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Dear Friend,

It wasn’t easy, but the legislature adjourned Friday afternoon, Sine Die (without day – meaning the official last day). I say it wasn’t easy because we had a few very tough votes, including finalizing the budget for next year, which I am proud to say continues to set us on the right path to state solvency. 
 
If you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic in today’s political climate, look no further than the Kansas House of Representatives. Though DC seems to be imploding, the anticipation of the governor’s race continues to rise and the Kansas Senate has become a nonfactor due to the increased division amongst the body, the Kansas House has made measurable and pragmatic steps, working together for the greater good (in most cases). 

AROUND THE DISTRICT
Please join me for a legislative forum this Saturday for a legislative session wrap-up. We will be discussing a wide-variety of topics including school finance, tax bills and tele-medicine.
 
Saturday, May 12th - 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Bauer-Hoover Masonic Hall
4th St. in Wathena
As listed by KanFocus, I was ranked #1 in supporting GOP majority positions this session, as portrayed through my voting record. I am very proud of this ranking. 

Representative John Eplee

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Doniphan County
Atchison County


Contact Doc Eplee
At the Capitol:
300 SW 10th St., 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612
785-296-8621
john.eplee@house.ks.gov

At home in Atchison:
163 Deer Run
Atchison, KS 66002
913-367-2382
On April 26th, my family gathered for my "favorite" mother-in-law's funeral in Kansas City. We were very saddened to lose Joyce, but happy to celebrate her 93 years of a life well lived. Of note, both of our daughters are expecting their 2nd child this summer, which will bring us up to 4 grandsons. We are very excited! 
We marked the end of the 2018 legislative session on May 4th, with the annual Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Ceremony held on the grounds of the State Capitol. It is a bittersweet reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. It was a beautiful tribute and day. 
This week after this legislative session was completed, I returned to Fredonia, KS, to visit my best friend from high school, Chuck Neuenschwander. I helped him out with some work on his livestock including sorting, preg checks, and branding. We also did some field prep—-very dry in SEK. I always enjoy getting back to my roots and farm labor! I can still get out of the way of a 500 lb steer bearing down on me!
On Tuesday morning 5/8, I got one last photo op with Cracker, Chuck’s favorite bull who has been very prolific, yet docile! I hated to leave, but had to get home.
On Tuesday evening, 5/8, I was able to attend the Annual Senior Awards Recognition for Fredonia High School. I had the honor of handing out a scholarship for $1000 provided by the Eplee family, including my brother and sister (all alumni of FHS), to recognize a graduating senior who will be attending KSU in the Fall. This year’s recipient is Austin Hobbs (center) who will be be majoring in Agronomy at KSU.  Far left is Homer Holmes, who our scholarship recognizes for saving me from drowning at the Mill Damn in Fredonia 46 years ago!  The scholarship is appropriately called “The Homer Holmes Hero Scholarship”.
BUDGET
Last year we passed the two-year budget plan, but like in your home, as revenues and expenses change, we must amend that budget to recognize those changes. This year’s supplemental budget had the benefit of last year’s tax plan, meaning we could begin to restore funding to basic government services which have been failed in recent years by chronic underfunding: higher education, the elderly and disabled, foster care, corrections, and state employee pay. It is a gradual process. I am thrilled to see increased investment in areas where proactive intervention, like water and early childhood, which were included in the final bill. House Substitute for Senate Bill 109 passed the Senate, 26-14, and the House, 98-23. I voted yes.

Key components: 
  • 5% raise for state employees not included in last year’s raise and 2.5% for those who were. Last year’s raises were focused on bringing judicial branch employees up from their 49th-in-the-country ranking in pay. 
  • $15 million for higher education to begin to restore the cuts made in 2014 and 2015.
    • KU: $2.6 million
    • KSU: $1.9 million
      • KSU Extension: $845,506
      • KSU Vet School: $284,069
    • KU Medical School: $2.1 million
    • Fort Hays: $637,554
    • Emporia State: $536,405
    • Pittsburg State: $640,281
    • Wichita State: $1.4 million
  • Early Childhood: $1 million for Tiny-K, known as Infant-Toddler Services, $4.2 million for a Pre-K Pilot project, and $1 million for Parents As Teachers
  • $22 million to increase nursing home Medicaid reimbursement rates.
  • $5.5 million for the foster care “kinship” program, which would increase payments to family members serving as foster care providers from $3 per day to $10 per day. 
EDUCATION TRAILER BILL
As with most bills done in a hurry and/or late at night, the education bill passed at the end of the regular session in early April, which included an $80 million drafting error, deeply impacting dozens of districts across the state. House Substitute for Senate Bill 61 is an attempt to resolve this allocation labeling problem. While far from perfect, we needed to get this “fix” to the court ASAP. The bill passed the Senate, 31-8, and the House, 92-27. I voted yes. 
 
Key policy components: 
  • Requires districts to have at least a 15% Local Option Budget, and that those monies are to be considered part of the state’s investment toward adequate funding (even though the court already said local money is local money and the state constitution requires the state to provide suitable funding). 
Key funding components: 
  • Increases per pupil spending by $548 over the next six years (2018-2023). 
  • Beginning in 2024, funding increases would be tied to the average percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index during the preceding three school years. 
I still have concerns as to whether or not this will be accepted by the Supreme Court and have heard narratives on both sides of the isle regarding the amount being either too much or too little. There were a number of other solutions offered, but none would have passed in either the House or the Senate. Compromise is a key component of creating effective legislation. 
 
Looking back to the 2005 Montoy lawsuit, the bill that the legislature passed, along with the trailer bill, can be deemed constitutional. For that reason, I remain guardedly optimistic that House Substitute for Senate Bill 423, along with the trailer bill, will be ruled constitutional. If not, the legislature would have to return to Topeka for a special session, on the taxpayers dime, to further work school finance. I don’t believe that taxpayer dollars should be utilized in this way, further discussing an issue that we have given our best efforts to already. 

TAX CUT BILL
Senate Substitute for House Bill 2228 (S Sub HB 2228) is a tax cut bill. Last year’s tax plan has been in effect for a year, so we have a good idea of its impact. Additionally, the federal cut puts even more dollars in Kansans’ pockets – if we let it. This bill would: 
  • Profits from offshore assets, also known as Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income, will be exempt for one year, if those profits are repatriated to the US, along with any other deferred foreign income.
  • “Decouple” Kansas income taxes from the federal, to allow Kansans who do not itemize on their federal taxes to itemize deductions for their Kansas taxes. 
  • Expedite the full medical expense, mortgage interest, and property taxes paid deductions by next year, instead of phasing in the percentage of deductions until 2020. 
  • This bill provided a tax exemption for the purchase of gold and silver bullion for retirement plans, etc. This will provide business growth opportunities for businesses that sell those items. There are three dealers in our district that this will positively impact. 
  • Install a 15% tax credit on purchases from certain businesses which provide a certain level of health insurance businesses and have at least 30% of their employees who are Kansans with disabilities. 
The Senate passed it, 21-19, but it failed in the House for lack of 63 votes, 59-59. I voted yes because this is a bill we can afford, and I’d rather have this money in your pocket to spend or save in our own community.  
 
AGE REQUIREMENT FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE
HB 2539 would require the following for statewide candidates: 
  • Governor or Lieutenant Governor to be at least age 25 by the filing date for the office (June 1). I voted for the bill but was disappointed when an amendment setting the minimum age limit at 30 was defeated on the House floor.
  • Secretary of State, State Treasurer and State Insurance Commissioner must be a qualified elector of Kansas, which means candidates must be at least 18 years. 
  • Attorney General must be at least 18 and licensed to practice law in Kansas. 
  • Unfortunately, the bill takes effect on January 1, 2019, so is not applicable to this year’s races.
The bill also requires any new voting machines purchased after January 1 of next year to provide a paper record to the voter. It passed the Senate, 32-4, and the House, 70-52, I voted yes. 
 
WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT
HB 2579 will reimburse Kansans $65,000 for each year of imprisonment and at least $25,000 for each year served on parole or post-release supervision. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously. These situations are a stain on our state and I’m grateful we are making reparations. 
 
ADOPTION BILL
Currently, religious based charities with sincerely held religious beliefs can provide foster and adoption services and discriminate who they will foster or adopt to because they’re a private organization and public dollars are not involved. Kansas Catholic Charities is a good example as they provide a number of programs across the state. Without the ability to contract with the state for these services, it has become financially unsustainable for their work to continue. It is better for every Kansas kid to have more outlets for foster and adoption than fewer. The bill passed the Senate, 24-15, and the House, 63-58. I signed on the bill and voted yes on the bill and the governor signed this bill into law.
Please feel free to share my legislative newsletter with your friends and family and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments. It is an honor and a pleasure representing you at the Capitol. As always, it is an honor and a pleasure representing you at the Capitol. 

Representative John Eplee, MD
Kansas House District 63
Serving Atchison and Doniphan counties
Paid for by Kansans for Eplee, Patsy A. Porter, CPA, Treasurer
Copyright © 2018, All rights reserved.


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Paid for by Kansans for Eplee, Patsy Porter, Treasurer · 163 Deer Run · Atchison, Ks 66002 · USA

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