A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand;
the spines of others are often stiffened."
- Billy Graham
The Facts of the Matter will be a feature in The Truth Report each week, highlighting important information, some of which is not always reported or emphasized in the mainstream press:

  • Report: Changes in federal tax laws will boost Kansas revenues. A new report projects that Kansas will collect more than $505 million in additional revenues over the next three years because of changes in federal income tax laws. (Source)

  • Kansas Implements Changes to ABLE, 529 Accounts. Individuals living with a disability can now roll funds saved within a 529 Education Savings Account into their ABLE Account. Additionally, Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Account holders can utilize their funds for K-12 education tuition. These changes came about due to tax reform on the federal level. Like with past federal tax changes, the Kansas Department of Revenue will implement the changes as prescribed by Congress. (Source)

  • The Math on How an Article V Convention Occurs and how Amendments are Adopted. It takes 2/3 of the states (34) for an Article V Convention, as favored by the Convention of States, to be called. It then takes ¾ (or 38) of the states for any amendments proposed from that convention to be adopted. For Kansas to join the dozen states who have already called for a convention, it would take 2/3 of each chamber of the legislature – or 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate.
Have you heard our Kansas Truth Minute spots yet on airing on more than 30 radio stations across Kansas? We have three playing right now with more in the works. These are one-minute spots highlighting unique facts about our state – as well as facts about what’s happening in state government.

You can listen to the three playing now on our website:
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.
Jeff Glendening: Medicaid expansion still bad for Kansas

Key Excerpt:

Expanding this troubled program makes little sense. It would consume an ever-larger percentage of our already strained state budget, making it harder to fund other priorities.

According to a 2016 study from the Foundation for Government Accountability, every state that expanded Medicaid has seen higher-than-expected costs. In Illinois and Ohio, Medicaid expansion cost $2 billion more than anticipated during the first two years and $4.7 billion more during the first two years and nine months.

Last year, Medicaid accounted for more than one out of every four dollars states spent on average. As enrollment numbers busted projections and gobbled up more and more of their budgets, states from Oregon to Louisiana and Rhode Island have scrambled to plug budget holes by increasing taxes or cutting funding for other essential programs — courses
of action Kansas cannot afford.
Transparency Center: Follow the Kansas Legislature
Both the House and Senate have taken historic steps towards the promotion of open government. For the first time, 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:

Kansas Truth Caucus Adopts Statement of Principled Priorities
Last weekend at the Kansas Republican Convention in Wichita, the Kansas Truth Caucus unveiled its “Statement of Principled Priorities” to outline our focus for the 2018 legislative session.

The statement includes the following ten core principles:

1. Upholding the Sanctity of Life
2. Safeguarding Constitutional Liberties
3. Advocating for Limited Government
4. Insisting on a Quality Education for All Kansas Children
5. Balancing the Kansas Budget through Fiscal Responsibility
6. Lowering the Tax Burden for Families & Businesses
7. Restoring Health Care Freedom
8. Protecting Traditional Moral Values
9. Encouraging Transparency and Open Government
10. Championing the People of Kansas

Each of the ten principles in the statement includes a more detailed declaration of what the Truth Caucus supports.

Members of the Truth Caucus plan on advocating for these principles through proposing legislation and voting on legislation already making its way through the process.

“The principled priorities outlined in the statement represent the bedrock of beliefs that drove the formation of the Truth Caucus in 2017 and establish a foundation for legislative action in the future,” said Senator Ty Masterson, Chair of the Kansas Truth Caucus.

“These core principles, adopted by our members, encompass truths that we believe are held by the majority of Kansans. We look forward to advocating for these common-sense ideas throughout 2018,” said Rep. Chuck Weber, Vice-Chair of the Kansas Truth Caucus.

Click here to read the full Statement of Principled Priorities.
From KFL: Why a Possible Constitutional Amendment on Life is Necessary
In the coming weeks, there may be a need to pass a Constitutional Amendment to make it clear that there is no right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution.

For a detailed explanation as to why this is necessary, please read this very informative post by our friends at Kansans for Life .

House Adopts Andrew Finch Act to Fight Swatting
This week, the Kansas House adopted HB 2581, renamed during the debate as the Andrew Finch Act, which is legislation aimed at preventing the crime of “swatting” after two recent incidents in Kansas, which you can read about in this thorough article from the Topeka Capital-Journal . The legislation increases the punishment for people convicted of making false emergency calls to law enforcement, firefighters, or first responders.   
The offense would be renamed “making an unlawful request for emergency service assistance” and its definition would be amended to include transmitting or communicating false or misleading information in any manner to request emergency service assistance, including law enforcement, fire, medical, or other emergency service knowing at the time there is no reasonable ground for believing assistance is needed.

According to the bill, in making such a call, including false information that violent activity or an immediate threat to a person’s life or safety has or is taking place would be a felony. The degree of felony would increase depending on if the false information led to harm or death of someone involved.

You can obtain further details about the bill by visiting its legislative website by clicking here , which includes links to the bill text and supplemental note, which includes a lengthy explanation of each component of the legislation.

House Enacts Reforms to Add Residency and Age Requirements for Statewide Office
This week, the House overwhelmingly adopted a bill by Rep. Carpenter to enact residency and age requirements for those seeking statewide office. The bill simply requires that candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Insurance Commissioner be qualified electors in the State of Kansas – which means they simply must be residents and at least 18 years of age.

In addition, the bill adds a requirement that the Attorney General be licensed to practice law in the State of Kansas. 

It is worth noting that the bill does not take effect until after this year’s elections, so the teenagers currently running will not be removed from the ballot if they do decide to file.
The bill was adopted by a vote of 94-28.

House Adopts Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform – More Reform Needed
This week, the Kansas House adopted the first major reform to civil asset forfeiture laws in more than two decades. 

The National Federation of Independent Business had previously testified in favor of HB 2459, which passed 110-7, and makes the first changes to the 1994 law, which allow prosecutors and law enforcement to seize assets such as cash, vehicles, or other property if they believe those assets were derived from criminal activity. Under current law, courts can order that property to be forfeited, even if there is no conviction.

Among the reforms in the bill, which are listed in the Supplemental Note, which you can read here (opens a PDF), several reforms were enacted, such as imposing stricter reporting requirements by law enforcement, allowing defendants more time to respond to forfeiture proceedings, and designating the KBI as the centralized repository for all data on seized and forfeited assets.

While all applaud these positive steps, some are concerned the bill did not go as far enough in ensuring property rights by requiring a conviction before assets and property can be seized or forfeited.

Kansas Senate Fights Off Liberal Challenge, Supports Small Businesses through SB 303
This week, the Kansas Senate adopted SB 303, an important piece of legislation to restore critical expensing deductions for small businesses that are currently enjoyed by large businesses such as corporations and trusts.

When the legislature created the small business exemption as part of a broad set of tax cuts in 2012, those deductions were eliminated. However, when the legislature retroactively increased taxes on families and businesses last year, they failed to restore these important deductions. As was pointed out during the debate by several Senators, small businesses plan as a result of the tax code and must have certainty – so restoring the deduction as quickly as possible was critical.

Though a seemingly non-controversial and fair course of action for the legislature to take, particularly as it looks towards a $500 million windfall due to the federal tax cuts, it was not without opposition or attempts to delay.  In fact, during the debate, Sen. Larry Alley asked Senators to think about small businesses on “Main Street” of Kansas. Sen. Barbara Bollier, however, attempted to send the bill back to committee, so it could be considered alongside other liberal priorities such as Medicaid Expansion, which she claimed “Main Street” was wanting first.

Thankfully, her attempt to delay these important reforms failed on a voice vote. 
In the end, the bill passed 31-8, with eight Democrats voting to treat small businesses differently than large businesses. A year after their constant drumbeat of “tax fairness,” what could be more unfair than providing a deduction to a large corporation and not at least providing that same deduction to the entrepreneur just starting out?

The Kansas Truth Caucus supports lowering the tax burden for small businesses.

Kansas House Adopts “Choose Life” License Plate
We reported last week on HB 2678, which was drafted by Rep. Jacobs and would create a “Choose Life” custom license plate in Kansas. If you will recall, the House Transportation Committee inserted HB 2678 into HB 2599, a bill creating a similar plate for the Special Olympics, and was forwarded to the House floor.

During debate in the House, the bill was amended to add the creation of a City of Wichita license plate, as well. We are pleased to report that the HB 2599 was then adopted by a vote of 117-0 and is now in the Senate.

The Kansas Truth Caucus supports efforts to promote a culture of life in the State of Kansas.
Rep. Trevor Jacobs with Eric Teetsel (Family Policy Alliance of KS, Barbara Saldivar (CWA), Michelle Schroeder (CWA) and Linda Highland (CWA).
From time to time, the Truth Report will have a “Liberal Legislation Watch," where we will highlight legislation that would undermine conservative principles by implementing liberal policies.
Teacher Tenure Bill
Minority Leader Jim Ward made a motion to pull HB 2578 above the line for debate. HB 2578 was originally an anti-bullying bill that was amended in committee to contain the controversial provision to reinstate the statewide mandate for due process rights for teachers, commonly known as the teacher tenure provision. Ward’s motion was defeated on a vote of 36-81.

Teacher tenure goes against local control by instituting a statewide mandate and reducing the local school board’s ability to remove bad teachers from the classroom. These negotiations should be handled at the local level, not through a state legislative edict. Even since the teacher tenure mandate was removed, a majority of school districts have included due process provisions in their contracts.

Though this attempt to bring back teacher tenure was not successful on a procedural vote, there are likely to be future attempts to debate the matter.

Expanding ObamaCare
An attempt was made to add an amendment onto HB 2674, the telemedicine bill, which would have expanded Medicaid to include able-bodied adults. The amendment was ruled not germane by the Rules Committee, as it did not fit within the scope of the telemedicine bill. No challenge was made to the ruling, so the attempt died for now. However, this early attempt shows that we can look forward to repeated attempts by proponents of growing ObamaCare to do so again this year.
Every week, the Truth Report will have a “Wallet Watch," where we examine efforts to remove money from the wallets of hard-working Kansans.  
After failing in 2017, advocates for Medicaid Expansion are once again being aggressive again towards their goal of bringing more ObamaCare to Kansas.

First, there was the attempt in the House to amend HB 2674, the telemedicine bill. Then, there was Senator Bollier, who attempted to delay consideration of SB 303, which will restore important deductions for small businesses that large corporations currently enjoy. Her reasoning? That it might be more important for those small businesses on “Main Street” to get Medicaid Expansion.

Not to be outdone, now even former budget direction Duane Goossen has penned an editorial saying that expanding Medicaid would be the best way for Governor Colyer to signal Kansas is moving in a “new direction.”

In reality, the cost of expanding the Medicaid program to able-bodied adults is unsustainable for the Kansas taxpayer. Over ten years, it is estimated to cost Kansas taxpayers over $1.2 billion to expand Medicaid. That is $1.2 billion that would be diverted from not only Medicaid funding for the disabled and the elderly, but also from education, infrastructure, and public safety funding.

However, these persistent efforts to champion Medicaid Expansion demonstrate that we must be vigilant in protecting the pocketbooks of hardworking Kansans.