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Dear Friend:



Rep. Kessinger and I invite you to a video town hall meeting featuring the Kansas Secretary of Health & Environment, Dr. Lee Norman. Dr. Norman will provide the latest update on COVID-19 and you can submit questions via Zoom's chat function:

Video Town Hall:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24
5-5:45 pm


Just click this link to join the conversation:
https://zoom.us/j/170189913

Or go to Zoom.us and enter
Meeting ID: 170 189 913

For your sanity, I’ve moved all of the virus information to the bottom of this note. The governor and legislature made some good policy last week to help Kansans. The session adjourned two weeks earlier than planned to get everyone home safe and make sure we did everything we could at the time to help Kansans.
I would love to see your favorite memes to make this situation a little lighter, and hear creative
ideas you’ve heard to handle the situation.

Senate District 11 Resources:

Budget

Each session, the budget is the last gate to close before we can adjourn. This year’s negotiations were sped up by about two months so we could evacuate this beautiful petri dish we call the Capitol. SB 66 is a very basic budget to finance the essentials as well as provide for state government to manage this crisis. Beyond the standard funding of essential services, I want to highlight a few important provisions:

  • More than $80 million in direct coronavirus response and prevention

  • Medicaid reimbursement rate increases: 

    • 1% increase for nursing facilities

    • 5% increase for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) providers for the Intellectual and Developmental Disability (I/DD) community

    • $3 million increase for reimbursements to dentists under KanCare

  • Mental Health: 

    • $4 million to create eight pediatric acute inpatient psychiatric beds in Hays

    • $2 million increase for Community Mental Health Centers

    • $1 million for a psychiatric residential treatment facility project in Newton

  • 1-year extension of STAR bonds (Sales Tax & Revenue)

It passed the House 99-16 and the Senate 28-10. I voted YES.


Health Care
A few years ago, hospitals and nursing homes joined to tax themselves to create a fund with which to apply for grants from the federal government. This money is used to provide health care access to low-income Kansans. Currently, these facilities donate about 2% of their revenue to the fund. HB 2168 allows the provider assessment to increase to 3%. Again, providers requested this increase as it allows them to better serve low-income Kansans. It passed the House 91-24 and the Senate 33-6. I voted YES.


Transportation
The House made substantial changes to the transportation plan which earlier passed the Senate. The Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Plan (H Sub SB 173) is the final version passed by both chambers. The bill includes a number of important provisions: 

  • Unfulfilled T-WORKS projects must have at least the first phase begun before any new expansion project is begun. 

  • Creates a need-based scholarship up to $200 for completion of a driver’s education course.

  • Requires at least $8 million be spent in each county.

  • One of the most impactful components is not even physical transportation, but virtual, by providing matching funds to localities for construction of a broadband network. 

  • Allows construction of three toll roads (likely to be expanded lanes of existing highways).

  • Final price tag of $10 billion over 10 years, but projects will be determined on a two-year rolling basis to provide flexibility with changing transportation modes.

It passed the House 112-3 and the Senate 37-2, I voted YES.

 

Emergency Declaration
HCR 5025 extends Governor Kelly’s state of emergency declaration through May 1. It passed both chambers unanimously.

COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Emergency Actions in Kansas: 

  1. Extended unemployment benefits from 16 to 26 weeks and removed the one-week waiting period.

  2. Utilities are prohibited from cutting service until April 15.

  3. Lenders and landlords are prohibited from foreclosures and evictions through May 1.

  4. $5 million in no-interest loans for the hospitality industry, dubbed the Hospitality Relief Emergency (HIRE) Fund.

  5. The U.S. Small Business Administration has low interest loans available to sustain small businesses.

Child Care

A handful of childcare providers are remaining open to serve the needs of essential employees like health care and law enforcement. Call Child Care Aware (877.678.2548) for more information.

Stay At Home Orders:

  • Doniphan
  • Douglas
  • Johnson
  • Leavenworth
  • Lyon
  • Miami
  • Wyandotte
Governor Kelly issued an executive order reducing mass gatherings from 50 to 10 people. The order included a statewide framework for stay at home orders to provide consistency as counties make those calls. Kansas is not seeing the doubling of cases every 3-4 days, which we are not seeing. She is not issuing a statewide stay at home order yet because 89 of 105 counties do not have confirmed positive cases. 

Official Federal, State, and Local Resources:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention COVID page

State of Kansas COVID-19 Update

JoCo COVID-19 page

SGCO COVID-19 page

Other Resources:

Johns Hopkins University coronavirus live heat map

The Washington Post included an incredible simulator in a recent article I thought you might enjoy.

Stay safe during this uncertain time and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service.

Sincerely,

John Skubal
Kansas State Senator
District 11
Representing Overland Park & Leawood
Copyright © 2020, All rights reserved.


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