Legislative update: Anti-vaccine alarm, tax bill unknowns, child care hopes
This has been a week with very high highs and very low lows. On the positive side, a child care tax credit bill could benefit both employees and the companies they work for. Check out our early learning section for more about that. On the negative side, we've seen problematic tax and anti-vaccine bills pass out of committees.
The fiscal health of our state and the physical health of our people are both important. The session is far from finished, and the KAC team is watching and working every day.
FISCAL POLICY: Tax bill moves, with unknowns everywhere
Disappointing tax news this week as revenue-reducing tax plans (outlined in HB 2421) moved out of the House Taxation Committee. Next steps: debate on the House floor.
On Tuesday, the House Taxation committee worked SB 50 (one of several proposed bills that would require online marketplace facilitators -- think Etsy or Amazon -- to collect and remit relevant taxes). While working SB 50, contents of several other proposals were amended into the bill, including HB 2421 (and HB 2239 and HB 2106). In addition, there was an amendment passed to raise the standard deduction.
KAC is concerned that the bill passed out of committee without lawmakers understanding the full cost of the proposed legislation. We believe the state needs to better understand the cost of the PPP provision and wait for Treasury guidance about whether the state can implement tax cuts without sacrificing federal relief dollars. A recent article from the Washington Post explains why Congress can restrict the use of federal money to fund net tax cuts.
You can contact Director of Fiscal Policy Emily Fetsch at [email protected].
HEALTH: Anti-vaccine bill grows worse in Senate committee
Instead of prioritizing a much-needed Medicaid expansion bill, the Senate health committee decided it was more critical to hear an anti-vaccine bill, SB 212. On Monday, 29 individuals and organizations, including a state representative and KAC, provided testimony against the bill (KAC’s testimony; testimony highlights; hearing recording).
Despite your numerous messages from last weekend’s action alert on this bill, several committee members were determined to pass SB 212 yesterday, but not before adding an amendment that inserted a revised version of SB 213 (prohibiting employers from requiring vaccines of employees, even in health care settings). SB 212 is now a much worse bill heading to the Senate floor.
Why? Right now, trained medical professionals collaborate to update the lists of required vaccines for schools and child care facilities. This process works (and has only been used three times in 40 years!). Also, certain employers have legitimate reasons for requiring vaccines, such as protecting infants and children at high risk from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vaccines — a critical tool for the health and well-being of Kansas children — should not be subject to political votes in the Legislature, especially during an ongoing pandemic. And employers should be able to keep their employees and customers safe. Stay tuned for another action alert on this bill.
You can contact Health Policy Advisor Heather Braum at [email protected].
EARLY LEARNING: Child care tax credit bill passes panels
It was quite the week for early learning! Both the Senate and House tax committees held hearings on the employer child care tax credit bills, SB 263 and HB 2414 respectively. In each case, individuals and organizations from different industries and parts of the state came together to testify in support. Anecdotally, I think members of both committees were a bit surprised by just how popular these bills are, and that there were no opponents whatsoever.
On Thursday, SB 263 passed out with one amendment (removing the increase in the size of the credit for on-site care after the first year), and HB 2414 passed favorably without any amendments. We are grateful to both committees for getting it over the first hurdle. Now the next step: getting it onto the calendar for the whole House and Senate to consider. Thank you to all who have been following and supporting these bills, and be on the lookout for progress in the coming weeks!
You can contact Early Learning Policy Advisor Mitch Rucker at [email protected].