From the dome to the home

Rep. Troy Waymaster, 109th KS House District
Troy Waymaster

K-12 Education Bill

Late last week in the K-12 Education Budget Committee, House Bill 2119 was passed out for full debate on the House Floor.  HB 2119 contains the provisions for the Student Empowerment Act, which provides for an educational savings account for at-risk students that is equal to the annual base state aid.  All school districts are held harmless for the first three years and will receive the base state aid, plus weightings, attributable to the student.

HB 2119 also removes remote and hybrid students from eligibility and delays implementation until 2022.  This bill also offers a tax credit scholarship program to include free and reduced lunch students from any public school.  This program is capped at $10 million and in 2020 there were 632 students participating in the program with a maximum scholarship rate of $8,000.  Also, the total amount of funding for K-12 Education in Governor Kelly’s budget, which is $5.7 billion, has been inserted into HB 2119.

The bill also provides for the Kansas Department of Education to expend $5 million for the School Safety and Security grants.  These are grants that have been provided in previous years for school safety, and in the budget for 2021 this was an allotment by the Governor.  It also provides money for the Language Assessment Program for the School for the Deaf in 2022. 

There is also an inclusion of $500 for teacher salary bonuses for teachers who provided instruction during the 2021 school year.  There is also a provision where there is a maximum of remote learning hours of 240 each year.  We are anticipating a debate in the house when we return.

Emergency Disaster Orders

On Wednesday of this week, the House debated bills regarding emergency declarations.  House Bill 2416 modifies the procedure for declaring and extending a state of disaster emergency and limits the powers of the Governor during a state of disaster emergency. It also stipulates that the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC) and the Legislature to take certain action related to a state of disaster emergency and prohibits the Governor or the State Board of Education from closing private schools during a state of disaster emergency.  The bill strengthens the oversight role of the Legislature during a disaster and that local control is retained.  We also debated House Bill 2183 which prohibits the Governor, the Executive and Judicial branches from altering election laws or procedures and maintains approval to the Legislative Coordinating Council.

Addressing Utility Bill Concerns

On Wednesday, the House and Senate expeditiously debated House Substitute for Senate Bill 88, which assists our cities across the state due to the increases in utilities from the extreme cold weather that we experienced in February.

This bill creates the City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program for the purpose of providing loans to cities for extraordinary electric or natural gas costs incurred during the extreme winter weather event of February 2021. The program would be administered by the State Treasurer and would allow up to $100 million in idle fund balances to be loaned to cities that could only be used for the amount of extraordinary electric or natural gas costs incurred and not for any other utility costs previously budgeted for by the city. The interest charged would be 2 percent below the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) market rate with a minimum interest rate of 0.25 percent. The interest rate on the loan would be recalculated on the first business day of January of each year. The term of the loan could not exceed ten years. The State Treasurer could accept or reject an application based on the State Treasurer’s evaluation of whether the city meets the requirements of the program.

The State Treasurer would be required to provide an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature identifying the cities that are participating in the program, the amount of money loaned, and the amount of money still available for loan on or before January 1, 2022, and each January thereafter. The Legislature would be required to review the loan program on or after January 1, 2024.

Since the idle fund balance is used as the funding source for the loans, it is assumed that State General Fund resources would be needed to backfill idle fund balances if a city were to default on a loan. The bill would require the PMIB, at the direction of the State Treasurer, to make deposits of up to $100 million of idle funds to cities qualifying for the City Utility Low-Interest Loan Program.

This bill passed the House, 124-0, and the Senate 38-1.  The Governor signed the bill Wednesday night.

Bills Passed the House – Turnaround

This week, the House debated more than sixty bills before we go on break for the midpoint of the Legislative Session, commonly referred to as “Turnaround.  Here are a few of the bills we debated:

House Bill 2045 revises the Kansas Angel Investor Tax Credit Act with respect to the definition of qualified securities, tax credit limitations and amounts, investor requirements and extending the date that the tax credits may be allowed. 

House Bill 2058 allows for reciprocity to recognize out-of-state concealed carry licenses.

We also discussed House Bill 2196, which addresses many of the issues and concerns with unemployment benefits.  This bill would hold employers harmless for fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits and they would not be charged for any benefits paid from March 12, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

On Thursday we debated Senate Bill 13, which establishes notice and public hearing requirements prior to approval of property tax increases by some local entities.  It would also discontinue the city and county tax lid, prohibits valuations increases of real estate solely as a result of normal repair, replacement or maintenance of an existing structure, and establishes a payment plan for the payment of delinquent or even non-delinquent property taxes.

We also had a debate on House Bill 2405 regarding the issuance of bonds for the unfunded liability for KPERS.

Contact Information

Anytime that one would like to participate and listen to the developments of committee hearings or discussion on the House floor, one can tune in by listening to the audio footage at www.kslegislature.org.

As always, if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me (785) 296-7672, follow on twitter at @waymaster4house, or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov.  Please contact me regarding any issues and legislation that we are discussing during session.