House acts on concealed carry, tax
A large number of the hot-button issues came before the House last week as we are nearing the end of the regular session. Committees will soon wrap up their work and the product of many weeks of hearings and debates have been advanced to the full House for review.
The House also paused to remember Gordon Parks who passed away recently and had a ceremony to recognize a few of the members of the task force who participated in the identification and capture of the BTK killer. Tax reduction, workman's compensation, concealed carry and 2007 appropriations were among bills considered by the House.
Sales tax on rebates
We see commercials every day advertising incentives to entice us to buy a new vehicle. Among these is the cash back incentive offering a "factory rebate" of several thousand dollars when you purchase a new vehicle that is normally deducted from the purchase price. Currently, if you were to buy a $20,000 car and be offered a $3,000 rebate, even though you only pay $17,000 for the car, you are charged sales tax on the full $20,000. In essence, you are paying sales tax on $3,000 you never spent. House Bill (HB) 2640 eliminates this tax. It was passed Monday by a wide margin and will now be sent to the Senate.
Contentious debate surrounded the workman's compensation bill, Senate Bill (SB) 461, when it reached the House floor. Supporters of the bill argued that it was not a "disposable worker" bill as many have suggested, but that it helps to protect employers from paying for injuries sustained by workers prior to their employment with their current company or for an injury that didn't occur at the workplace.
Major portions of the bill remained unchanged and the existing statute still protects workers injured on the job. However, the old high school football injury or the weekend water skiing accident shouldn't be the responsibility of the employer, proponents argued.
Opponents suggested that the bill was unfriendly to injured workers, would not reduce fraud and would likely result in more -- not less -- litigation, in order to determine any pre-existing conditions a worker may have had.
After the vote was taken, a call of the House was issued. Several members changed their votes during the call, but when the final tally was read, the bill passed 67-56.
By a vote of 90-33, the House passed SB 418 to allow licensed Kansans to carry concealed firearms. The Senate followed the House lead by voting 30-10 to adopt the bill with changes suggested by the House. The changes included additions to the list of places where a person is prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon. The bill requires a training course and licensure from the Attorney General's office.
With 90 votes for passage in the House, and 30 votes in the Senate, this bill will be sent to the Governor with a veto-proof majority in both chambers.
In a related matter, the House also passed HB 2577, which removes from statute a citizen's "duty to retreat" by establishing a justified use of force provision. The proposed law allows you to defend yourself if you have a "reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm to such person's self or another."
The House voted Thursday 92-30 to phase out the franchise tax in Kansas. HB 2548 would reduce the rate of the corporation franchise tax from the current 0.125 percent of shareholder equity or net worth to 0.083 percent for tax year 2007; and to 0.41 percent for tax year 2008. The tax would be repealed altogether, effective for tax year 2009. The intent of the removal of this tax is to encourage existing businesses to remain in Kansas and other businesses to establish franchises in the state.