Les Mason: Value Them Both—Hearing on Constitutional Amendment 

Representative Les Mason

As a follow-up to last week’s update, The Value Them Both Amendment was heard in a joint meeting of the House Federal and State Affairs and Senate Judiciary committees on Tuesday, January 21 This constitutional amendment is being proposed in an effort to remedy the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision on Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt from April 2019, in which they essentially determined that the Kansas Constitution contains an unrestricted right to an abortion. Because of this ruling, several laws which received bipartisan support are in peril, and risk being deemed unconstitutional:

Both House and Senate committees passed out their respective concurrent resolutions.  HCR 5019 passed on a vote of 15-6, and SCR 1613 passed with a majority vote by voice.  Each chamber will have a full debate soon.  Once these receive 2/3rds majority vote in both chambers, the question will be placed on the 2020 Primary Election Ballot to give the voters of Kansas an opportunity to voice their opinion. 

Republican Leadership rolls out “Make Kansas Work” five-point plan

This past week, I was in attendance of a rather large gathering of upper House Repulican leaders, along with committee chairs, for a press conference unveiling the “Make Kansas Work” plan. This plan features five bills that offer solutions for the challenges our state is facing: 

  • Innovative Funding for Rural Health Care

  • Tax Relief for Seniors

  • Savings program for first time homebuyers

  • Workforce development: Tuition assistance for the most needed skilled workers

  • Workplace development: Businesses partnering with the disabled community

The Rural Hospital Innovation Act creates a $30,000,000 fund using public dollars matched by private dollars to be granted to rural counties to help rural hospitals respond to changing markets, identify needed improvements and make the changes necessary to stay open and protect access to health care in rural areas of the state. 

Tax relief for seniors would raise the exemption for senior citizens receiving Social Security from $75,000 in annual income to $100,000 in annual income so that Kansas seniors can continue to work and earn additional income if they wish to do so without having to pay higher taxes.

First-time home buyer savings account modeled on the state’s successful 529 education savings plan. The accounts allow for tax deductible deposits to help Kansans save for their first home, or for parents and grandparents to save on behalf of a child who will put down roots in Kansas or even for communities to attract needed professionals such as doctors, dentists or teachers to the community. 

The Kansas Promise Act is modeled on the successful Tennessee Promise Act but modified to enhance workforce development. Under the bill scholarships are offered to Kansas graduates who agree to complete a certificate or two-year program in one of the state’s high need areas for labor. The students must work part time or perform community service during their education and commit to remaining in Kansas and working for two years post-graduation. 

The Kansas Targeted Employment Act which would provide for integrated workshops where those with disabilities could work alongside those who receive public assistance but want to work. Private businesses that send work to an integrated employment center would receive a tax credit so long as the workers are paid at least minimum wage and offered benefits upon full time employment. 

Please check MakeKansasWork.com for more information on these initiatives.

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