The Rahjes Report

Hays Daily News
Ken Rahjes

Hello from Agra. The Legislature wrapped up its work for the regular session on April 9. Lawmakers will return toTopeka on May 3 for the Veto Session, at which time they will finalize the budget and consider any legislation vetoed by the Governor during the April break. II hope to see many of you over the next couple of weeks in person on virtually.

Some 2021 Legislative Accomplishments: The Value Them Both constitutional amendments will allow Kansas voters to determine whether Kansas will continue to be a pro- life state. This measure will be on the ballot in August 2022.

Bills passed and signed into law: 1) Mask mandates issued by the governor revoked, and authority given to local governments. 2) Property tax transparency; requires local governments to hold public hearings on tax increases and notify taxpayers of what taxes they will actually pay from various taxing entities. 3) Kansas Promise Scholarship Act - helps prepare Kansans for today’s workforce needs through targeted scholarships. 4) Low-interest loan assistance for communities affected by the surge in natural gas prices during the winter cold snap. 5) Economic Recovery Loan Deposit Program – a new resource for small businesses and ag producers that may have been financially impacted by the pandemic. 6) Business and healthcare COVID-related liability protections set in place.

Bills awaiting action from the Governor: 1) Overhaul the administration’s unemployment system; set modernization requirements and oversight to ensure that hardworking Kansans can receive the assistance they need. 2) Tax cuts for families and small businesses, including increasing the standard deduction for all Kansans, and 3) Harsher penalties for criminals who stalk minors.

Unemployment overhaul legislation sent to the Governor

As a reminder, the House previously passed HB 2196, which urge Governor Kelly to overhaul the Kansas Department of Labor’s (KDOL) unemployment system. It is widely known that KDOL has experienced ongoing issues in assisting Kansans who need immediate assistance. The goal of this bill is to remedy that, to make sure that the administration addresses the current problems and to guarantee the long-term stability of the state’s unemployment system. The main components of the bill include: A) Oversight and IT modernization B) Fraud immunity for Kansas businesses C) Rate table adjustments for employers.

This past week, House and Senate negotiators further amended the bill to increase the criminal punishment for fraudsters and prohibit unemployment modernization contracts from being entered into prior to review by the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council and the Legislative Coordinating Council. HB 2196 passed the House and Senate and is on its way to the governor’s desk for her consideration.

Budget headed to the Governor, consensus revenue estimates later this month

Last Friday, the House and Senate approved the conference committee report for House Bill 2007, which contains the budget for all state agencies minus K-12 education. K-12 funding will be determined when legislators return for the veto session.

Following Senate approval of the measure, the House voted 71-52 to send the bill to the Governor for her consideration. It is likely there will be line-item vetoes for the House to consider overriding when the Legislature returns on May 3.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, we will meet April 27 to begin work on the Omnibus appropriations bill. The bill may contain positions from budget negotiations and earlier committee discussions, which deferred items to omnibus for consideration. The committee will be provided an update on the Consensus Revenue Estimates (CRE) and any possible Governor’s Budget Amendments (GBA). The estimates, a projection of SGF revenues, will be released on April 20 and will be a revision of the Fall 2020 estimates. A new SGF profile will be created, reflecting the new revenue estimates, along with approved expenditures from HB 2007. This profile is critical in balancing the state’s budget, protecting taxpayers, and planning for future needs.

If you would like to contact me: email is: ken.rahje@house.ks.gov and you can always try my cell number at (785) 302-8416. It is my honor to be your representative.