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Legislative Update - Veto Session

Tax Plans Emerge

With the ninetieth day of the Legislative Session looming, which will be this coming Saturday, we did see the emergence of two vastly different tax solution plans voted out of the House Taxation Committee.

The first tax plan, House Bill 2430, is designed to address a wide array of tax policies.  There are numerous components to this tax policy, which mainly focuses on income taxes.  HB 2430 would impose business income at an income tax rate for all businesses at 2.7%.  This legislation would also impose an income tax rate on passive, rents, and royalties at a rate of 4.6%.  House Bill 2430 would also increase the current sales tax rate from 6.15% to 6.5% effective on July 1, 2015.  However, the current sales tax rate of 6.15% would not increase for the purchase of groceries.

The other tax plan, House Substitute for Senate Bill 270, was passed out of the House Taxation Committee on Wednesday, May 13, focuses more on sales tax increases.  This proposal would raise the current sales tax rate from 6.15% to 6.85%, with the exception of food.  For the purchases of food, the sales tax rate would be reduced to 5.9%.  With these adjustments to the sales tax, the amount of funds generated is estimated to be approximately $271 million in fiscal year 2016.  The other components of SB 270 are to eliminate all itemized deductions, except mortgage interest deduction, property taxes, and charitable contributions, tax amnesty, and decrease the bottom income tax tier for the 2015 tax year from 2.7% to 2.55%.

The House of Representatives debated and amended SB 270 on Friday, May 15, however it failed to pass out of the chamber by a voice vote. 

Article V:  Convention of States

I have received numerous emails regarding House Concurrent Resolution 5010, which would serve as Kansas’ application to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the U.S. Constitution, for the calling of a convention of the states.  The convention, if called, would limit the amendments to the Constitution that impose limits or restraints on the federal government.

This resolution would make the following findings and conclusions regarding the federal government:  the federal government has created a national debt by improper and imprudent spending, has invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative  process of federal mandates, does not to comply with the proper interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and the solemn duty of the states is to protect the liberty of the people by proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of restraining the abuses of power identified in the resolution.  As of yet, the House has not voted on this resolution.

Marijuana Possession Penalties, Hemp Oil and Industrial Hemp 

The House passed House Bill 2049, which reduces the criminal penalties for low level possession of marijuana. Under current law, a first offense of possession of marijuana is a class A nonperson misdemeanor, and any subsequent offense is a drug severity level 5 felony. This bill changes a first possession offense to a class B nonperson misdemeanor and changes a second offense to a class A nonperson misdemeanor. A third or subsequent offense would be classified as a drug severity level 5 felony.

This bill makes Kansas law less punitive toward nonviolent marijuana offenders by giving more flexibility for rehabilitation. Fewer offenders would lose job opportunities due to having a felony conviction on their record and would have increased opportunities to reform their ways and become productive members of society. The bill would also help keep these nonviolent offenders out of prison – the Department of Corrections estimates the bill would result in FY 2016 a savings of $671,000, and in FY 2017 a savings of $1.1 million and freeing up needed space for violent criminals.

During the floor debate on HB 2049, an amendment was added to the bill to legalize the production of medical hemp oil for the purposes of treating debilitating seizures. The language of the amendment was the same as that of a bill approved earlier in the session by the Health and Human Services Committee and would set up a regulatory structure for the preparation of this medical hemp that has very low levels of THC, the high-inducing chemical contained in marijuana. The legislation would allow those suffering from seizures access to an effective treatment.

Also added during the debate on the bill, was an amendment to allow the Kansas Department of Agriculture and/or any of the six Regents’ universities to do research on industrial hemp. A provision was included in the 2014 farm bill passed by Congress to allow state universities and state agriculture agencies to grow and do research on the crop without being penalized by the federal government. However, the provision only applies to states where industrial hemp is legal. The amendment would make the research done on the crop by KDA or by one of the Regents’ universities legal.

The House passed HB 2049 by a vote of 81-36. 

Judicial Budget and Contact Information

The House passed our budget legislation for the Judicial Branch. The judiciary budget has been kept separate from the mega budget bill, and its approval will now give the House a position on the issue in conference committee with the Senate.

The committee’s budget would appropriate $131.2 million in fiscal year 2016 and $138.5 million in fiscal year 2017 to the Judicial Branch. The budget also includes an extension of the surcharge on docket fees, which is estimated to bring in another $9.5 million to the Judiciary. The budget also raises the fee for filing a dispositive motion to $195, which is expected to provide the Judiciary with another $574,000.

The House passed House Bill 2365 by a vote of 108-10.

 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


Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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