Don Schroeder Legislative Report

By Rep. Don Schroeder
February 26, 2015

This was turnaround week. We were on the floor all day Wednesday and Thursday. Because it took so long to adopt rules, we have not had much action on the floor until last week, so the backlog of bills waiting action is large, about 80 of them. Not all of them will see action this week but those that do will be moved to the Senate for their considerations.

We always see some odd things happen during session. When a committee meets, especially an interim (summer) committee, there is a majority report that summarizes the proceedings and then possibly a recommendation if they conclude that legislation be introduced. There can also be a minority report issued, and they can also make a recommendation. This year there are several bills being passed out of committees, especially education and commerce, based on the minority report. This is highly unusual. I do not understand why the majority report that was agreed to by nearly all parties is being rejected in favor of the minority report.

So far, budget hearings are fairly mundane as budget subcommittees continue to make reports. Those reports will be finished soon and the Appropriations committee will move on to the next phase by looking at the overall budget for any further trimming. I also know there are certain enhancements (tax increases) included that are not so easily seen. Normally tax issues are Taxation committee issues, but the Appropriations committee has authority to take actions of this type that become part of the overall budget.

Speaking of the Taxation committee, there were hearings on the liquor and tobacco tax increases last week. The room was packed with those for and against. So far the Taxation committee has not worked those bills, but the committee is exempt so can act on those issues at any time if the chairman chooses to do so. After this week and when the budget numbers are more firm, I anticipate the Taxation committee will begin serious work to plug the hole in the budget.

Word of the proposed change in use value for ag land is becoming more widespread. So far the bill, SB 178, is still in the Senate Taxation committee. I do not anticipate any action will result from 178, but it’s always important to keep awareness up on those types of issues. Certainly some are in favor, but the resulting very large property tax increase that would be the result of this bill would be very detrimental to agriculture in Kansas.

The House will spend most of the day on the floor today debating a variety of bills. I’m hearing several rumors of amendments and other maneuverings that may be tried. On days like this it is challenging to sort through everything thrown at us and to make spur of the moment decisions.

There have been a relatively small number of bills passed by either the House or the Senate so far in the session. Part of the reason is because it took a long time to get the rules governing joint House/Senate committees passed. I anticipate many bills will be ‘blessed’ to make them exempt so they can be worked later on.

We have a few days off during turnaround. Those days are always welcome to catch up on business at home. I appreciate the contact many of you have made regarding issues before us. Please continue to let me know your thoughts at [email protected] or call 785-296-7500.