March 6, 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!
The Capitol community

When you hear about the Kansas statehouse, what do you think about?

You might think of an enormous building, full of very serious people and profound lawmaking. You might think of masses of people filling chambers and pressing their cases.

Elements of that are true. But taken as a whole, the Capitol is actually a community, and a surprisingly small one. When walking through the underground halls, I often exchange greetings with someone that I know. It might be a lobbyist whose work we know, a lawmaker we've collaborated with, or a member of the governor's staff.

It almost feels like high school at times, with some folks racing to and fro and others taking a more leisurely approach. Thankfully there aren't tests, although delivering testimony occasionally feels like a school presentation.

No matter what side of the issues we're on, almost everyone at the statehouse comes together with the same motivation. We want to make the state of Kansas a better place.

Restoring a refundable food sales tax credit

As   Kansas  rebuilds after years of economic challenges, we encourage policymakers to consider targeted policy solutions to help working families. One such approach is to reinstate the refundability of the food sales tax credit, which is why KAC supports House Bill 2720. The bill will be heard Monday in the House Tax Committee.
Policies implemented in 2012 undermined the financial well-being of working families. In 2013 ,  the food sales tax credit was made nonrefundable  and  coupled with changes in eligibility. The credit was previously refundable, meaning filers whose credit amount exceeded their tax liability could receive the difference. Nonrefundable credits are less helpful for low-income earners, who often do not have high levels of tax liability to benefit. These changes dramatically decreased the number of filers  using the  credit  
A refundable food sales tax credit would restore needed assistance and also boost the Kansas economy. Food assistance programs  such as  SNAP and refundable credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) have been proven to boost economic activity.  This bill  will provide needed  financial assistance to  Kansas kids and the adults who care for them.

After turnaround, what's still in play?

Hitting the halfway mark of the session usually means a winnowing of legislation in play. But last week, new bill numbers were introduced for a few items we are watching:
  • SB 469: A new version of what was previously SB 312, a bill that would impose a civil fine for operating a child care facility without a license.
  • SB 484: A new version of what was previously SB 379, a bill that would authorize the secretary for children and families to request a waiver from certain limitations under the food assistance program (commonly known as the ABAWD waiver).
  • SB 485: A new version of what was previously SB 440, a bill that would provide an additional option to fulfill work participation requirements under the cash assistance program for new, single parents. 
Why the new bill numbers? It all has to do with the process of turnaround and deadlines for certain nonexempt committees. In short, if bills aren't passed out of most committees by "turnaround," which was last week, they are no longer active for consideration by legislators. An option exists, though, for "mirror" bills (exact copies of the content in previous bills) to be reintroduced through an  exempt  committee such as the tax, budget, or federal/state affairs committee.

And that's what happened with the three bills referenced above. Essentially the process starts over on these proposals -- including new hearings and opportunity to submit testimony. It's possible they'll be heard by different committees and legislators this time.
If any of that is confusing -- or if you have other questions about the legislative process -- we are here to help. And if we don't know the answer, we'll find someone who does!

See you next week!
-- Adrienne