February 21, 2020

Capitol Connection is your weekly report from KAC's Vice President Adrienne Olejnik on happenings at the Statehouse and issues affecting Kansas children and families. For more updates, follow KAC on  Facebook  and  Twitter .

For Adrienne's perspective, see her  Twitter  account!
Turnaround in sight

The weeks are flying by quickly this legislative session. Next week is what's called "turnaround week" -- a deadline by which most bills need to move out of committees to the other chamber. What that means is that committees have been busy taking votes on bills this week. No committees are scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday, and legislators will possibly work lists of bills during their time on the floor.
Yesterday, a series of amendments was made to the Medicaid Expansion bill (SB 252) in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. These changes were not supported by advocates and not helpful to the cause of expanding Medicaid eligibility. Even after those negative changes, the bill wasn't passed out of committee.

We are keeping a close eye on the process of the Medicaid bill, and the debate is far from over this session.

'GILTI' proposal heard again

This is the third year the House taxation committee has heard a bill proposing to decouple from the federal changes made in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The TCJA changes were made in recognition that many large U.S. multinational corporations put much effort into dodging their tax responsibility, including shifting their income to lower-tax jurisdictions.

This year, once again, the committee is considering legislation that the state cannot afford. House Bill 2553 will decrease revenue by about $300 million over three years, with most of that cost benefiting multinational corporations.

The proposal would provide income tax modifications for global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI), business interest, capital contributions and FDIC premiums. We instead support budget and tax policy that prioritizes investments in children and families, particularly among those with low incomes.

Kansas would not be alone in taxing this income. According to the Tax Foundation, a majority of states that tax corporate income are potentially taxing GILTI, as "twenty-four states and the District of Columbia potentially tax GILTI, though only 17 states have issued guidance." Six states are not able to tax GILTI income because they do not tax corporate income.

To be prudent and responsible, lawmakers should continue to tax GILTI income, remain coupled with the federal tax code, and have the ability to make informed policy decisions based on accurate and reliable information.

License bill would help families

Kansas working families face many barriers making ends meet. Whether it's finding a way to pay rent, secure child care, or find stable employment, too many families encounter harmful stressors that affect the family unit. Driver's license suspensions due to unpaid fees and fines can hurt working families and negatively affect both parents and children.

House Bill 2434 would revoke authority to suspend driving privileges for the nonpayment of fines from traffic citations. We support the bill as a way to prioritize investments in children and families, particularly among those with low incomes.

When parents are without a driver's license, children suffer. When parents cannot get to their job to maintain employment and pay for shelter, children pay the price. When parents don't have transportation, they can't get their children to school, child care, or doctors' appointments, or buy nutritious food at the grocery store.

The consequences extend beyond parents and their ability to drive. Current policy increases hardship for families that already are struggling financially, given that they are unable to pay off these fees and fines. Suspensions reduce public safety and take up valuable time from police and courts, with little revenue generated to make up these costs.

What we're watching

Bills we'll be watching on Monday (the only day next week committees formally meet):
  • SB 379 would allow the state to request a waiver from the federal government to temporarily expand eligibility for individuals in areas with qualifying economic downturns. This bill will be heard in Senate Public Health and Welfare. We support this bill and will be providing written testimony.
  • SB 440 would allow a single parent who is eligible for cash assistance to extend the time the parent can stay at home with their child if they enroll in qualified parenting/home-visiting programs. This bill will be heard in Senate Public Health and Welfare. We also support this bill and will be providing written testimony.

See you next week!
-- Adrienne