February 2012 Legislative Report

KRA Legislative Report
Ken Daniel
February 24, 2012

Both the House and Senate completed all business for ‘turnaround’ yesterday and will be adjourned until next Wednesday (February 29.)

House Bill 2554: Kansas Roofing Registration Act. This got pretty exciting. The bill was scheduled for a committee vote on the Monday after the hearing. In the hearing no one, either those giving testimony or any committee member, spoke against the bill, and it was not amended. It was supposed to be “worked” by the committee the following Monday. In spite of Committee Chairman Anthony Brown’s assurance to me before the hearing that he would not kill the bill, he pulled it from being worked and announced that it was dead for this year. I was able to get the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader to reverse this – the bill will be “blessed” and can be worked later.

Governor’s Tax Proposal and Others: These have many parts, but I can’t see KRA opposing any of except MAYBE where the State Income Tax itemized deduction for mortgage interest is eliminated. I haven’t yet decided whether to testify. I think the fact that this would be a boon to all income taxpayers with non-wage income may convince me to do so.

Senate Bill 318: Requiring Kansas Workers on certain projects.: On certain Kansas projects or contracts funded with state money, including STAR bond projects, 70% of the workers must be Kansas workers. This bill has not yet been “worked” and has been sent to an exempt committee where it remains alive.

Senate Bill 285: Misclassification of Employees: This bill would raise the penalties for intentionally misclassifying employees from misdemeanor status to felony status. This bill failed 10-1 in Senate Committee last week. There was an identical bill in the House, and House Democrats tried to amend this bill’s provisions onto another bill yesterday. All of these attempts failed. KRA is opposed to any attempts to increase penalties on employers.

House Bill 2501, Senate Bill 317: Some county appraisers have been doing an end run around the Business Machinery and Equipment property tax exemption passed a couple of years ago by declaring that large machinery and fixtures are part of the real estate and therefore subject to property taxes. What immediately comes to my mind are the big asphalt tanks many contractors have had, although I’m sure there is much more, such as massive sheet metal machines. One Kansas manufacturer had their property tax raised from $900,000 to $10.5 million by their local appraiser. This bill (these identical bills) further defines business machinery and equipment to stop this practice. Senate Bill 317 has been “blessed” and can still be worked later in the session.

Senate Bill 337: Tax on Hazardous Materials: This would allow the Kansas Adjutant General to fix, charge, and collect fees on any hazardous material possessed, sold, distributed, or manufactured in Kansas. This was suddenly added to tomorrow’s (Monday’s) committee agenda with no warning. That was stopped Friday. We will now get more time to study and react to this bill. This bill is in an exempt committee and can still be worked later.

House Bill 2603: Guest Workers Allowed: This bill would circumvent the stringent bills that are hurting many states like Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona. It would provide a legal procedure to allow such workers to work in Kansas at designated dates,
House Bill 2531: Selection of Administrative Law Judges and Work Comp Appeals Board Members. KRA is included in the list of supporters of this measure. This bill passed the House Monday (2/23) 85-36 and will go on to the Senate.

This brings much needed reform to the nomination process for Administrative Law Judges and Work Comp Appeals Board members.

Under the current process, a two member nominating committee from the Kansas Chamber and AFL-CIO must reach a consensus before submitting a nominee to the Secretary of Labor. After the names are submitted, the two member nominating committee reviews applicants and negotiates not to the most qualified, but to the least objectionable candidate.

We propose an expanded seven member panel comprised of two business representatives (Kansas Chamber, NFIB); two labor representatives (AFL-CIO, public employee); and one representative from each of the following: Kansas Society for Human Resource Management , Kansas Self-Insurers Association, and the Secretary of Labor. With this additional input, we feel the process will be much more comprehensive when reviewing applicants for work comp ALJ’s, appeals board and UI review board vacancies.