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Friday
March 05th, 2021
L&T Opinions Page

shannon francis mugGUEST COLUMN, Shannon Francis, State Representative

 

Last week Kansas lost a good man, our State Senator, Bud Estes. He always took his responsibility of representing Liberal & Seward County seriously. I can’t count the number of times he’d call and want to meet for ice cream after visiting with folks. He always put SW Kansas first. He was a strong supporter of Highway 54 and agriculture. We will miss you Bud.

Senator Estes’ successor will be selected by the Republican Precinct People of our Senatorial District on March 4th in Dodge City. The largest county in the districts convenes the nominating convention. Our precinct people have an important duty ahead of them. It is important that Senator Estes’ successor understands our community and its needs. Because Senator Estes lived in Bucklin most of his life, he knew how important Highway 54 was. Relationships are important in the legislature. Our next Senator will need to build relationships quickly and learn the legislative process. This session will be more than half over when the nominee takes office.

 

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Highlights

The House remained busy this week during the winter storms. Committees continued to meet ahead of the impending turnaround day deadline where bills must be out of their house of origin and headed to the other chamber. The House debated and passed 19 bills this week. They now head to the Senate for consideration. 

The historic cold temperatures across Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas caused severe disruptions in energy markets and led to blackouts and shortages across the region. The fallout from this and the resulting price hikes will require careful monitoring. We will continue to see if there are actions, we can take as a legislature to help ease the burden on Kansas utility customers.

House Advances Bill to Protect Children in Foster Care

News reports and testimony to legislative committees have laid out a stark picture of the foster care system in Kansas. There are stories on multiple placements (one child having 130 placements), children sleeping in offices overnight, children running away from placements with the state having no idea where a child was located, and foster care children aging into the corrections system. In fact, a 2019 survey found that 1 in 3 Kansas inmates had been in foster care. 

House Bill 2115 was one of the recommendations from the Legislature’s Special Committee on Foster Care Oversight. The bill establishes continual oversight – with creation of the Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight – to ensure eyes remain on the management of the system and on long-term improvements for children in foster care. 

 

House Passes Bill Supporting First-Time Homebuyers

House Bill 2187 allows Kansans to establish First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts. This bill was part of House Republican Caucus “Make Kansas Work” policy plan started during the 2020 legislative session. Structured a lot like 529 college savings accounts, earnings on and contributions to first-time homebuyer accounts carry a tax benefit to encourage young people to save for the purchase or construction of their first home. Communities may also establish first-time homebuyer savings accounts to use as part of an incentives package to attract needed professionals - such as doctors and dentists - to move into their community. 

 

House Votes to Protect Kansas Seniors

On Thursday, the House approved House Bill 2114, which establishes the Kansas Senior Care Task Force. The task force will study a range of issues that impact seniors in our state, including available care for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, other age-related mental health conditions; safeguards to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors; and adult care home surveys and fines for violations.

The House also debated and approved House Bill 2151, a bill requested by Attorney General Derek Schmidt to improve efforts to prevent elder abuse in Kansas. Under HB 2151, a team of professionals would coordinate investigations of elder and dependent adult abuse. These teams, located in each of the state’s judicial districts, would also identify opportunities to improve the state’s response to the abuse of seniors. 

Additional Legislation Passed by the Kansas House This Week:

HB 2007 Updating motor carrier laws and the regulation of motor carriers by the state corporation commission.

HB 2076 Clarifying that bond agents seeking discharge as a surety are required to return the person released on bond to the court in the county where the complaint subject to the bond was filed.

HB 2096 Authorizing department of corrections employees, local correctional or detention officers, judicial branch employees, municipal court employees and administrative hearing officers to have identifying information restricted from public access on public websites that identify home addresses or home ownership.

HB 2104 Modifying the sales tax exemption for construction materials by allowing certain educational institutions a sales tax exemption for purchases thereof. The bill was requested by Steve Greene on behalf of the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas. 

HB 2158 Making permanent provisions for the advisory committee on trauma and the statewide trauma system regional council to conduct closed meetings and keep privileged records regarding trauma cases. 

HB 2172 Modifying water usage calculations and fees for multi-year flex accounts and permitting alternative base average water use calculations and prorated terms. 

HB 2125 Allowing a copy of a will to be filed and admitted to probate and allowing a will or a copy of a will filed within six months after the death of the testator to be admitted to probate at any time. The bill was requested by the Kansas Bar Association. 

HB 2155 Providing for department of health and environment response operations for water and soil pollutant release, discharge or escape. 

Have you received an incorrect 1099 from KDOL?

Employers are not the only ones impacted by unemployment fraud. If you are a victim of identity theft, you are not liable to pay taxes on income you did not receive from fraudulent unemployment claims. If you received a Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits you never received, you may dispute the 1099 in one of three ways:

• Call the KDOL Tax Call Center at 785-575-1461 or 1-888-499-0063. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Complete and return this unsworn statement, or

• Complete this online form

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