The weather has cleared up here in Topeka, the snow is melting and the logjam of bills waiting for committee action seems to be clearing up.

In reality, the committee process is designed to sort through and weed out bills that may not be well thought out or have too many unintended consequences. 


The weather has cleared up here in Topeka, the snow is melting and the logjam of bills waiting for committee action seems to be clearing up.
In reality, the committee process is designed to sort through and weed out bills that may not be well thought out or have too many unintended consequences.  
Some may even be unpopular politically, if you can imagine that!
The House and Senate finally have  kicked out rescission bills, which are necessary to make the adjustments to the current budget so it balances June 30 when the state fiscal year ends. The House version spends a little less than the Governor’s proposal and the Senate version spends more. But please remember we are in the middle of the process and the House and Senate versions will have to be reconciled, or the Governor will have to act. Normally the end result is somewhere in the middle.
Once we finish the rescission budget we have a lot of work to do on the regular budget and the calendar is quickly slipping by. I’m not on appropriations committee, but know they have begun work on the so-called Mega budget.
The Mega budget primarily deals with general fund, or tax-related, items. This is the budget we should pass before taking a break the first part of March.  
However, the only required budget is what we call the Onmibus budget that needs to be passed before we have our extended break the first half of April. Onmibus is the big budget that applies to all tax-related expenditures, agencies, and departments in the State.
Two bills passed out of Energy and Utilities so far this week. One of them extends the ethanol production credits with a new sunset date and a reduced incentive rate.  The other is a bill that would not allow a landowner to sever, or sell; surface rights separate from selling the land itself. The intention is that wind or solar energy development should be at the discretion of the landowner of record and not an outside entity that may not have any interest in protecting the land surface. This bill was of great interest to landowners in the Flint Hills area of the State.
The agriculture budget committee continues to work on a big variety of agency budgets. I’m told that some of the agency budgets do not have a specific committee that they fit into so several budget requests are simply divided among the various budget committees to hear and take action on. All the agency budgets need to be looked at and considered so this is the process that seems to work best. As part of the budget process we are looking more closely at the Governor’s proposals to fold some agencies together, such as the conservation commission and the Deptartment of Agriculture, among others.
I continue to serve on taxation committee, and that committee has been pretty quiet so far. The chairman has indicated we will be kicking several bills out soon but is working with House leadership on the best timing for some of them. Sometimes bills are run on the floor in a certain order because some policy issues affect others, making a difference in the order of business.
The overall tax committee goal is to stimulate job availability but keep the State’s cost of those programs low.  Primarily the incentives allow businesses to keep the State portion of income taxes with requirements to prove jobs have been created.
I will be at the Sedgwick Senior Center at 9 a.m. Saturday. If you can, please stop in for comments and to ask questions you may have about issues of this legislative session. It is an honor to serve as Representative of the 74th District of Kansas.

Don Schroder is the Representative for House District 74 which includes part of Harvey County.