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Legislative Update Week Two



From the Dome to Home

January 23, 2015

Troy L. Waymaster, State Representative, Kansas House district, 109

 

The Governor’s Proposed Budget & Tax Plan 

Governor Brownback’s budget proposes that the current K-12 education funding formula be repealed by July 1, 2015. The current formula has been in place since the early 1990s. During his State of the State Address, Governor Brownback requested that the legislature comprehensively reform school finance. In order for the Legislature to have the appropriate time to do so, the governor’s budget would block grant approximately $3 billion dollars to school districts in FY 2016 and 2017, until a new school finance formula is developed.

The governor’s tax plan proposes increases in consumption taxes on both tobacco and liquor. The cigarette tax would increase from $0.79 a pack to $2.29 a pack.  In addition, the liquor enforcement tax would increase from 8% to 12%. It is estimated that the cigarette tax would generate additional revenues of $80.8 million in FY 2016 and $76.2 million in FY 2017, and that the liquor enforcement tax would generate an additional $27.1 million in FY 2016 and $27.9 million in FY 2017.

Another major component of the governor’s tax plan addresses personal income tax rates. In 2013, the legislature passed a tax package that is set to drop the bottom rate from 2.7% to 2.3% in 2018 and the top rate from 4.6% to 3.9% in 2018. The plan would drop the lower rate from 2.7% to 2.66% in 2016 and freeze that rate through 2018. The top rate would remain at its current 4.6% through 2018, instead of dropping. Along with the rate changes, the plan would establish a Tax Reduction Fund. In future years, when revenues exceed 103%, the excess amount will be transferred to the fund. The governor or legislature may then use the balance to set further reductions in income tax rates dependent on the growth of the economy. 

General Government Budget Committee

As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, the General Government Budget Committee will review twenty-seven different agency budgets this legislative session for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.  Before we begin working on the budgets for these fiscal years, it is always best to invite those agencies to the committee to present exactly how they benefit the state of Kansas.  In the committee this week, we invited several divisions of government and agencies to present informational hearings and briefings to better understand the needs of the specific branch or agency.   We had the Judicial Branch, the Department of Administration, and the Department of Revenue brief the committee on the services they provide to Kansans, how they are moving their division or agency forward, and what challenges they are facing.  Next week, we will conduct briefings on the Department of Labor and the Board of Tax Appeals.

The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act

During the 2013 Legislative Session, I received a letter from Kiley Klug from Claflin, Kansas regarding the legalization of cannabis oil so her son, Owen, who lives with Dravet Syndrome, could use legal cannabis to relieve his seizures.

Early this session, the House and the Senate, both, had bills introduced that would address this issue, called the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act.  This act stipulates that the legal use of cannabis would be an option for certain debilitating medical conditions.  The act states that some of those debilitating medical conditions are:  cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Crohn's disease, for example.  The act also states that cannabis can be legally used for conditions that may cause Cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including, but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy or severe and persistent muscle spasms, or those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.  The cannabis would need to be administered by a caregiver over the age of twenty-one and would need to be issued a registry identification card.  According to the act, the usable cannabis would be the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant, although it could not include the seeds, stalk or roots. 

On Wednesday, January 21, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee held an informational hearing on the act.  Kiley provided testimony to the committee, and afterwards I met Kiley, her husband, Gavin, other family members, and, especially, Owen. 

  Legislative Committee Assignments

This week in the Appropriations Committee we had briefings from the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and from the Director of Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS).  We also had a bill hearing on Governor Brownback’s allotment proposals for FY 2015.

In the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, we had a briefing on the progress of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the affects they have on the farming, oil and natural gas industries of Kansas.  We also had briefings on issues that are of importance for the Department of Agriculture and livestock brands and cattle rustling within the state of Kansas.

This week, I had the pleasure of having many visitors from the 109th House District at my office.  Those visitors included Gavin, Kiley, and Owen Klug from Claflin with other family members, Scott Sigle from Osborne, James Jirak from Kensington and Jerald Ratliff from Smith Center.

If you have any questions, 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.



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