HARD FACTS:

⦁ Federal tax reform again influenced state tax receipts in January, artificially bumping collections for the month over $165 million above expectations (⦁ Kansas Department of Revenue)

⦁ Receipts for the month of January totaled $746.65 million. The fiscal year total is $3.94 billion, which is $248.63 million above expectations (⦁ Kansas Department of Revenue)

⦁ Sales tax collections since July 1 have averaged approximately three percent above the previous year during that time, which translates to about $40.43 million more in revenue (⦁ Kansas Department of Revenue)

⦁ Kansas Economy Expanding Relative to Our Neighbors. In a state-by-state glance at the Midwest economy, the Institute for Supply Management released its state by state results for January with an index ranging between 0 and 100. Growth neutral is 50, and a figure greater than 50 indicates an expanding economy over the next three to six months. For Kansas, the overall index was at 59.6 for Kansas last month. All other states in the region were lower. (Source: http://www.kansas.com/news/business/article197804704.html)

⦁ Economy to grow at 5.4 percent rate in first quarter, Atlanta Fed tracker shows. GDP is expected to surge 5.4 percent to start 2018, the central bank branch estimated in its latest rolling look at how the economy is progressing. (Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/01/economy-to-grow-at-5-point-4-percent-rate-in-first-quarteratlanta-fed-tracker-shows.html?__source=twitter%7Cmain)

JEFF COLYER INAUGURATED AS 47TH GOVERNOR OF KANSAS:

On Wednesday January 31st, Jeff Colyer was sworn in as the 47th governor of Kansas replacing Sam Brownback. The inauguration of Colyer comes after Governor Brownback resigned from office to become the U.S. Ambassador to International Freedom in the Trump administration.

Governor Colyer was accompanied by his wife and two of his daughters when he took the oath of office in a ceremony at the Kansas Statehouse.

“I demand transparency and we embrace accountability,” Colyer said in his speech. “I pledge to do the right thing even when nobody is looking, and we will set a tone and insist on an environment of openness, honesty and respect and without harassment, especially in this building.”

Governor Colyer is scheduled to address the legislature next Wednesday.

MEDICAID SUSPENSION BILL HEADS TO SENATE

On Tuesday, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee sent SB 195 out of committee to the Senate. SB 195 would suspend instead of eliminate eligibility for Medicaid benefits for those in prison, jail, or mental health facilities. The bill does not require the person to reapply for their KanCare coverage therefore allowing them to immediately receive benefits when they are released from a state facility. SB 195 would not allow reimbursement while incarcerated but works to decrease the amount of time an individual must wait to receive coverage after being released.

Supporters of the bill believe it will lower recidivism rates since it will provide access to continuous mental health coverage. A mental health task force had recommended the policy to legislators earlier this month.

BILL CALLS FOR EQUAL CUSTODY FOR DIVORCING PARENTS

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on SB 257 which would provide divorcing parents equal amount of time with their child by default. If the parents do not have a parenting plan one would be created for them allowing each parent equal custody. If evidence shows that equal time with both parents is not in the best interest of the child the court can create a different custody arrangement.

The bill which was created to promote the involvement of the father and co-parenting, was filed before the legislative session by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth). During the hearing, research was presented that showed the involvement of both parents is better for the child.

The Department of Children and Families believes SB 257 would decrease fee fund receipts by $6 million after FY2019.

The bill does not address child support.

CYBERSECURITY ACT:

On Thursday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on SB 342 which enacts the Kansas Cybersecurity Act. The Cybersecurity Act focuses on making data in the state more secure. Throughout the past eight years, the bill has taken various forms while the need for cybersecurity has steadily increased.

The bill provides five main goals:

⦁ Protect state information and systems

⦁ Reduce cyber risks through programs and initiatives

⦁ Effective and efficient cybersecurity capability

⦁ Enterprise approach to cybersecurity through a centralized process

⦁ A cyber secure state

⦁ The bill aims to protect Kansas from cyber-attacks, loss of sensitive information, and financial liability due to breaches of information. SB 342 would focus on providing a secure network to the executive branch agency, with the exclusion of elected office agencies, regents’ institutions, or the board of regents. Non-governmental agencies would be required to provide their own security services.

ONLINE SALES TAX HEARING:

This week the Joint Tax Committee heard from the South Dakota Attorney General’s office on their pending lawsuit before the United States Supreme Court regarding online sales tax. South Dakota passed legislation that would require sales tax to be remitted to the state from remote sellers who do not have a physical presence within the state but have what is considered an ‘economic presence.’

This comes after a growing concern from many states that are seeing sluggish sales tax receipts due to more Americans shopping online rather than in-store.

The Attorney General of South Dakota recommended that Kansas write an amicus brief in support of South Dakota’s efforts. This would have to come from the Kansas Attorney General.

South Dakota expects a ruling to come from the Supreme Court this summer.