arts advocate

At ArtsKC, we are committed to ensuring that the members of our arts community and the public are aware of legislation that could impact their lives and work.

Below, you will find information and session highlights from the 2020 Kansas state legislative session, including general and arts-related bills. Additionally, you will find information regarding the recent rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court.
On May 26, Governor Laura Kelly announced that she would be calling a special session for the state legislature beginning June 3. Both chambers convened for two days, and the session ended with bipartisan legislation regarding COVID-19 response passed and signed by Gov. Kelly on June 4.

The week of March 9, the Kansas House Appropriations Committee sent their draft proposal to a joint committee of senators and representatives, with the Senate's proposal following in short pursuit. Thursday, March 19, both chambers passed the final version and sent the budget to Governor Kelly's desk. Gov. Kelly made one amendment to the budget on April 23, in time for the legislature's return on April 27, where it was truly agreed and finally passed.

The total budget is  $19.9 billion including $8 billion from the State General Fund. There are projections of a $1.2 billion shortfall because of COVID-19.

Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC)
The KCAIC is the state of Kansas' governmental entity that is capable of granting funds to organizations and artists in Kansas. KCAIC is housed within the Department of Commerce, and their budget is allocated from the Economic Development Initiatives Fund.

In Kansas, issues and funding related to tourism are located within the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. The DWPT budget is allocated from many different tax, license, and certification fund programs.

Highlights from the Truly Agreed and Finally Passed SB 66
  • $502,084 allocated for KCAIC, down from $578,905 in FY20
  • $5.2 million for the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism
  • $1.2 million specifically for tourism
  • $2 million allocated for Kansas state parks for damage resulting from the 2019 spring flooding.

Many bills regarding medical cannabis have been introduced in the KS legislature, and all very similar in their language. This bill details providing for registration of patients; licensure of medical cannabis grower-distributors and medical cannabis dispensaries; establishing the cannabis regulatory commission; taxation of cannabis. This bill officially died in committee in May.

Proposed during the special session on June 1, 2020, this bill includes valuable provisions—such as free ACT exams for high school students and a foster care report card. The Kansas Promise Scholarship is an effort to make higher education more accessible to vulnerable Kansans who come of age in the foster care system, and to incentivize Kansas graduates to establish their careers here. Gov. Kelly vetoed the bill on June 1, stating " Although well-intentioned, House Bill 2510 as a whole would annually deplete millions from state funds at a time when Kansas faces a $1.3 billion budget shortfall."

House Bill 2619 establishes a new Economic Recovery Linked Deposit Loan Program for businesses in response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This 10-year program would make up to $60 million available for low-interest loans to businesses and agricultural producers through the Pooled Money Investment Board. 

“I support efforts to provide economic relief to Kansas small businesses and agricultural producers who have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, federal funding made available to Kansas through the CARES Act is a more appropriate funding source for this effort. With a $1.3 billion budget shortfall looming, we must protect every state resource at our disposal to make ends meet in the months ahead, including earnings from the state’s investment portfolio.

“House Bill 2619 also grants authority to the Kansas State Treasurer to administer the loan program. These programs have historically been administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce, and that should continue in our COVID-19 response effort.

“Finally, this bill includes a problematic income tax exemption for for-profit banks. While the efforts of Kansas banks and credit unions to reach a compromise on this legislation are laudable, I cannot in good conscience agree to providing tax breaks for banks in light of the looming budget shortfall. Additionally, the CARES Act already provides relief for banks that will far exceed the benefits of this legislation. 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic our local governments have risen to the challenge of providing services to citizens when COVID-19 threatens the normal operations of businesses and government agencies alike. I am keenly aware of the challenges facing Kansas taxpayers, especially those facing unemployment or decreased income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, the COVID-19 pandemic has also required our local governments to do more with less. Local governments rely heavily on property taxes to fund essential programs and services, but by allowing property tax payments to be made as late as August 10, 2020, with no penalties or interest, House Bill 2702 would potentially deprive local governments of essential funding at a time it is needed the most. Local governments cannot meet increased demand for police, fire, emergency medical, and other services if a primary funding source for local governments is withdrawn. Additionally, HB 2702 places significant administrative burdens on local governments when local officials should be focused on addressing the threats and challenges of COVID-19 in their communities.

“I have long supported responsible property tax relief, but the provisions of HB 2702 cause more problems than they solve. Now is not the time to create more problems and burdens for local governments.
June is always an energetic month for the U.S. Supreme Court. Many rulings of cases heard months before are announced throughout the month. With these announcements, it can be difficult to synthesize the policy changes included in the decisions. I've included two summaries of important rulings.

With a 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act included protections for members of the LGBT+ community relating to workplace discrimination. On Monday, Justice Neil Gorsuch issued the majority opinion detailing that the Act's gender language extended to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it refused to hear a case from California where a lower court ruled against the Justice Department in deciding that local governments were not obligated to use their law enforcement resources in assisting I.C.E. with its orders/raids. Had the outcome been different, local police could have been forced to assist I.C.E., and raids/containments/deportations would have increased significantly.
I hope this legislative debrief was constructive and insightful. It takes an army of advocates to make meaningful change, and that is why ArtsKC is committed to empowering our arts advocates with the knowledge, tools, and resources necessary to ensure our region's arts community continues to thrive.

For more details or questions, please email me at .
All the best,
​​Branden D. S. Haralson
Communications Manager, Engagement & Public Policy
106 Southwest Blvd | Kansas City, MO 64108
P: 816.994.9224 |