Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brownback signs bills on tax relief, worker compensation

By The Herald Staff | 4/11/2014

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback signed two more bills into law this week, bringing the total of new laws created this legislative session to 26, according to the governor’s office.

The bills, along with the votes of Franklin County’s Statehouse delegation — state Reps. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, as well as state Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker — include:

House Bill 2576 — Signed Tuesday, HB 2576 provides about 44,000 Kansas businesses with tax relief in the current tax year. The bill will provide an estimated total of $42 million in relief from unemployment insurance taxes in this tax year which began in January.

“The health of our unemployment trust fund is one more indicator of our economic growth,” Brownback said. “At this time last year, our unemployment tax fund owed $75 million. With a projected July 1 balance of $190 million in the trust fund and zero outstanding loans, Kansas is now in a position to continue to provide benefits to those who are without work through no fault of their own, and reward successful businesses in the state.” [Finch Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

Senate Bill 376 — Signed by Brownback Wednesday at Envision in Wichita, SB 376 provides employers the flexibility to retain employees during fluctuations in demand for products or services. Envision is the second largest U.S. employer of individuals who are blind or vision impaired. The company utilizes an active shared work unemployment compensation program to retain staff and avoid layoffs.

“Short-term compensation, or the work share program, benefits both employees and employers,” Gordon said. “It allows employees to remain in the workforce and to receive a larger income than they would on unemployment. It benefits employers by allowing them to keep their skilled workforce and avert layoffs.”

Participation in the plan is voluntary and employers must meet certain requirements and have their plan approved by the Kansas secretary of labor, according to the release. The bill ensures Kansas’ existing shared work program conforms to new federal requirements. Without the bill the shared work program would have ended on Aug. 23, 2014. [Finch Y; Jones Y; Tyson Y]

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