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Legislative Update - Veto Session

Election Changes

Election law changes have dominated this legislative session, although not nearly as much as the state budget and taxes.  There were numerous election law changes that were introduced at the beginning of session, and now we have all of the bills that either passed one of the chambers combined into one conference committee report between the House and Senate.  The conference committee report that has been submitted is House Bill 2104, which addresses an array of different election topics.

First, this report addresses the removal of a candidate following the primary election.  The new language would specify that a candidate can be removed from the ballot due to medical reasons, not living in the state of Kansas, and revising the law addressing the removal of a nominee who has passed away.

Also, there are specifications and timeline provisions that must be met if replacing a nominee due to one of the before mentioned conditions.

House Bill 2104 would also change local elections from April to November in odd numbered years, starting in 2017.  In addition to moving the local elections from the spring to fall, these local elections would still remain non-partisan.  These elections are still to be administered by the county election officer.

The main argument for moving local elections from the spring to the fall of odd numbered years is to generate an increase of voter participation.  Although I am weary there will be substantial increases, we do need to address the dismal voter turnout for spring elections.

      The final component of this conference committee report is the cancellation of a 2016 Presidential Primary in Kansas and postponing the next one until 2020.  By canceling the primary during the 2016 Presidential Election, and instead holding a caucus, the state of Kansas would save approximately $1.8 million. 

We debated this conference committee report on Thursday, May 21, and the report passed by 64-58.

 

Tax Work Continues

The tax committees on the House and Senate both produced different tax policies that were debated in committee and passed out to each respective chamber.  There has continued to be discussion among many House members, including myself, on what would be the most plausible tax policy that would garner the 63 needed votes in the House to pass out of our chamber.  The most accepted tax policy is looking back at the small business income taxes of 2012, perhaps increasing the state consumption tax to 6.5% with the consumption tax on food at 5.9%, freezing the current income tax rates on individuals with the potential of those income taxes being ratcheted down when the state experiences growth, imposing a small tax increase on tobacco and alcohol than what Governor Brownback suggested, and adjustments for the Managed Care Organizations privilege fee.  We will see in the coming week which tax plan will be debated and voted on the House floor.

Working After Retirement

The House last Friday passed the conference committee report for Senate Substitute for House Bill 2095, which would make changes to the working-after-retirement provisions of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. Starting on July 1, 2016, a KPERS retiree would be allowed to receive up to $25,000 in compensation annually from a contributing KPERS employer, regardless of whether the retiree is returning to work for the same or a different employer, before the retiree would be required to either terminate employment or forgo monthly KPERS benefits until the end of the calendar year.

In the case of school districts, they would be permitted to hire a retiree to fill a special teacher position or any of the top five hard-to-fill positions, which are determined annually by the State Board of Education. Re-employed retirees would continue to receive full retirement benefits for up to three school years or 36 months, whichever would be less, during which the school district would pay to KPERS the actuarially determined employer contribution plus 8 percent.

The main objective of the bill is to limit what is commonly referred to as “double dipping” where a public employee is receiving both a salary and retirement benefit from the state at the same time. By restricting this practice, the state would be providing more stability to the state’s public pension system. Public employee retirees should have the opportunity to return to employment with the state, but it is not good policy to treat a current employee as both an employee and a retiree.

The Senate passed the conference committee report for Senate Substitute for House Bill 2095 unanimously last Thursday, May 14, and on Friday, May 15, the House adopted the conference committee report by a vote of 97-22.  

Veto Session Continues and Contact Information

Even though the past few weeks during the veto session has produced many conference committee reports that have been debated and passed by both chambers, we are still awaiting the pivotal discussion and votes on the main items to wrap up the 2015 Legislative Session:  Budget and Taxes.

The legislative schedule now appears that we will return after the Memorial Day weekend and then not have another break until these two items are ultimately addressed.

I do hope that everyone takes time during this Memorial Day Holiday to honor those that served in our military during times of war and conflict, and to especially reflect on the men and women of our armed forces that paid the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

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
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