LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:   Legislature goes back for wrap-up

Representative, 74th District

The legislature went back in session beginning Wednesday for the wrap-up/veto session. The wrap up was fairly short, ending late Friday, with one issue requiring completion and several other items taken up. In conference committees, bills are combined to expedite the process resulting in a mixture of good and sometimes not-so-good.

The one issue required was the budget. While last year’s legislature passed a two-year budget, there still need to be some adjustments made and a corrections budget passed as the governor had vetoed that entire budget. Before the break, the Senate passed its budget but the House did not pass a budget until Friday.

In an unusual move, the House budget went from the Appropriations Committee directly to conference with the Senate. Conference is when House and Senate members meet to iron out differences in bills passed in either chamber.

Normally the budget would be approved by the full House before going on to conference but that did not happen this year. The budget adjustments were few compared to a full annual budget, so the budget conference committee moved quickly.

Things that have fallen away are the transparency bill, which would allow cameras and streaming of committee proceedings, and property tax exemptions for private health clubs. Another run was made to repeal the renewable energy standards for Kansas, but that has fallen short as well.

Since the federal government has listed the lesser prairie chicken as “threatened,” the Legislature passed a bill to at least weigh in on the effects of the listing. This could cause some restrictions for agriculture and oil exploration so the bill attempts to lessen the economic effects of the listing. The attorney general has filed suit with four other states regarding lesser prairie chicken because it is non-migratory. The legislature is simply reinforcing its support of his efforts regarding landowner rights.

The mortgage registration filing fee passed by being combined in a conference report to several other tax issues that needed attention. This was certainly the highest profile combination of proposals that was passed this year as the mortgage registration bill was combined with five other bills.

Legislative rules allow bills that have not been debated in both chambers to be combined in conference reports, and that rule was used with this issue to get it passed. Property taxes remaining on privately owned health clubs, seen in a different bill, were also part of the deal with the mortgage registration.

An effort to change duties and the name of the Court of Tax Appeals back to a Board of Tax Appeals occurred. The House passed its version of the change earlier, but it was discovered that the retroactivity combined with de novo (that is the ability to retry a case) could cause a large backlog of cases and large costs. Taking out the ability to go back and rehear tax appeals reduced the cost to nearly zero, so the change has been approved by the legislature. Of course, all these bills now go to the governor for his consideration.

I have already filed to run as representative for the 74th District once again. It is certainly an honor to serve in that capacity and I always appreciate the comments and insights everyone provides.

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