March 08, 2007

District 107th Constituents,

I heard about 40 bills in the latter part of "turn-around" week and was pleased that the House of Representatives was able to reach consensus and finish earlier than expected. Turn-Around means that all bills must be passed by their house (House of Representatives or Senate) of introduction, or they will not be able to be brought up again until next year. Now that "turn-around" is over, committees have reconvened and will hear bills introduced by the Senate, while the Senate now considers bills voted on by the House. This marks the beginning of the middle third of the session and is the start of more earnest compromise on how to best accomplish what the House and Senate have shown as their top concerns respectively.

There has been little floor activity and the committee work has been light while we wait for the bills to come over. Several bills that passed out of the Agricultural & Natural Resources committee include a Resolution urging Congress to allow interstate marketing of state-inspected meat and Senate bill 192 which seeks to limit applications for Commission Permits (Big Game) to local chapters of nonprofit organizations based only in Kansas. We heard testimony on the Homestead Property Tax Reduction in Taxation and continued discussion on the reduction of Corporate Taxes for business’. Bills concerning Grandparents visitation rights and Kansas Fireworks regulations were sent out of Federal and State Affairs. Hearings also included firearms and child support enforcement relating to medical support and fees were heard this week. I testified on behalf of the Cloud County Fair Board in the Senate Agriculture Committee chaired by Senator Taddiken on Wednesday morning. The bill was passed out of the committee and we should see it coming up on the Senate side very soon.

I had three pages this past Friday from Concordia: Emily Hasch, Kenton Kocher and Megan Labarge and two from Clyde, James Quillan and Jason Barnes. Even though the House was not in session (an emergency session was called late Thursday afternoon), the kids had a more personal visit not only touring the Capital but also meeting Speaker of the House Melvin Neufeld and was able to spend time at my desk on the floor and the Speakers Chair at the top of the House floor.

I was able to have Monday and Tuesday at home in the district. On Monday, I visited the Tescott Elementary and High School where I spoke to the Government Class, had lunch with the students and administration and toured the classrooms to chat with the students. It was a nice day and I appreciate Principal Dr. Becky and her staff taking time with me. It had been two months since I had been able to attend Chamber Coffee but I did have coffee with the group at the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday and caught up on Concordia and area events. Tuesday was also Election Day and I was happy to be home to have the opportunity to vote in person.

I’ve listed below some of the bills that I have been working on that have passed through the house: (SB=Senate Bill) (HB=House Bill)

SB 30

Senate Bill 30 addresses state funding for K-12 and regent schools. This measure pre-funds year two and three of the school finance plan (Keeping Education Promises Trust Fund). Additionally, SB 30 includes higher education by assisting the board of regent’s pay-off their crumbling classroom bonds. In the current fiscal year (FY 2007), upon publication in the State Register, $76.6 million would be transferred from the State General Fund to a new fund entitled the Regents Crumbling Classrooms Debt Payment Fund. The bill also transfers $80.0 million from the State General Fund in FY 2008 to a newly created fund called the State Debt Reduction Fund. The State Debt Reduction Fund would be a reserve fund that would make funding available for future payments for the State General Fund financed pension obligation bonds of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

HB 2031

HB 2031 phases out the corporation franchise tax over three years, beginning with tax year 2007. (The bill is retroactive) For tax year 2007, the exemption for entities with net worth of $100,000 or less would be increased to include entities with net worth of $3 million or less. For tax year 2008, the exemption threshold would remain at $3 million, and the rate of the tax would be cut in half (from $1.25 to $0.625 per $1,000 of shareholder equity or net worth). Beginning in tax year 2009, the tax would be repealed altogether.

HB 2343

HB 2343 directs the State Board of Education to establish an Early High School Graduation Bonus and Scholarship Program. Students graduating from high school at least one year earlier than the usual graduation and seeking post secondary training as a construction trade worker would be eligible for an incentive bonus of $1,000.

HB 2006

HB 2006 would enact Alexa's Law dealing with crimes against unborn children, such as fetal homicide.

As always, please contact me if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. I am serving in Topeka for YOU! My telephone number is 785-296-7644.

Elaine Bowers

District 107th

Kansas House of Representatives