Topeka Update - 10 February 2023
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Topeka Update - 10 February 2023

By Kevin WalkerFeb 10, 2023

Smart Brevity® count: 3.5 mins...958 words

The tempo in Topeka has picked up. With this week’s bill introduction deadlines, an avalanche of legislation was officially entered into the record for consideration. Committees will be in full swing for the next two weeks as lawmakers work toward the unofficial halfway point of the session later this month.

Education Takes Center Stage

Illustration of a gold-plated graduation cap with a diamond-encrusted gold dollar sign where the tassel would be.

Debates over K-12 education funding and academic outcomes have become as commonplace as student tour groups in the Capitol. This session is no different.

The bottom line: More than 50% of the state’s general fund budget is allocated to K-12 education so it’s easy to see why lawmakers continue to look carefully at the spending. Many lawmakers argue the state’s taxpayers aren’t getting a good ROI for the large investment of tax dollars invested. Public school advocates challenge that assertion and believe our schools do a good job educating the state’s youth despite the myriad of challenges they face.

How we got here: After years of lawsuits, many legislators have grown weary of the amount of K-12 spending resulting from the legal rulings. Legislation allocating public dollars to private schools, authorizing open transfers, and other proposals have increased clashes between school advocates and concerned lawmakers over the past few years.

Here’s a quick look at some of the education legislation pending this session:

  • HB 2218 - Establishes scholarship funds and savings accounts for students attending schools outside of traditional K-12 programs.

  • HB 2236 - Establishing parents' right to direct their children's education, upbringing, and moral or religious training.

  • SB 83 - Providing additional student eligibility under the tax credit for low-income students scholarship program and increasing the amount of the tax credit for contributions made.

  • HB 2132 - Expands the Promise Scholarship Act.

  • HB 2163 - Reinstating due process for teachers.

  • SB 128 - Establishing the Ad Astra opportunity tax credit to provide an income tax credit for taxpayers with eligible dependent children not enrolled in public school.

  • SB 66 - Enacting the interstate teacher mobility compact to recognize equivalent teacher licenses across member states.

  • SB 122 - Removing the sunset for high-density at-risk student weighting.


Young woman holding money.

We told you in earlier editions of this report that one of the big issues of the year would be taxes. The first major tax bill that has advanced would eliminate taxes on social security income.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are concerned that outmigration is hurting Kansas and our current tax structure is harmful to retirees. The provisions of SB 33 would make the full amount of Social Security income free from taxation in Kansas. Currently, taxes are assessed on Social Security income exceeding $75,000.

What’s next: Numerous other tax proposals have been introduced so it is likely that SB 33 and the other tax proposals will be combined into one or more bundled tax bills later in the session.

What's next: Lawmakers will likely look at other ideas including a back-to-school sales tax holiday, accelerating the food sales tax reduction, and more. While the state sits on a cash balance of more than $2 billion, lawmakers are evaluating the proposals carefully. The goal is to ensure that tax cut proposals are balanced with prudent spending decisions to avoid future budgetary shortfalls.

Here’s a look at a few of the more notable tax proposals:

  • SB 21 - Back-to-school sales tax holiday.

  • SB 41 - Providing a remittance credit to retailers for collecting sales and compensating use taxes.

  • HB 2111 - establishes a 0% state rate for sales and use taxes for food and food ingredients. It also provides a sales tax exemption for children's diapers and feminine hygiene products.

  • HB 2061 - Flat Tax for individuals and corporations.

Legislation We’re Tracking

If you have a little bit of time left, how about start writing your own bucket list

Deadlines for individual and committee bill introductions both occurred this week. There are a handful of exempt committees where essential legislation can still be introduced, but the heavy flow of bills is about to wind down.

By the numbers: As of this writing, 244 bills have been introduced in the Senate and 409 have been introduced in the House.

  • Here’s a look at what we’re tracking and the status of each bill.

Looking Ahead

Illustrated collage of a man using binoculars looking directly at the viewer

For the next two weeks, legislative committees will focus on bill hearings. Committee chairs yield tremendous power so their decisions on which bills will have a hearing in their committee can make or break a piece of legislation.

  • The last day for committees to meet is February 21.

  • Turnaround - the day legislation needs to clear its house of origin - follows on February 24. “Turnaround” marks the unofficial halfway point of the legislative session.

These deadlines keep the legislative process moving forward. There are exceptions to the deadlines, but, these key dates signal the end of the line for most of the introduced bills that haven’t passed these legislative hurdles.

What’s next: Here’s a look at a few important bill hearings scheduled for next week.

  • HB 2182 - Kansas Film Tax Credit.

  • HB 2061 - Flat Tax for individuals and corporations.

  • HB 2292 - Kansas Apprenticeship Tax Credit.

  • HB 2333 - Disqualification from unemployment benefits for failing to attend a scheduled job interview or failing to respond to a job offer.

  • HB 2334 - Deadline extension and program modifications to the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion incentive program.

One fun thing: The Super Bowl is upon us and this is the first time that legal bets can be made on the big game in Kansas. The American Gaming Association predicts that more than 50 million bets will be made on the Chiefs v. Eagles game with wagers exceeding $16 billion.

KS Lottery officials predict that the State will take in approximately $10 million from sports betting by 2025.

Good luck to the Chiefs and to readers who may have placed a wager!


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