Updates and Alerts

LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS UNTIL MAY (APR. 5-9)

Week 13 had both the House & Senate focused almost entirely on floor debate ahead of adjournment of the main body of the session last Friday, April 9.  Much of the time was spent waiting for teams of House and Senate negotiators to resolve differences in bills passed by the two bodies in differing versions, creating a final compromise product known as a “conference committee report.”  Proposed conference committee reports are then presented to both chambers for straight up-or-down votes only; no amendments are permitted.

The legislature took action on the Chamber’s highest priority issue this session, unanimously passing to the Governor legislation addressing unemployment compensation system reform.  The final product, which was supported by the business community, takes necessary steps to ensure employers aren’t unfairly held financially responsible individually or collectively for fraudulent claims paid by the State and rebuilds the Employment Security Trust Fund (ESTF) in a manner that facilitates stability, protects the integrity and fairness of employer experience ratings, helps employers sustainably meet their unemployment compensation tax obligations, and supports our state’s continued economic recovery.

Among its many provisions, the bill includes allocating up to $500 million of the state’s federal relief funds (and more if necessary) to reimburse the employer-funded ESTF for fraudulent benefits paid by the State (to be determined by an external audit), adjusting tax rate tables to avoid a projected rate cliff, creating a Modernization Council that includes employer input, and requiring IT computer upgrades at the Department of Labor.

Lawmakers are now on break until May 3 when the “veto session” will get underway, a wrap-up period when legislators consider any unfinished business as well as legislation vetoed to date by the Governor.  The veto session is scheduled to conclude by May 11, but lawmakers can continue indefinitely beyond that date – they finish when they finish.  Some of the significant issues yet to be finalized include possible compensation for businesses impacted by government-ordered COVID shutdowns and limitations, K-12 education funding and policy, tax policy, and a final state budget for upcoming FY2022.

Read highlights of notable bill action impacting the business community from last week below.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (APR. 5-9)*

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

The Senate passed (40-0) and the House passed (122-0) the conference committee report on HB 2196, legislation including comprehensive solutions to addressing COVID-related impacts and fraud on the unemployment system and the Employment Security Trust Fund (ESTF).  The proposed legislation addresses a number of unemployment compensation issues, including recalibrating solvency adjustment triggers and tax rate tables to avoid projected exorbitant tax increases in the wake of the pandemic, providing for external audits and economic relief to businesses related to fraudulent payments made by the State, creating a new oversight council that includes employer input, and modernizing KDOL’s aging computer system by 12/31/22 (the antiquated system has been blamed for contributing to delayed payments and fraudulent claim rates believed to be among the highest in the nation) – these provisions are among the Lenexa Chamber’s highest priorities this legislative session.  House and Senate negotiators worked with representatives from the Kansas Society of Human Resource Managers, the Kansas Chamber, the Kansas Dept. of Labor, and the Governor’s staff to craft the final CCR.  Read the full text of the CCR on HB 2196Read a summary of the CCR on HB 2196See how senators votedSee how representatives votedThe CCR now goes to the Governor, who has publicly spoken positively of the agreement and is expected to sign the bill.

PANDEMIC RELIEF AND RECOVERY

The Governor signed into law HB 2126, legislation providing immunity from civil liability for COVID-19 claims for certain covered care facilities.  The definition of a ”covered facility” subject to immunity includes adult care nursing and long-term care facilities, hospice facilities, community mental health centers, and developmental disability service providers.  The bill requires that a facility must have been in substantial compliance with public health directives to qualify for immunity and defined “public health directives” for this specific purpose.  It does not provide immunity for administrative fines and penalties.  The House (85-37) and the Senate (30-7) previously passed the measure.  Read the full text of HB 2126Read a summary of HB 2126See how representatives voted.  See how senators voted. 

The House passed (117-6) and the Senate passed (36-2) the conference committee report on SB 86, legislation creating the Kansas Extraordinary Utility Costs Loan Deposit Program.  The purpose of the program is to incentivize local lending institutions to make low-interest loans to eligible borrowers for the extraordinary natural gas costs incurred during the extreme winter weather event of February 2021.  Eligible borrowers would be any wholesale natural gas customer (such as manufacturers and other businesses, hospitals, school districts, churches, etc) located in Kansas that incurred extraordinary natural gas costs in the February event and excludes an individual obtaining a loan for personal, family, or household purposes.  Individual loans would be capped at no more than $500,000 amortized for a period not longer than three years.  The program is capped at $20 million.  This program is a corollary to the low-interest loan program previously passed by the legislature to assist hard-hit cities, and it taps unused funds allocated to that city loan program in SB 88Read the full text of CCR on SB 86Read a summary of the CCR on SB 86See how representatives votedSee how senators votedThe CCR now goes to the Governor.

TAXATION

The Senate passed (38-0) and the House passed (118-3) the conference committee report on HB 2143, legislation increasing the sales tax collection thresholds dictating the timeframe for retailers to file and remit sales tax to KDOR.  As negotiated, as of January 1, 2024, the bill would increase the threshold amounts from $400 to $1,000 for annual filings and from $4,000 to $5,000 for quarterly filings; retailers with annual liability in excess of $5,000 would be required to file on a monthly basis. The liability threshold for retailers required to pay the sales tax liability for the first 15 days of each month on the 25th day of that month would be increased from $40,000 to $50,000, and KDOR will address concerns related to prepayment requirements by revising forms to better clarify such retailers are not required to remit based on estimated sales, only actual sales.  Read the full text of CCR on HB 2143Read a summary of CCR on HB 2143See how senators votedSee how representatives votedThe CCR now goes to the Governor.

The House passed (77-42) and the Senate previously passed (25-14) the conference committee report (CCR) on HB 2104, a negotiated compromise between the House and Senate.  The CCR makes State Board of Tax Appeals reforms including prohibiting valuation increases of county-appraised property during valuation appeals (SB 119), affirms the burden of proof is on the county appraiser (rather than the taxpayer) to demonstrate the validity and correctness of the property valuation or classification of residential or commercial property in appeal hearings before the district court (SB 98), and mandates all education courses required to qualify for the designation of a registered mass appraiser be approved by the Kansas Real Estate Appraisal Board (SB 72).  Negotiators removed provisions in HB 2104 that continued the state 20-mill property tax levy supporting K-12 schools (SB 277); that renewal is expected to be addressed in different legislationRead a summary of the CCR for HB 2104See how senators voted on the CCRSee how representatives voted on the CCR. The CCR now goes to the Governor.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

The House passed (123-0) SB 91, as amended legislation providing liability protection for businesses, municipalities and educational institutions that participate in high school work-based learning programs and providing that schools are responsible for injuries to students participating in such programs (HB 2442).  The negligence liability protections would not apply to incidents arising from gross negligence or willful misconduct.  A current lack of clarity about who bears liability risks in high school work-based learning programs such as internships, shadowing, practicums, and on-the-job training have been a deterrent to many companies from participating in these important workforce development opportunities, denying students critical experience and preventing employers from connecting with potential employees.  Read the full text of House version SB 91Read a summary of House version SB 91See how representatives votedThe bill now goes to the Senate for a motion on whether or not to concur in the House’s changes.

The Senate passed (35-0) and the House passed (118-4) the conference committee report on HB 2064, legislation enacting the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act providing scholarships for students who attend postsecondary educational programs that correspond to high-need career fields.  The program would be administered by the Board of Regents.  The bill provides scholarships to Kansas high school graduates who agree to complete a certificate or two-year program in the fields of study of information technology and security, physical and mental healthcare, early childhood education and development, advanced manufacturing and building trades, or an eligible program designated by the educational institution under provisions of the bill.  The program may be completed at a community college, technical school, or two-year associate degree program or career/technical education program offered by a qualifying private postsecondary educational institution.  Scholarships would be granted with needs-based prioritization. Within six months after graduation, the student would be required to commence work in the state for at least two years or enroll full-time in a Kansas postsecondary educational institution.  The program would have a $10 million cap.  Read the full text of CCR on HB 2064Read a summary of CCR on HB 2064See how senators votedSee how representatives votedThe CCR now goes to the Governor.

The Senate passed (35-4) and the House passed (105-17) the conference committee report (CCR) on HB 2066, legislation to support workforce development by expanding state occupational licensing reciprocity in some cases.  Essentially the legislation would place people occupationally licensed out of state who move to Kansas on a fast track to obtain a Kansas license unless the requirements from their original state are substantially different.  Read the full text of the CCR on HB 2066Read a summary of CCR on HB 2066See how senators votedSee how representatives votedThe CCR now goes to the Governor.

TRANSPORTATION

The Senate passed (40-0) and the House concurred (95-27) in HB 2201, legislation proposed by KDOT making certain revisions to the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE).  The bill 1) lowers the current $100 million threshold for any project to use alternative delivery procurement to $10 million, 2) authorizes the immediate use of federal stimulus funds for qualifying projects subject to legislative approval for modernization or expansion projects, and 3) clarifies KDOT’s 18% debt cap calculation (SB 116).  Read the full text of Senate version HB 2201Read a summary of Senate version HB 2201.  See how senators votedSee how representatives voted to concurThe bill now goes to the Governor.

REGULATORY AFFAIRS

The Senate passed (40-0) and the House concurred (123-0) in HB 2391, legislation changing the Secretary of State’s business filing provisions including instituting biennial business report filings effective January 2023 and making other simplification/streamlining changes to business filing provisions, information requirements, and fees.  Businesses with multiple entities would be permitted to all file at once, every other year (so as a practical matter the business would not still have to file annually.)  This measure is intended to reduce the paperwork burden for business entities.  Read the full text of Senate version HB 2391Read a summary of Senate version HB 2391See how senators votedSee how representatives voted to concurThe bill now goes to the Governor.

SB 158, the bill the House Federal & State Affairs Committee last week amended and forwarded to the full House putting forth a framework for legalizing medical marijuana usage (HB 2184), was sent from the full House back to the Committee for more work.  The House committee’s amendments to the bill included continuing to allow employer determination of drug-free and drug testing policies similar to language that has been added in other states that have passed medical marijuana laws – business advocates had proposed the amendment seeking to ensure employer policies regarding drug use are protected in order to safeguard workplace safety.  This amendment is not expected to be in jeopardy.  The bill would have impacted workers compensation, allowing workers compensation benefits if an employee is injured on the job and tests positive for marijuana but is registered as a patient pursuant to the Act and preventing employers from discriminating against or terminating individuals who test positive for marijuana if they’re a medical marijuana patient.  Read the full text of current House committee version SB 158Read a summary of current House committee version SB 158The bill is exempt from session deadlines and could be considered during the May veto session, but it is unclear if the House committee will take the measure back up this year.

EDUCATION

The House passed (64-59) but the Senate twice REJECTED (19-19 on Apr. 8 and 20-20 on Apr. 9) the conference committee report (CCR) for SB 175, legislation providing for education savings accounts (ESAs) for students who are academically at-risk and allowing parents to move their student’s allotment of public education funding into the savings account for educational expenses that may include private school tuition.  The program has no proposed caps.  “At-risk” students would include students who are academically non-proficient, have dyslexia, or have otherwise been identified by their public school district as qualifying for at-risk services (for example, excessive absenteeism) – tied to performance and not income.  The CCR, however, also expands student eligibility for the low-income student scholarship tax credit program, an income-based program that is not tied to student performance.  That program provides income tax credits for contributions toward scholarships for eligible students to attend qualified non-public schools and has been in place since 2015.  It currently costs the State about $2.5 million/year in foregone revenue that would otherwise go into the general fund.  The CCR would expand eligibility to include students qualifying for the reduced-price lunch program (not just the free lunch program) and students at all schools (not just the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools), moving away from the program’s original intent of moving at-risk students out of demonstrably low-performing schools.  It’s projected more than 200,000 students would become eligible under the proposed eligibility changes.  The tax credit amount and overall program cap of $10 million would not change.  The CCR also includes the Governor’s full K-12 education budget recommendations (but without her provision extending high-density at-risk weighting past FY2022 — a weighting important to Johnson County schools that the Governor had proposed extending through FY2023), makes additional K-12 security/mental health appropriations using federal pandemic relief funds (only if allowed), makes a non-binding recommendation to school districts that teachers receive a one-time $500 payment for additional duties brought about by the COVID pandemic using districts’ federal COVID aid money, revises how remote learning hours will count toward minimum school term days and district funding, and requires allocation by school district boards of education of sufficient school district moneys reasonably calculated to improve academic performance of underachieving students (the “Rose capacities.”)  Read the full text of the CCR on SB 175Read a summary of the CCR on SB 175See how representatives votedThe close votes in the House and Senate indicate the bill’s controversial nature in large part because of the proposed ESAs that would siphon funding from public schools; the bill was opposed by virtually all education groups.  The bill remains in a House-Senate conference committee, and K-12 funding and policy will have to be addressed in the veto session.

LOOKING AHEAD*

(Remember that schedules can change — check calendars at www.kslegislature.org.)

Lawmakers are now on break until May 3 when the “veto session” will get underway, a wrap-up period when legislators consider any unfinished business as well as legislation vetoed to date by the Governor.  The veto session is scheduled to conclude by May 11, but lawmakers can continue indefinitely until they finish their work.

“See How They Voted” Lenexa-Area Legislator Guide!

Kansas Senate
Dist 21 – Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa (entire City of Lenexa) – Dinah.Sykes@senate.ks.gov

Kansas House of Representatives
Dist 14 – Rep. Charlotte Esau, R-Olathe (portion of south-central Lenexa) – Charlotte.Esau@house.ks.gov
Dist 16 – Rep. Linda Featherston, D-Overland Park (small portion of eastern Lenexa) – Linda.Featherston@house.ks.gov
Dist 17 – Rep. Jo Ella Hoye, D-Lenexa (portion of north-central Lenexa) – JoElla.Hoye@house.ks.gov
Dist 23 – Rep. Susan Ruiz, D-Shawnee (portion of northeast Lenexa) – Susan.Ruiz@house.ks.gov
Dist 30 – Rep. Brandon Woodard, D-Lenexa (portion of southeast Lenexa) – Brandon.Woodard@house.ks.gov
Dist 121 – Rep. John Resman, R-Olathe (western Lenexa) – John.Resman@house.ks.gov

*Interested in any of these bills and want to learn more?  Remember, you can:

 

AREA LEGISLATORS ZOOM WITH CHAMBER COMMITTEE

On Friday, January 15, all seven Lenexa-area state legislators were guests of the Chamber’s Legislative Affairs Committee to talk issues in Topeka, resulting in good dialogue and good fun!  Thanks to Kansas Sen. Dinah Sykes and Kansas Reps. Charlotte Esau, Linda Featherston, Jo Ella Hoye, John Resman, Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard for taking time to engage with your business constituents.

The Chamber’s Legislative Affairs Committee efforts are being headed in 2021 by Chair Andy Huckaba of Huckaba & Associates – thank you for your time, leadership, and positive attitude, Andy!

 

CHAMBER BOARD APPROVES 2021 STATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

The Lenexa Chamber Board of Directors has approved a legislative platform to guide our advocacy in the upcoming 2021 state legislative session.  The platform addresses a spectrum of issues important to the business community including pandemic relief and recovery, tax policy, key business costs and regulations, K-12 and higher education, health care, transportation, economic development, and others.

For a summary of the platform, please click here.

Questions or feedback?  Call Ashley Sherard, Vice President and Director of Legislative Affairs, at 913-888-1414 or email asherard@lenexa.org.

Lenexa Chamber on Twitter:

A golf adventure 45 (million) years in the making... Join us ➡ bit.ly/3vE80tC pic.twitter.com/5hLnP3GcCW

The Force is strong with our Chairman’s Ambassadors & special guest #BabyYoda! #MayThe4thBeWithYou #Lenexa pic.twitter.com/Eq9CZCSY5I

Congrats to the following Chamber member companies on their April membership milestone anniversaries! We sincerely appreciate your belief in our organization and your commitment to the Lenexa community. Check them out at bit.ly/2Rd1GdD #Lenexa pic.twitter.com/VDFrmiWP0Q