, which many have referred to as the Uber Bill.  The Governor said in his statement that the reason why he vetoed the legislation that overwhelmingly passed through both chambers is that he felt that the legislation would over regulate an emerging industry creating many jobs throughout Kansas.  Prior to the veto, Uber was operating in Wichita and Kansas City and then after the Governor’s veto they announced they would expand to four additional Kansas cities:  Lawrence, Leavenworth, Manhattan, and Topeka. 

On Tuesday, May 5, the Senate made a motion to reconsider the veto made by the Governor since the bill that passed was a Senate bill and a reconsider of the veto must take place in the chamber of origin.  The reconsideration of the Governor’s veto passed easily by the two-thirds required to move it to the House, 34-5.  The House then immediately voted on the motion to reconsider the Governor’s veto, and with almost no debate, the House passed the measure by 96-25, well more than the 84 needed for a two-thirds majority to override the veto.  I feel that this could have been remedied with all parties so I voted “Nay” on the motion to reconsider the Governor’s veto.  Shortly after the legislature voted to override the Governor’s veto, Uber suspended all services in the state of Kansas.

Renewable Portfolio Standards

For the past three years, there has been much deliberating, discussion and debate on the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), mainly regarding the wind industry, in the state of Kansas.  These standards placed mandates on Utility companies that by 2020, 20% of their energy would derive from renewable energy.  Last year alone, there were six attempts to eliminate the RPS, all which I voted “Nay” on in order to preserve the emerging business of wind energy. 

After the discussion from the legislative session of 2014, all the groups met to devise a compromise and have that compromise introduced as legislation.  House Substitute for Senate Bill 91, is the settlement of all of the interested parties, would include three provisions.  First, it would transition the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard from a mandatory standard of 20% by 2020 to a voluntary goal of 20% by 2020, which would go into effect on January 1, 2016.  Second, the bill modifies the current property tax exemption and establishes a ten-year property tax exemption for future renewable energy projects.  A ten year exemption for nearly all forms of electric generation is already in place, and this property tax exemption would not impact any existing donation agreements or payment in lieu of tax agreements wind energy developers currently have with host counties.  And, third, this would clarify that for state assessed property tax purposes, renewable energy is not a public utility, which alters that state assessed tax rate for renewable energy projects to the 25% commercial rate and not the 33% for public utilities. 

On Thursday, May 7, the House voted on the compromise measure of solidifying wind energy in the state of Kansas.  Senate Bill 91 passed the House, 107-11, and I cast a “Yea” vote for this legislation so that it can ensure a stable policy and investment environment for renewable energy in the state of Kansas for a long-term basis. 

Senate Bill 302, KPERS, and Contact Information

Senate Bill 302 is the latest bill that has been introduced to increase the taxes on agriculture land.  The language of the bill does not classify this increase as a property tax increase, though, but as an excise tax increase.  An excise tax is defined as a tax when purchases are made on a specific good.  I would question the definition and use of classifying this as an excise tax, in this case.  The legislation introduced proposes $3 for each acre of land unless that property is exempt from ad valorem property taxes.  I have been notified that the members of the Senate may vote on Senate Bill 302 in order to unequivocally vote the measure down.

 

On Wednesday morning, May 6, the Senate Ways and Means and the House Appropriations Committee held a joint meeting to discuss the future of the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) and the possibility of transitioning the retirement system to one that would be classified to some as being more financially stable.  This was only an informational briefing and no action will be taken at this time.  We heard presentations from Dimensional Fund Advisors and Prudential. 

 

If you have any concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov

It is an honor to serve the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas. Do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas.

Troy L. Waymaster,

State Representative

109th Kansas House

300 SW 10th

Topeka, KS  66612 

Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
Powered by CampaignPartner.com - Political Websites