Here below, you will find Senate Scenes from my office that I release periodically throughout the legislative session.
On June 4th, the Senate wrapped up the end of Special Session (which followed the Veto Session in May) and ended the 2020 Legislative Session. It was a shortened session due to Covid-19 which stalled the regular session on March 23rd. We returned May 21st for Sine Die and Veto Session. Seventeen bills were sent to the Governor – 6 Senate bills and 11 House bills. A total of 261 Senate bills were introduced in 2020, with an additional 208 Senate bills carried over from the 2019 Session. The Governor signed one additional bill for Special Session which was HB2016. The 2021 Legislative Session will convene January 11, 2021, at 2:00PM.
SPECIAL SESSION – JUNE 3RD
The 2020 Special Session is the 24th special session in Kansas history. The first was called in 1874 and the most recent were: 2005 (School finance), 2013 (“Hard 50” law), and 2016 (School finance).
The regular and veto Session ended May 21st with no opportunity for a Veto override attempt due to a previous Resolution passed by both Chambers when we adjourned in March. The Governor vetoed HB2054, which was the Emergency Disaster bill, on May 26th which had passed both the Senate and House and called us back to a Special Session on June 3rd. HB2016 is very similar to the vetoed bill with a few changes which came about by both Chambers and the Governor’s office working together on a compromise. Below are a few highlights of the bill – more details can be found at www.kslegislature.org under the 2020 Special Session red lettering on the home page and typing HB2016 in the search box- the SN column (Supplemental Note) will be the easy to read version with expiration dates and each section listed.
The bill includes $1.25B in Coronavirus federal funding (Coronavirus Relief Fund – CRF) to be spent with the approval of a majority of the State Finance Council (SFC) and the Governor. This Council includes eight legislators – the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority and Minority leader, the Chairperson of Senate Ways and Means, the House Majority leader and Minority leader, the Chairperson of the House Appropriation committee and Governor Kelly. This process has been used for federal disaster funds in the past.
The Governor’s emergency declaration is extended through September 15th but is then prohibited from further declarations through the end of 2020 unless approved by the SFC. Before September 15th the Governor cannot close any business, restrict gatherings or travel and after September 15th these declarations must be approved by the SFC. The Governor must consult with SFC 24 hours before closing any business and can only close businesses for 15 days unless 6 SFC members approve.
The bill allows County Commissions to issue orders less restrictive than the state if they included findings from a local health officer that the full statewide provisions are not necessary to protect county residents. This is the local control piece which was in much of the discussion from the beginning of the virus infection in March.
The Governor will need to receive approval from the Kansas Board of Education to close schools.
The Governor will not be able to change the timing of elections or how elections are conducted.
The Secretary of Health or a county health officer can conduct contact tracing to protect public health. The information can only be used for public health purposes and data will remain confidential and be destroyed when tracing ends. The language of this session was requested and written by the Kansas Attorney General as Kansas has no laws on the books to address contact tracing.
First responders will be alerted to the presence of a COVID case in order to wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
Telemedicine will allow doctors to prescribe medication without an in-person visit. Doctors licensed in other states are allowed to use telemedicine as well for Kansas patients. Physicians will be allowed to practice at a medical facility without becoming a member of its staff. Hospitals will be allowed to admit more patients than they are currently licensed to and modify rooms in case of a surge of the virus within reasonable safety requirements.
The bill will provide immunity for healthcare services and workers due to COVID-19 (except for negligence and recklessness) and will also include this protection for manufactures and distributors for COVID-19 products (such as masks and sanitizers). Adult care facilities while not strictly immune would have to prove that harm was caused even though they followed the rules and were compliant with the law. The bill also creates infection control inspection for every facility with 90 days (the original HB2054 had a 30-day inspection timeline).
The Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court may authorize the use of two-way video conferencing to ensure the health and safety of all involved during ANY statewide declared disaster emergency.
Alcoholic liquor may be sold for consumption off-premises as long as it is legal for both the seller and consumer to be selling or consuming the alcoholic liquor, respectively and the consumer receives the beverage with a dated receipt and in a tamper-evident container. This provision will expire upon the expiration of the federal disaster emergency related to COVID-19.
A notary public may notarize a document without an in-person appearance as long as the notary public abides by executive order or other relevant state law.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AWARDS – DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE SUPPLEMENT (CDBG-CV) – SENATE DISTRICT #36
On June 2nd, the Department of Commerce announced awards of nearly $9 million in Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Response Supplement (CDBG-CV) funds to 66 Kansas communities. CDBG-CV grants are part of the state’s allocation from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and are designed to help Kansas communities respond to the needs of their residents and businesses during the reopening phase of the state. Grants were available in two categories – Economic Development and Meal Programs. Economic Development grants provide communities with funding to help local businesses retain jobs for low-to-moderate income people by covering working capital expenses such as inventory, wages and utilities. Meal Program grants can be directed toward organizations such as Meals on Wheels, local food banks or to support organizations providing meals for children affected by the loss of school meal programs.
To date, the Department of Commerce has received 106 award applications totaling more than $32 million. While all funds for this round of CDBG-CV have been awarded, the Department of Commerce expects to receive approximately $7 million in additional funding in a second round of CDBG funds through the CARES Act.
CDBG-CV awards in Senate District: the city of Beloit; counties Cloud, Jewell, Marshall, Mitchell, Osborne, Phillips, Smith all receiving $132,000.00 and Russell County awarded $178,000.00.
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
The State of Kansas saw total tax collections for May Fiscal Year 2020 at $448.7 million; 6.6% or $27.8 million above the estimate. That is down 20.3% or $114.4 million compared to the same month last fiscal year. Total tax collection growth over April Consensus Revenue Estimates were attributed to online sales and withholding taxes. Individual income tax collections were up $5.9 million or 2.8% compared to the estimate with $215.9 million collected. That is 22.3% or $62.0 million less than last May. The increase from the estimate can be attributed to reduced bond payments from withholding and an extra payroll period for the semi-monthly withholding tax filings. Corporate income tax collection receipts were down 167.9% or $8.4 million from the estimate at negative $3.4 million. This is due to the state processing more refunds than it received in corporate income tax collections. When compared to the same month last fiscal year, those collections are down $14.4 million. Compared to May of last fiscal year, collections are down $27.3 million or 13.6%. Compensating use tax collections are 25.5% or $7.7 million more than expected at $37.7 million. When looking at last year’s numbers, these collections are $1.2 million or 3.2% more than May of last fiscal year. This can be attributed to the increased registration of online retailers to collect and remit Kansas taxes. On average, the state is seeing 300 new registrations per month.
REDISTRICTING IN 2021-2022
Every ten years, the Kansas Legislature looks at the US Census numbers and assigns committees to review and redraw the legislative boundaries for the state-both state offices and federal offices. According to the state constitution, redistricting is to be completed in the second year after the federal census. The United States Constitution and federal statutes require a federal census to be conducted every ten years and also require that Congressional districts reapportioned based on this census data. The Kansas constitution and state law also requires the reapportionment of the state senate districts, the state house of representative districts, and the school board districts in the state based on the census information. Expect rural districts in both the Senate and the House to grow in geographical size and urban districts to shrink due to population decline and shift.
UNCLAIMED PROPERTY IN KANSAS
The State of Kansas has over $350 million dollars in unclaimed property waiting for the rightful owner to find and claim. Unclaimed property stats from July 1, 2018 to June 14, 2020 include 2,253,917 searches, $47,060,956.26 returned with the average claim paid at $221.90. These holdings at the Treasurer’s office include bank accounts, cash, stocks, bonds, refunds (utilities), royalties, insurance proceeds and even safe deposit box contents. To search for your name, visit www.kansasastatetreasurer.com and enter your name or business name to see if your name is on this list. Senate District #36 has over 4000 entries in the thirteen counties it covers. If you would like more personal assistance, call 800-432-0386 or 785-296-4165.
SECRETARY OF STATE – CARES FUNDS AND 2020 VOTING
Secretary of State Scott Schwab announced on May 7th the distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Kansas counties for the 2020 elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the United States Congress passed the CARES Act which included $400 million in Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding to states. The funding must be used in 2020 to prepare for, prevent and respond to the coronavirus pandemic for the 2020 Federal election cycle. Kansas received approximately $4.6 million in HAVA funding, $2.6 million of which will be used to reimburse counties with COVID-19 related expenditures. Personal protection equipment, plexiglass shields and disposable stylus pens will be at polling places for those voting in person.
Since 1996, Kansas has allowed all voters to request an advance mail ballot without needing an excuse. Voters with permanent illness or disability may apply for a ballot to be permanently mailed to them prior to every election. Registered voters may request an advance mail ballot by contacting their local election office or online at: https://www.sos.ks.gov/forms//elections/AV1.pdf. For the first time, voters can confirm online whether their advance mail ballot applications have been received at: https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/AbsenteeBallotSearch.do. Any registered voter can vote by mail or in-person prior to Election Day. Advance ballots are mailed to voters starting 20 days before the election and must be post-marked on or before Election Day and received no later than three days after the election. Voters can also hand-deliver their advance ballot to the county election office or any polling location within their county by the close of polls on Election Day. Kansas voters may also vote in person at the county election office starting the Tuesday before Election Day, or up to 20 days before the election, depending on the county. If you have questions about the upcoming elections, call toll-free to the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-262-VOTE (8683).
Important dates for 2020 elections:
July 14: Deadline to register to vote
July 15: Advance voting by mail and in-person may begin
July 28: Deadline for voters to apply for advance mail ballots for the primary election
August 4: Primary Election (K.S.A. 25-203)
August 7: Deadline for receipt of advance mail ballots postmarked on/before primary election day
October 14: Advance voting by mail and in-person may begin
October 27: Deadline for voters to apply for advance mail ballots for the general election
November 6: Deadline for receipt of advance mail ballots postmarked on/before general election day
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION – IKE AND T-WORKS
In March 2020, the Kansas Legislature approved and Governor Kelly signed into law the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE), a 10-year transportation program that preserves the existing system and provides flexibility to address current and future opportunities and challenges. IKE is a rolling program, which means major highway modernization and expansion projects will be selected every two years rather than once a decade as previous programs did. This ensures the State can address the most pressing needs and adjust to fluctuating revenues. There is an emphasis on right-sized, practical improvements such as utilizing passing lanes rather than 4-lane expressways where applicable. New partnership programs (Cost Share, Local Bridge) between the State and local governments to address more needs are an important new part of the program. IKE also includes investments in broadband and new technologies. The program will continue multimodal transportation with public transit, aviation, short-line rail and bike/pedestrian programs. According to KDOT, 18 T-WORKS projects remain and are in the works to be finished. Senate District #36 covers three of the six districts in Kansas. More information can be found at www.ksdot.org
LAW ENFORCEMENT MEMORIAL
The Annual Law Enforcement Memorial service was held at the Statehouse on May 2nd & 3rd at the Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial located on the northeastern corner of the state capitol grounds. The memorial honors law enforcement officers who gave their lives in service to the people of the state - 271 law enforcement officers are engraved on the tablets. An expansion project with a new outer ring was recently constructed which circles the original monument dedicated in 1987. It is constructed of the same granite used in the 2004 reconstruction with the outer ring providing space for 384 plates. Granite sentinels stand at each entry with bollards emitting a blue light which reminds visitors of the service Kansas law enforcement officers provide and in memory of those who have lost their life in the line of duty.
FROM THE STATE LIBRARY – SUMMER READING
Traditionally, summer reading programs in libraries were designed to keep children reading during the summer. This year’s theme, Imagine Your Story, invites readers to explore the world of stories: fairy tales, scary tales, adventures and mysteries. Increasingly, readers of all ages are included in library programs that encourage a love of reading. Younger readers can find always available eBooks through the State Library at https://kslib.info/storytime. Teens and adults can check out downloadable audio and eBooks by visiting https://kslib.info/digitalbooks. Kansans with a visual or physical impairment that makes holding a book difficult can join in summer reading programs too https://kslib.info/1356/Summer-Reading.
GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF APPOINTMENTS
The Office of Appointments assists the Governor with the appointment of over 1,000 individuals to serve on Kansas’ boards and commissions. All qualified and service-minded Kansans are encouraged to participate in our state's government by offering to serve on a board or commission or by recommending qualified candidates. Additional information can be found at https://governor.ks.gov/serving-kansans/office-of-appointments. If you are interested in the opportunity to serve or would like to nominate someone, please call the office at 785 368-7097 or apply online.
OFF SESSION CONTACT INFORMATION
The 2021 Kansas Legislative Session will begin January 11, 2021, when we will be back in our offices at the Capital in Topeka. Over the summer and fall, I can be reached at my legislative email at email@example.com or my work email firstname.lastname@example.org. My work address in Concordia is 212 E. 6th St., Concordia, KS 66901 and if you are in Concordia, drop by. My daytime work number is 785 243-3325x2 or email me questions, concerns or ideas for legislative bills for the next session. It is an honor to serve you in the 36th Kansas Senate District and please feel free to contact me anytime.
Copyright © 2020 Senator Elaine Bowers - All Rights Reserved.
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