Rahjes Report 03-20-17

Hello from Topeka!  We welcome springtime and the hope it brings to each one of us.  We are in the final couple of weeks of the regular session and we are working on bringing together solutions to some of the biggest concerns.

In the Taxation committee, I introduced HB 2387 which provides sales tax exemptions for  fence replacement in the state affected by the wildfire destruction. I also carried it on the House floor, where is passed unanimously.  It then headed to the Senate, where a minor change was made in the language to state that the material had to go to reconstruction of fences, not a new fence of a difference configuration on the affected property.  At this time, we are awaiting the Governor’s signature.  We continue to read and hear stories about the wildfires and as one constituent has a good reminder that livestock that survived the fires, will still need medical attention for a long time. Assessments are still being conducted by authorities to get the best accounting of what all was lost, then that information will be sent to the President for review on a possible Federal Disaster Declaration. If that happens, it will bring more federal dollars for clean-up, restoration and indemnity payments.

Last week, the Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony regarding HB 2313, which would legalize the use of lottery ticket vending machines in the State of Kansas.  These vending machines would allow an individual to manually purchase a lottery ticket, check the status of a lottery ticket, and would also be used to promote information regarding the Kansas Lottery.  On Friday, the Committee amended the bill to include provisions that would nullify any ticket purchased by a minor, with the intent of discouraging the youth from purchasing tickets via their parents/guardians.  Under current law, minors may purchase lottery tickets, but are unable to redeem prizes from such tickets.  The bill passed favorably for passage with a slight majority of votes.

The Appropriations Committee will begin putting together the “Mega” appropriations bill (HB 2364) on Monday March 20.  The Mega bill contains all appropriations for FY ’18 and ’19, with the exception of the Judicial Branch appropriations (HB 2365) and school finance (will be addressed in the K-12 Education Budget Committee).  The Mega bill will reflect the recommendations from the Budget Committees that were adopted by the Appropriations Committee and any amendments made during Appropriations Committee discussion.

The current year (FY ’17) rescission budget passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and was approved by the entire Senate on Thursday March 16.  The Senate placed its budget recommendations into HB 2052, the House’s rescission bill.  Documents, also known as explainers, on both versions of the bill are available on the KLRD website: http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Appropriations&Revenue.html

The K-12 Education Budget Committee met for three days last week.  The agenda was open discussion on a Committee produced school finance formula.  The Committee members addressed various components that they believe should be part of a final formula.  The Committee discussion also involved consulting with the Department of Education, Legislative Post Audit, and education lobbying organizations.  The Committee is crafting a bill with components of other bills, and will hold hearings when the bill is compiled. We should have a first look at one of the formulas by the end of the week.

Last week we had four young men from Hill City High School serve as pages: Joel, Pimlott, Domineck Journigan, Jr., Steven Hamel and Adam VanLoenen.  Thanks to Mr. Brad Eckols for the opportunity.

If you would like to contact me: Session phone number is: (785) 296- 7463 and email is: ken.rahjes@house.ks.gov and my cell number is (785) 302-8416.

It is my honor to serve as your representative.