It has been a busy, exhilarating, and harried two weeks full of many hearings in the committee I chair, high-profile bill hearings in the Tax Committee, and continued budget consideration in the Appropriations Committee.
So pleased to visit with OCCK about Medicaid Expansion!
Thanks to pages Reese Wilson (Minneapolis) and Liam Nichols (Longford) for serving as legislative pages!
Under the Dome Taxes
The Senate agreed to the House changes of its bill, SB 22, the tax cut bill which includes decoupling, repatriation, and GILTI, as well as new tax on internet sales and a sales tax reduction on food. I discussed the details in a previous newsletter. The Senate vote was 24-16.
The bill was vetoed by Governor Kelly and the votes do not exist to override a veto (84 in the House, 27 in the Senate).
The Kansas Supreme Court will host oral arguments on the legislature’s yet-to-be-passed remedy to close the school finance lawsuit on May 9. Briefs are due to the court by April 15 and the Attorney General needs time to craft the briefs and arguments. Time is drawing nigh. The Senate passed a bill to comply with the court’s requirement to account for inflation. It is a clean bill and should be brought to a vote in the House.
Floor Action - Floor Calendar- Floor Livestream
Last week was very slow on the House floor as Senate bills were going through the hearing process in House committees. As committees finished that work and passed bills to the House floor, the pace picked up a bit. We will spend all of this week churning through bills before Thursday’s deadline to process all bills which are non-exempt (have not touched the Appropriations, Fed & State, or Tax Committees). Here are a few bills I thought you might find interesting from the last two weeks:
The House Health Committee held three days of roundtable discussions (specifically intended to not be a hearing) and the Rural Revitalization Committee held 3 days of hearings on Medicaid Expansion. Still, legislative leadership in the House and the Senate refused to allow a bill to the floor. In order to respond to the 77% of Kansans who support it, 69 of us voted to strip the contents of one bill and insert the contents of Medicaid Expansion. Also called a “gut-and-go” (when the contents of one bill are eliminated and replaced with other legislation, but retaining the same bill number):
There were multiple attempts to submarine the bill by tacking on amendments, one of which sought to prohibit any Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood (PP). A Kansas court blocked the law citing lack of access to health care in rural communities where PP may be the sole provider for annual exams and cancer screenings. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the state’s appeal. On those grounds, I opposed the amendment and strongly support the bill.
It’s unfortunate we had to resort to a procedural move, but that’s also why rules are in place to circumvent the process when there are enough votes to agree the process is broken.
It passed the House 69-54 and I pray the Senate will give it a hearing and due diligence. I voted YES.
You can read press coverage here. I submitted the following Explanation of Vote into the House Journal:
MR. SPEAKER: I vote yes on HB 2066. It ensures that thousands of Kansans can look forward to a healthier and more productive future. And at a time when 86% of Kansas hospitals have negative operating margins, this proposal will provide immediate help for their bottom line, stabilizing operations, aiding in staff recruitment, and providing a lifeline to much-needed retooling and reconfiguring of health care delivery. It has been said that in Kansas a person's zip code is a greater determinant of health outcomes than genetics. For rural Kansans, HB 2066 gives hope that it need not always be so.
HB 2041 would prohibit insurance companies from refusing to insure, ending coverage, placing limits, or charging different rates for the same coverage because an individual is a living organ donor. The bill also would require living organ donors to be subject to the same actuarial principles as people who are not living organ donors. Reading hearing testimony here. You can learn more about living organ donation here. It passed 94-29, I voted YES.
HB 2082 would authorize licensed pharmacists to administer drugs by injection to patients with prescription orders, unless the prescriptions specifically prohibit pharmacists from injecting the drug. Pharmacists would be prohibited from administering any drugs that can cause an abortion. It passed 122-1, I voted YES.
Committee Work Appropriations- Live Audio
The committee received and debated subcommittee reports from the Legislative, General Government, and Social Services Budget Committees, as well as the budget for the School for the Deaf. We also hosted a briefing on wildfire suppression and a bill hearing:
Current law requires turnpike or toll projects to be financed entirely through tolls. HB 2369 would allow turnpike or toll projects to be financed partly through tolls and other income from the operation. The bill also would give the Department of Transportation additional authority to study the feasibility of designating bridges as toll or turnpike projects.
SB 162 would require foster care management contractors to alert the Department for Children and Families (DCF) within 24 hours of a report of a missing child or when a child spends the night in a contractor’s office. DCF must then notify the governor and the legislature. Failure to do so would incur a $500 per day fine. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
HB 2228 would allow Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to issue a fine against anyone operating a child care facility without the required license. This is a basic safety issue for Kansas families. The bill passed out of committee and awaits House consideration.
Taxation- Live Audio
This has been a very busy committee holding many hearings in recent weeks. The issues covered in the following bills are important to know, but none of them have passed committee yet:
Two gas tax bills, one which would jump the tax $0.06 next year (HB 2381) and one that would phase it in (HB 2370).
HB 2372 is an attempt to capture revenue from hybrid vehicle drivers that use the roads but spend disproportionately less on gas than other drivers. The bill would add a $75 fee to hybrid vehicles and $150 for electric vehicles.
HB 2380 would reduce the wait-time for the Department of Revenue to call in collections for your unpaid account from 180 days to 90 days, and increase the frequency of paying these bills for those who are a late-pay risk. Our budget estimators say this bill could encourage payment and bring in an extra $6+ million each year!
HB 2302 would reinstate the Food Sales Tax Refund for household incomes less than $36,700 per year.
Current law caps municipalities from reinvesting an increase in property tax revenues without a public vote. HB 2368 would allow those revenues to be spent on transportation projects without a public vote.
HB 2398 is a “one-in-one-out concept for sales tax exemptions. It would require a sales tax exemption repealed for each one passed. I like this policy, but it would eventually pit charitable causes against each other.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve and represent you in Topeka.