Rahjes Report -February 24, 2020

We are already at the “halftime” break known as turnaround.  It means that the bills that originate and pass out of the House go to the Senate and vice-versa. It also means we will have three days back in the district before coming back to finish up the session.  Senators Billinger and Bowers and I will be holding town halls this Friday, February 28th.  Here is the schedule: 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. – Ellis Public Library; 8:30-10:15 a.m. – Palco- McKenna Center; 11:15 a.m. -12:15 p.m. Phillipsburg – Huck Boyd Center; 1:30-2:30 Norton – Norton Library; 3:15-4:15 p.m. Hill City – Graham County Court House Commissioner’s Chambers. We are looking forward to talking issues with you at these stops. 

House republican leadership launched a plan this session titled “Make Kansas Work”  Here is an update on how things are progressing:  The House approved of the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act (HB 2515) last week, which will provide scholarships to Kansas graduates who agree to complete a certificate or two-year program at a community college, technical school, or trade school in one of 10 high-demand areas for skilled workers. These students will work part-time or provide 100 hours of community service while in school and commit to remain and work in Kansas for two years upon completion of their education.

The Kansas Department of Commerce in conjunction with members of business and industry in our state will identify up to ten high need areas for semi-skilled labor. Any Kansas high school or home school graduate who agrees to go into one of those fields will receive a Kansas Promise Scholarship to pay for attendance at a Kansas trade or tech school or community college. Students must work part time or perform community service while in school and commit to remaining and working in Kansas for two years after graduation. By helping bridge the gap we can build tomorrow’s workforce today.  This is the first of five bills proposed by House Republicans in the Make Kansas Work Plan.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 116-6 and has advanced to the Senate for consideration.

As a member of the Committee on Appropriations held a hearing this week on HB 2522, also known as the Kansas Rural Healthcare Innovation Fund. The Fund will help rural hospitals research and implement changes needed to survive in the current healthcare market.  For every $1 of state dollars awarded to a county seeking to support a rural hospital, they must also provide a $2 match from private stakeholders. The Fund will match public dollars with private contributions from hospital foundations, corporations, and other organizations to help rural hospitals research and implement changes needed to survive in the current healthcare market. $10.0 million will be transferred from the SGF to the Fund, for a maximum of $30.0 million available in the Fund. 

The Kansas Hospital Association, the Kansas Association of Counties, and the Kansas League of Municipalities all testified in favor of the bill, and there were no opponents.  The committee has yet to act on this bill.

First Time Homebuyer Accounts (HB 2516).  These First Time Homebuyer Accounts will allow communities to establish accounts as part of an incentives package to attract certain professionals—such as doctors and dentists—to move into their community The House Rural Revitalization Committee has held a hearing on this bill, and passed the bill favorably.

The Kansas Targeted Employment Act will provide a targeted employment tax credit for businesses that employ individuals with disabilities in integrated settings where those individuals work alongside those who do not have a disability.  The House Commerce Committee has held a hearing on this bill and has yet to act on this bill.

Social Security.  HB 2542 is a relief plan for Kansas seniors would raise the exemption for senior citizens receiving Social Security from $75,000 in annual income to $100,000 in annual income so that Kansas seniors can continue to work and earn additional income if they wish to do so without having to pay higher taxes. The House Taxation Committee has held a hearing on this bill and has yet to act on this bill.

It was good to have a number of 4-H students here from Norton and Rooks counties who participated in Citizens In Action and visit with staff and board members of our Rural Electric Cooperatives, students from Fort Hays State University a group from High Plains Mental Health.

When you come to Topeka during the session, my office is in Room: 149-S.  My phone number is (785) 296-7463 and email is: ken.rahjes@house.ks.gov and you can always try my cell number at (785) 302-8416.

I look forward to seeing you around the 110th District. It is my honor to be your representative.