A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
Week One - January 18, 2021
True liberty consists in the privilege of enjoying our own rights,
not in the destruction of the rights of others.
- Dr. George Pinckard
The Facts of the Matter is a feature in The Truth Report each week, highlighting important information, some of which is not always reported or emphasized in the mainstream press:
  • Nothing New in Governor Kelly’s Budget Proposal. In her proposed FY 2022 budget, Governor Kelly revives same ideas rejected by Republicans the last two years, including a new tax on digital products and re-amortizing KPERS. It also includes a pay hike for state employees but no tax relief for average Kansas. (Source)

  • Both House and Senate Address KEMA. Many of the provisions in HB2016, which the Kansas Legislature passed last June and was signed into law, will expire on January 26, 2021. This includes important protections for Kansas families and businesses, who need the assurance they will remain open, and both chambers are addressing the matter. (Sources: HB 2016 – 2020 Special Session; SB 14 – 2021 Regular Session; HB 2048 – 2021 Regular Session)

  • David Toland is Double Dipping. It’s a good gig, if you can get it. According to a report in The Sentinel, “Recently-sworn-in Lt. Governor David Toland will be continuing to serve as Secretary of Commerce during his tenure — and will receive both his $123,000 a year salary as Commerce Secretary as well as approximately $31,300 for serving as Lt. Governor. Toland’s total pay is $154,313 this year; his salary last year was $123,000 and he was also paid about $9,400 for “work with the recovery office” according to the documentation provided…” (Source)
News & Views is a weekly collection of relevant news items and editorials regarding what's going on in Topeka and around the State of Kansas.
Legislators signal they’ll reject Kelly’s tax-and-spend budget proposal
By Danedri Herbert, The Sentinel

Key Excerpt:
Gov. Laura Kelly’s FY 2022 budget proposal appears to be dead on arrival at the Kansas Legislature. Her record-setting $8 billion General Fund budget increases spending by about $254 million (not counting the ‘savings’ she assumes from reamortizing pension debt) and is $1.5 billion more than was spent the year before she was elected. In a press conference on Tuesday, Kelly called her budget draft, “sound.”
Truth Report Archive
Check out past Truth Reports in the Truth Report Archive by clicking here.
Transparency Center: Follow the Kansas Legislature
You can view video streaming of both chambers via the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, many committees are now audio streamed. Finally, the Kansas Legislature website remains a great resource. Here are the relevant links:

YouTube Streaming:

Spending: Ever curious about how your tax dollars are spent, particularly on items like government salaries? Then look no further than KS OpenGov, a large database of hundreds of reports at the state, city, and school district level. 

Get there by clicking here:
Governor Kelly’s ‘New’ Budget is Full of ‘Old’ Rejected Ideas
Albert Einstein is widely credited, although possibly misattributed for the famous quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Whether Albert said this or not, it is felt to be true with Governor Kelly’s eerily similar-to, rejected budget as the previous 2 years, which she is proposing yet again.

Governor Kelly often claims to be fiscally conservative – she almost sounds like a budget hawk! She knows Kansans want a government who will live within its means and not rely on the same schemes that got us into trouble in the first place or take more money out of Kansas’ pockets. Unfortunately, the governor’s budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2022 relies on some of those tired tactics from the past, including imposing taxes on digital media and re-amortizing KPERS, both of which legislators have wisely rejected previously.

Senate Republican Leadership – President Ty Masterson, Vice President Rick Wilborn, and Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop – released the following statement after reviewing the budget:

“Governor Kelly claims to be a fiscal conservative who talks like a budget hawk, but her budget relies on smoke and mirrors. She claims it doesn’t increase income or business taxes, but it imposes new taxes on Netflix and other digital media. She claims her budget is closing the bank of KDOT, but it attempts to open the bank of KPERS, relying on a risky re-amortization of teachers’ retirement fund, which she herself once said would ‘unravel the work done to ensure the financial stability of KPERS.’ The legislature has repeatedly rejected this.

“The budget also contains a pay raise for state employees who have never lost their job yet contains little to no relief for average Kansas families and small business owners -- many of whom have suffered greatly in the past year through layoffs or having their businesses close.

“While the fiscal situation presented by the pandemic is challenging, we must pass a responsible budget that does not rely upon gimmicks and games, but instead is fiscally sound and fair to all Kansans.”
In his newsletter “The Majority Record”, House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins also had some comments regarding the governor’s budget:

Every year during the first week of the legislative session, the Governor rolls out their proposed budget. This year was no exception. In unveiling the budget proposal, Governor Kelly made a lot of noise about fiscal responsibility and having funds left over in reserve. The truth of the matter is the budget is built on increasing debt for our children and grandchildren, tax increases, and numbers that just don’t add up.

Many of the items in the Governor’s proposed budget are repeats of efforts the Kelly administration has attempted in the past but were stopped by Republicans in the legislature. The cornerstone of the budget is once again the reamortizing, or refinancing, of KPERS. This will be the third time the Governor tries this. Reamortizing KPERS would free up funds in the short term but lead to somewhere in the neighborhood of an additional $4.6 BILLION dollars in state debt to be covered by taxpayers. To put it simply, this plan would give Governor Kelly additional funding for her agenda while forcing our kids and grandkids to pay for it down the road long after the Governor has left public life. As elected officials we owe it to future generations not to saddle them with debt. I expect this measure to fail this year just as it did the prior two attempts.

Another piece the Governor’s budget is built upon is a tax increase on digital sales. If you watch Netflix, Disney+, or any other streaming service — the Governor wants to raise your taxes. As if taxing Baby Yoda wasn’t bad enough, the estimated revenue from the Governor’s proposed tax increase is well in excess of numbers previously reported to the legislature. This is a common trick by some in government to inflate estimates in order to kick the can down the road. Once again I expect Republicans in the legislature to stop the Governor’s proposed tax increase.

There are many other pieces of the Governor’s budget I could get into, but I don’t want this to go on forever. The last item I want to touch on is the Governor again attempting to expand welfare for able bodied adults who choose not to work. This plan, also referred to as Medicaid expansion, would be an incredible drain on Kansas taxpayers. As usual the Kelly administration is significantly downplaying the costs that would come with expansion. In addition, the Kelly administration is already struggling to process unemployment claims, combat unemployment fraud, and perform many of the other core services of government it is required by law to accomplish. The idea that this is a good time to massively expand government and put even more responsibilities on a failing administration is ridiculous. In the 2020 election cycle Kansas voters soundly rejected this idea in legislative races. Republican leadership will continue opposing this reckless plan. 
Preserving Protections for Kansans:
 Kansas Emergency Management Act
Kansans do not ever want to be locked down again, and businesses in every corner of our state need to know their doors will remain open, thus providing certainty going forward. Meanwhile, it is essential the legislature complete a thorough review of the many provisions of the Kansas Emergency Management Act, so our laws contemplate any future situations that many occur such as we have experienced in the past year.

Last June, the legislature passed HB 2016, which included many limitations on the governor’s power. However, those provisions were set to expire on January 26th.  As a result, a short-term solution was needed while the legislature crafts a long-term plan.

Senate Plan – SB 14
SB 14 accomplished this by extending the limitations on the governor’s executive powers until March 31st, thus maintaining and strengthening the protections for Kansans families and businesses. This provides the Kansas Legislature the time necessary to take a deeper dive into the many statutes surrounding the Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA) and craft legislation that will address the myriad of issues within it on a long-term basis.
While KEMA was largely designed to deal with localized disasters such as floods and tornadoes, this time will allow the legislature to ensure our laws envision similar statewide situations, such as pandemics, in the future.

Here are the key aspects of the legislation:

  • The bill would amend the statute ratifying and continuing the COVID-19-related state of disaster emergency declared by the Governor on March 12, 2020, to reflect the September 15, 2020, ratification and continuation of the state of disaster emergency by 2020 Special Session HB 2016 and subsequent extensions and continuations by the State Finance Council and would ratify and continue in existence the state of disaster emergency until March 31, 2021. The bill also would amend this statute to extend from 2020 through 2021 a provision prohibiting the Governor from proclaiming any new state of disaster emergency related to the COVID-19 health emergency without approval by at least six legislative members of the State Finance Council.

  • The bill extends the expiration date for several provisions to March 31st, including:
  • Removal of alcohol from premises of a licensed club or drinking establishment (Section 1)
  • Provisions governing declaration of a state of disaster emergency, including when the legislature is not in session and applications to the State Finance Council; the bill includes permitting this procedure when the legislature is adjourned during session for more than three days. (Section 2)
  • Provisions regarding the powers of the Governor and boards of county commissioners enacted in 2020 Special Session HB 2016 (Section 4)
  • Telemedicine (Section 7)
  • Temporary emergency licensure by the State Board of Healing Arts (Section 8);
  • Temporary licensure measures for additional health care providers (Section 9);
  • Business immunity from liability for a COVID-19 claim (Section 10).

  • The bill would amend the KEMA statute limiting the Governor’s ability to issue an order that substantially burdens or inhibits the gathering or movement of individuals or operation of any religious, civic business or commercial activity, whether for-profit or not-for-profit. This is a significantly stronger position than the original HB 2016 language, which allowed the governor to close businesses for up to 15 days before requiring approval from six members of the State Finance Council.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard and passed out SB 14 this week. It was then debated on the floor on Thursday afternoon and adopted in broad bi-partisan fashion by a vote of 34-1-1. 

House Plan
HB 2048 is a different bill that was heard in the House Judiciary Committee. A hearing was held on Wednesday. The bill is similar in the fact that it extends the deadlines. The introduced version takes a different approach and also includes different date extensions. You can read the introduced version by clicking here, but please take note that the House Judiciary Committee amended the bill on Wednesday with some changes to dates and in some language. However, those changes were not available on the website as of the time of this report. As we did with SB 14, we will include the details of HB 2048 as they become available.
Truth in Taxation Adopted in Bi-Partisan Vote
The worst type of tax increase is one that was not voted on by the local entity reaping the benefits of taking more money out of the pockets of Kansans. The property tax system in Kansas relies on this method, when local governments don’t raise the mill levy, but nonetheless pass large budgets due to the property tax revenue from higher property appraisals. The local politician claims they haven’t raised your taxes, when in fact they have. Kansans have repeatedly indicated, particularly at the ballot box, how tired they are of this practice. It’s time for transparency.

Enter “Truth in Taxation” – a remedy to require local units of government to actually take a vote when they’re going to rely on revenue from property valuation increases which raise the property tax bills, and actually notify the taxpayers they are preparing to do so.  In 2020, the Kansas Legislature overwhelming adopted legislation that contained meaningful property tax reform. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed that legislation and due to circumstances surrounding the calendar at the end of the session, the legislature did not have the opportunity to override the veto.

The 2020 elections confirmed that Kansans were not going to let this slide. They are demanding the legislature act and adopt reform that will put an end to “stealth tax increases.” Kansans also wanted to be able to engage in regular maintenance of their property without seeing their valuations skyrocket as a result. This will encourage Kansans to keep up their property, rather than performing no maintenance out of fear of an appraisal hike.

Passing this bill is a priority for both chambers. The Senate took the first step on Thursday with the passage of SB 13, which was passed with an overwhelming bi-partisan majority by a vote of 34-1-1.

Senator Caryn Tyson carried the bill and has been a consistent champion for its contents over the last several years. Here is what it contains:

  • Transparency. The bill would establish new notification and public hearing requirements for taxing subdivisions seeking to increase property taxes above those provided for by their “revenue-neutral rate.” A taxing subdivision would be prohibited from levying taxes exceeding its revenue-neutral rate without first approving a resolution or ordinance in accordance with the procedure provided by the bill. It requires county clerks to notify the public about the intent to exceed the “revenue-neutral rate” via publishing such notification on their website as well as via a mailing to each taxpayer impacted. The public hearing would have to be held by September 10th. The governing body of the taxing district would have to vote to exceed the revenue neutral rate by a majority vote. Those entities not complying would be required to refund the property taxes.

  •  Regular Maintenance of Property. The bill would prohibit an increase in the appraised value of real property solely as a result of normal repair, replacement, or maintenance of existing structures, equipment, or other improvements on the property. 

  • Payment Plans. The bill would authorize county treasurers to accept partial payments and establish payment plans for all property taxes. Current law allows treasurers to accept partial payments for delinquent property taxes.

  • Finally, it eliminates the property tax lid, which currently requires a public vote for certain property tax increases by cities and counties. The process of navigating the property tax lid could be cumbersome for local governments. Most importantly, for taxpayers, because there were ways to navigate around its limits, it often resulted in no practical benefit to the taxpayer, resulting in a “faux” limit that was really not a cap at all. The process included within SB 13 greatly enhances the ability of Kansas taxpayers to understand what their local government is doing and then object. By requiring local officials to vote to exceed a revenue neutral rate, taxpayers can hold local officials accountable.
Protecting Mothers and Saving Babies:
Value Them Both Takes First Steps
On Tuesday morning, a number of Kansas legislators and pro-life leaders held a press conference on the south steps of the State Capitol announcing introduction of the Value Them Both Amendment. Rep. Susan Humphries, Senator Kellie Warren, and Senator Molly Baumgardner helped lead the press conference along with Brittany Jones from the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas. The Value Them Both Amendment is necessary due to the April 26, 2019 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court which created an unlimited right to abortion in the 1859 Kansas Constitution.
Because of the Kansas Supreme Court’s April 26, 2019, ruling, existing bans on late-term and taxpayer-funded abortions are now in danger of being rendered unenforceable. Furthermore, the ruling allows violent live dismemberment abortions to continue and threatens these lifesaving limits:

-         Parental consent for minors seeking abortion
-         Informed consent, alerting women to potential health risks
-         24-hour waiting period
-         Abortion clinic sanitation and safety standards
To amend the constitution, both the Kansas House and Senate must both adopt a constitutional amendment with a 2/3 supermajority, which then sends it to the ballot for approval by the people of Kansas. The Value Them Both Amendment would put it on the ballot in August of 2022.

In 2020, the Value Them Both Amendment passed the Kansas Senate but was just short in the Kansas House. In both the primary and general elections of 2020, the people of Kansans made it clear that they supported Value Them Both and want the opportunity to vote on it next August.

The Value Them Both Amendment was introduced in both houses. You can read the House version by clicking here and the Senate version by clicking here – they are identical. On Friday, the House Federal & State Affairs Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee each held hearings on their respective amendments. They are expected to pass them out for floor action next week.

For extensive information about the Value Them Both Amendment, please visit the website for Kansans for Life at
Value Them Both sign.
Rep. Susan Humphries addresses the press conference.
Senator Kellie Warren addresses the press conference.
Senator Molly Baumgardner addresses the press conference.
Save Girls Sports
Do you want to see your daughters' opportunities and futures safeguarded from being stolen by biological men competing in their sports? You'll be encouraged to know in the last two weeks, the U.S. Department of Education released a memo that noted that when it comes to sports, sex IS a relevant factor! It's important for girls to have a level playing field -- and that means that girls sports should be reserved for girls! (Memo)

You'll also be glad to know that the Fairness in Women's Sports Act passed in Idaho. Family Policy Alliance helped pass the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act to keep sports fair for female athletes in Idaho. The first law of its kind in the country, it ensures that only biological girls can play in girls’ sports. It’s a simple way to make sure girls can compete in their own sport – on a level playing field. Of course, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against it trying to undo the Act.

The interesting thing is the ACLU fought so hard to advance women's opportunities using Title IX. Now they are exploiting Title IX to permit biological men to steal those very opportunities they fought to give women. This is why your voice needs to be heard in Kansas. Contact your legislators today to tell them you want to see a Fairness in Women's Sports Act passed in Kansas.

Learn more how you can help #savegirlssports here.
Wallet Watch
From time to time, the Truth Report will have a “Wallet Watch”, where we examine efforts to remove money from the wallets of hard-working Kansans. 

Ronald Reagan once warned us, ““Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” 

This prophetic warning showed itself this week, when Governor Laura Kelly – for the second year in a row -- announced her proposal to tax digital media and a new tax via market facilitators. From The Sentinel:

Kelly’s budget proposal also includes two tax increases; she wants a new tax on digital products, like Netflix and Hulu, to increase revenues by $50.9 million, with $42.7 million going to the General Fund and $8 million to the Highway Fund. She also proposes a new sales tax on sales through market facilitators — a person or company that facilitates sales by an internet seller — that would be paid by Kansas consumers. This new tax is predicted to generate $51.5 million, with $43.1 million going to the General Fund and $8.4 million to the Highway Fund.

Kansans – feeling the burden of the slower economy, who are being urged to be cautious about attending in -person events to stay safe -- would now see a sales tax on services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. All so government can spend more of your money.