State Senator Masterson offers an update

The Kansas Legislature has just completed the 4th week of the 2013 legislative session. Major discussions to this point have been centered on tax policy and revenue receipts, mortgage interest and other deductions, education efficiency and reforms, human trafficking, conceal carry reciprocity, and “paycheck protection.”

The Governor’s 2013 tax reform plan involves the shift of state revenues from an income tax base to a bold path that totally eliminates the state income tax in the near future. As the income tax rates paid by wage earners rapidly reduce to zero, the need for deductions to off-set individual income tax assessments becomes unnecessary. In a recent presentation before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan reported that even now 70% of Kansans currently use the recently doubled standard deduction (rather than using other deductions like mortgage interest). With income tax rates continuing to drop, families will keep more in their paychecks even without mortgage interest and other deductions on their Kansas tax returns. Federal mortgage deductions, of course, will continue and have always been more significant. The gradual elimination of deductions on the Kansas return will be more than offset by a lower total tax bill for taxpayers. The cash flow stimulus created by extra money in families’ pockets will encourage additional economic growth that, in conjunction with the lowest tax rates in the region, will make Kansas a regional magnet for economic development, increased business start-ups, and new job creation.

In fact, Kansas has already experienced an uptick in economic growth related to the reduction of income tax rates on businesses with a record-breaking 15,008 new business filings in 2012, which is nearly 1,500 more than the previous high recorded in 2011. Butler County accounts for 250 of those new businesses, and Sedgwick County added 2,488 business filings, both of which were new historical records.

Other recent topics of interest from the Senate Chamber include the passage of SB 61 (passed 38-0), a bill that strengthens human trafficking statutes and penalties and establishes a fund for the victims of human trafficking paid through mandatory fines.

SB 21 (passed 38-0) establishes better recognition and reciprocity for non-Kansas concealed carry license holders from states that have standards equal to or higher than Kansas’ standards. This legislation is of particular benefit to military troops moving into Kansas and who already possess an extensive background in gun safety.

SB 19 (passed 38-0) strengthens protections for dependent adults and includes penalties for the misappropriation of financial resources.

SB 16 (passed 37-0) creates the Kansas RICO Act (Kansas Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) and amends the street gangs definitions statute giving law enforcement agencies much needed tools to combat the growing problem of gang violence.

Each of these pieces of legislation contributes to protecting and enhancing the quality of life in Kansas and personal safety of our families and communities.

Many constituents have visited your Senate District 16 office (State Capitol, Room 545-S) in Topeka this session. If you know a young person who might be interested in serving as a legislative page this session, please contact my office to arrange a convenient date. I encourage you to visit or send me your thoughts on issues that are important to you and your family. Each email is read (, and each phone call or message is relayed to me (785-296-7388). Please continue to share your thoughts, concerns, and expertise on these and other issues, and don’t hesitate to contact my office if I can be of assistance. Thank you for the privilege of serving you and your family in Topeka.