Monday, September 01, 2014

TYSON: Capitol no exception to windy Kansas days

By CARYN TYSON, Kansas State Senator | 3/31/2014

Several bills were debated and passed on the Senate floor last week. Topics ranged from the Second Amendment to removing required mandates for renewable energy.

• House Bill 2578 has to do with requiring applications for transferring certain restricted firearms to be processed in a timely manner. The bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Several bills were debated and passed on the Senate floor last week. Topics ranged from the Second Amendment to removing required mandates for renewable energy.

• House Bill 2578 has to do with requiring applications for transferring certain restricted firearms to be processed in a timely manner. The bill passed the Senate 40-0.

• The renewable energy bill (Senate Sub for HB 2014) would eliminate a state mandate that now requires Kansans to receive 20 percent of their energy from renewable resource (wind and solar) by 2020. This was a state mandate requiring us to produce electricity from renewable industries that are heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. When the federal subsidies eventually disappear, Kansas utility ratepayers will be required to pay much higher electric bills to support this 20 percent renewable energy mandate. The Senate passed the bill 25-14. I voted to remove this 20 percent mandate.

• I support renewable energy, just not mandates requiring usage. Senate Sub for HB 2101 would amend the Net Metering and Easy Connection Act regarding parallel generation. Net metering allows customers who generate their own electricity from solar or wind power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid on a month-by-month basis. For customer-generators that have installed net metering systems before July 1, 2014, the bill would allow them to continue operating their systems according to current standards with a few exceptions. The bill passed 39-0.

• The Senate passed HB 2577 unanimously to expand the locations a person can leave an infant. If a person cannot care for an infant and is giving up parental rights or guardianship, the bill increases locations to include any law enforcement center. The bill, when signed into law, will protect the name and other identifiable information of the person who voluntarily left the infant at a qualified location.

• The Prompt Payment for Managed Care, HB 2552, requires Medicaid contractors to pay a claim or deny a claim within 30 days of receipt. One of the most common complaints is slow payments. It has put a burden on service providers. HB 2552 is an attempt to resolve this problem by requiring payment within a reasonable amount of time. The bill was amended in a Senate debate to require approval from the Legislature for Medicaid expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act. The bill passed with a vote of 33-7. I voted for the bill.

• The Senate passed Substitute for HB 2430 on a vote of 35-4. I was a No vote. Currently, the Secretary of Commerce can lower taxes on selected large companies of his choosing to attract them to Kansas. The bill increases the maximum amount that can be issued. Proponents believe it is a tool for economic development. I believe it is government picking winners and losers. With low taxes across the board everyone is treated fairly and businesses can still be attracted. When only lowering taxes to chosen companies, it gives them an unfair advantage over their competitors who pay higher taxes. Not fair. The bill was amended on the Senate floor to require the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Revenue to sign-off on each qualifying company.

• A number of ideas are being discussed for K-12 funding. Leadership has set a goal of passing legislation by Friday. Since there are so many factors in K-12 funding, the proposed changes are complex and impact each school district differently.

• Last week, I wrote about HB 2557 which was amended in the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee to cover a hole in the current tax code. The amendment would reinstate past legislation that allows for Federal Schedule C, E, and F losses to be deducted from your Kansas income taxes. The bill has not been brought to the Senate floor for debate. Hopefully, there will be enough interest in the bill this week.

Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, represents Franklin County and the 12th District in the Kansas Senate.

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