"I will tell the people what's going on at the statehouse. I'm going to treat the capitol as a borderline crime scene. ... If businesses don't have to pay taxes, the burden should not be on those trying to feed themselves." - The Valley Falls Vindicator & Oskaloosa Independent, March 3, 2016.

Across Kansas the top 1% are looting and on-the-loose, pitting us against each other. Communities in Jefferson County need to democratically prepare themselves for food and energy autonomy.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Citizens of the 47th House District! Get this newsletter! Real news, insightful tips and more! Link to sign up at the bottom.

Neighborhood News from Ann Mah
Dear Michael Caddell, 
Week 6 saw a tax bill headed to the Governor's desk. See details below. There were also several hearings on school finance formulas. Things are happening on the whole much faster than in previous years...and that could be a good thing!
In This Issue
Quick Links
Tax plan headed to the Governor's desk
While a number of plans to try and fix our state's financial imbalance were debated this week, it was the House tax plan that is headed to the Governor. Here are the key parts of that bill:
  • Eliminates the tax-free status of LLC non-wage income
  • Adds a third income tax bracket back again
  • Allows for itemized deductions for medical expenses that mirrors federal deductions
  • The tax rates for singles would be: 2.7% on income up to $15,000; 5.25% on income from $15,000 to $50,000; 5.45% on income over $50,000
  • The tax rates for married filing jointly: 2.7% on income up to $30,000; 5.25% on income from $30,000 to $100,000; and 5.45% on income over $100,000
  • Keeps the tax-free status of individuals making less than $5000 and married couples making less than $12,500.
  • Eliminates planned future income tax decreases
This plan raises $590 million in fiscal year 2018 and $454 million in fiscal year 2019. It does not totally solve the structural problem, but many voting for it believed it to be as close as the bipartisan coalitions in the House and Senate could get.

It's anyone's guess as to what happens now. The Governor is not expected to sign the bill, but he could allow it to become law without his signature or could veto it. More to follow!
Finishing up 2017
The House passed two bills to get through the end of fiscal year 2017 that ends June 30. There is still a $300+ million hole to fill. The bills freeze KPERS payments and borrow over $317 million from an investment fund. This avoids immediate cuts to education and state agencies before the end of the fiscal year and leaves about $90 million in the bank on June 30.

Senate Leadership had preferred to cut education and state agencies by about 5% before the end of the fiscal year, but could not get enough votes to pass that plan. Not sure where the Senate will go with this. Both House and Senate committees continue work on the budgets for 2018-2019 fiscal years.
Other hearings this week
There were a number of hearings on other topics this week:
  • The House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee heard HB 2167 that would abolish the death penalty in Kansas. It would not impact any current death sentences, but prohibit any additional ones after July 1. There are currently 10 prisoners on death row in Kansas.
  • The House Education Committee heard a bill to restore due process rights for Kansas teachers. The chairman, Rep. Clay Aurand, had indicated he would not allow a vote on that bill, but rumor has it he may change his mind on that.
  • Secretary of State Kris Kobach had hearings for two of his bills.  SB 157 would require the Kansas Highway Patrol seek permission to do immigration enforcement for the federal government. SB 158 would stop cities and counties from passing any laws that allow them to be sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.
Education update
The State Board of Education met this week. Some actions we took:
  • Approve a new teacher preparation program where students can get a K-6 certificate plus qualify for special education. We need more special ed teachers!
  • We certified the following "hard to fill" positions, to give school districts more leeway to hire teachers: Elementary classroom teacher; 5-12 Mathematics; 5-12 Physical Sciences; 5-12 English Language Arts; and PreK-12 Fine and Performing Arts
  • We approved a number of school district requests to have votes on bond issues
Things I learned:
  • We learned that Kansas has dropped to 41st in the nation in teacher salaries. That is one reason we have a hard time attracting and keeping teachers. 
  • One of the goals of the Board is to measure how successful students are after leaving high school. We saw the first results of data from the National Student Clearing House. We will be able to track where our students go for seven years after high school and will give districts that information by building. This is an awesome tool for districts to fix systemic problems. 
  • The state is revising the Math and Language Arts standards and they should be complete by next year. 
  • We met the 2017 Teachers of the Year from across the state.  Very impressive group of educators! 
Community Calendar
If you have community events coming up, let me know.  This email goes to nearly 3000 homes in Shawnee, Osage, and Douglas counties. I'd love to help you get the word out!  Just remember to send your activities ahead of time.     
  • Saturday, Feb. 18: Highland Heights Christian Church hosts a movie night with "To Joey with Love - the True Story". Doors open 5:30 pm; movie at 6 pm  Free snacks provided.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18: Gospel concert at Berryton United Methodist Church with The Lesters from St. Louis, MO. Two performances at 3 pm and 7 pm. Love offering for the performers. Concessions available.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18: Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum annual meeting and pot luck dinner. 6 pm. Guest speaker is Diane Eickhoff on "Women Soldiers of the Civil War". Meeting will be at the Clinton Presbyterian Church.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18: Free Fiber Arts workshop at Our Savior's Lutheran Church sponsored by the Lutheran Fine Arts Council of Topeka. 9 am to noon. Workshops on weaving, quilt art, needlework, soft-sculpture dolls and felting/tapestry. RSVP to JoLana Pinon at jolanapinon@gmail.com.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21: Community meal night featuring lasagne at the Stull United Methodist Church from 5-7 pm. Dine in or carry out. Donations accepted.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 22: Community dinner at Berryton United Methodist Church. Pulled pork sandwiches, cheesy potatoes, baked beands, homemade dessert. From 5-7 pm.  Free will donation.
  • Thursday, Feb. 23: Mobile food pantry at Stull United Methodist Church parking lot from noon to 1 pm.
  • Saturday, Feb. 25: Tecumseh Kiwanis Club pancake feed at the Tecumseh United Methodist Church from 7 am to noon. Tickets $5. 6 and under free. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, coffee, and orange juice. Silent auction items. 
  • Saturday, Feb. 25: Perry Pride ribbon cutting to celebrate the mural at the Perry Post Office and recognition as a Community of Excellence. 9:30 am
  • Tuesday, Feb. 28: Fat Tuesday pancake feed at Berryton United Methodist Church from 5-7 pm. Freewill donation.
  • Wednesday, March 1: Tecumseh Community Dinner at Tecumseh United Methodist Church from 5-6:30 pm. Featuring beff with homemade noodles, mashed potatoes, salad and more. Free-will donation.
  • Saturday, March 4: Free children's theater workshop at Topeka Civic Theater sponsored by the Lutheran Fine Arts Council of Topeka. Children grades 2-8. Limited to 40 children. To RSVP, write to Ann Mah at annmah@att.net.
  • Saturday, March 4: Auburn Elementary School Carnival 4-7 pm
  • Saturday, March 4: Chicken Noodle Dinner at Berryton United Methodist Church from 4-7 pm. Sweet shop and silent auction
  • Tuesday, March 14: Pre-St. Patrick's Day party sponsored by the Auburn Lions Club at the Auburn Civic Center. 5:30-7:30. Reservations required by March 8. Traditional Irish meal. For information call 256-7274.
  • Wednesday, March 29: Community dinner at Berryton United Methodist Church from 5-7 pm. Meatloaf, cheesy potatoes, vegetable, salad and dessert. Free will donation.
  • Saturday, April 15: Museum and grounds clean-up at the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum
  • NEW! Swap meet at Premier Farm & Home last Saturday of the month from March to October from 7 am to noon. 900 SW University Blvd (across from Forbes Field). No fee to set up.  No goats. 
  • Kansas Prairie Pickers meet to jam the fourth Sunday of each month from 1 to 5 pmat the Auburn Community Center. Free music. No jam in December. 
  • Storytime at the Auburn Community Library starts up for the fall again on Sept. 8 and continues on Thursdays from 6:30-7:30 pm.
  • CARE meets monthly on the second Thursday at the KNEA building, second floor, at 2 pm. For retired teachers or Kansans interested in advocating for education. For info: Larry Brayton at larrydene@cox.net
  • Enjoy BUNCO at the Carbondale Community Building once a month on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.  Call 785-836-7478 for details about dates, prizes, treats, etc. 
  • The Berryton Pickers are at Berryton Baptist Church the first Saturday of the month from 7 to 9 pm.  Bring snacks and have some fun!
  • Country and ballroom dancing at Croco Hall on Thursday nights from 6 to 9 pm.  For information call Edwina Hamersky at 379-9538.
  •  First Saturday of the month community breakfast buffet at Shawnee Heights United Methodist Church.  7:30 to 10 am.  Free will offering.
More to follow as bills come out of committees. Stay tuned!
Ann Mah

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