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.

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.

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!

COVID-19 Resources for Kansas Tourism-updated regularly!

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, in conjunction with TIAK, continue to host weekly virtual meetings for Kansas Tourism and Hospitality Industry members to hear from leaders on relevant COVID-19 related issues. Be sure to contact office@tiak.org for more information on future meetings. You may also learn more about the contents of each call here. The TravelKS page lists other COVID-19 resources, as well, and a few additional resources are listed below as clickable links.

KANSAS RESOURCES
Kansas Governor Executive Orders
Kansas Dept. of Labor Unemployment Benefits
Kansas Hiring Resources
UI Fraud Notice
Kansas COVID-19 Response and Recovery

CARES ACT RESOURCES
Paycheck Protection Program fact sheet
Exchange Stabilization Fund fact sheet
Relief for Airports and Tourism fact sheet
Payroll Tax Relief fact sheet
Unemployment Assistance fact sheet
Economic Injury Disaster Loans fact sheet

U.S. TRAVEL
COVID-19 Resources for Destinations Toolkit

COVID-19 Update for Kansas Tourism

On April 1, 2020, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, in conjunction with TIAK, hosted a virtual meeting for Kansas Tourism and Hospitality Industry members to hear from leaders on relevant COVID-19 related issues. KDWPT Secretary Brad Loveless, along with Director of Tourism Bridgette Jobe, and Treon Glenn from U.S. Travel answered pre-submitted questions regarding the pandemic’s effects on our industry. These calls will continue on a weekly basis. Be sure to contact office@tiak.org for more information on future meetings.

To hear a replay of the April 1st meeting, you may access it here or here. Please note the first few minutes of the welcome were cut off. TIAK will continue to keep you informed.

Kansas Travel Update for COVID-19

Kansas Tourism is continuing to monitor the rapidly developing and changing Coronavirus effects in Kansas.

On Thursday, Kansas Governor Kelly declared a state of emergency to maximize efforts authorizing the use of state resources to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties. We continue to encourage the traveling public to seek and heed the latest expert guidance, and to make fact-based travel decisions. Travelers should observe safe travel habits as outlined by the CDC.

Checklists for our Kansas Tourism Industry Partners
• We encourage you to relook at every social post, especially those that you have prescheduled, to make sure they are still relevant and appropriate. In light of this rapidly changing situation, something that was current or appropriate last week may not be today.
• We need your assistance in keeping the TravelKS.com event listings current. If an event is being postponed or canceled, please take the time to update the listing on TravelKS.com in addition to your own website. If you need assistance, contact Jaimee.salalac@ks.gov or at 785-296-2009.
• Attempt to reschedule an event whenever possible. The effects of the Coronavirus on the travel industry will be significant, and every attempt to reschedule can help to minimize those adverse effects.
• Many families spring break travels have been disrupted – look for opportunities to encourage families to explore their own community assets. Kansas has ample wide-open spaces that provide exceptional family time. Kansas State Parks continue to remain open.
• It is important for you to keep track of lost business and to share that information with our office. The economic impact calculator available on TravelKS is an easy-to-use tool in assessing the impact of a festival, sporting event, convention or business meeting. This can also be used to quantify lost business. I encourage you to use the calculator and share the results with me at bridgette.jobe@ks.gov.
• We have a page up on TravelKS that refers visitors to the following reliable and factual sources as they make travel decisions.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
U.S. Travel Association

Bridgette Jobe, Director of Tourism
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism
Office Phone: 785-296-3870
bridgette.jobe@ks.gov

2019 Kansas Tourism Conference

Get ready to sparkle and shine like a “Diamond in the Wheat” at the 2019 Kansas Tourism Conference in Mulvane, October 21-23, 2019. 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 many Diamonds in the Wheat 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, a SportsKS golf tournament, and so much more. When you’re ready to start shining, simply click “Register Now” in the Conference Dates section and get ready to sparkle. 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? Shine and sparkle in the 2019 TIAK Marketing Awards! Join TIAK again in highlighting your talent in conjunction with the 2019 Kansas Tourism Conference. Entries must be submitted by August 15th and each submission may only be entered once. One winner from each overall budget category will be presented at the Awards Banquet for each of the following categories: Visitors Guide (both in-house and outsourced), Online Marketing, Print Marketing, Integrated Campaign, and Destination Awareness. For submission requirements and registration, please visit the Marketing Awards page.

Plan to tee-off KTC with SportsKS in a 4-person, 9-hole scramble! SportsKS is hosting their 3rd Annual Golf Tournament this year prior to the start of the conference. Golf registration available during conference registration. And if golf isn’t your thing, non-golfers have the option to register for a short “Lunch and Learn” at the Clubhouse. Find out more details under the Additional Events section of the KTC event page.

We look forward to finding Diamonds in the Wheat with you at the 2019 Kansas Tourism Conference! Thank you, in advance, for your support, both at the Conference and throughout the year.