Here’s an overview of recent activities in the Kansas House of Representatives:
Colyer names lieutenant
On Feb. 13, Gov. Jeff Colyer announced Tracey Mann as Kansas’ 50th Lieutenant Governor. Mann is a fifth-generation Kansan from Quinter, and earned a degree in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University in 2000. He currently serves as the managing director and principal of Newmark Grubb Zimmer, a full service real estate company headquartered in Kansas City and is a board member of the City Teen Center in Salina. Previously he served on the boards of directors for the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Mann, his wife, Audrey and their four children live in Salina.
Joint meeting on impact of federal tax reform
On Feb. 14, the House Taxation and Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee met jointly to hear about the impact of the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed on Dec. 22. The Committee heard from Kathleen Smith and Michael Austin from the Department of Revenue and Jay Langley, on behalf of the Kansas Society of CPAs. The Department of Revenue estimates that there will be a positive fiscal impact to the State, with additional taxes paid by taxpayers: $137.8 million for FY 2019; $179.9 million for FY 2020; and $187.7 million for FY ’21. The Department and Langley summarized the changes affecting individual and business tax provisions and the effect on taxpayer liability. They noted that the information provided is preliminary and for informational purposes. According to Chairman Steven Johnson, “This (briefing) identifies the magnitude of issues we have to review regarding the tax changes. There is no free money. We need to confirm if we wish to have these changes (which is effectively a tax increase) continue into effect on our taxpayers.”
On Feb. 13, Representative Claeys (Salina) carried HR 6043. The resolution urges the Federal Aviation Administration to accept Kansas’ application for the Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration pilot program. The goal of the pilot program is to conduct advanced UAS operations safely and with public support, oversight provided by the FAA. The program is to address the challenges in integrating drones into the national airspace, while reducing risks to public safety and security. The resolution further states the “The State of Kansas is heavily vested in UAS and is demonstrating national leadership in this industry by becoming the first state to have an operational unmanned traffic management system in place for state agencies, all 138 airports and 37 institutions of higher learning.” The resolution was adopted without roll call.
The current week marks “Turn-Around”, meaning the cutoff time for bills, from non-exempt committees, to pass their house of origin or essentially die. At this point, the House will consider those bills passed by the Senate, and vice-versa. That work will be done by early April, followed by a break, and then the veto-session. It’s widely presumed that most of the high-priority issues facing the legislature will be settled at that time.
Les Mason is the Kansas House Representative for District 73, which covers much of McPherson County.