From the Senate - Jan 23, 2020

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The 2020 legislative session kicked off on Monday, January 13th with a busy week organizing committees. On Wednesday I was honored to be elected chairman of the Building & Construction Committee. This committee reviews all state leases and construction projects. 

Governor Kelly gave her State of State address, which was a broad overview of the Governor’s vision for Kansas. Larry Campbell, the Governor’s budget director presented the proposed budget to our Senate Ways and Means and the House Appropriations committees jointly.  The Governor’s budget is built on the premise of re-amortizing KPERS, the states retirement program. She wants to use KPERS to help finance the budget that may provide some short-term gain but would add another $4.4 billion in debt to the unfunded liability and an additional 10 years to the payment plan, if the plan were approved. If the State continues on our current payment plan, KPERS is expected to be fully funded in 15 years. At this time KPERS is funded at about 68% and our unfunded liability is about $7 billion. Last year I opposed the re-amortization and I will again this year.

Governor Kelly’s proposed budget will cost around $7.8 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. The proposed plan includes various new social spending initiatives, Medicaid Expansion, delaying payments to our state retirement fund and a pay raise for state employees. Even with a billion dollar budget carryover, the Governor continues to request transfers from KDOT (Kansas Department of Transportation).

In an attempt to help Kansans with property tax costs, the Governor suggests funding a program called the Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund, which hasn’t been used since 2003. It is a cumbersome fund designed to send money back to local government who will decide whether or not to pass the money on to taxpayers. LAVTRF relief estimates calculated by independent researchers show, after going through all the red tape, taxpayers who own a $150,000 home will only save an average of about $12-$25 per year depending on the county.

The Governor also wants to provide $53 million in tax credits to low-income families for sales tax relief while a Republican plan would eliminate the cumbersome tax return credit element and simply lower the amount of tax paid at the store when Kansans buy groceries.

To help try to offset at least some of her spending plans, the Governor would like to begin taxing streaming services like Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and Netflix, which, if approved, would take affect in July. Her budget plan, according to the state’s bipartisan Legislative Research Department, overspends and cuts into our reserves by an estimated $571.8 million. Republicans strongly support allowing Kansans to take advantage of the Trump Tax Policy which allows taxpayers to itemize their deductions to get breaks on property taxes, mortgage interest expense and healthcare costs.

We have opportunities for young students in middle school, junior high or the first years of high school to come to Topeka and be a page. It is a great learning experience about the legislative process and an opportunity to see Kansas’ beautiful Capitol building. If you are interested contact my office assistant at 785 296-7399.

Thank you to all who returned my survey. Anyone who did not receive a survey and would like a copy of my update/survey may call my office and request a copy by mail or email, 785 296-7399 or rick.billinger@senate.ks.gov. 

It is an honor and pleasure to serve the 40th Senate District of Kansas. 

LEGISLATIVE

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Legislative Update - Oct 24, 2019

A popular credit card advertisement uses the tag line “What’s in your wallet?” While I don’t have a Hollywood celebrity to deliver my message, I do have a similar question… “What’s on your ballot?”  Kansas has an important... [More]

From the Senate - Apr 11, 2019

April 5, 2019 was first adjournment. The legislature will return on May 1 for veto session. Here are a few of the bills that passed last week that may be of interest to the 40th District. H Sub SB16, House Substitute for Senate Bill 16 is the school finance plan that appropriates... [More]

Legislative Update - Apr 11, 2019

Do kids play musical chairs anymore? I remember it vividly from my childhood days... along with games like "Red Rover" that could get a little wild and crazy to the point that it wasn't a matter of "if" you got hurt, it was a matter of "how bad". Players would eagerly anticipate... [More]

From the Senate - Apr 4, 2019

This last week was a busy week. The Senate passed 42 bills in 3 days. Governor Kelly raises income taxes on middle class families and small businesses as well as large corporations that do business in foreign countries. When Governor Kelly vetoed SB 22 she broke several campaign... [More]

Legislative Update - Apr 4, 2019

Amid the headlines of school finance, tax veto, budget, gun bill, and abortion reversal pills, there was another important story that didn’t seem to get much coverage. The legislature passed a constitutional amendment! No, it does NOT have to do with school finance.... [More]

Legislative Update - Mar 28, 2019

This week, I’d like to share with you the results of a survey I performed regarding several important issues we are looking at in the legislature right now. The survey was statewide, but for the purposes of this report I have eliminated any responses that came from outside... [More]

From the Senate - Mar 28, 2019

This was the last week for committees to meet. The most important thing we did this week was passing the budget out of the Senate. Some of the highlights are: Sub SB75 K-12, school funding, which includes over $4 billion.  Part of the funding is an inflation factor of $92.7... [More]

From the Senate - Mar 21, 2019

SB 142 passed out of the Senate this week and has headed to the House for debate. This bill appropriates funds to the K-12 base aid for FY 2020 and FY 2021. The legislation supplements the state’s $525 million, five-year investment that passed last year, with a series... [More]

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COURT

Traffic Court September-December

Forman, David Scott, Miami Fla, driving 78 mph in a 50 mph zone. Fines $177 Court Cost $108. Hagan, Audrey Ann, Columbia Mo, driving 78 mph in a 65 mph zone. Deferred. Court Cost $108. Pfeffer, Samuel Tyler, Sharon Springs, Reckless Driving.  Bench Trial – Not... [More]

Traffic Court up to September 2019

Turner, Philip Russell II, driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, deferred adjudication, court costs $108. Patton, Amanda, driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone, deferred adjudication, court costs $108. Ramey, Tyler Ray, failure to stop or obey railroad crossing signal, fines $195, court... [More]

Wallace County District Court Sentencings

On May 15th, Vance Diamond Halsey appeared in the Wallace County District Court with court appointed attorney, Christopher Rohr, Colby for sentencing in the matter of case 2019-CR-03.  Halsey was charged with Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer on March 12, 2019, ... [More]

Traffic Court for May-June 2019

May Traffic Report Thomas, Dyami R, Bellingham, Wash, driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $105, court cost $108. Araujo Pompa, Almedio, Coral Gables, Fla, driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $105, court cost $108. Lennon, Jake Owen, Pittsburg, Penn, driving 93 mph... [More]

Traffic Court for April 2019

James Manuel Phillips, Gardner, Colo, driving 77 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $57 and court costs $108. Kenzie Marie Spreier, Colby, Kans, diving 80 in a 65 mph zone, fines $75 and court costs $108. Erick Edward Jarosz, Canon City, Colo, driving 84 mph in a 65 mph zone,... [More]

Brandon and Fugate Sentenced

Jonathan Brandon appeared in Wallace County District Court on April 10th, 2019, with his court appointed attorney, Steve Cott, Garden City, for sentencing in cases 17 CR 51 and 17 CR 58. Each case charged Brandon with Distribution of Methamphetamine within 1000 feet of a school,... [More]

Traffic Court reports Apr 11, 2019

Chandler, Garrett Scott, Pueblo, Colo, driving 75 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $69, court costs $108. Palmier, Joshua Quayshun, Birmingham, Ala, driving 84 mph in a 65 mph zone, fines $99, court costs $108. Chavez, Brenda Icilice, Denver, Colo, driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone,... [More]

March District Court

On March 13th, 2019 Charlene Valdez appeared in Wallace County District Court with court appointed attorney Leslie Beims, Goodland in the matter of case number 2017 CR 42. Valdez had been charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, within 1,000’ of a school,... [More]

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NEWS

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Dollar General Grand Opening

The Grand Opening of the Dollar General will be this Saturday, January 25th from 8 to 10 am.  There will be  free totebags and cups, and the first 50 customers will recieve a $10 gift card.  Cake will be served.  

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Farm Credit Seeking Scholarship Applicants

The Board of Directors of Farm Credit of Western Kansas, ACA is pleased to announce the continuation of the Farm Credit Scholarship program.  Farm Credit has $8,000 available to High School Seniors, a $500 per semester scholarship, which is renewable for up-to four years... [More]

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Sharon Springs Wildcats Take On Weskan Coyotes

Jace Mackley shoots a basket for Weskan in the game between Wallace County High School and Weskan High School last Friday.  Weskan Boys won 71 - 51. JC Allen (WHS) shoots over Brookley Dinkel   (WCHS) during last week’s game.  The Lady Wildcats won... [More]

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FHSU Students Earn Fall Semester Honors

Grady Hammer and  Dalen See are among the 1,596 students named to the Deans Honor Roll for the fall 2019 semester by deans at Fort Hays State University. The Deans Honor Roll includes undergraduate students only. To be eligible, students must have completed 12 or more... [More]

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KSU Students Earn Fall Semester Honors

More than 4,220 Kansas State University students have earned semester honors for their academic performance in the fall 2019 semester. Students earning a grade point average for the semester of 3.75 or above on at least 12 graded credit hours receive semester honors along with... [More]

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Sexson Returns From Retreat For Rural Leaders

Lissa Sexson of the Wallace County Visitors Bureau attended the 27th Retreat for Rural Leaders facilitated by the Kansas Sampler Foundation and held at The Barn Bed and Breakfast Inn near Valley Falls. Lissa was one of 34 people from across the state to attend. The group was... [More]

My Favorite Hiding Spot

Sandi Kerr-Jordan’s 8th graders discus hiding spots as they learn about interactions between the Jews and the Nazis during World War II. Here are some of her student’s personal hiding spots - My hiding place is my room. It is really the only place in my house... [More]

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Acoustic Eidolon to Perform

Back for a third time in recent years, Acoustic Eidolon will perform for the Western Plains Arts Association, Sunday, Jan. 26 at the Wallace County High School Auditorium, 521 North Main, Sharon Springs. The program begins at 2 p.m. Mountain (3 p.m. Central).  Admission... [More]

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BUGLE NOTES

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Bugle Notes - Jan 16, 2020

This Sunday, the Fort Wallace Museum is looking forward to hosting Greg and Cee Heller from Kannapolis for the screening of the new documentary film “Fort Harker: Gateway Post to the Frontier.” Please join us at 2:00 pm MT for the 45-minute film, followed by discussion... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Jan 9, 2020

Happy New Year! The Fort Wallace Memorial Association is looking forward to a fun and full 2020; we invite everyone to join in and help make it our most successful year ever!  There are two ways to join our organization. “The Fort Wallace Memorial Association”... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Dec 12, 2019

Christmas arrived at the Fort Wallace Museum this past Sunday, with the annual “Candlelight Christmas” service, followed by a festive gathering inside the main building. The 1888 Bethany Lutheran Church was filled to capacity for the traditional service. Worship was... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Dec 5, 2019

In 1865, David Butterfield raised money from New York investors to create Butterfield’s Overland Despatch Stage Line along the Smoky Hill Trail - the shortest route from commerce centers near Atchison, Kansas to the gold fields near Denver Colorado. In 2019, Butterfield’s... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Nov 7, 2019

On Saturday, the Fort Wallace Museum welcomed author Chuck Warner and his wife Karen to the Museum to discuss his new book “Birds, Bones and Beetles,” about his grandfather Charles “Bunk” Bunker, who was a KU Naturalist that explored Wallace County and... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Oct 31, 2019

The 2019 Smoky Hill Trail Conference held at the Fort Wallace Museum is now in the rearview mirror! The event hosted 75 folks, including several national names in Western History research, as the role of Fort Wallace in Trail history was explored. Tours, lectures, networking,... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Oct 17, 2019

The Smoky Hill Trail Conference weekend is here, and we are excited to host folks from all over Kansas, Colorado and beyond! The theme of the weekend is “Fort Wallace - the Fightin’est Fort on the Smoky Hill Trail,” and presentations will explore the events,... [More]

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Bugle Notes - Oct 10, 2019

This Saturday night, we are delighted to welcome Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran “The Singer and the Songwriter” to the Fort Wallace Museum for an evening of live music at 7pm as part of the High Plains Public Radio Artists Series! The Singer and The Songwriter is the... [More]

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