2013 Newsletter Header
March 4, 2013 - In This Issue:
  • When considering tax cuts that have the greatest economic growth, studies show income tax rates have the greatest effect of growing jobs and the economy.
  • In 2012, 28 states considered legislation that would require welfare recipients to take a drug test to receive benefits.
  • Congress has also approved a measure allowing states to drug-test individuals who receive federal benefits.  
  • In Kansas we operate with practical spending habits and spend within our state's revenue. As a result, we will see minimal effects of the federal sequestration.
  • School Finance Lawsuit - State Supreme Court will allow mediation to attempt to resolve. A mediator must be selected by March 8, 2013.
Wind Energy too Expensive

Senate Bill 82 was defeated on the Senate floor by a vote of 17 to 23.  I voted for the bill and was disappointed it did not succeed. Senate Bill 82 would have relaxed the state's renewable energy portfolio standards, also known as RPS.


In 2009, Kansas adopted RPS. The RPS mandated utility companies to supply 10% electric generation with wind by 2011, 15% by 2016 and 20% by 2020.  The 10% mandate has been met and most utilities report being close to meeting the 15% mandate.  SB 82 would have delayed the 15% and 20% standards by two years.


These mandates have resulted in higher utility rates for consumers and businesses as the costs of the wind mandate are directly passed on to the consumer. Prior to the implementation of the wind mandate, the annual utility rate increase averaged only 1.18%. Since the mandate, the price has increased at an annual rate of 4.30%. This is 3 1/2 times the rate increase before the mandate.

Recipients Must Undergo Drug Testing if there is Reasonable Suspicion Illegal Substances are being Used.
Gavel Scales of Justice

Senate Bill 149 passed the Senate after 4 hours of debate.  The vote was 31-8, I supported the bill.  The bill would require recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and unemployment payments to undergo drug testing if there is reasonable suspicion illegal substances are being used.


The legislation would prohibit individuals who fail a drug test from receiving state TANF benefits until they have completed drug treatment and job skill training provided by the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF). A second failed drug test would result in additional treatment and job training, along with prohibiting the recipient from receiving benefits for one year. Recipients who fail a third drug test are permanently suspended from receiving state taxpayer assistance.


It is important to note this would not negatively impact children.  Although individuals who fail the drug test would not qualify to receive state government assistance until the completion of this treatment program, a drug-free third-party would be able to receive and administer TANF funds for qualifying children.

Nominating Board Expanded from 2 to 7

Senate Bill 187 cleared the Senate by a vote of 31-9. I supported the bill and was part of the debate on the senate floor.  This bill will expand the current appointment process from just 2 parties (KS Chamber and AFL-CIO) to a 7 member appointment board comprised of members from the Kansas Chamber, National Federation of Independent Business Association, AFL-CIO, Public Union representative, KS Self Insured Association, Kansas Society for Human Resource Management and Sect. of Labor. The new makeup of the board cuts across all employment sectors and will give employees and employers better representation.  The bill increases the pay for Workers Compensation judges to be more in line with district court judges. This increase is supported in hopes of attracting and retaining more qualified candidates. The bill is now headed to the House.

We have Reached the Halfway Point for this Session

After weathering two major snow storms and hours of floor debate, the Legislature reached the halfway point of the 2013 session, known as turnaround.  We are scheduled to adjourn for the 2013 session on April 5th.  We will then return on May 8th for a couple of weeks to complete any unfinished business.  This period is known as Veto Session.  After Veto Session we return to our private sector jobs until the 2014 session starts up.


Committees had the opportunity to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday before we turned our focus to the turnaround deadline by spending all day Thursday on the Senate floor. By the time we adjourned on Thursday evening, the Senate had debated and voted on approximately 32 pieces of legislation this week alone. Considering we'll usually only debate around 15 pieces in an average week, we certainly increased the amount of time spent deliberating legislation.


On Monday and Tuesday the Legislature will not be in session to give clerical staff time to process the significant amount of paperwork resulting from turnaround. Upon our return on Wednesday, the focus of the Senate will primarily be on legislation which passed the House and has made its way to our chamber. Over the next few weeks, we will begin to see some of the more basic issues wrap up as the critical issues like budget and tax begin to take center stage.


The trends for Kansas tax receipts remain positive through the 8 months ending February 28, 2013.  For the 8 month period YTD tax receipts are about 1.7% above budget and 5.3% above the  same period last year.  We are seeing large swings in the personal income tax collections since January.  The first swing is related to the tardiness of Washington to agree on new tax tables for 2013.  With the tax tables coming out late most business used the old 2012  tables for January 2013.  Thus, January tax collections were overstated.  In February we saw a second large swing in the other direction as business converted to the new tax rates.  Kansas has a 24% personal income tax reduction for 2013.  So, for February we saw personal income tax collections miss estimates by 83%.  YTD collections are more in line with estimates.  Hopefully in March the large swings will be eliminated and we can see normal trends of increased tax revenues closer to budget projections.  Also in March we should begin to see the effects of the large decrease in personal income taxes.

Capitol Office

300 S.W. 10th Street, Room 541-E

Topeka, KS 66612




Overland Park
8416 W. 115th Street
Overland Park, KS 66210

Paid for by "Jim Denning for Kansas Senate"
Kathy Vance, Treasurer

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