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Dear Friend:

Committee work and debating bills on the floor are both completed for the regular session and we have adjourned until May 1, when veto session begins. Veto session is typically reserved for considering legislation vetoed by the governor following the regular session, but it has become an extended part of the regular session where big issues like the budget are finalized. 

On the Home Front
Thanks to those who joined us for April's town hall meeting. Please join Rep. Jan Kessinger and me for our monthly town hall meeting: 

Saturday, May 11
9 – 10 am
Leawood City Hall
Council Chambers


Local Press

  • My colleague Rep. Jan Kessinger and I wrote a piece for the Kansas City Star detailing our opposition to tax cuts when our budget is yet unstable. 
  • Earlier this month, I had my turn at the Shawnee Mission Post’s Legislative Update article

Senate District 11 Resources:

Around the Capitol

In my last newsletter, I mentioned Kansas Master Teacher Linda Vena. I had the opportunity to present her with a resolution from the Kansas Senate honoring her service.

Medicaid Expansion
How much money we have left on the table to provide health coverage for other states while Kansas hospitals close? Medicaid expansion was passed by the House and is currently lying dormant in the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee. Senator Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) made a motion to pull the bill out of committee and to the floor for Senate debate. This motion will be debated upon our return May 1 and would require 24 votes to bring the bill out of committee. However, to force debate on the bill would require 27 votes. I will support both motions – working Kansans have waited too long for access to health care.

On the Senate FloorFloor Livestream– Senate Calendar
After bills are debated and passed by each chamber, they are sent to conference committees. We spent the last week or so debating conference committee reports. 

  • Jargon Alert: Conference Committee
    • A bill doesn’t typically pass one chamber in the exact form it passed the other – if it does, it goes straight to the governor’s desk. 
    • After passing the second chamber, the originating chamber can agree (concur) or disagree (nonconcur) with changes made in the opposite chamber and require a conference committee be convened. 
      • If the originating chamber concurs with changes made by the opposite chamber, a motion to concur is voted on, and if passed, the bill goes straight to the governor. 
      • In the case of a nonconcur, the chair, vice-chair, and ranking minority members of the House and Senate committees which passed the bill form a conference committee. 
      • Those six legislators hammer out differences between the versions passed by each chamber and submit a conference committee report (CCR) with the negotiated compromise language. 
    • Conference Committee Report (CCR): The committee report is debated by both chambers but cannot be changed (amended) and must be passed “as-is” by both the House and Senate before heading to the governor for approval. If one chamber does not pass the report, the bill stays in the committee for continued deliberation.
Here are a few highlights from the CCRs we passed during the last week of the regular session, all of which have been approved by Governor Kelly:

School Finance
Last year’s Gannon decision stated the most recent school funding formula was constitutional, if we added funding to account for inflation. Briefs on the legislation to do so are due to the Kansas Supreme Court by April 15 and oral arguments will be held on May 9. So, we were under some time pressure.
The Senate passed a bill in mid-March, while the House dilly-dallied around trying to rewrite the formula altogether. As the days waned, they finally capitulated and came to the negotiating table. The final bill (SB 16) accounts for inflation by tying school funding to the average of the last three years’ consumer price index. You can see the change from current law to the new levels of Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE) here: 
  • CCR House Substitute for SB 16 passed the House 76-47 and the Senate 31-8, I voted YES. Governor Kelly signed it into law this past weekend and it has been presented to the Kansas Supreme Court. Following the April and May presentations, we expect a decision from the court during the summer.

You likely recall last year’s mid-term elections ended with a number of races with less than 100 votes separating them. The Sunflower State Journal reports 153 ballots were uncounted in Johnson County due to signature differences on mail ballots. My Elections Committee worked hard on Sub SB 130 to ensure every attempt is made to count every valid ballot and that voting on election day is more convenient. 

  1. Pending a decision from each county’s election official, voters will be allowed to vote at any polling location in the county. Currently, if you vote at the wrong polling location, your ballot is listed as provisional and is only counted if a recount is ordered. This happens frequently as polling locations tend to change from election to election. However, with significant advances in technology, the Johnson County Election Office already allows this for advance voting. I am hoping they decide to spread it county-wide on election day. 
  2. Also, the bill requires election offices to contact voters who neglected to sign their advance ballot or if the signature does not match that on file and allow the voter to correct it before the final votes are tallied.
The bill passed the House 119-3 and the Senate 38-1, I voted YES.

Health Care
HB 2119 is a positive step toward curtailing the opioid crisis in hopes of preventing an epidemic in Kansas. You have probably seen the K-TRACS signs posted at your local pharmacy and have been required to present ID when purchasing Sudafed and other decongestants. The bill enhances K-TRACS by requiring all prescriptions for controlled substances containing opiates to be transmitted electronically except in rare circumstances. The bill also includes language from two other important bills authorizing:
  • Pharmacists to administer injectable drugs that could reasonably be self-administered by the patient.
  • Businesses to directly hire physicians and chiropractors for the purpose of providing those services to their employees. For example, Cerner hosts an in-house medical clinic and was required to contract with a local hospital, but now can contract directly with the provider.

The bill passed the House 117-3, and the Senate 38-0.

Our Transportation Committee spent a great deal of time weighing testimony on the need to fund roads, but also not to discourage energy-efficient vehicles. With the increasing popularity of gas/electric hybrid and all-electric vehicles, these drivers are paying significantly less in gas taxes (none, in the case of electric vehicles), and yet they use just as much of the road as other vehicles. S Sub HB 2214 seeks to level the playing field by implementing a user fee. The bill requires a $50 annual registration fee for hybrid vehicles and $100 for electric vehicles. This is a fair compromise to help pay for the cost of our roads. It passed the House 80-41, and the Senate 36-2, I voted YES.

Protecting Abuse Victims
SB 78 will help domestic abuse victims. Those who have been, are, or are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking could not be evicted from or denied housing based on their situation. In addition, they would not be liable for rent if they have to leave the premises due to these circumstances (provided appropriate landlord notification and documentation). Landlords could impose up to one month’s rent as a termination fee. It passed the House 100-23, and the Senate 36-1, I voted YES.

S Sub HB 2167 will allow Kansas farmers to grow industrial hemp. It would require the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding how the KDA will monitor and regulate the commercial production of industrial hemp within the state. The bill also establishes procedures for testing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in industrial hemp (the psychoactive component of marijuana), annual inspections, background checks and fingerprinting for growers, and sets forth violations. It passed the House 114-3, and the Senate 37-0, I voted YES. 

It is an honor to serve you in Topeka. 

Very truly yours,

John Skubal
Senator, 11
th District
913-469-6641 (H)

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