It's good to be home full-time for a few weeks as the legislature adjourned the "regular session" until May 1 when we return for "veto session" to work on next year's budget, the tax plan, and school finance.
Around the District Please join me for a Legislative Coffee sponsored by the Tonganoxie VFW:
Saturday, April 22, 9 am
VFW Hall, 910 East 1st
I plan to attend our local school board meetings during the April legislative break to ensure I know each board’s priorities for school finance issues. As discussed below, one of the bills is being finalized, but there is much more work to be done.
It was a pleasure to host my daughter and grandson, Aiden and Kim Brown at the Capitol, and Aiden’s friend, Jack Humphery, as well as a number of legislative pages from Leavenworth and Eudora:
Contact Rep. Karleskint
At the Capitol:
300 SW 10th, Room 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612
Carlee Ann McEvoy (parents John & Justine McEvoy, Leavenworth) & Cara Lee Acre (parents Sam & Ricki Maxwell, Leavenworth). Also pictured is Jan McEvoy Grandmother of Carlee Ann. Jan and I worked together at Immaculata High School many years ago.
Joe Faircloth (parents Brad Faircloth and Ronni Faircloth, Eudora) & Dylan Coleman (parents Rick Coleman and Heidi Gillette, Eudora)
Katie Heim (parents Steve & Jennifer Heim, Leavenworth) & Jake Heim (Parents Mark & Tracey Heim, Leavenworth)
Tyler Foltz (parents Justin & Lisa Foltz, Eudora) & Brooke McNorton (parents Steve & Cara McNorton, Eudora)
Your answers to my 2017 legislative survey have been very helpful, especially in the last few weeks as the bills we discuss become more controversial. Thank you for participating, here are some of the results:
In the News Current Year Budget
The House and Senate agreed on a compromise and sent the rescission bill to the governor. It relies on diverting funds from the Pooled Money Investment Board, but I was willing to vote for a one-time fix for a few reasons:
I didn’t create this mess, so if the least bad of awful choices keeps us operating in the black until June 30, I’ll hold my nose. And then I’ll work to make the budget I CAN impact a more stable one,
The bill avoided further K-12 cuts, and
Reinstated the state’s contribution to KPERS.
Jargon Alert: Rescission – to rescind, to take back.
Since actual revenues came in a few hundred million below the estimates on which the budget was created, we had to reconcile the difference and make current-year cuts to balance the budget.
School Finance Progress
My K-12 Education Budget Committee crafted a school finance plan (Sub HB 2410) which resembles a new-and-much-improved version of the 1992-2014 formula. We know from the 2005 Montoy case the formula IS constitutional, IF adequately funded. The key components include:
Investments in early childhood,
A military “2nd Count” to recognize the enrollment fluctuations in our military communities,
Maintaining a 33% local tax contribution, and
$150 million each year for five years.
We worked very hard to make sure every district’s needs are recognized, as well as to address the concerns of the court and the requirements of the Kansas Constitution. The committee adjourned without passing this final product to the full House for consideration. The legislature hired an attorney to review the bill and the court decision to determine if the bill is constitutional before moving it out of committee. For more information, the Kansas Department of Education has a helpful resource site.
Medicaid Expansion Veto Override
The House and Senate passed Medicaid Expansion and it was sent to the governor for consideration at the end of March. He vetoed it the next morning.
I know people who have lost their jobs because a south central Kansas hospital closed due to significant losses in Medicaid funding. I have friends who had to be ambulanced to another community because their hometown hospital closed.
As you saw above, more than 60% of survey respondents in the district support expansion, as do the Chambers of Commerce and hospitals. I voted to override Governor Brownback’s veto, but the vote failed 81-44 (84 required for override).
On the Floor Of the dozens of bills debated and voted on the floor these two weeks, I’ve included a handful of broad interest or local impact. For more information, the complete listing of bills debated is provided in the House Calendar.
Current law allows “full-strength” beer, wine, and spirits to be sold only at liquor stores. Grocery and convenience stores are only allowed to sell 3.2% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) beer. SB 13 would allow convenience, grocery and drug stores to sell alcohol with a 6% ABV. This compromise would keep wine and spirits only at liquor stores. The House approved this bill, 80-45, I voted YES. The Senate agreed with changes made in the House and the bill is on its way to the governor. If signed, it will go into effect April 1, 2019.
The House also passed 103-21 a bill (HB 2180) that increases the fee paid by KanCare management companies and some insurance policies to 5.77% from the current 3.31%. That would raise money to leverage more federal Medicaid payments to the state which will allow lawmakers to restore last year's 4% payment cuts to health-care providers under the KanCare program. I voted YES. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, or it could be amended into a conference committee report.
You’re likely familiar with the tragic death of my colleague, Rep. Scott Schwab’s son, Caleb, at the Schlitterbahn Water Park. As a result, H Sub for SB 70 would amend the Kansas Amusement Ride Act and the Amusement Ride Insurance Act to require additional registration, fees, and reporting for owners of rides, set standards for inspections, and requirements for ride inspectors. The House approved this legislation, 124-1. The Senate approved its version, 39-1. A conference committee will work out the differences between the bills. I voted YES. You can read committee testimony here.
Committee Work My committee work is done for the session, outside of the K-12 Budget Committee, which has been working double-time as you read above.
Please continue to reach out to me with your ideas and questions. It’s an honor to serve District 42.
Rep. Jim Karleskint
Serving rural Leavenworth & Douglas Counties