Policy update: What’s working in Kansas

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KC Healthy Kids’ state policy director Ashley Jones-Wisner shared some things to cheer about at today’s meeting of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition. Ashely Jones-Wisner

Senate Bill 95 removes red tape for food assistance applicants

Governor Sam Brownback signed SB 95 into law, making it easier for more hungry kids and families to apply food assistance. Now, third party organizations like Harvesters are now able to accept electronic voice signatures on food assistance applications, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This will streamline and speed up the process for people who need help.

Getting the bill passed was tedious and involved a lot of back and forth along the way.  It passed out of the Senate Health Committee with the original five changes KC Healthy Kids and our partners had envisioned would help increase Kansans’ ability to apply for food assistance. Even though the bill was pared down throughout the process, the voice signature piece got across the finish line. This is a big victory, as it’s been years since the legislature has taken such a positive step toward improving access to the safety net.

We finally exhaled when the bill was filed jointly in the Senate Public Health Committee by the Committee Chairwoman, Senator Vicki Schmidt (Republican, Topeka) and Ranking Minority Committee member, Senator Laura Kelly (Democrat, Topeka). We’re so grateful for their support!

Kansas’ sales tax on food: we’re not slowing down

Throughout this increasingly long legislative session, I’m pleased to see that momentum hasn’t slowed for lowering the sales tax on food. (Kansas is one of only seven states in the nation to fully tax groceries.) We’ve been leading the charge on this issue since 2015, and we aren’t slowing down either!

This session, roughly 10 bills have included language that would move Kansas toward a lower sales tax on food.

One of those, House Bill 2380, passed the House on May 15. It would lower sales tax on food by one percent in 2020 and pay for it by imposing retail sales taxes on some services that were previously exempt. The Senate Tax Committee held a hearing on the bill two days later. It’s a good sign that they want sales tax on food to be included for consideration in conference committee, which is likely where this bill seems headed.

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