2013 Newsletter Header
March 24, 2013 - In This Issue:
Denning Official Senate Photo
  • Shawnee Mission School District is supporting the Innovative School District Bill
  • Kansas is now a low income state
    • Will require slow growth in government to keep budget balanced and essential services fully funded
  • Affordable Care Act had 3 year birthday.  Regulations have grown from 2,300 pages to over 70,000.  Serious growing pains  are revealed
  • Medicaid expansion will require legislative approval
    • Estimates to expand range from $50 million to $200 million annually.  This is with the state taxpayers only paying 10% of the cost
  • First Adjournment is April 5th.


House and Senate Budget Bills Must Be Reconciled in Next 2 Weeks

We basically have until April 5th to reconcile the House and Senate Tax and Budget Plans.  Both bills from both houses are now in Conference Committee.  This is the time of the legislative session where things start to move very fast.  It takes a lot of diligence to stay on top of the legislative maneuvers to combine different bills and still arrive at consensus in both Chambers.  Bills that are not identical but have cleared both Chambers go into Conference Committee for negotiation. Conference Committees are made up of three members from each chamber; two Republicans and one Democrat. The Conference Committees sort out differences between the two Chambers' bills. The bills are then presented back to the House and Senate Chambers for an up or down vote.   From now until we adjourn on April 5th the Conference Committee meets off and on throughout the remaining days of the session.  This will be my first time to participate on a Conference Committee.  As Vice Chairman of Senate Ways and Means, Chairman Masterson and me, along with the Ranking Democrat Laura Kelly will negotiate for the Senate on the budget. We work well together so we should be able to take care of business in a productive manner.


Senate and House Commerce Committees Send their Bills to Conference Committee

The legislature has been wrestling with the unemployment fund since the great recession of 2009.  The recession was so deep and prolonged that the fund was totally depleted to the point that Kansas, like most other states, had to borrow from the Federal Government to pay unemployment benefits. Note in the graph that 2009 was the worst for paying out unemployment benefits and basically depleted the fund.  As you can see, unemployment benefits have declined as the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.5%.  Kansas has repaid all of its obligations to the Federal Government.

The goal now is to rebuild the fund to withstand the next recession which is inevitable to happen.  The Senate proposes to rebuild the fund by 2018.  There was discussion to rebuild more slowly through 2021, so as not to put a burden on employers finally coming out of the recession cycle.  In addition, the Senate plan is to raise and lower the number of weeks unemployment benefits will be paid based on the prevailing unemployment rate.

The following is the Senate proposal.
Full $5 Million Restored

Through two separate amendments we were able to restore the cancer research funding for KU.  The first amendment was passed in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  We identified excess funds in a Department of Insurance operating account.  In the spirit of Pay Go Rules I presented an amendment to move money from this account to KU cancer research.  The amendment passed and restored $2.5 million.  The second amendment I presented on the Senate floor during final debate of the budget.  Under Pay Go Rules the amendment repurposed $2.5 million in oil and gas severance taxes to KU for cancer research. This second amendment also passed and restored the entire $5 million to KU's cancer research budget.

Pages and Visitors are Always Welcome

Senator Melcher and I welcomed Ann and Sydney to page for us on Thursday.  It is always a pleasure when students want to be a Page.  They normally come with a friend, or meet someone else who is a Page, so they can have someone to pal around and help with tasks. It is a valuable learning experience for them.

Growing Pains Continue

The regulations being written to implement the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obama Care, are staggering.  The 2,300 pages of original legislation has already grown to over 70,000 pages.  Stacked together the new regulations are now over 7 feet tall.  Senator Jerry Moran's photo tells it best.


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Topeka, KS 66612




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Overland Park, KS 66210

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

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