LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:   Governor to eliminate deductions

Representative, 74th District

The governor is working hard to promote running the income taxes to zero.

The secretary of revenue and the governor’s staff are out every day working to convince us that we need to keep the sales tax that passed three years ago. You know, the sales tax that the legislature promised to end.

They are also trying to convince us that ending the mortgage interest deduction and property tax deductions are something we need to do. A full-court press is going on to do that, but the debate is far from over and more information is needed before this issue is settled.

We are also seeing a lot of activity by a coalition called “Uncork Kansas” to allow liquor sales in grocery stores. While several of the liquor laws in Kansas are held over from prohibition days, I wonder about the implications of making liquor more readily available.

Alcohol and substance abuse create so many problems in society that keeping closer control would seem to me to be better than having liquor too easily available and convenient.

The utilities and telecommunications committee began hearings on a large and quite complicated bill regarding the use of Kansas Universal Service Fees. This is a deregulation bill that will allow more flexibility by phone companies which is needed as technology changes.

At issue is reduction of the amount that is normally in the fund (around $60 million) by reducing the monthly fee and how distribution of the fund will be made to various high-cost suppliers. Part of the issue is transitioning to the next generation of technology by putting in fiber-optics to replace the copper wire lines we are familiar with.

The Senate has recently voted on changing the judicial selection process and I anticipate the question will be before the full House soon. No doubt, votes are being counted to see if there is enough support in the House to pass it. This is a Constitutional amendment and requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House, but no signature by the governor, to be put on the ballot in August or November of 2014.

Legislative coffees coming up Feb. 23 are at 9 a.m. in Halstead at the Harvest Café and in Goessel at 10:30 a.m. at the City Building.

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