Capitol Update: Sen. Warren says lawmakers passed several bills this year that ‘will positively impact Kansans’

Sen. Kellie Warren of Senate District 11. File photo.

Each week, we provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Reps. Brandon Woodard and Mari-Lynn Poskin and Sen. Kellie Warren are scheduled to send updates this week. 

Below is the submission from Republican state Sen. Kellie Warren of Senate District 11, covering parts of Leawood and Overland Park. 

On May 26th, the Kansas Legislature wrapped up the 2021 legislative session. Barring a special session, the full legislature will return on January 10, 2022.

The last week of this year’s session capped off a successful 2021. Across a wide array of issues, your legislature was enormously effective in enacting solutions that will positively impact the lives of everyday Kansans, including fully funding our K-12 schools.

Here are a few other examples:

The Promise Act

The bill provide scholarships to Kansans entering community and technical colleges in the following fields of study:

  • Information technology and security
  • Physical and mental health care
  • Early childhood education and development
  • Advanced manufacturing and building trades

The program funding is capped at $10 million in annual appropriations for the next two years, after which the amount of funding could increase. The scholarships would be prioritized to low- and middle-income families. 

Occupational licensing reform and helping military families

Your legislature adopted, in bipartisan fashion, legislation designed to help military families find employment by easing the process of obtaining professional licenses.

Earlier this year, the Republican members of the United States Congressional delegation penned a letter applauding the Kansas Legislature for taking action on the bill to help those in the military.

Here is an excerpt from their letter: 

“Improved professional licensure reciprocity will allow Kansas to honor professional licenses in good standing earned in other states when licensees relocate to Kansas. This practice would allow Kansas to follow suit with many other states where servicemembers, and their families, can easily join the community where they are stationed. As you are aware, strong state licensure laws are a priority of the Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Space Force.”

The bill shortened the period of time in which regulatory bodies are required to issue occupational credentials to military servicemembers or military spouses seeking to establish residency in Kansas.

Anti-stalking bill

Arising from a case in Johnson County, this bill amended the definition of the crime of stalking to include intentionally engaging in a course of conduct targeted at a specific child under the age of 14 that would cause a reasonable person in the circumstances of the targeted child, or a reasonable person in the circumstances of an immediate family member of such child, to fear for the child’s safety.

The bill increases the penalty for subsequent convictions under the act.

The bill came through Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair.  The governor then signed the bill and it became Kansas law.

Modernizing our unemployment system

S Sub for HB 2196 modernizes the Kansas unemployment system in a number of ways. It will:

  • create the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council;
  • require the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) to modernize its information technology infrastructure;
  • make temporary changes to the membership of the Employment Security Review Board;
  • make changes to Employment Security Rates tables’
  • require the Secretary of Labor to provide tax notifications and certain Employment Security Fund Data Reporting;
  • provide for certain employer account protections, provide for transfers of federal coronavirus relief aid to the Employment Security Fund and the Legislature Employment Security Fund;
  • prohibit the continuation of federal unemployment compensation programs using state funds;
  • adjust thresholds for maximum benefits;
  • and modify the shared work program and make other employment security compensation changes.

S Sub for HB 2196 passed both chambers and was signed into law by the governor.

Income tax reform (SB 50)

This bill, which will become law, finally put a stop to the unintentional tax increases caused by the governor’s failure to sign a bill to maximize the ability of Kansans to use the federal tax changes passed in 2017.  

The various provisions of the Kansas bill (SB 50) include:

  • Helping Main Street: The bill requires the collection and remittance of sales and compensating use tax by most marketplace facilitators beginning July 1, 2021. Such entities with annual gross receipts from sales sourced into Kansas in excess of $100,000 will be subject to the mandate, and it applies to out-of-state retailers with annual receipts from sales sourced into Kansas in excess of $100,000.
  • Unemployment Fraud The bill clarifies that victims of identity theft would not owe Kansas individual income tax on unemployment compensation that was fraudulently obtained by another individual.
  • Helping Middle Class Families:  Beginning in tax year 2021, the bill allows individual income taxpayers the option to take Kansas’ itemized deductions regardless of whether deductions are itemized, or the standard deduction is claimed for federal income tax purposes. Also beginning in tax year 2021, the bill will increase the standard deduction amounts to $3,500 for single filers; $6,000 for single head of household filers; and $8,000 for married filers filing jointly. These amounts are currently set at $3,000; $5,500; and $7,500, respectively.
  • Helping Kansas Employers: The bill contains a number of provisions that de-couple Kansas tax law from federal tax law, allowing Kansas employers to keep money in Kansas, and establish certainty going forward, helping keep jobs in our state.

The governor vetoed SB 50, but both the Senate and House were able to override her veto so this important tax relief is now on its way to the people of Kansas.

Throughout the legislative session I receive many emails from constituents.  If you have any questions, comments, or would like to discuss any issues, even while we are not in session, please, email me at Kellie@KellieWarrenforKansas.com.

As always, it is an honor to be the Senator serving Kansas Senate District 11, covering parts of Leawood and Overland Park.