The Statehouse was buzzing again with activity this week with redistricting, taxes, and the budget among other issues still left to be agreed upon. There was however notable progress with the building construction as well.
In the rotunda of the Capitol, the scaffolding, currently encased in sheetrock and which has been in place for years, is almost completely dismantled. There are still a few months left before the north wing will be open but it is exciting to again be able to see the inside and outside of the dome again. Once the north wing is complete, all legislators will be back in the Statehouse and the rotunda will again be open for all Kansans to enjoy. I encourage you to make a trip to the Statehouse and experience some of the history of our marvelous state which has defined who we are as Kansans.
One of my most favorite paintings in the Statehouse is the famous depiction of John Brown where he is holding a bible in one hand and a rifle in another. In the background there is a war scene where the union and confederate soldiers are fighting. This painting always reminds me of the storied history of those Kansans who have come before us and the great history this building represents.
The Kansas State Historical Society provides tours of the Statehouse Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. For more information on guided tours, please call 785-296-3966.
Since the announcement of the inclusion of DD services in the implementation of KanCare, I have been concerned about the risks and rewards such a proposal would have on the DD community. At the beginning there were few details about how it would affect Lakemary Center and its patients. This was quite concerning to me and the DD community as a whole. Since KanCare was unveiled, I have worked to find every opportunity to inform the Administration of the concerns we have had here in Miami County regarding the changes. On Thursday the Administration changed course and announced it would be delaying the implementation of KanCare for the developmentally disabled community. This delay would not affect the direct care services portion of care.
The Administration has delayed the implementation of KanCare for this group because of the concerns with the new program and the risks involved for the community. Governor Brownback believes the implementation of KanCare should continue for the other populations while following up with and addressing the concerns of the DD community.
On Friday this week the Administration updated the developmentally disabled waiver to include the recent change in KanCare policy. The specific changes to the waiver are available at www.srs.ks.gov.
If you have any specific questions regarding the new policy please contact the Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services at 785.296.3271
Since the beginning of the Session the House has aggressively tackled the redistricting process. We began the session in January knowing the redistricting process would be contentious and that is why we acted quickly and decisively. The House reached a bipartisan compromise which received an overwhelming majority of 108 votes in the 125 member chamber.
Besides redistricting of the House maps, the legislature is also responsible for drawing maps for the congressional districts, the senate districts, and the state board of education districts. The House has completed work on maps for both the house and congressional districts. Traditionally each house draws its own lines and the other house doesn’t meddle in the others business; however, this year the senate has failed to pass any map, senate or congressional. This is preventing any further progress with the redistricting map.
This year we are required by the constitution to finish the redistricting process in the regular session. It is imperative for the Senate Leadership to act and pass a senate district and congressional district map so that we can negotiate the differences. Without a map there is no other mechanism for the House to complete the process.
On Thursday the House reached an agreement with the Senate on this year’s mega tax bill. The proposal will address property and income tax relief designed to help spur economic growth and give much needed property tax relief.
The income tax changes will reduce all three income tax brackets for individuals. The top bracket of 6.45% will drop to 4.9%, the middle bracket of 6.25% will drop to 4.9% and the lowest bracket of 3.5% will drop to 3%. The senate also agreed to the House’s position on non-wage business income tax. The House has recommended a phase in of this where the Senate had recommended the changes immediately. The phase in levels will be 100,000 for FY 13-15, 250,000 in FY 16-17 and no cap in FY 18.
The other major area of change related to the sales tax proposal, which both chambers finally agreed to keep with the current law which sunsets in 2014.
The bill also includes property tax relief in the amount of $45 million transferred to local property taxing units to provide property tax relief.
Month of the Military Child
This month was proclaimed by the House as the month of the military child. These children also carry the burden of the family member who is serving in the armed forces and deserve our nation’s respect for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of the nation. They have not had the normal childhood many of us experience by being at one school for their educational career but rather move around to many different schools throughout the country based on the needs of the military. This can be a difficult transition for these students but also the burden they must bare knowing a parent might be injured or killed while on duty. This is a reality these kids face day after day and it is our obligation to do what we can to help them in their transitions.
Next week the House will begin to consider the conference committee reports which have been agreed to between the House and the Senate. This will be one of the last major pushes before the legislature adjourns.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the legislative session or would like more information on an issue discussed, please give me a call at 785.291.3500 or by email at email@example.com