Week 4 Newsletter
Legislative Update - Week 4
What an informative and busy week we had in Topeka. This concludes week for of the Legislative session and the House is moving a bit slower than years past. There hasn’t been quite as many bills brought forward to date so the action on the floor has been sparse. There have been a couple of noteworthy bills introduced in the House and Senate that will have a direct impact on many of us.
Senate Bill 22 was passed out of the Senate this week. This would “decouple” the state tax return from the federal tax return and allow Kansan’s to itemize their deductions even if they don’t on their federal tax return. This is estimated to return the $190 Million in federal tax cuts that the state would have ended up with (by no action of its own) as a result of federal changes. I very much look forward to working with the house and presenting this to the governor for her signature.
House Bill 2163 & Senate Bill 113 were introduced to allow medical marijuana in the State of Kansas. This is a hotly contested topic in Kansas and has been for a couple of years. I believe we have to look at the merits of this option and not let emotion dictate. Is it safe for our communities? Does it make sense to allow the electorate to legalize a schedule 1 drug? Should it only be dispensed by pharmacies? Why hasn’t the FDA legalized it if the medicinal benefits are so powerful? These are just a few of the many questions that need to be asked and answered.
The Kansas Farm Bureau has introduced Senate Bill 32 which is legislation to create their own Association Health Benefit Plan. This will allow their members to create a “self-funded” health plan. I have had the opportunity to meet with many members of the Farm Bureau and commend them for their out-of-the-box thinking. Health care is a major hurdle for so many Kansan’s and they have worked with the Tennessee Farm Bureau to replicate their system in Kansas. The Tennessee Farm Bureau Health Plan has been functioning successfully for nearly 70 years and benefiting many who can’t afford standard health insurance. I look forward to working with them and supporting their efforts to ensure more Kansans have access to the health coverage they need.
Next week begins real work on the budget.
The House Appropriations committee begins the first of many hearings Monday by hearing from Representative Claeys who is chair of the General Government Budget Committee. There will be many weeks of budget hearings while the members of the committee begin to deliberate on what makes sense for the people of Kansas. I look forward to working with members of the committee to find efficient and effective solutions to the budgetary needs of our Kansas agencies.
Is there anything you would like to learn about? Have any questions or concerns you would like to share? I encourage you to be involved in the legislative process by sharing your thoughts with me. I know that together, we can continue to grow Kansas and make it a place where our families and children want to remain!
Rep. Stephen Owens
Office: (785) 296-7500