House now on home stretch
March 3 and 4 were bill turnaround days. We were back on the floor Wednesday, and now officially are halfway through the session. It's time to take a look back at the things we have accomplished so far and look forward to the direction we are heading.
The standard tax deduction for married tax filers was given a 25-percent boost, increased from $6,000 to $7,500. The sales tax rate was decreased from 6.3 percent to 6.15 percent.
* Kansas has eliminated the state income tax on certain small business income so funds in excess of wages can be reinvested in business expansion and job creation.
The Legislature achieved $200 million in savings in the 2014 state general fund budget, while at the same time, making core investments of $3.8 billion in K-12 education funding and $1.2 billion in road construction and maintenance.
Kansas has been ranked fifth in the country for economic development projects in 2013. Site Selection, a magazine that has put together comprehensive economic development rankings since 1978, issued the rating. Site Selection also ranked Kansas second in per capita projects from the west north-central region that included Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Kansas had 106 new facilities and expansions in 2013, meaning there were 36.6 economic development projects for every 1 million in population. Of these 106 new economic development projects, 20 were manufacturing facilities, 24 were manufacturing expansions and 62 were classified in other categories, including office, headquarters, and research and development facilities. This ranking makes it clear Kansas continues to create one of the best pro-business environments in the nation.
February revenue receipts beat monthly estimates by $97.6 million. Individual income tax receipts are $54 million above previous estimates. This is the result of increased wages and decreased unemployment. Companies have been increasing wages since 2013 following a steady recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. Another piece of important news is corporate income tax receipts are $20 million above budget. This is a sign Kansas is attracting new business and allowing the existing businesses to grow. Additionally, Kansas received an unexpected $50 million personal income tax receipts in February.
The House approved a bill that increases the penalty for committing financial securities fraud against anyone older than 60. The bill, HB 2433, increases the severity of the punishment by one level, which translates to increased prison sentences for offenders. Financial fraud is among the fastest growing form of elder abuse in the nation. Oftentimes, seniors are too embarrassed, confused or fearful to report the abuse.
John Ewy is the House representative in the 117th District, including Ness
and Rush counties.
Under HB 2538, deer antlers and other trophies from wild animals obtained from animals illegally hunted by trespassers on private property will be first offered to the landowner. The trophies are confiscated by the state and often are found on display in state offices. It's important for property owners to at least have the option of keeping the meat and trophies from animals on their land, even if they were shot illegally.
This week, my wife, Marsha, was able to spend some time with me in Topeka, and attend committee meetings and group gatherings. On Wednesday, we attended a Rural District Caucus meeting where we heard more wind energy information and its effect on our districts and the state.
We also had the opportunity to attend the Propane Dealers Association gathering. It was good to visit with AV Energy manager Chris Klein. AV Energy serves several cooperative customers in our district. I was able to introduce Klein to other legislators to discuss issues.
Dave Geist, executive director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center, formerly the Southwest Area Agency on Aging and Disability, asked me to pass on the following information to constituents of the 117th. The ADRC is a trusted source of information where people of all ages, abilities and income levels -- as well as their caregivers -- can obtain information and assistance in planning for long-term services and support needs.
The Southwest Kansas ADRC is located in Dodge City and serves the counties in the 117th District. They can be reached by calling (800) 742-9531, or found at www.swksaaa.org. The ADRC is funded by the state and is a free service to the citizens of Kansas.
On Thursday, Steve and Carol Neely, Kinsley, brought four students from Kinsley Junior-Senior High School to serve as pages. The students included Ross Frame, Jennie McReynolds, Shelby Hattrup and Ricardo Lujan.