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Dear Friend,

It has been a very busy few weeks in Topeka as we head toward the first major deadline when all bills* must be passed out of their respective committees or they "die" for the remainder of the year.

*There are exceptions to every rule, and I will discuss these in my next newsletter.

On the Home Front

Please join me for upcoming town hall meetings:

  • Saturday, March 7, 9 am at the Atchison Depot
  • Saturday, March 21, 9 am, location TBD
Last night, Feb 19th, I was fortunate enough to have Dinner with both President Richard Myers from KSU (right), and also Dr. Doug Girod, Chancellor of KU (far left). And pictured with me is Representative Mark Samsel from District 5, Wellsville. We got updated on the ongoing funding challenges that we face in Higher Ed in Kansas

Representative John Eplee

Kansas State Legislature
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Doniphan County
Atchison County

Contact Doc Eplee
At the Capitol:
300 SW 10th St., 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612

At home in Atchison:
163 Deer Run
Atchison, KS 66002
On Sunday, Feb 9th, I was fortunate to be worship leader at my church—1st Presbyterian in Atchison, and conduct Children’s Sermon. What a joy to have my grandson Julian Vance on my lap.
Under the Dome
Stopping by my office here in Topeka on Wednesday, 2/19, were Rick Watson (On my right) and Joe Abbott ( my left), with SPEEA, to discuss SB 252-Expanding Medicaid, and HB 2175-Enacting the Ks Fair Share Act. SPEEA stands for Society of Professional Engineer Employees in Aerospace.
On Saturday, Feb 8th, I was able to make it to Men’s Coffee at CVS in Atchison. These fine gentlemen are a readily available Board of Advisors/Directors—always with sage advice. In the foreground is Phil Birkinsha, and then (L to R), are Steve “Hollywood” Henderson, Moon Myer, Mike Purslow, Pete Arensberg, Jerry Cross, and Roger Caudle (on my left).
On Monday, 2/17, it was really great to see the eager young folks with Doniphan Co 4-H. They had arrived here on Sunday to go through their mock legislature. They took up issues of Mental Health Care in Ks, Mass Shootings in our Communities, and Land Use Conflicts. Kathy Tharman (not pictured), KSU extension sponsor, does a great job with this group!
On Tuesday, Feb 17th, The School Bus Drivers Assn stopped by and visited me in my office regarding HB 2315 and employment pay/equality in the Summer months. Pic L to R are Mimi Horn, Irma Garcia, Douglas Redding, Tricia Strimple, and Matt Hall
On the House Floor  This week’s Calendar. Times below are unless otherwise noted in the Calendar.
Watch LIVE
It was a slow week on the House floor, but you will see most of our time is spent debating bills in committees. The last week of February will be very busy as committees must move their bills out of committee and to the full House.

We passed HB 2466 over to the Senate on a 118-1 vote. I detailed the bill in my last newsletter – it would require paid tax return preparers to sign and include their IRS Preparer Tax Identification number on tax returns they prepare starting in 2021. Certified Public Accountants or individuals employed by a CPA firm would be excluded from the bill’s requirements. I voted YES.
Committee Work 
Why explain what I’m doing in Committee? 
Many bills do not apply broadly to all Kansans. However, it’s helpful for you to know the breadth and depth of work we do. Committees range from nine on the small end and 23 on the large. Therefore, not every Kansan is represented on every committee. In our committee work, legislators represent all Kansans in researching, debating, and crafting legislation relating to the committees’ topics. 
This week, the committee listened to an informational briefing on the Kansas Lottery and held a number of hearings on bills:
  • HB 2563 is known as “T-21” and would increase the minimum age to purchase or possess cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21, and ban cigarette vending machines and flavored vaping products. I provided testimony in strong support of this bill and it passed out of committee this week.
  • HB 2411 would delete the requirement for agencies to prepare economic impact statements to estimate total implementation and compliance costs to businesses, local governments and individuals as a result of the proposed rule. This requirement could be waived under two situations: first, the agency determines the proposed rule would not cost businesses and others more than $3 million dollars over a two-year period; and second, the rule is being proposed because of a federal mandate.
Health and Human Services – Listen Live 1:30 pm weekdays
The committee has been holding informational briefings: 
  • Pans/pandas (pediatric autoimmune disorders) 
  • Kansas Board of Healing Arts
  • Joint briefing with the House Children and Seniors Committee to hear about suicide prevention.
  • Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas
Taxation – Listen Live 3:30 pm weekdays
Income Tax Proposed Changes:
  • Standard Deduction: HB 2538 would increase the state’s standard deduction starting in tax year 2020 to $4,000 (from $3,000) for single filers; $8,000 (from $7,500) for married filers; and $6,000 (from $5,500) for head of household filers. In addition, the bill would determine future standard deductions after 2020 based on the cost-of-living adjustment used by federal tax laws.
  • Itemizing: HB 2005 would allow taxpayers to itemize deductions on their state tax returns even if they did not itemize on their federal tax returns. Under current law, taxpayers can only itemize on their state returns only if they did so on their federal returns. However, with the significant increase in the federal standard deduction, many Kansans no longer itemize on their federal taxes.
  • To encourage public service programs, HB 2427 would allow the amount of any National Service Education Award for service in an approved AmeriCorps National Service Program to be subtracted from income for state tax purposes. 
  • HB 2567 and HB 2542 are bills to reduce the amount of Social Security income taxable by the state. Under current law, taxpayers can subtract the full amount of Social Security income from federal adjusted gross income (AGI) from their Kansas income taxes. This bill would reduce deductible SS income by 10% for each $1,000 above the $75,000 threshold. 
  • HB 2460 would create a new income tax credit for 50% of eligible expenditures on railroad track maintenance of short line railroads, not to exceed $5,000. 
Sales Tax Proposed Changes:
  • HB 2513 would require marketplace facilitators to collect and remit sales, use and transient guest taxes from sales made through their online platforms. For example, Amazon would be responsible for calculating, collecting, and remitting sales taxes on products sold by third party sellers. 
  • We held three days of hearings (so far) on HB 2537, which would require out-of-state sellers to have at least $100,000 in gross sales in order to have to collect sales taxes from Kansas buyers. 
Property Tax Proposed Changes:
  • SB 104 includes provisions of HB 2466 discussed above under On the House Floor. The Senate’s bill also would create a refund program for a portion of property taxes paid by taxpayers who have less than $50,000 per year in household income and are older than 65, or disabled veterans. Finally, the bill would allow disabled veterans who are renters to claim refunds of 15% of their rents under the current Homestead program.
Corporate Tax Proposed Changes:
  • HB 2499 would provide a tax credit for putting into service an alternative fuels fueling station. The credit would equal 75% of the expenditures incurred.
We passed just one bill to the full House this week:
  • HB 2490 would change current law to allow taxpayers to carry forward operating losses for up to 20 years instead of the current 10 years. 
As always, it is an honor and a pleasure representing you at the Capitol. 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. 

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 © 2020, 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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