Check this spot on Sundays for a few quick hits about what’s driving the debate in the Legislature.
“I just feel like we’re kind of spinning our wheels until that big, big issue gets addressed and there’s some kind of agreement between the business community, conservatives and the folks that want it.”
– Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, who opposes rolling back an income tax exemption for businesses, says the Legislature still needs to have a thorough debate on the issue. He argues that until it does, little progress will be made on the budget fix.
“I’m not sure what to expect now. I don’t know how bad it has to get in terms of their inability to do anything, where then she will reach out. I don’t think we’re there yet.”
– Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, says Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, hasn’t reached out to Democrats for help in crafting a tax plan. The Democrats’ eight votes in the Senate could be needed to pass a tax plan if majority Republicans can’t form a consensus.
That’s how much local governments are projected to lose in fiscal year 2016 if a proposal being pushed by Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, to change the way automobiles are taxed moves forward.
This was a good week for Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The Legislature approved two bills that were drafted by Kobach. One will give the secretary of state prosecutorial power – if Gov. Sam Brownback signs it – on election crimes. Kobach has repeatedly pushed the notion that there are cases of voter fraud that have gone unprosecuted. That claim has sometimes come into question, with U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom noting in February that Kobach’s office has not referred a single case to him for prosecution. However, Kobach told the Associated Press that his office would likely launch its first investigation in July or August.
The Legislature also approved a bill that would restrict the reasons for which a candidate could withdraw from office. The bill is a direct response to the Kansas Supreme Court ruling against Kobach last year when he tried to keep Democrat Chad Taylor on the ballot for the U.S. Senate race. The new bill would allow candidates to withdraw from a race only if they move out of state, if they or an immediate family member are experiencing a medical hardship or if they die.
The Kansas Senate canceled a debate on taxes this past week and now plans to begin that process Wednesday morning. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, predicted that the debate would take up most of the day. Lawmakers are still searching for a plan that will balance the state’s budget as they enter the fifth week of their wrap-up session with no clear end in sight.
For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BryanLowry3 on Twitter.