April 4, 2017 Legislative Update

Medicaid Expansion Fails Last year at this time, most legislative observers would have told you that passing a Medicaid Expansion bill in both the House and the Senate was about as likely as Gonzaga playing for a national title. And yet that is exactly what has happened. The bill called Bridge to a Healthy Kansas was vetoed by the Governor but on Monday, following a bruising weekend of phone calls, e-mails and bare-knuckled lobbying, the House debated whether to override his veto. Those not inclined to favor Medicaid Expansion have expressed deep concerns over the fiscal ramifications of expanding an entitlement program in the midst of one the most persistent… Read More

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Status of Women in Kansas

March is Women’s History Month. To call attention the status of women, GO Topeka hosted its Third Annual Woman’s Forum (Part I) at the Capital Plaza. Wendy Doyle, president of the Women’s Foundation and coordinator the Topeka Women’s Project, kicked off the 2017 Women’s Forum by sharing results from a study about women throughout the state of Kansas. Doyle provided insight from a research study commissioned by the Women’s Foundation, conducted by the University of Kansas, under five categories: Education Women have higher educational attainment than men across the U.S., and women in Kansas have higher educational attainment than in Missouri. Female educational attainment in Kansas City is roughly in… Read More

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March 28, 2017 Legislative Update

Spending Bill As they head for the first adjournment on April 7, lawmakers are working to bring a number of important issues to a head, including legislation to pay the state’s bills through June 30. House and Senate negotiators moved closer last week to finalizing the spending bill for the remainder of this fiscal year but they are still ironing out differences. They will find most of the $280 million by borrowing against the state’s so-called idle funds account and by delaying payments to KPERS. That latter point seems to be where the hitch lies. The Senate is also working on a budget bill for the following two fiscal years.… Read More

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March 21, 2017 Legislative Update

The Kansas Senate beat back their leader’s effort to cut the spending, including spending for public schools, on their way to passing legislation to pay the state’s bills through June 30. The spending package which passed the Senate resembles the bill the House passed in mid-February. They both find the roughly $280 million needed to close the budget by delaying payments to KPERS and borrowing against the state’s unused funds. Senate President Susan Wagle attempted to introduce a two percent across the board budget cut into the bill but only six of her colleagues supported that. Now the House and Senate will conference and send a final spending bill to… Read More

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Benefits of Chamber Membership

To be honest, there are tens to hundreds of reasons to join the Chamber and each business has its own personal ones that are important. This blog post focuses on 3 reasons; one is the top reason, based on our member’s feedback, and the other two are less well-known reasons to join. Networking By far, networking is the number one reason that businesses join the Chamber. We all understand the value of communicating with one another, learning about what is going on in our community and working together. Another benefit of networking is partnerships. By participating in Chamber activities, you meet businesses that you may not normally run into, as… Read More

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March 14, 2017 Legislative Update

Nobody said it was going to be pretty. Last week, the Senate debated, dismembered and killed the governor’s tax plan. In the process, they sent their clearest message yet that they intend to pass lasting tax and budget reforms. The governor’s plan, it will be recalled, entailed a $1 per pack cigarette tax hike, doubling the tax on liquor, taxing passive income including rents and royalties, increasing the annual reporting fee for nonprofits and LLCs and freezing the bottom income tax rate at 2.7% (it was scheduled to drop to 2.6% this year). The plan would have raised about $180 million in the fiscal year, which starts on July 1,… Read More

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February 28, 2017 Legislative Update

Tax Package Fails Last week was a roller coaster ride in the legislature. Both the House and Senate had passed a significant tax reform package which would have raised the rate at which individuals pay taxes and eliminated the so-called LLC exemption, among other things. The speed with which the package moved through both sides of the Statehouse, as well as, the paucity of debate took many by surprise. By Tuesday, the bill was on the Governor’s desk and he’d made it clear he disapproved of the legislature’s attempt to dismantle his signature 2012 tax plan. All eyes in the Statehouse and elsewhere waited and wondered whether he would veto… Read More

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February 21, 2017 Legislative Update

The legislature passed major tax legislation on Friday which would essentially end the March to Zero and other tax reforms initiated by Governor Brownback in 2012. On Wednesday, the House took up a package of tax reforms. The House package ends Governor Brownback’s March to Zero income taxes and, in fact, raises the rates individuals will pay. The lowest rate individuals would pay is set at 2.7%; that’s .1% higher than it was scheduled to be in 2018. For individuals with income between $30,000 and $100,000, the rate would be 5.25%, up from the current 4.6%. A new third bracket is created for those earning over $100,000; their rate would… Read More

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East Topeka Learning Center

Why an East Topeka Learning Center?   The idea of a learning center on the east side of our community has been bubbling up for some time. At the Joint Economic Development Organization meeting on Feb. 8 community members shared how over the years there has been brainstorming, sharing, hoping and now finally the next step in developing the center. East Topeka Learning Center is envisioned as an impactful, education space for citizens to benefit from expanded educational opportunities in their own neighborhood. Where will the East Topeka Learning Center be located?  The location is at 2014 SE Washington Street, situated on SE 21st Street, between SE Washington Street and SE… Read More

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February 14, 2017 Legislative Update

Last Thursday was supposed to be the day the Kansas Senate met in a spirit of tough but earnest compromise to finally forge a lasting solution to the toughest question they will face:  how to close the looming budget shortfall. Down! Set! Nope. The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee had passed out a package said to restore structural balance to the Kansas tax code. The package raises the lowest income tax rate paid by individuals from 2.6% to 3.0% and the highest rate from 4.6% to 4.9%. It also eliminates the so-called LLC exemption, the highly controversial feature of the 2012 tax package which exempts income earned by pass-through business… Read More

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