Sun. Jun 20th, 2021

Kansas lawmakers return to session next week, and 17th District Senator Jeff Longbine of Emporia says it has been a productive session to date.

Longbine joined KVOE’s Morning Show for an update with lawmakers currently nearing the end of their spring break. Longbine says lawmakers have handled several vital points of policy, including upgrades to the Kansas Emergency Management Act and a base budget that restores some prior cuts at Emporia State University.

Longbine was also grateful the recent trends in tax revenues continue well ahead of projections, with totals now over $1 billion better than expected. Having said that, Longbine is disappointed Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a plan to restore middle-class tax deductions as part of an adjustment to overall tax policy.

The governor has vetoed several bills recently, and Longbine says the best chance for a legislative override comes with tax policy. Chances aren’t as great for overriding vetoes on transgender athlete participation in girls’ and women’s sports, voter law adjustments, concealed carry policy and civics tests as a high school graduation requirement.

When it comes to COVID-19 response, Longbine says recent moves at the local level to turn policy mandates into recommendations make sense due to recent caseloads. He also has seen some improvement in the Kansas Department of Labor’s response to people needing unemployment benefits, but he says those improvements have been slow in coming and there are still major issues with communication and the impact of past fraud attempts earlier in the pandemic.

Our legislative overviews continue with 51st District Representative Ron Highland of Wamego at 8:20 am Tuesday.