With the new year just around the corner, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners voted during its regular meeting on Dec. 3 to approve the 2021 State Legislative Platform. The document serves as the basis for the county’s advocacy efforts and priorities for the Kansas Legislature when it convenes on Jan. 11, 2021.
Totaling five pages, the state platform outlines the county’s recommendations on legislative and regulatory issues, policies and funding decisions of interest for the potential impact they will have on Johnson County and residents.
Typically, the efforts detailed in the county’s state platform are to sponsor, support or oppose legislation; address policy, rules or laws; and defend local authority and local resources.
The action agenda priorities in the 2021 State Legislative Platform include:
• Increased funding for mental health services and community mental health center (CMHC) grants.
• Medicaid expansion in Kansas.
• Legislation to facilitate collection of compensating use tax from purchases made from sellers with no physical presence in Kansas.
• Expansion of the eligibility of the Homestead Act and SAFESR – Kansas Property Tax Relief for Low Income Seniors – to provide property tax relief for those on fixed incomes. Additionally, the proposal supports tying current program income limits to federal poverty guidelines.
• Dedicated funding of a comprehensive transportation plan, including highways, airports, trails and transit.
The development of a public transit plan that is financially sustainable is among the top goals of the board. Another priority is to strengthen and finance the appropriate level of service to meet the needs of the county’s vulnerable populations, including a growing population of aging adults and retirees on fixed incomes.
In Johnson County’s 2020 Community Survey, residents were most supportive of the use of additional resources for the county’s mental health services (51%) and aging services (45%).
The county’s state platform mirrors two 2021 priorities of the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature (KSHL). Since its creation by the Kansas Legislature in 1982, the KSHL meets annually to focus on current or ongoing senior issues of Kansans over the age of 60.
Silver Haired legislators adopted a resolution supporting the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas, provided that the federal government pay the promised 90% share and support the continuation at that funding level. Another resolution backs expansion of collaborative community-based transportation systems in the state.
Johnson County’s 2021 State Legislative Platform is available online.