Registration is open for the 2021 Kansas Tourism Conference

What a year! Get ready to celebrate the travel and tourism industry at the Kansas Tourism Conference in Liberal, October 18-20, 2021. Be a part of the Kansas tourism industry’s “don’t miss” conference of the year. Registration is now open! Enjoy inspiring speakers, valuable educational information and fun networking opportunities. Kansas has so much travel and tourism talent and we can’t wait for you to meet each other!

For more information, and to register, visit the Kansas Tourism Conference event page. Be sure to look around and see what this year’s conference has to offer: a dynamic lineup of speakers, a silent auction, marketing awards, and so much more. When you’re ready to sign up, simply click “Register Now” in the Conference Dates section and get ready to celebrate. Registration is easy and you may select to complete your payment by using either credit card or check. But don’t forget to make your hotel reservation – the link is on the KTC event page.

Think you can dazzle your tourism peers even more? Share your talent in the TIAK Marketing Awards! Join TIAK in highlighting your skills in conjunction with the Kansas Tourism Conference. Entries must be submitted by August 13th and each submission may only be entered once. One winner from each overall budget category will be presented at the Awards Banquet. For submission requirements and registration, please visit the Marketing Awards page.

We look forward to celebrating travel and tourism at the 2021 Kansas Tourism Conference! Register today.

Veto Session Wrap-up

Weekly Legislative Report
Veto Session Wrap-up

The 2021 Kansas Legislative Session adjourned just after 2:00 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, May 8. The Veto Session began on Monday, May 3 and only lasted five days instead of two weeks as some were expecting. Lawmakers went to work quickly overriding five of the Governor’s 17 vetoes by Monday afternoon.

The Legislature will return on May 26 for Sine Die adjournment, which is typically a quick, ceremonial closing of the legislative session. However, this year’s Sine Die could get complicated if Governor Laura Kelly decides to override any more of the bills sent to her from last week.

Considered one of legislative leadership’s biggest victories this year is the override on Senate Bill 50, the primary tax bill which allows for federal decoupling. The legislation also increases the standard deduction for all Kansas income taxpayers, allows itemization on state returns regardless of federal filing status, and requires online retailers to collect and remit sales and transient guest taxes. It was touch and go for a few minutes in the House. After a few changes of vote, the final roll call was right on the line at 84-39. The Senate’s vote was 30-10.

The Legislature also successfully overrode the Governor on the following bills:

  • House Bill 2058 lowers the age to obtain a concealed carry license to 18 years.
  • House Bill 2183 limits the number of advanced ballots delivered on behalf of another voter.
  • House Bill 2332 sets requirements for the solicitation of advanced ballot applications.
  • House Bill 2166 authorizes several distinctive state license plates.

There was one bill that the Legislature was unable to get to a two-thirds majority needed for an override. Senate Bill 55 created the fairness in women’s sports act and required that female student athletic teams only include members who are biologically female. The Senate vote failed 26-14, so it was never considered by the House.

There were 11 other Governor veto’s that the legislature did not attempt to override including the following:

  • HB 2039-American civics test/financial literacy that required Kansas students to pass an American civics test to graduate from high school. It also would have required a personal financial literacy course for grades 10 through 12 lasting at least one semester or two quarters.
  • HB 2089Firearm safety that would have required the state Board of Education to develop guidelines for gun-safety courses that include the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safe program.
  • E-verify– No attempt was made to override the veto of the state budget provision that would have required state agencies and contractors to verify the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
  • Statehouse Meditation Room– The Legislature opted not to override the governor’s veto of language in the budget to reclaim a room for meditation on the second floor of the Capitol that the governor now uses for constituent services. It is believed the Legislative Coordinating Council still has the power to take the room back.

Below are highlights of the key bills passed during the Veto Session:

Conference Committee Report on House Substitute for Substitute for Senate Bill 273 – COVID Small Business Relief Act

The bill provides as much as $500 million in relief to Kansas businesses that were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. It requires the state to set aside 25% of unallocated federal COVID relief money to compensate small businesses that were financially hurt from government-imposed shutdowns or restrictions during the pandemic. Cities and counties are required to earmark 35% of their federal relief dollars. The bill applies only to businesses with 50 or fewer employees, and claims must be submitted between October 1 and December 31, 2021.

The House passed the bill 68-42, and it was passed 24-14 in the Senate. The bill now goes to the governor for her signature.

Conference Committee Report on Senate Substitute for House Bill 2313 – Disaster Declaration Property Tax Reimbursement

The bill provides property tax relief to certain small businesses that are shut down or restricted due to state declared disaster emergency declarations. This applies to small businesses that received less than $150,000 from the COVID Small Business Relief Act in SB 273. The bill is prospective and restricted for businesses with yearly revenues between $10,000 and $2.5 million. Each property tax rebate is capped at $7,500. The state would be responsible for two-thirds of the claim, and the county would pick up the other one-third. The legislation also includes the extension of the 20-mill statewide school finance levy and directs the Legislative Post Audit to study the impact of government and nonprofit organizations competing with for-profit businesses, which is an issue that the Legislature has grappled with for several years.

Conference Committee Report on House Bill 2134 – K-12 Education Funding

The bill appropriates funding for the Department of Education for fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023 including $5.2 billion to comply with a state Supreme Court order requiring the Legislature to adequately fund education. Other education-related policies in the bill include expansion of a tax credit for private school scholarship contributions for low-income students, and limitations on remote learning hours and corresponding state aid dollars. To get Governor Kelly to sign a proposal that includes more school choice, the Legislature negotiated a spending plan that gives her a say in how new federal COVID relief money is spent. The agreement will allow the SPARK committee to continue to oversee the relief money, however with more legislative members on the panel.

Conference Committee Report on Senate Bill 29 – Short-term Health Insurance

The bill provides for short-term, limited-duration health plans for a period of less than 12 months with an increase in the renewal/extension periods from 24 month up to a maximum policy period of 36 months. It also requires insurance companies to disclose information to consumers regarding the Affordable Care Act requirements concerning preexisting conditions and minimum essential coverage. Some are anticipating this bill will be vetoed by the Governor.

Conference Committee Report for Senate Bill 159 – Omnibus Budget

As usually happens, the Legislature passed an omnibus budget bill on the last day of the legislative session that adjusts state appropriations to state agencies for the next two fiscal years. The omnibus budget is a trailer budget bill that makes appropriate changes based on the Consensus Revenue Estimates released in late April.

The influx of federal COVID-19 relief funds had a dramatic effect on the budget, notably in higher education funding. Legislators were acutely aware that this was to be one time money. An additional $53 million was allocated to the state’s universities, community colleges and technical colleges. The dollars were split into grants and scholarships, as well as money to make up for past budget cuts, for student recruitment, and new equipment, including, $10 million for the newly passed Promise Scholarship Act and $4.3 million for technical colleges capital outlay.

Budget negotiators also agreed to a new process for the distribution of federal dollars.  The Governor had vetoed a budget provision passed in regular session that would give additional powers to the legislature in appropriating these funds.  A new SPARK Executive Committee will be formed and comprised of three appointees from the Governor’s office, two appointees from the Speaker of the House and two appointees from the Senate President.  This committee will be responsible for distribution of federal COVID relief dollars.

The largest issue that budget negotiators needed to resolve was state employee pay. House negotiators had proposed a 2.5% state employee pay raise. After a stalemate, the conference committee shifted to a narrower pay issue, salaries in the Judicial Branch. The Senate ultimately agreed to a one-time pay increase for judges. Non-judge staff and court service offices were granted a multi-year planned increase.

The conference committee also added funds for mental health as well as FTE’s for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) funding. Funding for the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline was also approved. These funds will expand call centers in Kansas, which will connect callers to local services.

In addition, $9.6 million were allocated to update the unemployment insurance benefit system as well as $250,000 to conduct an outside audit in compliance with Senate Sub. for Sub. for HB 2196, the newly passed unemployment insurance reform and modernization bill.

Budget vetoes were also addressed during the Veto Session. Three budget line-item vetoes by the Governor were overturned;

  • Kansas Board of Regents capital renewal provision for $10 million;
  • DCF Hope Ranch provision; and,
  • KDADS provision for PACE, RFP for all-inclusive care provision.

Conference Committee Report on Senate Bill 47 – Tax Bill Bundle

This CCR includes several bills considered by the Legislature this year and does the following:

  • Enacts the Taxpayer Protection Act, requiring that paid tax return preparers sign any income tax return and include the preparer’s federal preparer tax identification number on the form. Any failure to do so would subject the preparer to a civil penalty of $50 per return with a maximum of $25,000 in civil penalties per preparer per year.
  • Extends the sunset by three years on an income tax credit for the Pittsburg Port Authority and makes the credit available to all income taxpayers. Current law limits the credit to only corporate income taxpayers. This proposal was supported by Watco Railroad for investments made in short line rail maintenance.
  • Extends the filing deadline for corporate income tax returns to one month after the federal due date and removes the tax liability for victims of identity theft on any income fraudulently obtained.
  • Increases the number of days a nonresident employee can work in Kansas before being subject to state withholding requirements to 30 days.
  • Extends the sunset of the Rural Opportunity Zone program for two years.

Conference Committee Report on SB 78 – Insurance Bundle

The CCR for SB 78 updates the national insurance commissioners (NAIC) credit for insurance reinsurance model law, codifying the NAIC credit for reinsurance model regulation and updating certain terms and definitions relating to the insurance holding company act, service contracts and surplus lines insurance. The report also eliminates certain requirements relating to the annual submittal of certain documents by out-of-state risk retention groups, extending the time frame to submit certain documents by professional employer organizations, abolishing the utilization review advisory committee and replacing it with URAC.

HB 2187First-time Home Buyers Savings Account

The Legislature passed a bill providing a tax deduction for first-time home buyers. It allows Kansans to set up savings accounts at financial institutions starting July 1, 2022, to save for the purchase of a new home. Contributions would be limited in each tax year to $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for a married couple filing a joint return. The deposits would be capped for all tax years at $24,000 for individuals and $48,000 for a married couple filing a joint return. The bill passed 119-3 in the House and 35-1 in the Senate. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Sine Die

The 2021 Legislature will have its official last day of session on May 26th.  Sine Die is usually a formality, but Senate Leadership announced that Senate members should plan on attending to attempt any overrides of anticipated vetoes by the Governor.  The Senate is also expected to elect a new Majority Leader, to replace Senator Gene Sullentrop R-Wichita, who was voted out of his leadership position due to legal issues before regular session adjourned. Contenders for the leadership position include Asst. Majority Leader Larry Alley, R-Winfield, Majority Whip Richard Hilderbrand, R-Galena and former Senate Vice-President Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia.

2022 Legislative Session Issues

In addition, several bills were discussed during veto session but failed to pass.  They will be held over for debate during the 2022 Legislative Session:

House Substitute for Senate Bill 158 – Medical Marijuana

After hours of debate and more than a dozen of amendments, the House passed a proposal that allows for the manufacturing and sale of medical marijuana in Kansas. The bill is restricted to patients that have been prescribed the treatment by a licensed and trained physician. It also allows counties to prohibit the sale of medical marijuana in that individual county. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will have strict regulations on harvesting, processing, and dispensing to ensure that marijuana is not smoked – even for medical purposes – and not used recreationally. SB 158 will be considered by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee next year.

HB 2119 – Education savings accounts

A bill that would have allowed students to take their base state aid with them to private schools under several circumstances passed the House but died in the Senate. It was part of a broad bill that included school funding and a proposal to expand taxpayer-subsidized scholarships to attend private school. The education savings accounts were ultimately removed from the legislation. They are expected to return next year.

SB 287 – Medicaid Expansion

Efforts to expand Medicaid this session again fell short in the House and the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes tried to amend a bill to expand Medicaid, but it was defeated 23-12. Democratic Rep. Brett Parker tried a similar approach in the House, but his proposed amendment to the state budget was voted down 78-46. The Governor even introduced SB 287 which proposes to pay for Medicaid expansion through the authorization of medical marijuana. As one of the Governor’s top priority the issue will be in 2022.

SB 84 – Sports Betting

The Senate voted 26-12 to pass a bill authorizing the state’s four casinos to contract with the Kansas Lottery to manage and operate a sports book on behalf of the state. The House took a very different approach that would have allowed betting at the state’s four casinos and 1,200 lottery retailers statewide as well as authorized a revote to allow slot machines at the dog track in Sedgwick County. However, the House failed to forward a bill and we expect the issue to return next session.

Tax Credits and Exemptions

Several tax proposals have been held over for the 2022 legislative session.  Some of the top issues include:

  • HB 2445, a property tax exemption of for-profit health clubs who argue they unfairly compete with nonprofit or local units of government health clubs Its provisions were added to a bill during the final hours of the veto session and became very controversial. The Senate ultimately rejected the provisions and instead lawmakers settled on a post audit study to look at the impact of nonprofits and local government competing with for-profit companies.
  • HB 2219-TARGET Tax Credit bill-tax credit for hiring intellectually disabled individuals passed the House 123-1 but the Senate Commerce Committee failed to take it up. This bill will be pursued during the 2022 Session.
  • HB 2315-Provides a tax credit for contributions to tech colleges. The bill passed the House and was heard in the Senate Assessment and Tax Committee but stalled in committee.  Expect this bill to be pursued during the 2022 Session.
  • HB 2328 and SB 282-Aviation Tax Credit. Both bills were heard by both the House and Senate Commerce Committees.  HB 2328 has passed out of the House Commerce Committee and SB 282 was passed out by the Senate Tax Committee. Efforts were made to these to a tax conference committee failed. These credits will most likely be pursued in 2022.

House Sub for SB 91Student Liability for Work Based Learning

A conference committee was formed on SB 91 but was never called to meet.  The bill proposes liability protection for businesses that participate in high school work-based learning programs and clarifies USDs are responsible for carrying coverage for the students by treating high school work-based learning programs like other school sponsored events and authorizes schools to purchase insurance coverage for students participating in the activity. Seen as critical component to career exploration this issue remains a top business priority and will be back next session.

HB 2264 – Profiting from Likeness: Student-athlete endorsements

A bill allowing college athletes to profit from their names, likenesses and images died in the Senate this session. The legislation is seen as vital for keeping Kansas college athletics competitive. Fourteen states have already passed similar legislation, including two signed into law last week. It is rumored this bill is tied to the legislation banning transgender girl and women athletes from participating in interscholastic sports for females, which became a roadblock for this bill passing this session.

Discrimination

Bills deemed discriminatory in nature continue to pop up every year and have concerned issues such as sports, tourism, voting and even adoption bills.  We expect the same for 2022 with additional discussion on gender sports and election laws pending.

Covid Relief/Vaccine

In 2022 we are assured to see lingering Covid issues being addressed such as who may require vaccinations and whether proof of vaccination will be required for work and to attend school.  We also know there will be additional discussion on how to best utilize and spend the federal recovery dollars coming into the state. And we cannot forget about all the issue still plaguing the KS Unemployment Trust Fund.  The 2022 Legislative Session may have as many Covid issues to consider as the 2021 session.

For a comprehensive analysis of all legislation passed during the 2021session click here.

Celebrating National Travel & Tourism Week!

National Travel & Tourism Week is well underway. Be sure to share your photos and activities with office@tiak.org and let us know how you are showcasing your community.

“Donut underestimate the Power of Travel!”

Visit Kansas City, Kansas Director, Alan Carr, delivered donuts to the Wyandotte County delegation in honor of National Travel & Tourism Week.

 

National Tourism Week Across Kansas

National Tourism Week Across Kansas

May 2-8, 2021 marks the 38th annual National Tourism Week (NTW) celebration. It’s a time when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal well-being.

While NTW celebrations were held virtually in 2020 as travel buckled under the growing rise in Covid cases, this year we are hopeful that this industry is taking a turn for the better. As such, we are proud to be a part of the #PowerOfTravel and know that our Kansas communities play an essential role in rebuilding our industry and the U.S. economy.

Let’s take a peek at the monumental impact travel has on the Kansas economy:

  • $7.3 billion was spent by 36.5 million visitors to Kansas in 2019
  • Visitor spending has increased $775 million since 2015
  • 15¢ of each visitor dollar is spent in a Kansas retail store
  • A traveler is worth $200 per day to Kansas
  • Overnight visitors represent 40% of all visits to Kansas
  • $613 million in new capital investment for tourism projects
  • 66,007 direct tourism jobs in Kansas
  • Each Kansas household would be taxed an additional $600 to replace the tax revenue generated by tourism

Source: Economic Impact of Tourism in Kansas 2019, Tourism Economics

To celebrate this important industry and take part in NTW activities across the U.S., here’s a quick glance at what some Kansas communities are doing during National Tourism Week!

Kansas City, KS: Visit Kansas City Kansas plans to share information and statistics on the power of tourism via social outlets the week of April 26. Then throughout National Tourism Week, they will be posting spotlights on various industry partners linking back to a blog on their website. The blog and spotlights will feature ways our partners pivoted and saw community support in 2020, and what they are looking forward to with travel coming back in 2021. Lastly, they will be delivering donuts to various partners and stakeholders throughout the week of NTW, with stats on tourism’s impact on KCK/Kansas and a note that says something similar to, “Donut underestimate the Power of Travel!”

Shawnee, KS: Lt. Governor David Toland is the invited guest speaker at Visit Shawnee’s “Turn the Page” Celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week on Thursday, May 13, 2021, at the Pavilion at Theatre in the Park, 7710 Renner Road.

Olathe, KS: Join the Olathe Chamber of Commerce as we celebrate tourism week virtually through a networking coffee.  Meet our chamber members and hear about how tourism impacts our community on Thursday, May 6 at 9am.  For more information and the zoom link, visit olathe.org.

Merriam, KS: The Passport to Merriam will launch during National Tourism Week, inviting locals and visitors to #ExploreMerriam. In addition, the Visitors Bureau will be making special deliveries to front line hospitality workers to thank them for their tireless efforts in serving guests to Merriam.

Trego County: It’s time to hit the road to explore Trego County and join the 36 million tourists who visit our state each year! This May 2-8, we’ll be celebrating National Travel & Tourism Month. Tourism is a vital piece of the Kansas economy, supporting 66K jobs and contributing $7.3 billion to the state’s economy, a $775 million increase since 2015! We believe our residents are our best ambassadors, so we’ve created the #TourTrego challenge to help spread the word about all the great things to see and do in Trego County. It’s a fun, interactive way for you to enjoy our county by sharing your best selfies on your Facebook page along with the hashtag “#TourTrego.” Each time you do, your name will be entered in a drawing for $50 in Wampum bucks to spend at one of WaKeeney’s businesses. We’ve put together a list of the most popular places to explore around our county to help you get started. Click here for more information on how you can #TourTrego.

Council Grove, KS: While not officially during tourism week, Council Grove is gearing up to celebrate the Santa Fe Trail 200th! The Historic Preservation Corporation and Trail Days Historic Site will be presenting a Santa Fe Trail 200 event on Sunday September 12, at 2:00 p.m. in the Council Grove High School Auditorium.  Slawomir Dobrzanski, chair of the Keyboard Department of Kansas State University, will be presenting “Amazing Classical Music on the Santa Fe Trail” related to the 1861 Rawlinson-Terwilliger stone home, a Certified Historic Site and Interpretive Site on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. The music will include a classical version of “Home on the Range,” authentic Native American music, and music from the 1800s played in ethnic countries of the early settlers who built and lived in the stone home and who represent the ethnic foods served in the Trail Days Café & Museum. Call: (620)767-7986 for reservations. Seats are $15.00 each and proceeds go to the Trail Days Historic Site projects.

If you’re not sure how to participate in National Tourism Week, it’s easy! Here’s a few ideas:

  • Share social media posts on tourism’s impact in your community!
  • Host a giveaway of locally made products for visitors stopping by your local chamber, visitors’ bureau or city hall.
  • Invite local elected officials for coffee while you discuss how tourism benefits your destination.
  • Ask your Mayor or Council to issue a proclamation to officially recognize May 2-8, 2021 as National Travel and Tourism Week.
  • Create an itinerary for a weekend getaway in your destination and invite employees, local residents and visitors to suggest their favorites. Highlight each location throughout the week on social media channels.

To learn more about the history and importance of National Tourism Week, visit www.ustravel.org.

First Adjournment Legislative Report

Weekly Legislative Report: First Adjournment
April 6-9, 2021

The Kansas Legislature adjourned the 2021 regular session last Friday evening after a very busy week of conference committees and floor debate. From taxes and budget to guns and elections, lawmakers wrapped up most of the larger items on this year’s agenda. The omnibus budget bill, education finance, and any veto overrides are essentially what is left when they return for the veto session on May 3.

Below are highlights from this past week, as well as where several key bills stand right now.

Education

Senate Bill 175 passed the House last week but failed twice to pass the Senate floor. The bill makes appropriations to the Kansas Department of Education for the next two school years for K-12 education. The main objection, however, is a provision that expands the tax credit for low-income student’s scholarship program. The provision is seen by many as directing money away from public schools and toward non-accredited private schools.

The conference committee report would also require in-person instruction, allow for only 240 remote learning hours in a school year, and provide a different calculation for school finance during remote learning. It also reauthorizes the 20-mill property tax levy for schools. This is one of the issues that legislators will have to take up again during the veto session.

House Bill 2039 passed both the House and the Senate and will be presented to the Governor for her signature.  The bill requires high school students to take, but not pass, a civics test prior to graduation.  A report will be developed by the Kansas Board of Education on student’s achievement on these tests.  The bill also amends the law regarding personal financial literacy education for grades 11 and 12, including a personal financial literacy course in either saving and investing; credit and debt; financial responsibility and money management; and insurance, risk management, and income.

Guns

Similar to passed sessions gun legislation was debated by both chambers.  House Bill 2058 lowers the age for obtaining a conceal carry license from 21 years to 18 and allows reciprocity to recognize out-of-state licenses to carry a concealed handgun.

House Bill 2089 requires firearms safety be taught in public schools, grades K-12. The State Board of Education is directed to establish curriculum guidelines for a standardized firearm safety education program, which is required to include accident prevention.  Both bills passed the Legislature last week and may be subject to a Governor’s veto.

Voting Laws

In an effort to address potential voter fraud, the Kansas Legislature considered two key voting reform measures last week, but only passed one.  They are as follows:

House Bill 2183 passed the Legislature last week and is on its way to the governor’s desk. The conference committee report would limit the number of advanced ballots delivered on behalf of another voter to 10 ballots in an election. A written statement at time of delivery signed by both the voter and person delivering the ballot would be required. The bill would also prohibit a candidate for office from delivering advance voting ballots on behalf of another voter unless it is an immediate family member. Violations of the legislation would be a class C misdemeanor.

Senate Bill 307 was sent back to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee last week for reconsideration due to lack of leadership support. The bill would amend the timeframe to return advance ballots to county election offices. Existing law requires ballots be postmarked on or before election day but still be counted if received by Friday of election week. SB 307 proposes to strike the three-day window and require all ballots be received by the close of polls on election day.

Unemployment Insurance

House and Senate Commerce Committee negotiators spent several days working with KS Department of Labor (KDOL) and the Governor’s office finalizing an agreement on Unemployment Insurance (UI) reform. House Bill 2196 was unanimously adopted by the Legislature last week and it is expected Governor Kelly will sign it.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

  • Authorizes an independent audit of the UI trust fund and earmarks up to $500 million of federal coronavirus relief funds toward replenishing the depleted trust fund from fraudulent and improper claims paid during the pandemic;
  • Creates the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council to oversee KDOL’s IT modernization infrastructure project;
  • Provides for legislative oversight of the modernization project by requiring the Legislative Coordinating Council to approve the final vendor selected to conduct the modernization project;
  • Adjusts employer’s surcharge rate tables and holds off surcharge assessments through 2023;
  • Requires employer account balance protections to be provided earlier in the calendar year;
  • Makes permanent the My Re Employment program aimed at assisting claimants in finding a job after 2 weeks of receiving benefits;
  • Extends 26 weeks of benefit eligibility to September 5, 2021;
  • Clarifies anyone proven to be the victim of identity theft will not be disqualified from UI benefits;
  • Changes 5-year claimant fraud disqualifications to 1 year disqualification for benefits after the first offense with the disqualification clock beginning only after full repayment of fraud is made and any additional offenses disqualifies for 5-years with full repayment of the fraud starting the clock;
  • Adjusts thresholds for maximum weekly benefits from 4.5% to 5% statewide unemployment rate; and
  • Modifies the shared work program so negative balanced employers may now participate in the program on a limited basis;

Ultimately, the bill assures the archaic Kansas UI system will be modernized and secured to meet both claimant and employer needs as well as provide relief from all the fraud experienced since the pandemic.

Tax Policy

A conference committee report on Senate Bill 47 was signed last Friday and is expected to pass both chambers early in the veto session. The measure includes provisions from several different bills considered this year:

Senate Bill 47 enacts the Taxpayer Protection Act, requiring that paid tax return preparers sign any income tax return and include the preparer’s federal preparer tax identification number on the form. Any failure to do so would subject the preparer to a civil penalty of $50 per return with a maximum of $25,000 in civil penalties per preparer per year.

Senate Bill 71 extends the sunset by three years on an income tax credit for the Pittsburg Port Authority and makes the credit available to all income taxpayers. Current law limits the credit to only corporate income taxpayers. This proposal was supported by Watco Railroad for investments made in short line rail maintenance.

House Bill 2106 extends the filing deadline for corporate income tax returns to one month after the federal due date and removes the tax liability for victims of identity theft on any income fraudulently obtained.

House Bill 2105 increases the number of days a nonresident employee can work in Kansas before being subject to state withholding requirements to 30 days.

House Bill 2237 extends the sunset of the Rural Opportunity Zone program for two years.

Senate Bill 50 was presented to the governor last Tuesday. The bill requires the collection and remittance of certain taxes by marketplace facilitators, amends income tax law regarding fraudulent unemployment benefits, itemized and standard deductions, federal decoupling related to business income, corporation return filing, net operating losses, and the business expensing deduction. Governor Kelly has ten days to either veto, sign, or let the bill become law without her signature. She vetoed a similar bill in 2019, and many are wondering if she will veto SB 50 as well.

Senate Bill 2143 was passed by both the House and Senate and will be presented to the Governor for consideration.  The bill includes a number of sales tax changes including a sales tax exemption for the Cereal Palsy Research Foundation, nonprofit integrated care organizations, and friends of Hospice of Jefferson County.  The bill also increases the threshold amount for retails to remit sales tax to the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR).  The Conference Committee also worked with KDOR on several of their forms, clarifying when pre-payment of sales tax was necessary.

House Bill 2104 was presented to the governor last Friday and is awaiting her signature. The property tax bundle bill would amend law related to the list of eligible county appraisers, the qualifications of county and district appraisers, appraisal standards, Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) administration and membership, property valuation appeals, judicial review of property tax disputes, BOTA membership, and school district budget certification.

The Senate Tax Committee worked last week on a proposal that would reimburse a portion of property taxes paid by a business that loses revenue due to a government shutdown or operation limitation. It’s a bipartisan measure that stalled early last week as several committee members had substantial questions on the legislation. It’s unclear whether or not subject will be picked up again during the veto session.

Economic Development

Senate Bill 65 and Senate Bill 66 were presented to the governor last Tuesday and Senate Bill 124 on Friday. All are awaiting her signature.

SB 65 removes a training requirement for businesses to be eligible for the High-Performance Incentive Program (HPIP) and allows for the transferability of HPIP tax credits. SB 66 extends the sunset for five years for the Angel Investor Tax Credit and increases the tax credit amounts for investments and annual limits. SB 124 reauthorizes and expands the Sales Tax as Revenue (STAR) Bonds program by adding rural development projects for eligibility.

Transgender Sports

Senate Bill 55 passed the Legislature last week and is on its way to the governor’s desk. The bill creates the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (Act) and requires interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic sports that are sponsored by public education to be designated based on biological sex. It was argued by proponents of the bill that transgender female athletes have an unfair physical advantage while opponents argued it was solution to a problem that does not exist in Kansas and is discriminatory against transgender Kansans.

This bill is expected to be vetoed by Governor Kelly. The Senate approved the conference committee report 26-11 and the House 76-43, neither of which reflect a 2/3 majority needed for an override.

Workforce Development

Senate Bill 91 passed the House last Thursday, and the Senate is expected to concur early in the veto session. The bill would provide liability protection for businesses, municipalities and educational institutions that participate in high school work-based learning programs by expanding the definition of “school sponsored activities” that are covered under the school’s insurance plan.

House Bill 2064 passed the Legislature last week and is headed to the governor’s desk. The conference committee report establishes the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act, which provides scholarships for students and adults, who have lived in Kansas for two-years and attend an “eligible postsecondary educational institution” such as community and technical colleges.

House Bill 2066 passed the Legislature last week and is headed to the governor’s desk. The conference committee report would shorten the time that a regulatory body is required to issue occupational credentials to military servicemembers or military spouses seeking to establish residency in Kansas and provide for expedited credentialing of non-military prospective residents. The legislature and administration see this expedited process as a way to encourage additional employment and licensure in the state.  Several changes were made on the House floor and in the Senate to accommodate licensing board concerns.

Insurance

The Financial Institutions and Insurance conference committee met last week and agreed to a package of four insurance bills. The conference committee report is expected to be taken up when lawmakers return for the veto session. The bills included are:

Senate Bill 29 amends the effective date specified in the Insurance Code for the risk-based capital instructions promulgated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for property and casualty and life insurance companies.

Senate Bill 78 updates the NAIC’s credit for reinsurance model law, the insurance holding company act, and codifies the credit for reinsurance model regulation.

House Bill 2380 amends healthcare stabilization fund minimum professional liability insurance coverage requirements and the membership of the fund’s board of governors.

No action was taken on Senate Bill 199, which provides for short-term, limited-duration health plans.

Budget

The budget process cleared a major hurdle last week with the passage of the initial budget bill, House Bill 2007.  A number of budget items were approved before they adjourned, however, some items have been deferred to Veto Session in May.

The budget bill also implements a new requirement that all state agencies and contractors to enroll and actively participate in E-verify for verification of employment eligibility of all employees whose employment commences after January 1, 2022.

The higher education budget made progress during regular session. Funding for technical education colleges was approved, as was restoring previous cuts to the State’s universities. Funding for needs-based scholarships will be debated in May.

State employee pay funding will be addressed during Veto Session. That includes pay and possible raises for Judicial Branch employees and judges. Judicial Branch funding, through docket fees, has been greatly impacted by the pandemic.  This year, funding for salaries has been made up through State General Funds.

The Board of Indigents Defense Services received additional funding for increased staff and salaries in this budget, as did the pay of nursing care providers. With increased pay, legislators hope that this funding will increase access for these programs and encourage those to keep working in those fields.

The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) will receive funding for a new airplane, as well as new radar technology. The newly approved plane will allow KHP to have more than one aircraft in the air in Kansas.

Agri-tourism will receive a funding increase through the Department of Commerce. An additional $100,000 has been approved for this program.

A pilot program that works with women who were victims of human trafficking will get initial funding for one year.  In addition, newborn screening will receive increased funding in this round of budgeting.

With K-12 funding and other items deferred to the Omnibus budget in May, legislators will have a heavy lift during Veto Session.  Veto Session also brings latest economic estimates for the Kansas economy, as well as April revenue numbers.

Senate Leadership Changes

Senator Gene Sullentrop, R, Wichita, was stripped of his legislative post as Senate Majority Leader on Friday.  The 22-4 vote came after additional details of his arrest were made public.  Senator Sullentrop arrested for allegedly evading law enforcement and driving under the influence.  An election for a new Majority Leader will be held when legislators return for Veto Session on May 3rd.

21 in 2021 – 21 ways to get more involved in tourism this year!

21 in 2021 — 21 ways to get more involved in tourism this year!

graphic about 21 in 2021

Let’s just get it out of the way. 2020 was awful. Our industry (and many others) suffered one of the worst downturns most of us can recall, and the entire world was gripped by fear, loss and uncertainty. We won’t be looking back at 2020 fondly, but we certainly can take away many lessons from it. We’ll have to push forward with perseverance, grit and determination to create a better year ahead. But, Kansans are always up to the task! As an industry, let’s start with how we can resolve to better support tourism from our own backyard all the way to the White House.

Check out 21 ways to promote and engage tourism in 2021:

  1. Join or renew your membership in TIAK in 2021. Yes, it is an expense, but it’s actually more of an investment. If you can’t pay all at once, call the office to inquire about monthly or quarterly payments.
  2. While you’re renewing your own membership, invite a destination, attraction or tourism partner to try the “Taste of TIAK” and then help mentor them during their first year.
  3. Join a committee.  Membership, PAC, marketing, and more! There is a committee for everyone, and getting involved through a committee is a great way to support TIAK.
  4. Attend association events–virtually, or in person.  Annual conference, educational seminars, and Destination Statehouse are all great events to network, learn, and support TIAK.
  5. Beef up social media efforts on your MOST popular platform and commit to post at least 3 x week. Lessen the pressure to post on all outlets and focus on your top 2-3. While you’re at it, make sure you are following TIAK on Facebook.
  6. Partner with local media to share tourism in your town on a regular basis. Podcasts, short interviews or a regular column in the paper are great ways to engage the community.
  7. Reach out to CVB/DMO boards and commissions about what you’re working on. Keep them “in the know” about how you are working to bring guests to town in the future even when travel may still have limitations.
  8. Recognize those who have manned front lines, taken on extra duties or just exemplified service during the year. So many people have stepped up–recognize those stories!
  9. Reach out to postponed meetings, reunions, tours, etc. to inquire about their plans to reschedule. Offer a re-booking incentive if you can!
  10. Create a “local” campaign.  Work with your city or county to offer the locals a discount program, special offers or coupons as a way to thank them for keeping your community strong. Let them know their spending counts too and they don’t go unnoticed. Remember, our residents are always visitors first!
  11. Send an email to your local elected officials on the top five ways your organization continued pushing forward during the pandemic (virtual tours, curbside offers, free masks, marketing campaigns, testimonials from others, etc.).
  12. While we are still recovering, update your online presence (web, social, etc.) so things are up-to-date and user-friendly. Make sure your Google listing is claimed, updated and accurate. This is also a good time to clean up e-news subscriber lists.
  13. Plan ahead and get things ready for spring/summer visitors — tourism packets, guides, maps, etc. — if we’re still under travel restrictions, you can always offer those things virtually or via pick-up by appointment.
  14. Drive around your town to see what needs fixing up. Is there good, visible signage in place? Do things need sprucing up? Potholes need filling? If so, ask for help to make sure these areas are tended to for optimal visitor satisfaction.
  15. Follow 2-3 new tourism blogs, websites, social accounts. Stay on top of trends, news and updates related to the industry. Bookmark selected sites for easy daily reference.
  16. Know who your state legislators are and especially those who serve on committees related to our industry. Have their contact information handy so you can fire off a quick email to thank them, ask for their support of an upcoming bill, or invite them to join our upcoming virtual Destination Statehouse. ttps://tiak.org/events/destination-statehouse/
  17. Participate in the Kansas Tourism Huddles — these online discussions have kept us all connected and updated throughout COVID. As long as they are offered, they’re an excellent resource.
  18. Make sure you are connected to your region and utilize every single marketing initiative offered. It’s always a good idea to have friends and neighbors helping to share your message. Get started here: https://www.travelks.com/regions-cities/regions/ 
  19. Check in and be present even if not in person. Our hotels, restaurants and attractions need to know we are still here and working on their behalf. Ask them what you can do to help. A quick phone call might mean the world to a struggling merchant.
  20. Travel. When the time is right and safe, get out there and be a traveler yourself. We need to stimulate the economies of other destinations too. Use “National Plan for Vacation Day” on January 26, 2021 as your time to plan for the places you want to visit in the coming year.
  21. Be a tourism cheerleader. Our industry is stronger when we band together. Let’s start with an outpouring of Kansas Day social media posts on Friday, January 29. The Kansas Tourism team will be releasing plans for an industry-wide celebration soon, so stay tuned in the coming days for more information. To start your planning, use the hashtags #KansasDay2021 and #ToTheStarsKS and tag @TravelKS in your messaging. 

Cheers to a better 2021 with all of us working together (hopefully in person soon) as champions for tourism!

–Karen Crane, TIAK Marketing Co-Chair
Merriam Visitors Bureau

Visit Salina Director Sylvia Rice wins Governor’s Tourism Award

Congratulations to Visit Salina’s Sylvia Rice for being the recipient of the 2020 Governor’s Tourism Award!

“Sylvia Rice has helped to positively shape nearly every tourism industry-related organization in Kansas. She is an example to us all on how to be a positive change-maker in a local community and is an inspiration to the entire tourism industry in Kansas,” Kelly said.

Access the article through the Salina Post.

The 2020 Kansas Tourism Conference is going virtual!

Travel is safe and we really want to see everyone, but we realize mass gatherings are still a challenge. We decided it would be best to change up the Kansas Tourism Conference this year by going virtual and moving our journey to Liberal in 2021.

A few items to note:

  • We will NOT be meeting October 18-20 in Liberal.
  • The conference will now take place via Zoom during the Huddle session time each Wednesday in October. Click here to view an event flyer!
  • Even if you have already registered for the conference, you MUST register for the Zoom calls. If you have not registered for the conference yet, all you need to do is register for the Zoom calls. To register for the Zoom calls, contact the TIAK Office.

KTC VIRTUAL SCHEDULE FLYER

You MUST register for the Zoom calls in order to attend the virtual conference, even if you have already registered for the conference, itself. We hope to “see” you virtually in October!

Registration is open for the 2020 Kansas Tourism Conference

What a year! Get ready to celebrate the travel and tourism industry at the Kansas Tourism Conference in Liberal, October 19-21, 2020. Be a part of the Kansas tourism industry’s “don’t miss” conference of the year. Registration is now open! Enjoy inspiring speakers, valuable educational information and fun networking opportunities. Kansas has so much travel and tourism talent and we can’t wait for you to meet each other!

For more information, and to register, visit the Kansas Tourism Conference event page. Be sure to look around and see what this year’s conference has to offer: a dynamic lineup of speakers, a silent auction, marketing awards, and so much more. When you’re ready to sign up, simply click “Register Now” in the Conference Dates section and get ready to celebrate. Registration is easy and you may select to complete your payment by using either credit card or check. But don’t forget to make your hotel reservation – the link is on the KTC event page.

Think you can dazzle your tourism peers even more? Share your talent in the TIAK Marketing Awards! Join TIAK in highlighting your skills in conjunction with the 2020 Kansas Tourism Conference. Entries must be submitted by August 21st and each submission may only be entered once. One winner from each overall budget category will be presented at the Awards Banquet. For submission requirements and registration, please visit the Marketing Awards page.

We look forward to celebrating travel and tourism at the 2020 Kansas Tourism Conference! Register today.