Kansas Week of Jan 27, 2017

Kansas Day Weekend

Lawmakers got their start on the Kansas Day (Jan. 29) weekend early on Friday, with only a few legislators in town for pro forma sessions in each chamber.

There was Kansas Day birthday cake by the visitors center in the lower level at the State house.


Brownback budget plan heard

The House Appropriations Committee had hearings but delayed action on the bill that is the key to Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to balance the budget this fiscal year.

The bill allows jumping some procedural hurdles in state idle funds management to allow $317 million of the state's idle funds investments managed by the Pooled Money Investment Board to be sold--$45 million of capital gains earned by the fund transferred to the SGF and the $317 million amount to be repaid at $45 million a year over the next seven years.

The shuffle is the governor's plan to avoid massive year-end budget cuts to fill the $350 million shortfall in the SGF this fiscal year, which Brownback has been unwilling to make.

"It's the best of alternatives, bad alternatives," State Budget Director Shawn Sullivan told the committee.

Sullivan told the committee that the funds transfer is just part of the plan which would, he estimates, leave the state with a $99 million ending balance in the SGF on June 30.


While the budget for the remaining five months of this fiscal year is still uncertain, both House and Senate Republican caucuses are still working out plans for a tax program that will solidify the state's revenues for at least the next two, and likely more, years.

The House has been largely working quietly; the Senate GOP caucus will be offered a tax concept Monday, and see whether the caucus of 31 GOP senators has majority interest in it.


Jenkins won't run for any

office in 2018

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., announced that she won't seek re-election to her Kansas Second District congressional seat in 2018 nor will she run for any other office in 2018.

The five-term congresswoman had been exploring the possibility of running for governor that year. She had started a state-level PAC that was seen as a way for her to garner support for a run for state office.

In her statement, she said, "With the unique opportunity given to us by the American people, with Republican majorities in the House, the Senate, and now a newly inaugurated President, this is a time for action and serious policy making. This is a time for fighting for Kansas and making the tough calls; not fundraising and campaigning. This is a time we can fix the tax code, effectively reform the health-care system and make the federal government as a whole work better for the nearly 720,000 Kansans I serve in Congress. 

"As such, you should know that I will not be running for any office in 2018. In two years, at the conclusion of this Congress, I plan to retire and explore opportunities to return to the private sector, allowing a new citizen legislator to step up and serve Kansans...To those who have encouraged me along the way, who have worked for me, who have campaigned for me, or who have stood by me, I am forever grateful."


House Tax looks at sales taxes

The House Tax Committee is looking at eliminating sales tax exemptions or possibly imposing a less-than 6.5% state sales tax on a number of industries in a first look at the issue while committee members are learning more about sales tax exemptions and what they encourage.

Suggestions for a closer look include construction labor, in the $200 million-plus range, the exemption for farm machinery and equipment worth maybe $76 million, some Lottery tickets sold in Kansas and even computer software and advertising agency services.

Tax Chair Steven Johnson, R-Assaria, said the committee wanted to take a quick look to find several sales tax issues that committee members might want to further explore, and said he's going to have more information on the several tax policy changes that drew at least some interest in committee.


GOP sets 4th District convention

Republicans from the Wichita-dominated 4th Congressional District will meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 to select their candidate for the April 11 election to replace former four-term U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who has resigned his congressional seat.

The convention will be in the Davis Administration Building auditorium, at Friends University, 2100 W. University, Wichita.

Republicans have 126 delegates in the 17-county congressional district, and a majority of those will select the GOP candidate for the Pompeo seat. Pompeo resigned after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Monday as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, appointed to the post by President Donald Trump.


Democrats set

4th District convention

Fourth District Kansas Democrats will meet at 1 p.m. Feb. 11 to elect a nominee for the 4th Congressional District seat resigned by Mike Pompeo after he was confirmed for the post of Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Monday.

The convention will be in the Sedgwick County Courthouse jury room at 525 N. Main, Wichita.

Republicans will select their nominee for the April 11 congressional district election in a convention at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Davis Administration Building auditorium at Friends University, 2100 W. University, Wichita.

That gives the GOP candidate two extra days to campaign in the 17-county, Wichita-dominated district