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Legislative Update Week Three



Wednesday, January 29, which was also Kansas Day and the
153rd year of Kansas’ statehood, the Capitol was visited by hundreds of Kansans
for the building’s dedication.  The renovations of the Capitol took nearly fourteen years to complete and now the interior of the building, especially the new public entrance and Visitor
Center, are now complete.  I am honored to serve in this majestic building that serves as the people’s house for the state of Kansas.

The dedication began at noon on the first floor of the rotunda, and the master of ceremonies of the event was John Holt from Fox 4 in Kansas City and formerly of Barton County. 
Some of the honored speakers who addressed the crowd during the
dedication were Jennie Chinn, Executive Director of the Kansas Historical
Society, Ray Merrick, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Susan Wagle,
President of the Senate.  During the dedication of the Capitol, historical re-enactors portrayed famous Kansans in our state’s history, such as Cyrus K. Holliday, Topeka founder and Minnie J.
Grinstead, the first female elected to the state Legislature. 

The Capitol was then officially dedicated by Governor Sam Brownback who unveiled a plaque commemorating the dedication, then cake was served to all in attendance.  Before the
conclusion of the dedication, the Topeka West High School orchestra led all
those in attendance in Kansas’ state song, “Home on the Range,” which was written
by Dr. Brewster M. Higley, Smith County, Kansas, in the early 1870’s.

In addition to the new Visitor Center, some of the other areas of interest now open after the Capitol renovations are:  an auditorium, Notable Kansans Hall, Construction Hall, Hall of Native Peoples, the House of Representatives and Senate Chambers and the dome.  I
encourage all Kansans to visit the state Capitol which exemplifies our state’s pride
and history.

 The Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget committee held an informational hearing on the Kansas Aqueduct Study, which will update a 1982 study regarding the Ogallala Aquifer. 
The premise of the study is to construct 360 miles of canals and pipelines from the Missouri River by White Cloud, Kansas to a receiving reservoir in southwest Kansas.  This
reservoir would have a water storage capacity of 700,000 acre foot and would be
used for seasonal irrigation demands.  The funding to update the study is $300,000 and is being paid by Federal Funds, the Kansas Water Office, GMD Number 3 and in kind contributions.  The only state dollars used for the study is from the Kansas Water Office and that amount was $37,500.

 One of the most contentious bills so far in the 2014 legislative session is Senate bill 298, the elimination of the Mortgage Registration Fee.  The current statute regarding the Mortgage Registration Fee allows the Register of Deeds of each county to collect this fee at a rate of $0.26 for every $100 that is borrowed for a property that is recorded by a mortgage. 
A portion of that fee is also allocated to the Heritage Trust Fund at the Kansas State Historical Society receiving 1/26th of the fee, with an annual cap of $100,000 for each county.  The
general fund of each county receives the remaining amount.

This Mortgage Registration Fee, once again, is only imposed when there is a mortgage filed with the county during the transfer of property.  I have heard from each county government in the 109th House District regarding this issue.  In the emails, conversations or telephone
calls that I have had with either County Commissioners, Register of Deeds or
other county personnel, they have all indicated that if the state of Kansas
eliminates the Mortgage Registration Fee, then the only recourse that the
counties will have in order to recover the loss of funds from this fee would be
to increase the mill levy.  Depending on the county, and their loss of revenue, I have received resolutions from county commissioners from each of the counties in the district that they will need to increase the mill from 1.0 to 1.3 mills in order to recover the loss. 

The advocates for the elimination of this fee are the Kansas Bankers Association and the Kansas Realtors Association.  Their main argument is that this fee is unfair and is not imposed by other states in our region.  While the state of Kansas is one of the only states that have this fee type in our region, almost all other states have what is referred to as a “transfer tax” that is paid anytime a property changes hands.

On Tuesday, January 28, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee had an
information hearing that was presented by the Kansas Department of Revenue,
Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Corporation Commission.  They wanted to discuss the changes and clarification regarding the self-certification that is needed for Commercial
Drivers Licenses (CDLs).  However, during the question and answer period of the hearing, it was clear that regulations regarding CDLs is still somewhat unclear.  Some of the questions that were asked were farm exemptions, weighting or vehicle type when a CDL is needed. 

Due to the fact there were many questions directed at each of the departments,
Chairwoman Sharon Schwartz decided to form a sub-committee task force to
streamline CDL clarification.  Chairwoman Schwartz asked me to sit on this subcommittee with two other representatives.

 As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672 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.  I appreciate the perspectives from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas.


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