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Legislative Update from Representative Shannon Francis

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers

Honoring Our Fallen SoldiersHonoring Our Fallen Soldiers

I want to thank the American Legion and Auxiliary Post 80 for hosting two inspiring memorial services to recognize our Fallen Soldiers. During the services, held at the Liberal Cemetery and Restlawn Cemetery, we had the privilege of dedicating The Fallen Soldier Battle Cross Memorials. The Battle Cross is a symbolic replacement of a cross on the battlefield or at the base camp for a soldier who has been killed. It was an honor to see our soldiers – from both past and present generations – honored for their courage and their service. These memorials will stand as an enduring tribute to those from our community who made the ultimate sacrifice, ensuring they will never be forgotten.

Southwest Guidance Center

Southwest Guidance  Center - Their 50th Anniversary

Congratulations to Southwest Guidance Center on their 50th Anniversary!  Thanks for all you do for our Community and Citizens!

Veto Session- Week 5

What started off as a short week following Memorial Day turned into a very long week as we worked the weekend to craft a tax plan and balance the budget. While there has been a great deal of discussion and debate on tax proposals, a plan has yet to surface that 63 House members, 21 Senators, and the Governor will support.

Tax Plans

House members continued to work on potential tax plans this week while the Senate debated its proposals. Here’s a recount of where the tax discussions stand in each chamber.

The Senate:  The Senate started off the week debating S Sub HB 2109, which includes the following provisions:
  • Repeal the non-wage business income tax exemption and replace with a payroll credit
  • Increase the sales tax to 6.5%, set the sales tax on food at 6%
  • Implement a car tax plan that reduces the assessment rate on vehicles from 20 percent to 12 percent over a five-year period and phase back in the 20 mills
  • Increase cigarette taxes by 50 cents per pack
  • Leave the charitable deduction intact, but reduce the mortgage interest deduction, reduce the property tax deduction and eliminate all other income tax deductions
  • Increase the gas tax by 5 cents per gallon
  • Increase the tax on other tobacco products to 15%
  • Offer amnesty to those who have not paid their taxes (i.e. eliminate penalties and interest for non-payers)
  • Freeze income tax rates
During the debate, a number of amendments were made ultimately leading to the bill’s demise. The amendments included:
  • Reducing the sales tax on food to 5.7%
  • Striking the car tax plan from the bill
  • Designating the increased gas tax revenue to the State Highway Fund rather than using the revenue for general state fund purposes
  • Reducing the cigarette tax increase from 50 cents to 18 cents per pack and designating that the money go to KU Cancer Center’s smoking cessation program.
The amended bill failed in the Senate with only one yes vote and 30 no votes. It was then referred back to the Tax Committee where they removed all of the language except the piece regarding the tax amnesty program. The Senate then began debate on that measure, S Sub HB 2109 late Sunday evening. The bulk of that debate was spent on an amendment that would have eliminated most sales tax exemptions in the state, including exemptions for entities like non-profit hospitals, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts and the YMCA. That portion of the amendment ultimately failed. Several other amendments were adopted during that debate, including:
  • Continuing to reduce Individual income tax rates
  • Reducing the corporate income tax rate to 5.55%
  • Lowering the sales tax to 5.9%
  • Increasing taxes on HMO health insurance policies by $48 million
The House of Representatives:  The House used a procedural motion that limited the ability of House members to offer amendments and have debate on its tax plan, H Sub for SB 270. One amendment passed, which gutted the bill, leaving primarily just tax amnesty in place. The bill also included removing the sunset on the Rural Opportunity Zones initiative. The bill passed the House 64-54.  After much debate and many procedural motions, the Senate voted to nonconcur with the changes and put the bill into conference committee. Two other tax bills remain on the House calendar, H Sub for SB 29 and HB 2430. Either of these could be brought up by House leadership for debate. The first bill includes freezing income tax rates and increasing the sales tax to 6.45%.

The Governor:  The Governor unveiled a plan earlier this week as well, which would freeze income tax rates through 2017 and then continue the March to Zero after that. His plan also includes increasing the sales tax to 6.65%, increasing cigarette taxes, and increasing taxes on HMO health insurance plans.
 
The Senate will continue debating tax plans today while the House continues to work on alternative plans. At the heart of the issue is that a portion of the Legislature wants to see the $406 million budget shortfall filled through spending cuts, another portion wants to see it filled by reinstituting income taxes that were cut in 2012, and still another portion want to see it filled through sales tax and other tax increases. The tax issue became a bit more tricky this week as the Governor indicated over the weekend he will veto any attempts to roll back the income tax cuts for businesses. This week should include some late nights, early mornings and a great deal of negotiation as the Legislature works to find a plan that a majority will vote for. I continue to work with my colleagues in the House on the best option for our state. The bottom line is this: we need real revenue reform. Many of the options being brought forward would force tax increases on some families and businesses while others would get a free pass. I’ll continue to fight for a solution that closes these loopholes and establishes predictability for the Southwest Kansas economy.
 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.  Please contact me anytime. My email is Shannon.francis@house.ks.gov and my phone number is 785-296-7655.  Also don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter at my website, www.shannonfrancis.com.

Contact Shannon

At the Legislature

Room: 167-W
State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-7655
shannon.francis@house.ks.gov

At Home:

1501 Tucker Court
Liberal, Kansas 67901
Phone: 620-624-9571
sfran83384@aol.com

Useful Resources

State of Kansas Website

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Useful Phone Numbers

Medicaid Fraud
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Welfare Fraud Hotline
800-432-3913

Department On Aging
800-432-3535

Child/Adult Abuse Hotline
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Child & Family Services
888-369-4777

Consumer Protection
800-423-2310

Crime Tip Hotline
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Gov- Brownback
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Highway Road Conditions
511 (in Kansas)

Housing Hotline
800-752-4422

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866-305-5147

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800-544-9467

Legislative Hotline
800-432-3924

Mental Health Services
888-582-3759

School Safety Hotline
877-626-8203

Social Security
800-772-1213

Taxpayer Assistance
 785-368-8222

Tax Refund Status
800-894-0318

Unclaimed Property
800-432-0386

Unemployment Insurance
800-292-6333

Vital Statistics
785-296-1400

Voter Registration
800-262-8683

Worker's Comp
800-332-0353
 
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