Capitol Update: Sen. Thompson applauds COVID-19 compensation for small businesses

Sen. Mike Thompson, Republican in Senate District 10. File photo.

Each week, we provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Sen. Mike Thompson and Reps. Jerry Stogsdill and Linda Featherston are scheduled to send updates this week. 

Below is the submission from Republican state Sen. Mike Thompson of Senate District 10, covering parts of western Shawnee, Merriam and Overland Park. 

First of all, I want to start by saying that I hope all of the moms out there had a wonderful, albeit chilly, Mother’s Day!

The 2021 Senate session is almost over. We will return to Topeka for one last day on May 26th, which is called Sine Die.  That is the official close of the legislative session for the year, although work will continue on bills that can be pre-filed for 2022. 

Last week was the veto session, where the legislature had the opportunity to override any governor vetoes.  And to pass a few bills that we felt were urgent to get finished.

I was disappointed that the veto override for the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act fell short.

It was close, but in the Senate it takes 27 votes for an override, and we only received 26. This bill would have prevented biological males from participating in girls and women’s sports.  As it stands now, they can, and this creates a distinct disadvantage for girls. Caitlyn Jenner even came out against the practice of biological males competing against females last week, but some people were not swayed.

We did pass a bill compensating businesses who we felt were unfairly shut down by the government due to COVID-19. There are some restrictions on the types of businesses that are eligible for the property tax relief, but for those who qualify, they will receive a refund up to 33% of the amount of property tax levied for every day they were shut down. For some, this will help a lot.

We also established a COVID-19 Small Business Relief fund which will use 25% of unencumbered federal dollars from the CARES act, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, and the upcoming distribution from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, among others to pay out claims for businesses who were harmed by government decisions that either shut down, or greatly reduced business during the pandemic.

In the Judiciary Committee, I argued that we should have used 100% of the unencumbered funds as they were not spoken for, and if we did not use them for repayment of these claims, there would still be a huge tranche of money available for other purposes that may not be as impactful. We passed the bill out of committee with the 100% intact, but after a number of amendments on the floor and in conference committee, it ended up back at the original 25% level.

I was disappointed but felt that we needed some type of relief for businesses who, through no fault of their own, were forced to either close, or lost massive amounts of money or laid off employees this past year.

Those are just a couple of things we accomplished last week. There are many more I could discuss, and will do so in my social media posts and via my newsletter to constituents of my district. 

I still have many goals for future legislation to help Kansans and will be working on pieces of legislation during the rest of this year, so that they are ready to go right out of the gate…in 2022!