Rahjes Report - March 15, 2021

Hello from Topeka.  Praise the Lord for the rain. While it was quite a bit, we should never discourage precipitation in our area.  The rain will bring along the wheat crop and give some much-needed sub soil moisture to the soon to be spring planted crops. It was good to be home the first of last week as bills went from one house of origin to the other, now we are in a short second half of the session.

I have received some correspondence from the Department of Labor that some of the unemployment issues are finally getting resolved, but it should not take a month or six weeks to help Kansans.  We will continue to fight for those who are rightly deserving of assistance. The vaccine rollout is continuing, I am in contact with KDHE on a regular basis to strongly encourage them to make sure that those of us in central and western Kansas are not left behind when it comes to making vaccinations available to those who want them. 

I want to remind you, the House and Senate sessions are broadcast on you tube along with the committee meetings, this is one of the best way to see what is going on and catch it firsthand. 

Property Tax Transparency Plan Headed to the Governor – Last week, the Senate concurred with the House’s version of Senate Bill 13, passing the bill onto the Governor for consideration. SB 13 will increase property tax transparency and increase the accountability of local taxing authorities for Kansas taxpayers. Governor Kelly vetoed a similar measure last year. This bill provides for a notification to taxpayers of what taxes they will actually pay from various taxing entities and creates public hearing requirements when property taxes are in excess of the taxing subdivision’s revenue-neutral rate. The bill prohibits valuation increases based solely on normal maintenance of existing structures. It also assists taxpayers by allowing for payment plans, both for delinquencies and for paying property taxes via partial payments.  Property Tax is one of the top issues that is discussed on all levels of government, this is one way to engage property owners if a tax increase is proposed.  House Committee Advances Kansas Promise Scholarship Act -  This past week, the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee passed out House Bill 2287. Known as the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act, this legislation is designed to help get Kansans back to work and help build the workforce needed to further boost our state’s economic recovery. HB 2287 will provide scholarships to Kansas high school graduates who agree to complete a certificate or two-year program in one of 10 high-demand areas. The program may be completed at a community college, technical school, or trade school. The high-demand areas will be determined in consultation with employers and the Department of Commerce. Last year, Governor Kelly vetoed the bill that contained the Promise Scholarship Act. Due to the onset of the pandemic at that time, the Legislature was unable to pursue an override of the veto.

Thanks to the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce for holding a virtual legislative update on Saturday.  Hopefully we can do one in person soon.

Because of COVID, we are not encouraging visitors to come to Topeka but if you would like to contact me: my office is still located in Room: 149-S.  My phone number is (785) 296- 7463 and email is: ken.rahje@house.ks.gov and you can always try my cell number at (785) 302-8416.   When you call or write you might hear from Terry Bernatis, my assistant during the session. 

It is my honor to be your representative.