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Dear Friend:

The Turnaround deadline for the current legislative session was Thursday, February 23rd. At that time, all bills had to be passed from their original house and “turned around” to the other chamber for their consideration after recess. If a bill isn’t passed out of one chamber before turnaround, it dies and won’t be considered during the current session. The only exception is for those bills that have been referred to one of the exempt committees. Consequently, most of our time during the week before recess was spent on the house floor debating and voting on bills to meet that turnaround deadline. In total, the Kansas House has passed 91 bills this session; 53 bills were passed by the House this week. The legislature is now on recess until Monday, March 6th.

Around the District
We had great turnout at our listening session on February 25th! John Skubal and Jan Kessinger joined me to answer questions posed by our constituents. Overwhelmingly, the people in our districts are happy about the new trajectory in the legislature. This was confirmed by those who attended the session, but also in our recent surveys. The results of my survey can be reviewed hereOur next listening session will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 9:00 to 11:00 at The Berkshire Clubhouse: 4314 w 124th St. Leawood,KS. Coffee and donuts are always provided!!

About the 28th District

Contact Joy

At the Capitol: 
Room 268

At home in Leawood:
3310 W. 137th St
Leawood, KS 66224

Voter Resources

Legislative Information

A big shout out to Church of the Resurrection (COR) for hosting a thorough and engaging conversation on racial justice on February 12th. I love the work your church is doing to talk about difficult topics in an open and non-judgmental way. My colleague and friend, Rep. Jan Kessinger is a Congregational Care Minister at COR and we grabbed a quick pic with Pastor Adam Hamilton. COR will officially dedicate its new sanctuary on April 1st with a ribbon cutting ceremony and service. Stewart and I will be on hand to celebrate this special occasion in our community.
My thanks also go out to Mindy Corporon and Jon Willis of
Kansas City Interfaith Youth Alliance (KCIYA) who held a special reception last Friday to launch their new initiative focused on eliminating hate crimes by fostering interfaith awareness, education and understanding. The reception featured Eboo Patel, an internationally renowned expert on interfaith pluralism.

As you may recall, Mindy’s father, William Corporon, and her 14-year old son, Reat Underwood, along with Teresa LaMonno were murdered three years ago by a white supremacist at the Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park. Mindy’s
Seven Days | Make a ripple, change the world event and her Faith Always Wins Foundation have already made a profound effect on our community. Considering the recent racially motivated shooting in Olathe that took the life of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, and left Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot with serious injuries, it’s clear we have a lot of work to do on this front. My heart goes out to these families in our community and I am grateful for leaders who will stand up to hate.

On the Floor
Restoring funding and being fiscally responsible
As I explained in my
last newsletter, the House of Representatives and Senate passed Sub HB 2178 which made several changes to our current tax code in order to restore funding to our state treasury. It is important to note that even with those adjustments Kansans will still be paying income taxes at a lower rate than they were in 2012. This bill would have closed the LLC loophole that has allowed certain businesses to avoid paying state income taxes. And, it restored the medical exemption so our seniors and those with major medical expenses aren’t forced to pay more. All the while raising enough revenues to protect our schools and core functions. Department of Revenue estimates that the plan would have generated $590 million in additional revenue in Fiscal Year 2018 and $454 million in Fiscal Year 2019.  Considering the state faces a deficit of close to a billion dollars in the coming two years, the bill was a bi-partisan effort to structurally balance our budget.

The bill would have helped the State accomplish the following:
  • Moved the State closer to maintaining a permanent and healthy ending balance;
  • Helped with the creation of a future rainy day fund;
  • Made it easier for the State make the actuarial required contribution for KPERS; and
  • Aided in the repayment of funds from the pooled money investment board.  
It is important to remember the bill did not preclude the Legislature from making budget cuts when examining agency budgets during the next several months.  In fact, the Legislature has worked hard to reduce the size and scope of government to balance our budget for several years.
The legislature has swept ending balances, including hundreds of millions of KDOT funds as well as consolidated and closed numerous state agencies.  In 2010 Kansas had 41,586 state employees, in 2017 we have 36,423 . . . a reduction of more than 5,000. The
grim realities of these cuts are now effecting our ability to deliver the core functions of our state agencies to our citizens in a fiscally responsible way.
At the Kansas Chamber of Commerce dinner last week, the governor announced that he would veto the bill and he kept true to his word. The next day, the House voted to override that veto
(85-40). Unfortunately, Senate was three votes shy of override and supported the governor’s veto was sustained (24-16). I voted YES on both the bill and to override Governor Brownback because I believe it’s time to restore funding so that we are once again able to fully serve Kansans in a fiscally responsible manner. Our state constitution requires a balanced budget, so expect to see more action on this topic before the session ends. 

Protecting health care services in our state
For a variety of reasons, hospital and adult care facilities across the state have been strained by individuals not eligible for Medicaid and unable to afford health insurance premiums. Consequently, we get the bill in the way of higher health insurance premiums. This past week, the House passed HB 2044, which included an amendment that would leverage federal dollars to assist those in our communities who earn less than 133% of the federal income poverty level. The amendment was crafted by Kansas hospitals and medical providers who have been most affected by uncompensated care in their emergency rooms with an eye toward increasing access to preventive care for low-income working Kansans. The revenue coming into our state as a direct result of this bill will support local hospitals, adult care homes and mental health clinics. There were over 160 proponents of this important legislation, including 21 local Chambers most of our hospitals.
Rep. Susan Concannon (R-Beloit) has led the way on this issue for four years and proposed an amendment to
HB 2044. The original bill would allow Medicaid reimbursement for rehabilitation services provided at clubhouses (original testimony here), and the topic of expanding health care access through this amendment was germane to this bill.
So, after four hours of debate and a lot of political shenanigans, the amendment passed on a voice vote and then the amended bill passed 83-40. The shenanigans included a small group of representatives who insisted on offering up one “postcard” amendment after another to derail passage of the underlying policy and create good soundbites for their future campaigns. The next day, it passed on Final Action on a recorded vote of 81 to 33. I voted YES in both cases. The bill now goes to the Senate for further committee hearings. A number of us submitted an Explanation of Vote in the
House Journal after Final Action.

MR. SPEAKER: We were proud to vote YES on HB 2044, which included an amendment to expand Medicaid. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the suggested amendments during the course of Budget debate, when full fiscal notes are available to us regarding the financial impact of said suggested amendments. To pass the amendments without fiscal notes would not be looking after the state’s finances in a responsible manner. –STEPHANIE CLAYTON, JOY KOESTEN, ANITA JUDD- JENKINS, SHELEE BRIM, SUSIE SWANSON, LINDA GALLAGHER
Several other interesting bills passed the House and are headed to the Senate for consideration. These included bills addressing issues concerned with vaccinations, teacher due process, political signage on public roads, and requiring school districts to adopt a plan to address child sexual abuse in all schools, grades K-6. These are just a few of the bills that moved through the house before we broke for recess. You can read about these and others in more detail on my website under the heading of “
Ad Astra – Week 7.”

Mental Health Caucus
I was incredibly proud when Rep. Louis Ruiz asked me to join him as co-chair of the House Mental Health Caucus! As I have mentioned before, I have long been an advocate for a strong mental health system in our state and this provides me an opportunity to lead in some capacity. We know that one in five of us will experience a mental health crisis at some point in our life and that mental illness and addiction take a toll on everyone. We also know that our current mental health system is broken in Kansas. According to a report released in 2012 by the Health Foundation of Greater Kansas City, one in ten adults in the Greater Kansas City area has a serious mental illness and about 40% go without treatment. Without treatment, these individuals face the possibility of unemployment, increased usage of hospital and emergency rooms, incarceration, suicide and early death caused by co-occurring disorders. The annual cost of untreated mental illness in Kansas City is estimated to be over $624 million annually. The Mental Health Caucus has already had its first meeting and will meet again on March 20th.
Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capital is slated for March 15th.

Blue Valley Schools once again made national news for achieving excellence and we had the opportunity to honor their work on the House floor last week. Superintendent Dr. Todd White and his board members (led by President, Michael Seitz) joined us on the House floor last week to be recognized. Academic achievement is at an all-time high in Blue Valley.  The district’s 2015 graduates posted the highest ACT and SAT composite scores of Kansas City metropolitan area school districts. Graduates averaged an ACT composite score of 25.4 and an SAT composite score of 1864, both of which exceed the state and national averages. 
The percentages of Blue Valley students enrolling, remaining and graduating from college continue to be well above the national average.  Blue Valley is poised to shape strong leaders for the future.  Recently, the Blue Valley district was recognized for outperforming all educational systems in the world, except one, in the areas of math and science.  I couldn’t be prouder of the students, families and Blue Valley educators that I represent!

During the recess this week I will be visiting some of the schools in my district, meeting with community stakeholders, participating in the
We the People Forumat Blue Valley Northwest High School, teaching a seminar at Fort Leavenworth and attending my grandson’s very first play at Rosehill Elementary School. It will be a busy week, but I hope you will reach out to me with your questions or concerns. See you around the neighborhood!!
During the session, I might not be as quick to reply as I normally would but I will get back to you. That's a promise. 
Warm regards,

Representative Joy Koesten, PhD
Kansas House District 28
Serving Leawood and Overland Park
Copyright © 2017 Paid for by Joy for Kansas, Bob Regnier, Treasurer, All rights reserved.

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