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Stan FrownfelterRep. Stan Frownfelter
Newsletter from Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-37th Dist.
Committees: Utilities and Telecom, Commerce, Labor and Economic Development, Ranking Minority, Insurance, Financial Institutions, Ranking Minority
Week 10: March 2013
In This Issue
○ From the Statehouse
○ House Sub for SB 22: Scholarship Tax Credit
○ SB 171: Relating to the availability of certain voter information
○ Raising sales tax on hardworking Kansans
○ Eliminating middle class tax deductions
○ Property tax relief amendment fails
○ Abortion omnibus passes the House
○ Constituents in the Capitol
○ Keep in touch
House Sub for SB 22: Scholarship Tax Credit
The House Education Committee passed a gut-in-go version of HB 2400 into SB 22. This bill creates a tax credit program for Kansas corporations that donate to a Scholarship Granting Organization. Under this proposal corporations will receive a $70 reduction in income tax liability for every $100 given to the SGO. This proposal carries a fiscal note of up to $100 million per year.
The SGO then uses the funds to grant scholarships valued up to $8,000. The recipient may attend any school of his or her choice, including private, religious, and non-accredited institutions.
Proponents argued that it would decrease corporate taxes and increase access and enrollment to private schools.
Opponents called the proposal irresponsible, noting that the bill contained no accountability related to the academic standards of the schools receiving the scholarship funds.
A motion to put the bill into Senate Bill 22 and pass it out of committee passed on a vote of 10 to 9.
SB 171: Relating to the availability of certain voter information
SB 171 would prohibit the disclosure of the names of voters who cast provisional ballots in Kansas elections.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach testified in favor citing hypothetical examples that included an individual who moved out from their girlfriend’s house, and is embarrassed to be contacted. Kobach argued there is no need to have candidates reaching out and contacting voters after the election.
During the election Kobach ordered county clerks not to release this information. Currently, there is a lawsuit objecting to this practice but there is no final order. Kobach seeks passage of this bill to remove the existing lawsuit.
Former Rep. Ann Mah testified in against this proposal. Mah lost a close race in 2012 and sought the names of voters who were made to cast provisional ballots so she might assist them in ensuring they take the steps necessary to have their provisional ballot counted by the board of canvassers before the election was certified.
Mah argued that concern about voter data is overstated since voter data is and will remain public. This proposal would only block the transmission of data related to the status of a ballot.
Raising the sales tax on hardworking Kansans
Last week, 24 Republican members of the Kansas Senate voted to raise taxes to generate extra money so they can pay for the massive income tax cuts they voted to give corporations and the wealthiest Kansans.
In 2009, when the Legislature had cut over $1 billion from the state budget and Gov. Mark Parkinson determined that he could not support further cuts to local school, universities and community colleges, prisons and vital social services, the Legislature supported a temporary 1 cent sales tax. This modest one penny sales tax also goes to fund a new, comprehensive transportation plan that three different economic studies concluded would create 175,000 jobs. This was, and is, the largest jobs program in Kansas history.
The 1 cent sales tax is set to expire this year. The sales tax is regressive. Its impact is felt the most by middle class Kansans and those on the lowest end of the economic scale who must spend a larger share of their income on food and necessities. These are the folks that have been hit the hardest by this recession and they deserve a tax cut more than anyone else.
Eliminating middle class tax deductions
This morning, House Republicans approved a $400 million middle class tax increase in the form of the phasing out of all deductions, including the home mortgage tax credit. This process will begin with a 24 percent reduction in the value of income tax deductions.
This proposal, like the sales tax increase, has been introduced to pay for tax cuts Gov. Brownback pushed through in 2012, which give the top earners in the state an average tax cut of about $20,000 while enabling business owners go income tax free. None of these plans will generate enough revenue to allow for restored funding of Kansas schools.
Property taxes relief amendment fails
Kansas property taxes have doubled since 1997 and the Tax Foundation says Kansas has the 9th worst property tax climate in the United States. This creates a tremendous burden on hardworking, middle class taxpayers and it makes the American Dream very hard to achieve. So, this week, I was proud to support an amendment to a bill that would have cut Kansas property taxes by $45 million.
A coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats supported this amendment. Unfortunately, it failed on a vote of 48-73.
Abortion omnibus passes the House
HB 2253, the abortion restrictions bill, passed the House on a vote of 92 – 31. The 70-page abortion bill includes a personhood amendment, amends informed consent, amends women’s right to know information, changes late-term abortion laws, and prohibits funding for abortion services.
Tax provisions in the bill make it so that abortions are not state funded directly or indirectly, preventing women who receive abortion services from claiming the costs for abortion services in her medical deductions. It also stops abortion providers from claiming state sales tax on what it purchases nor could expenses associated with performing an abortion be provided for those seeking tax credits for research and development. Employers providing a small employer health benefit plan that contains an optional rider for abortion coverage will be given no tax credit for the plan. The bill continues to strengthen law that works to prevent medical students and residents from performing abortions at the state’s medical schools with state resources or on the state’s time, a mandatory skill needed to, at times, save a mother’s life.
The personhood clause claims the “life of each human being begins at fertilization” and that “unborn children have interests in life, health and well-being that should be protected.” It continues to provide “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents…subject only to the constitution,” at the time of fertilization.
The bill creates an “informed consent” measure that requires doctors to give certain information to women requesting an abortion before the service is provided. Rep. Bollier, Republican, attempted to amend the informed consent clause and the women’s right to know information due to medically incorrect information. A physician, Bollier, testified that there is no medical link that abortions have any effect to future premature births, breast cancer, or damage to the reproductive system. Rep. Kinzer, the carrier of the bill, retorted that the link to breast cancer was a medical dispute and that does not limit the legislation to act on their own judgment and impose legal restrictions. The amendment failed by 21 votes.
I always enjoy seeing people from back home visiting the Capitol during the session to share their views on issues and to learn about the legislature and the history of our Capitol building. If you are going to be in the Capitol this session, I hope you will drop by my office.
Complete daily calendars are available at www.kslegislature.org along with other useful information.
I am privileged and honored to be your voice in the Kansas Capitol. If I can ever be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at home or in Topeka.
Keep in touch
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 561W, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7648 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. Additionally, you can e-mail me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow the legislative session online at www.kslegislature.org.