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Dear Friend,

Uncertainty is the word of the week, if not the next few months. We have been working diligently on the business of Kansas, which I have detailed below as my normal newsletter. However, I know this is not normal. The governor has prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people, and there are 125 members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the staff required to run the chamber. 
Each year, the budget is the only “must-pass” bill, and those negotiations are underway. Considering the average age of the legislature, most of us meet the high-risk threshold. Not to mention, like you, many of us have loved ones with compromised immune systems. The House passed a resolution last week to extend the governor’s budgetary authority beyond her current declaration. However, we may need to do more. I’m not sure what that looks like, but will keep you apprised when we know something final. 

Coronavirus Resources

As a physician, I want to strongly urge you, always, but particularly now, to please consider the source when you see something – especially on social media – about the virus. Here are a few good sources you can rely on: 

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
Necessity is the mother of invention, right? People are getting very creative! Most schools across the state are now closed until April 6. Here are some resources to help your sanity remain in tact! 
  • Virtual Tours: Museums, national parks, zoos, the Great Wall, and even Mars!
  • Music: Berlin Philharmonic, Opera companies from around the world!
  • 100 Ideas: From journaling to texting exes, this has quite a variety.
  • Kids & Parents: Activities & educational links
Under the Dome
On March 12th my daughter and two of my grandsons were able to visit me here in the House floor. I think I was more excited than they were. Pictured here with Gideon on my right and Julian on my left, and their mother Lindsay Vance. It was a fun day!

Here they are with grandma last weekend.
I was very pleased to attend and present the Kansas Small Emerging Business Award to Shawn and Rani Force of Marie Antouinette’s Bakery in Wathena at the annual SBA awards on March 5th held here at the Capitol.
On March 7th, I had my monthly. Coffee at the Depot for a legislative update at the Atchison train depot. An important topic was the Countywide sales tax and its disbursement.
It was an honor for me to stop and visit with our KANSAS Music Educators Assoc at their day at the Capitol. Pictured here with KMEA Exec committee.
Pictured here with Ginger Breedlove (on my right)  and the advocates for APRN independent practice—we had a good discussion about their concerns. 
A timely innovation: Meet Scout, the driverless package delivery bot! Amazon is asking the legislature for permission to allow these devices to operate on sidewalks and some streets.
On the House Floor
The House passed these bills and sent them to the Senate for deliberation:
  • HB 2596 is a bill I introduced to help MGP Ingredients in Atchison, but would also help the farm wine industry. It would allow alcoholic beverage manufacturers a drinking establishment license for a business within 2 miles of the manufacturer’s location. Read hearing testimony here. It passed the House 113-7, I voted YES. 
House Substitute SB 173 is the House’s version of the new transportation plan. The bill is different from what the Senate passed, but there are plenty of components I support. For example, our constantly changing transportation environment is not a good match for a set-in-stone 10-year plan like our previous plans. This new plan sets out a 2-year rolling time frame of priorities and requires regional public input sessions every two years to gauge and reset priorities. I look forward to seeing what the Senate and House put together as a compromise. It passed the House 103-16, I voted YES.
  • HB 2571: Under current law, a spouse of a law enforcement officer is not allowed a drinking establishment license. This bill would allow such a license provided the establishment is not in the same county where the law enforcement officer works. Read hearing testimony here. It passed the House 108-12, I voted YES.
  • 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. View hearing testimony here. It passed the House 118-2, I voted YES.
Committee Work 
We held hearings and passed these bills to the House for debate: 
  • HB 2650 would designate Feb. 15 of each year as Susan B. Anthony Day in Kansas. Anthony was an American social reformer and women’s rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. 
We held hearings on the following bills, but as of today, they remain in committee:
  • HB 2672 would change law to allow organizations to sell and serve cereal malt beverages, in addition to alcohol, on a temporary basis.
  • HB 2671: The committee held multiple hearings on a bill that would authorize sports wagering in Kansas and would create the procedures and oversight for conducting sports wagering operations by lottery gaming facilities.
The committee received several briefings on kidney disease and organ donation; the Kansas Board of Healing Arts; the cost of health care; the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center; and the Newborn Screening Program at the Department of Health and Environment.
We held hearings on a number of important bills that will die in committee due to lack of adequate time for consideration due to the quarantine requirements (brief descriptions below). We heard and passed one bill to the full House:
  • HB 2517 would allow property owners to apply to their county commissions for an abatement or property tax credit levied against “agricultural improvement properties” destroyed or heavily damaged by natural disasters. The bill defines agricultural improvement properties as farm buildings or structures, including barns, sheds, grain bins or outbuildings. The structures must be used to produce livestock or crops. 
Hearings of bills stuck in committee:

HB 2685 would require sales taxes to be collected from all sales of digital property and subscription services (like Spotify or Netflix).

HB 2720 would reinstate the food sales tax rebate of up to $240 for households making less than $40,000.

HB 2656 would discontinue the apportionment of the countywide sales tax to cities. All countywide sales tax revenue for general purposes would now be retained by county commissions. This has been a long-standing hot-potato issue between Atchison County and the City. This is a work in progress. 
  • HB 2727 would require the Legislature to repeal or suspend existing sales tax exemptions of equal or greater value to any new sales tax exemptions that go into effect. The bill would also levy a sales tax on personal services (nails, hair, spa, etc). 
  • HB 2567 and HB 2542 are bills to reduce the amount of Social Security income taxable by the state. 
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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