The Kansas Senate seemed poised to have its fifth week go out like a lion. Going into Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m., we were ready for a day-long debate on a proposal to dramatically increase taxes on small businesses and families, followed by another proposal on the budget to rollback spending. The leadership goal was to ensure the state budget balanced in 2017 and beyond.
Instead, the week went out like a lamb, with Senate leaders abruptly canceling the debate, admitting in doing so, that their previous so-called coalition had completely collapsed, and that opposition from all sides made it clear they were not going to achieve the 21 votes needed to pass either proposal. It appeared the "consensus" that emerged was the leadership proposal was deeply flawed, even if the reasons differed based on one's philosophical point of view.
So, on Thursday, no debate was held.  In fact, not only did leadership cancel the debate for Thursday, they announced no more bills would be debated or voted on until the tax-and-spending issues were resolved.  It was like when the weatherman predicts a massive snow storm but only a few flurries fall from the sky.   So afterwards, with committees canceled, many Senators went home to work, did research on other bills or met with constituents.  The Senate side of the Capitol turned quiet in a hurry.

The Debate That Didn't Happen

What's most interesting about the "debate that didn't happen" is not what didn't occur, but what it revealed about the true motivations and intent of various factions.   When witnessing the machinations of government, things are not always what they seem, as much strategy and chess-playing takes place both in public as well as behind the scenes. Some factions will even release proposals they have no intention of ever voting for, but they want the press coverage.
Here are three things to take away from the "debate that didn't happen":
  • Previous claims by certain Senators that committee proposals on taxes were merely meant to be a "start" of a debate on taxes were proven false, as it is now clear the intent of Senate leadership was to line up the 21 votes and ram it through. It only took a few objections - from both conservatives and liberals - to result in the debate being canceled entirely.
  • Some Senators are intent on increasing taxes, and it seems are competing for who can do so the most. If our pocketbooks weren't at stake, it might be amusing to watch the competition between various left-wing Republicans and Democrats in their efforts to jack up income tax rates the most.  Some Republicans on the left even got upset because leadership wasn't working with Democrats who wanted to increase taxes even more!  Yet, that is the reality we are dealing with in Topeka.
  • There is no movement, right now, towards a more minimal position on taxes, including not increasing taxes at all.  Despite claims of wanting to find moderation and compromise, various groups seem unwilling to bend on their desire to increase taxes.  To them, it's not about balancing the budget, it's more important to grow government.
So, what's next? 
The answer will come in the next few days, as the urgency for movement grows.  First, it is pressing we cut spending in a rescission bill to bring the current fiscal year into balance, and every day that goes by without that bill, more money is spent which makes balancing the budget even more difficult.  Second, turnaround (the time when Senate bills must be adopted to be considered in the House) is in two weeks, and if leadership continues their refusal to consider any other bill, it will lead to some urgent critical matters not getting resolved.
The last thing I would like to point out is the debate on increasing taxes is deflecting from the "inconvenient truth", which is government spending. Be cautious of claims that our situation is so dire that we have no choice but to damage our economy by increasing taxes on businesses and families.  That is a false choice and not one that I will make.
Remember, as Ronald Reagan said, "The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much." 

Here is a quote to keep in mind as we debate and discuss tax and economic policy in Kansas, that should give you some insight into how I view these topics:

"There is no such thing as a free lunch. The reality of life on our planet is that productive resources are limited, while the human desire for goods and services is virtually unlimited...    Because we cannot have as much of everything as we would like, we are forced to choose among alternatives...    Because there is 'no free lunch,' we must sacrifice something we value  in order to  get something else." - James  Gwartney
Common Sense Economics

Meanwhile, The Small Business Policy Continues to Work

The policy with the central theme to inspire entrepreneurship continues to flourish, and that was proven by newly released statistics from the Secretary of State.
In 2016, Kansas set another record for new business formations in our state, crossing the 18,000 mark!  Yes, over eighteen thousand new businesses were started in Kansas in 2016 - an amazing statistic that is built from success in past years.  Here is that trend:
Remember, the tax policy took effect in 2012.  Not only is the spike significant, the trend is exclusively UPWARDS - versus the up-and-down nature of the previous decade.
In addition, in 2011, the Tax Foundation ranked Kansas 35th in the nation for state business tax climate.  Thanks to the pro-growth, pro-small business tax reform in 2012, we now rank 22nd
Why would we want to halt this trend?   Why would we want to drive a stake right through the heart of the very policy that's created this trend?  And why would we do so right when Congress seems poised to pass tax reform, and while Missouri is adopting reforms to make it more competitive with Kansas?

So, what do the people think?

Many tax increase proponents and groups are using the election results in many districts as a mandate to increase taxes and grow government, and some legislators believe that is why they were elected.  The reality is that people vote against incumbents for a variety of reasons, and election results often require a deeper examination rather than a simple explanation like, "The voters want their taxes increased."
I believe polls should be taken with a grain of salt, but last week the Kansas Policy Institute released its scientific poll, which revealed a majority of Kansans oppose a tax increase, and only 17% want income taxes increased at all. A tiny fringe (4%), want taxes raised on citizens
Remember, both the leadership and Democrat proposals include a tax increase on individual citizens who don't own a business, along with a massive tax hike on small businesses.

So, what's the answer?

The answer lies in smaller government, better government, and smarter government.
We need to embrace the results of the efficiency study that we adopted several sessions ago, which recommended up to $2 BILLION in savings.  We need to continue to look at education spending, particularly spending that grows administration and builds luxurious facilities, and instead reallocate those dollars to areas that truly educate children.  We need to always be evaluating spending in every part of government, focusing on those who cannot help themselves and the truly needy, while phasing out policies that amount to cronyism or government picking businesses to fund, deciding who will be the winners and losers. 
Most of all, we should not be turning to the taxpayer for more money. The Legislature already increased taxes in 2013 and again in 2015.  It should not do so again in 2017.

Medicaid Expansion

Left-wing forces are not just focused on increasing your taxes, they are also unrelenting in their pursuit for policies which expand Medicaid that will make it harder for those with disabilities to receive the care they need while causing more able-bodied people to become dependent upon government.  With the new federal administration and Congress no longer pushing for more government dependency, liberal groups are racing to expand big government health care in Kansas.

This week, the House Health and Human Services committee held hearings on HB 2064, a bill that would expand the Obamacare Medicaid program.   Medicaid is intended to serve the most vulnerable among us - the disabled, the poor elderly and pregnant women and children.  Yet, because of the way it operates, Obamacare Medicaid expansion prioritizes able-bodied adults over our most vulnerable Kansans. To put those who are most needy at the back of the line behind able-bodied adults is unconscionable. Currently, there are over 4,300 disabled Kansans sitting on waiting lists for Medicaid services. Our priority should be to those Kansans who are most vulnerable. 
The cost of expanding the Obamacare Medicaid program is also unsustainable for the Kansas taxpayer.  Over ten years, it is estimated to cost Kansas taxpayers over $1.2 billion to expand Obamacare Medicaid. That is $1.2 billion that would be diverted from not only Medicaid funding for the disabled and the poor elderly, but also from education, infrastructure, and public safety.

As this proposal emerges in the Senate, I will be addressing some of the promises made by proponents of Obamacare Medicaid expansion and what the reality is.  


I was pleased to attend the Kansans for Life Valentine's Banquet this week as the guest of one of my constituents.  We heard from David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and the creator of the undercover videos exposing the evils of Planned Parenthood which we have heard so much about over the past two years.  Incredibly, the series of events that led up to those videos actually began over 15 years ago when the KFL Overland Park office - supported by the banquet - received a phone call from a "fetal procurement technician" from the Planned Parenthood clinic near 103rd and Roe that led to an ABC 20/20 investigation.

This dinner reminds us all every year that we must always be vigilant in the cause for life.  This week, the Senate Federal & State Affairs held a hearing on SB 98, known as the Disclose Act. The proposal updates the Women's Right to Know Act, which provides critical information to a woman about the abortion provider before having an abortion. Under SB 98, among other information, an abortion provider must disclose the year he or she received a medical degree, state residency, if he or she has local hospital admitting privileges and if he or she has ever been sanctioned by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

According to Kansans for Life, during the hearing, Planned Parenthood and other abortion supporters threw out a number of red herrings and incorrectly cited US Supreme Court rulings in an attempt to confuse the committee. At one point Planned Parenthood claimed the legislation was too burdensome, then later claimed the bill "did nothing" and was a "distraction." The irony is that abortion advocates have long claimed the decision to end a pre-born life should be "between a woman and her doctor." If that is true, it is ironic that the world's largest abortion provider was opposed to a woman receiving information about the practitioner who would be giving her the abortion.

Another objection of the abortion lobby, which has been spread through the press, is that SB 98 requires the information about the abortion provider to be presented in 12-point font in black ink on white background. This provision was included because clinics have intentionally presented other information in tiny fonts and light type to conceal facts about abortion from women during this most critical time.

The committee advanced SB 98 forward on a voice vote and it is awaiting action by the full Senate.  For more details on the hearing and committee action on pro-life bills, I highly recommend viewing the KFL blog.  
Adopted Legislation

While debate is currently shut down on legislation, we did vote on a number of bills last week, all non-controversial in nature.  Here is a rundown:

A BILL UPDATING THE CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE ( SB 13): SB 13 would amend the Kansas Code of Civil Procedure. The bill would provide the Code shall be employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding. The law currently requires the Code to be liberally construed and administered for the same purpose.
This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

A BILL AMENDING THE STATE BANKING CODE ( SB 20): SB 20 would update language concerning a bank's investment in foreign bonds to clarify the amount cannot exceed one percent of the bank's capital stock and surplus; amend language relating to lending limits to provide an exemption for segregated deposits and would require any bank or trust company owning tangible property to insure that property against loss. Finally, the bill would require banks and trust companies to record minutes of annual stockholders' meetings and detail any action taken by the stockholders, including the election of directors.
This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

A BILL AMENDING THE KANSAS MONEY TRANSMITTER ACT ( SB 21): SB 21, as amended, would amend provisions of the Kansas Money Transmitter Act (KMTA) to add a definition of "service provider" to mean any person providing services specified in continuing law used by an exempt entity or its agent to provide money transmission services to the exempt entity's customers. The definition specifies a service provider does not contract with the customers of an exempt entity on its own or on behalf of an exempt entity or agent.
This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

A BILL AMENDING THE INSURANCE HOLDING COMPANY ACT ( SB 16): This bill would update and adopt National Association of Insurance (NAIC) language concerning group-wide supervisors. The Kansas Insurance Commissioner would act as the group-wide supervisor for any internationally active insurance group and may acknowledge another official as the supervisor. Secondly, the bill would create new law based on the NAIC Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure (CGAD) Model Act, whereby insurers would submit a CGAD to the Insurance Commissioner each year. 
This bill passed the Senate 38-1.

INSURANCE COVERAGE OF SELF-SERVICE STORAGE UNITS ( SB 14):This bill would allow the Insurance Commissioner to issue limited licenses to self-service storage companies. The license would allow the holder to act as an agent of an insurer authorized to write insurance in Kansas. Such policies issued by self-service storage companies shall not exceed $5,000 of coverage per customer per storage unit.  Other details concerning the availability of policies and the requirements for licensees are further outlined in the bill. 
This bill passed the Senate 38-1.

A BILL AMENDING THE KANSAS MORTGAGE BUSINESS ACT ( SB 18):This bill would amend provisions of the Kansas Mortgage Business Act (KMBA), whereby only a KMBA license would be the required to conduct mortgage business in Kansas. This would clarify that no other license would be required, and would require the annual reports submitted by each KMBA licensee to remain confidential. 
This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

I voted YES on all these bills.
Kansas Republican Convention

On Saturday, I was pleased to attend the Kansas Republican Convention in Manhattan, where I joined many good friends and fellow conservative activists in electing our state officers for the next two years, in addition to hearing from our Republican officials.  State Treasurer Ron Estes is now the Republican nominee for the special election in the 4th  Congressional District to replace Congressman Mike Pompeo (appointed by President Trump to head the CIA), where the Democrats have nominated a candidate who strongly supports Bernie Sanders .  Much national attention is focused on this race and we must ensure it remains in conservative Republican hands.
Big Government Stat of the Week

Each week, I'll be highlighting a "big government stat of the week" which will reveal something about Kansas government that is too bloated and needs reform.
This week, I want to highlight the incredibly high public sector employment throughout Kansas, often taking up more than 1/3 - and sometimes 1/2 - of the employees within a county.  

As you can see, the need for private sector growth in Kansas is real, which is why policies like the small business exemption are important.  We need to reward efforts by our citizens to create their own jobs, even if they are just sole proprietors. While public service through government work is good work, the percentage of government employment in our state is too high to be sustainable or healthy for our communities.

What's Next?

Tomorrow the Senate resumes debate on tax and budget plans, and that debate will determine where our chamber is on those critical issues.  I will update you on that progress in the next newsletter.
Thank you.

In honor of your liberty,

Mary Pilcher-Cook

Mary Pilcher Cook

Working in honor of your liberty.
Contact me today!