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Legislative Wrap-Up 2021

This May we wrapped up the 2021 Kansas Legislative Session with a host of accomplishments to benefit Kansas taxpayers and relief and provisions for Kansas most vulnerable citizens. I will highlight some of our key accomplishments, which were made possible by Republican majorities who are putting Kansas people first.

The Legislature adjourned its Veto Session May 7, wrapping up its work five days ahead of the 90-day schedule. During the Veto Session, we overrode five of the Governor’s vetoes, passed a budget including fully funding for K-12 schools and expanded school scholarships, and implemented additional COVID relief to help kickstart the economy. The Legislature returned to Topeka on May 26 for Sine Die, which marked the end of the Session.

The full report of key legislation I supported is here. Below, I'll highlight some of these bills and key accomplishments:

Republicans Override Kelly Veto to Deliver Common-Sense Tax Relief

In April, Governor Kelly vetoed Senate Bill 50, a comprehensive bill focused on tax relief that puts Kansans and Kansas businesses on par with taxpayers in other states. This marks the third time the governor has vetoed tax legislation in recent years that would have provided much needed relief for working families and job creators.

House and Senate Republicans successfully overrode the governor’s veto. In addition to increasing the standard deduction for all Kansans, the bill allows individuals and small businesses the option to itemize on their state tax returns regardless of whether they itemize on their federal tax return. It also levels the playing field for Kansas brick-and-mortar businesses by requiring online retailers who are located out-of-state to remit sales tax to the state on purchases ordered for delivery to Kansas. The bill will also protect victims of identity theft from owing Kansas income tax on unemployment compensation that was fraudulently obtained by criminals.

Also this week, the Legislative Coordinating Council voted 6-2 to provide a short-term extension of the COVID-19 statewide disaster emergency to June 15th. As part of the extension, one executive order placing a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was revoked. During the meeting, Republican leaders from both chambers indicated a desire for an exit strategy to wind down the statewide emergency declaration as soon as possible. The short-term extension is intended to provide the governor the opportunity to do just that, while giving her the remaining flexibility she needs in the next 18 days, such as in the area of vaccine distribution.

Other Key Accomplishments:

• Securing our 2nd Amendment Rights

• Strengthening Election Security

• Protecting Kansas Children in Foster Care

• K-12 Education Funding and School Choice Expansion

• Passed an Omnibus Budget Bill

• Overriding Governor's Veto of Military Branch License Plates

• Recommended First-Time Homebuyers Savings Accounts

• Recommended Restoring Employment and Removing Barriers to Economic Recovery

House Overrides Line-Item Budget Vetoes

During Veto Session, the House voted to override four of the Governor’s budget bill line-item
vetoes. The Senate opted not to challenge any the budget bill overrides.

• Oversight of Federal Coronavirus Relief Funding. The Legislature included language in
the budget bill, House Bill 2007, to have the $1.6 billion in federal Coronavirus funding
that the state is set to receive go through the legislative process rather than be distributed
without proper oversight by the Governor’s SPARK Committee. The veto was overridden
with a vote of 86-39 in the House, but was not considered by the Senate. In the Omnibus
budget bill, the Legislature added language to address the make-up of the SPARK
Committee in order to alleviate the Governor’s unilateral authority over federal
Coronavirus aid.
• Hope Ranch Pilot Program to Combat Human Trafficking. The Governor vetoed
language that provided funding for a pilot program at the Hope Ranch for Women. This
organization provides services for women escaping human trafficking. The House voted to
override the Governor’s veto on a vote of 84-40, but it was not considered by the Senate.
• State University Capital Renewal Initiative. The Governor’s Budget contained $10.3
million for the Kansas Board of Regents to use as they saw fit. The appropriations
committees allocated that those funds should be used for critical need, deferred
maintenance. The House voted to override the veto with a vote of 84-40,, but it was not
considered by the Senate.
• Protected Income Level for the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
The Legislature provided increased funding for the Protected Income Level (PIL) for the
Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) program. The program helps keep
seniors at home, so they can avoid the cost of nursing home care. The measure is also a cost
savings for the state when seniors are served on PACE versus KanCare. The veto was
overridden with a vote of 104-20 in the House, but was not considered by the Senate. In the
Omnibus budget, the Legislature increased funding for the PACE program, as well funding
for those on the HCBS waiver.

Removing the Governor's Chokehold on the Kansas Economy

Since the beginning of COVID-19 the Governor has ordered nonsensical business closures, enabled massive unemployment fraud, put prisoners at the front of the line for the COVID-19 vaccine, vetoed needed tax reform, and is now paying workers to stay home instead of rejoining the labor market. Small businesses across the state have shuttered at an alarming rate and many more are hanging on by a thread. Last Friday, Governor Kelly dealt these businesses another blow by vetoing the COVID-19 small business relief act.

The COVID-19 small business relief act would have taken some of the federal recovery dollars allotted to Kansas and made them available to small businesses harmed by forced government closures. Instead of these funds being used for pet projects this act would have used the funds to save those truly hurt by the shutdowns.

I will continue to update you on important legislative developments. Please sign up for updates here.

Paid for by Rep. Owen Donohoe for State Representative Campaign
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