Archive for Monday, February 27, 2012

Capitol Briefing: Tax debate; proof of citizenship; Kobach wins and loses in Neb., KEC v. Pauls

February 27, 2012


Tax battles continue

Despite heavy criticism of his proposal to cut state income tax rates, Gov. Sam Brownback says he wants the Legislature to continue working on the issue as the second half of the 2012 legislative session starts.

“We must cut Kansas income taxes, or we will have another lost decade,” he said.

Democrats, who have been pushing for property tax relief, say the income tax proposals from Brownback and House Republicans leaders are way off base. Brownback’s plan to reduce rates and eliminate credits and deductions would increase the tax liability for those making $25,000 and under. A House Republican leadership plan would also lead to a tax increase for low-income Kansans.

“I don’t see how Republicans can continue to sell these tax proposals when they are asking the poorest Kansans to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Kansans,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence.

Proof-of-citizenship fight moves to Senate

The fight over the implementation date of a proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voter registration is now in the Senate.

The measure, pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and approved by the House, would require new voter registrants to prove U.S. citizenship, with an enactment date of June 15. Under current law, that requirement would take effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Kobach says he wants the requirement in place before this year’s primaries and general election because he says that will keep illegal voters off the voting rolls. Democrats say the enactment date is too soon and will prevent some eligible voters from registering because they may have trouble retrieving proof-of-citizenship documents, such as birth certificates.

A major question in this debate is whether a $40 million upgrade of the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles computer system, which handles driver’s licenses, will be ready by June to allow the division to store and transfer to election officials documents proving citizenship.

Senate Majority Leader Jay Scott Emler, R-Lindsborg, said the status of the computer upgrade is what the Senate Ethics and Elections Committees “needs to ferret out”

Kobach wins, loses in immigration case

Secretary of State Kris Kobach won and lost in a federal court decision on an immigration case in Nebraska.

U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp let stand part of a Fremont, Neb., ordinance that will require employers use the federal government’s E-Verify program to check on the immigration status of their workers. The judge also upheld a provision that requires people who want to rent a place to live to obtain a $5 “occupancy license,” which will require they show citizenship status.

But Camp overturned the part of the ordinance that prohibited landlords from providing housing to undocumented workers.

Kobach earns $10,000 a year representing Fremont in the case, according to news reports from Nebraska. Kobach, a Republican who took office as secretary of state in January 2011, says he represents Fremont and other places in immigration lawsuits in his spare time.

Group upset with Democratic legislator

The Kansas Equality Coalition has for some time criticized state Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, for her support of measures that the KEC says increase discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender Kansans. The latest round is over Pauls’ support of House Bill 2260. Supporters say the bill will protect religious freedom, but critics say it will enable people to use religious beliefs as a defense to discriminate.

On Saturday, at the Kansas Democratic Party’s annual meeting in Topeka, state Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon spoke out against HB 2260 and reiterated the party’s support of gay rights.

“It was a moving demonstration of the Democratic Party’s support for LGBT equality,” Thomas Witt, executive director of the KEC, wrote on the KEC website.

Quote of the week

“We are currently not able to meet our UI (unemployment insurance) bills, and yet the bill in front of you will further reduce our ability to pay our UI bills. How does this make sense? This is crazy.”

— State Rep. Mike Slattery, D-Mission Hills, on House Bill 2638, which would reduce unemployment insurance contributions for new employers.

What’s next

• 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday — Hearing on House Bill 2694, establishing all faiths chapel in Capitol, Room 346-South, Capitol.

• 8:30 a.m. Thursday — Hearing on Senate Bill 314, removing the exemption of charging individuals 65 and older for hunting and fishing licenses, before Senate Natural Resources Committee, Room 159-South, Capitol.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"a provision that requires people who want to rent a place to live to obtain a $5 “occupancy license,”"

That's just sick.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

What is this "lost decade"?

I've been living in KS for about 15 years, and the last decade seemed fine to me - what was the problem with it exactly?

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

these people live in an alternate universe.

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

Brownback and his ilk need to be run out of Kansas on a rail. It's time to rid the state of these fools and move into the 21st century. I predict protests in the thousands in the next year if :heblowsalot continues in his efforts to destroy Kansas.

optimist 6 years, 1 month ago

You're right. Redistribution of wealth is the present and future. Those that oppose taking money from those that earn it and giving it to those that didn't through force of government are so last century. Why should I expect to keep the fruits of my labor if my neighbor has less than I do? America; the home of coerced charity...

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

Read Article 1, Section 8 of the constitution.

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 1 month ago

Robin Hood in Reverse: Kansas Bill Raises Taxes On The Poor While Cutting Them For The Rich

In what one state Democrat has called “Robin Hood in reverse,” Kansas’ tax committee this week approved a bill that would cut taxes on the wealthiest Kansans to the tune of $1,500, while raising taxes on those residents making less that $25,000 per year. About half a million of the state’s poorest residents will see their taxes hiked under the plan:

A Kansas House tax committee passed a bill in which anyone making less than $25,000 a year — roughly half a million of the state’s 2.9 million residents — will pay an average of $72 more in taxes, while those making more than $250,000 — about 21,000 people — will see a $1,500 cut, according to Kansas Department of Revenue estimates cited by the Kansas City Star.

The hike would come from the elimination of tax credits typically benefitting the poor.

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 1 month ago

A chapel coming to the Kansas capitol?

TOPEKA | In the busy, busy world of the state capitol, it's hard to find a place for peace of mind let alone a place to ask guidance from your maker.

So it is that state Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, is proposing to add an all-faith chapel to the state capitol. Where it will go or how much it will cost is still unknown.

His bill says the chapel shall be a refuge for prayer and meditation.

Siegfreid, a Christian, believes a chapel would be an important addition to a building where so many people either take part in prayer breakfasts or Bible studies.

"There are a lot of people in the Legislature who faith is important to," said Siegfreid, the House majority leader. "There are issues in the Legislature and in the capitol that will try one's faith."

Read more here:

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 1 month ago

Kansas Senate gives tentative OK to fracking waste

Under the proposal, companies couldn't spread any material that has chloride levels higher than 900 parts per million, or about two inches of material atop the soil. State officials would review the quality of irrigation water in the area to ensure chlorides pumped out to water crops don't push chloride levels to dangerous levels.

High levels of chloride can damage plants. High chloride levels can also affect the taste of drinking water and make it more corrosive to water pipes.

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said she supported drilling but had concerns about the impact of increasing the level of chlorides in areas where the Equus Beds Aquifer is only a few feet below the surface and in areas near tributaries of the Little Arkansas River.

Read more here:

texburgh 6 years, 1 month ago

Sam needed to speak up. His owners, the Koch boys, told him to get off his butt and stand up for their right to not pay taxes. Taxes are for the poor in Brownbackistan.

optimist 6 years, 1 month ago

Taxes are actually for the middle class. This legislation still provides "credits" to low income earners who pay no income taxes already. Corporations and wealthier income earners (right or wrong) are typically afforded opportunities to lawfully avoid paying taxes via “loopholes” with the help of politicians on both sides of the isle. The rest of us that are neither rich nor poor carry the tax burden both directly and indirectly. We pay higher marginal rates on our income. As the primary consumers of goods the middle class pays higher prices for products and services because taxes assessed to corporations are simply passed on in the prices of those goods and services. Politicians use language of division ("the rich should pay their fair share") to pit one group of Americans against another. If you subscribe to this line of thinking you are contributing to behavior that is in no way American. And if you are in the middle class you are simply cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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