For the folks who hang out at the Statehouse — and for more conventional Kansans — Saturday is New Year’s Eve, though we’re not sure just who’s going to have parties celebrating the clock ticking off the last few seconds of Kansas Fiscal Year 2018.
In the last few seconds of this fiscal year, state agencies will see the current budget expire and the new fiscal year budget open … and some agencies will see increases in funding, increases in responsibility, and the dawning of yet another year of activity.
The budget increases? Look for public schools to get about $185 million more to spend to educate the kids, look for maybe $80 million more for repairs to state highways.
But for many Kansans, there are going to be some probably less earth-rattling new laws that will become effective July 1—New Year’s Day.
One of those new bills eliminates the criminal penalty for breaking out the window of a steamy-hot car to rescue a child, an elderly person or a pet whose health is jeopardized by being in a closed car as temperatures rise to life-threatening levels. Hard to imagine many Kansans wouldn’t make that rescue when they see a child or adult or pet in obvious danger of overheating, but the new law means that the forgetful or negligent driver of that car can’t sue you for the damage to the window to prevent the much more severe damage to a person or pet. Just stay with the car — and the persons or pet you have saved — and call the cops.
Oh, and some folks, besides shopping for the champagne and snacks for their New Year’s Eve party, also will be picking up brochures on cars at local dealers to leaf through while wearing party hats because July 1 is the day that Kansas will stop collecting sales tax on manufacturer rebates on new cars. Until July 1 even though you didn’t pay that rebate and it lowered the cost of the car, you still pay sales tax on that rebate. Make any sense? Not really, but that’s over on July 1. You don’t pay sales tax on money you didn’t spend for the car.
So logical — and expected to save Kansas car buyers about $3 million a year for the next four years — that it expires in four years to give lawmakers a chance to pass the bill again to the likely excitement of new-car buyers in a new election cycle.
And starting with New Year Fiscal Year 2019, we better pay more attention to zooming around trash trucks that are doing their duty. No more zooming, while folks are emptying those trash cans into the trucks. Move over to the other lane, or at least slow down so you don’t present a danger to the trash collectors. To prepare us for that change in law, for the next year you get a warning ticket, and after that, a $45 ticket for endangering those trucks. Probably about two months’ trash pickup fee in many urban areas. So, if you haven’t been careful, start watching out.
And … if you’ve been naughty, or someone thinks you have, the state is lifting that prohibition of service of civil (not criminal, of course) process on Saturday. That’s the paperwork from any district court in a civil suit — think, maybe, divorce? — that current law doesn’t allow to be served on Saturday because Saturday is the Sabbath for some religions. Effect? It means that Saturday is no longer a protected day for getting those court notes…and that process server probably will be working weekends in the New Year.
Happy New Year!
Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report.