Commentary

Wed
28
Mar

GETTING SERIOUS

Rep. Steven Johnson
Capitol View

Discussion in the capitol is moving toward the larger issues. While many issues remain on the calendar in debate, how to put the key budget issues together is taking some shape.

In the house budget committee, we did pass our 2019 budget adjustments. Each budget subcommittee brought several increases to spending for their area. We eliminated most increases. There are a few remaining changes beyond the governor’s recommendations, especially to shore up some issues in mental health.

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Wed
21
Mar

Bankrolling a Railroad

By "The Cowboy" Jim Gray
THE WAY WEST

Prior to the creation of Kansas Territory in 1854 the land west of the Missouri River was Indian Territory. Trails across the prairie had to be negotiated by treaty. Wagons traversed the Santa Fe Road and the Oregon-California Trail carrying provisions, trade goods, and people to distant centers of commerce. Prairielands lay before the beholder as far as he could see and well beyond.

To the east, the state of Missouri was pushing development to its western border. The first railroad built across the State of Missouri, the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, was completed in 1859.

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Wed
21
Mar

Bring on the Blue Wave

Jerry Marsh
Political Bites

A friend of mine wrote the following recently: “I haven’t bought into the whole “Blue Wave” theory. I’ll believe it when I see it.” Blue wave refers to an electoral landslide this fall giving the Democrats a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and if one wants to be extremely optimistic, the U.S. Senate as well.

I have had thoughts similar to those of my friend, but I do think the wave has a chance of success. One reason that I do derives from what we have observed from the nation’s youth in recent weeks. They have shown a political energy not seen in young people for decades.

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Wed
14
Mar

Democracy demands light

By Doug Anstaett
For the I-R

In recent years, the buzzword in politics has been “transparency.”

Just about everyone has jumped on the transparency bandwagon.

Our legislators certainly have been talking about it. Only a month ago, our new governor signed a number of executive orders demanding more transparency from the state agencies that report to him. Candidates for office are promising, if elected of course, more of it as well.

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Wed
14
Mar

THE MONEY SEARCH

Rep. Steven Johnson
Capitol View

The first full week after the break saw more bills moving and key discussions taking shape. The education funding question continued in both the related budget and tax committees. There is much anticipation of the education cost study soon to be released.

The tax committee heard a bill that would increase property tax by the $659.9 million requested by the state board of education over three years. It takes just over an 18 mill increase to raise that amount.

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Wed
07
Mar

Tips are for servers

By Irene Tung and Teófilo Reyes

When we give someone a tip, we expect the money will go to the workers who provided us with service.

We might leave a little extra because someone went above and beyond for us. Or because we want that person to have a slightly easier time getting by.

Whatever the circumstance, we trust that the money will help the workers who served us.

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Wed
07
Mar

STATE BUSINESS

Rep. Steven Johnson
Capitol View

Our legislative week was short as we returned from the turnaround break to start the second half of the general session. We had a couple of cybersecurity bills, but otherwise there was little action on the floor of the House.

In the appropriations committee we heard more reports from our budget subcommittees and are currently working on the transportation budget.

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Wed
28
Feb

Withering winter wheat

John Schlageck
Insight

Some say the landscape in central and western Kansas looks like a barren, brown wasteland. Others believe that statement may be too kind.

Whatever you see, and however you describe it — conditions remain dire in many regions of Kansas going into the final week of February.

In Lincoln County for example, it’s difficult, and nearly impossible, to see green anywhere. Wheat crops look brown like the previous year’s stubble or the fall residue. It doesn’t matter if you look at wheat in bottom land or on hill tops, the crop looks terrible.

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Wed
28
Feb

TURNAROUND

Rep. Steven Johnson
Capitol View

We have reached our turnaround week in the legislature where bills are due out of their first chamber. To get House bills passed and to the Senate, we spent much of the week on the floor of the house. Many bills were debated.

Among those passed was a bill that would move our corrections officers to the Kansas Police and Fire (KP&F) plan from their current group within KPERS. It is a better benefit for our corrections officers, particularly those newly hired. However, it does cost more.

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Wed
21
Feb

Taxes and more taxes?

Rep. Steven Johnson
Capitol View

The past week in the legislature was highlighted by a presentation from Jay Langley, who is a CPA in Salina. He presented on behalf of the CPA’s on the impact changes in the federal income tax laws will have on Kansas’ state income taxes.

A second report from the Department of Revenue provided the estimated tax impact of each issue.

For Kansas taxpayers, this is projected to be $137 million in the first year. For me, the $137 million was helpful to identify the magnitude of the issues we need to review in the tax committee.

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