This Week in Topeka
May 23, 2022
Business, Economic Development & Local Government News from the Legislative Session
It’s over. With the Kansas Supreme Court having ruled in favor of the State on redistricting maps just a few days earlier, the one-day session scheduled for Monday, May 23 was a lot less eventful than anticipated. After dispensing with a couple of veto overrides and some last-minute legislation the House and Senate both officially declared the day Sine Die and adjourned the 2022 Legislative Session by mid-afternoon.
House members now turn their attention to a busy summer of running for re-election.
Lawmakers mustered sufficient votes to override Governor Laura Kelly’s vetoes on two measures – HB 2387 and HB 2252.
HB 2387 delays the ability for state leaders to negotiate new Medicaid contracts until after the November election. Proponents argued that a new administration – whichever wins the governorship in November – should be able to negotiate the terms of new contracts with providers that will run the state’s Medicaid program when the current contracts expire at the end of 2023. Opponents argued the delay was tantamount to offering a no-bid contract to the current providers and the unnecessary delay could put patients in limbo. Lawmakers approved the override on an 84-38 vote in the House and a 27-10 vote in the Senate.
HB 2252 dealt with elections and codifies into law that the governor and secretary of state cannot enter into agreements related to the enforcement of election laws without approval of the legislature or the Legislative Coordinating Council. Senators approved the override on a 27-10 vote and the House gave 84-37 approval to the override.
At issue was an agreement entered into by the Kelly Administration with a coalition of civil rights organizations that created expanded voter registration opportunities. Civil rights groups claimed that Kansas fell short of standards imposed by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The agreement between the parties was forged to avoid costly litigation.
Opponents argued that the governor should not have sole authority to change election procedures in Kansas and legislative approval was warranted to safeguard elections.
The conference committee report on HB 2136 was adopted nearly unanimously when the House voted 120-1 and the Senate voted 35-0 during Monday’s legislative finale. The legislation contains several provisions that address tax policy including several directly impacting the business community. Among the topics addressed by the legislation:
- Sales Tax Remittance – the legislation would eliminate the need for retailers with an annual sales tax liability of more than $40,000 to prepay sales taxes collected during the first 15 days of each month.
- Sales Tax on Delivery Charges – the bill delays implementation of the sales tax exclusion for separately stated delivery charges to July 1, 2023. Legislation passed earlier this session would have implemented the change on July 1, 2022.
- COVID-19 Retail Property Tax Relief – the legislation provides for property tax refunds of up to $5,000 per eligible year for businesses required to shut down or limit operations by the state, local units of government or local health officers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants will need to follow procedures outlined in the legislation and refunds will be paid from federal funds the state received for COVID relief programs authorized by Congress.
A quick decision by the Kansas Supreme Court and a ruling in favor of the state caught many onlookers by surprise. The court, through the release of a summary of its position, announced the congressional maps and the state legislative district maps didn’t run afoul of the state’s constitution. The decision put to rest the drama over the maps that many expected to be sent back for more work. The Supreme Court will release a more detailed opinion later that will give litigants more insight into the thinking of the court’s majority.
Because of the ruling, it was no longer necessary for the Kansas Legislature to do any additional map work thus clearing the way for a quick one-day session to wrap up last-minute legislative work for the year. To view all the new, fully-approved maps, click here.
The last day of session often brings with it a handful of farewell speeches for lawmakers who have decided to give up their legislative seats. As it stands now, at least 14 House members have announced they do not plan to return to Topeka. Among Johnson Countians, Speaker Ron Ryckman and Rep. Megan Lynn of Olathe announced they are not running for re-election.
The loss of Ryckman leaves Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes as the county’s sole member of legislative leadership unless the House chooses a local to join its new leadership team next session. While several members of the Johnson County delegation hold committee leadership posts, the loss of influence in the upper echelons of leadership has been a constant talking point among those who work around the legislative process.
With the session officially over, lawmakers and candidates are turning their attention to the quickly approaching filing deadlines. Kansans wishing to file for statewide office have until noon on 1 June to declare their candidacy. The deadline for Kansans interested in running for the United States House of Representatives, the Kansas Legislature and the State Board of Education have until noon on 10 June. Candidate lists can be monitored through the Secretary of State - click here - or the Johnson County Election Office - click here.
As usual, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce through its partnership with the nine other chambers operating in Johnson County will be conducting candidate questionnaires, interviews, and forums in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on our Vote JOCO website and the Chamber’s website for information about candidate events. We will begin posting event information when it becomes available.
Kevin Walker, IOM
Senior Vice President of Public Policy
(913) 766-7602 | (913) 526-6855