2020 Session - Legislative Update #7
Week 7 of the 2020 session marks turnaround. There is just one month left of regular session, but still plenty of work to be done. The House and Senate spent full days on the floor last week working through some legislation. Those bills that passed out of the House now move to the Senate; those that passed the Senate now move to the House.
Additionally “blessed” bills were announced on Wednesday. These bills are moved from non-exempt committees to exempt committees so that they can continue to be worked. The Speaker of the House determines which bills are blessed and which are not. Additionally, bills originating in exempt committees will also continue to be worked. You can find the full list of blessed bills in the House Journal (on page 2178) here.
Don’t forget, committee hearings and legislative proceedings are live streamed from the Kansas Legislature’s website. Archived recordings are available as well. Visit www.kslegislature.organd click on “Audio/Video” in the upper right-hand corner, next to the search box on the home page, to reveal a drop-down menu. To view a full schedule of committees, choose “Statehouse Live & Archive” from the drop-down menu. To listen to legislative proceedings, select either the House or Senate audio stream.
Notable Bills that Passed the House Floor
The House notably passed appropriation to shore up the KPERs program adding ~$270Mil to the retirement fund. Re-amortization is off the table for 2020, despite what some may fear.
House Bill 2452 - “Providing certain KP&F tier II spousal and children's benefits for death resulting from a service-connected disability.” — Passed 125-0
House Bill 2469 - “Extending terminal medical release to inmates in the custody of the department of corrections with a condition likely to cause death within 90 days.” — Passed 120-5
House Bill 2480 - “Updating the definition of long-term care insurance contained in the long-term care insurance act.” — Passed 125-0
House Bill 2495 - “Authorizing the crime victims compensation board to waive application time restrictions for a victim of a sexually violent crime to receive compensation for mental health counseling.” — Passed 125-0
House Bill 2516- “Enacting the first-time home buyer savings account act.” — Passed 123-2 (I supported an amendment to HB 2516 that would have given child care tax credits as well for the working families of Kansas. This amendment was defeated.)
House Bill 2518- “Counting any crime with a domestic violence designation as a prior conviction under domestic battery.” — Passed 125-0
House Bill 2546 - “Creating the crime of sexual extortion and adding the crime to the Kansas offender registration act.” — Passed 125-0
House Bill 2646 - “Requiring the attorney general to coordinate training for law enforcement agencies on missing and murdered indigenous people.” — Passed 125-0
House Bill 2585 - “Exempting the retail sale of electricity for electric vehicle charging stations from the jurisdiction of the state corporation commission and requiring a siting permit from the commission for the construction of certain electric transmission lines.” — Passed 123-2
House Bill 2702 - “Decoupling the KIT and KIR workforce training programs from the high-performance incentive fund program and enhancing the workforce training tax credit.” — Passed 125-0
House Bill 2618 - “Establishing a state broadband grant program under the department of commerce to encourage the deployment of broadband in the state.” — Passed 120-5
House Bill 2540 - “Requiring moneys attributable to at-risk student weighting be expended for approved at-risk educational programs.” — Passed 111-14
Senate Bills of Interest Moving to the House
Here are a few bills of interest that were debated and voted on in the Senate last week that I anticipate now working on in the House:
Senate Bill 275, introduced by Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D-Wichita) exempts a person found guilty of driving with a suspended license for failure to comply with a traffic citation from receiving an additional 90-day suspension. It also amends current law to remove certain qualifications for applying for a restricted license. The bill passed 39-0.
Senate Bill 283 legalizes sports gambling in Kansas and eliminates the prohibition on internet gaming. Although I support sports wagering and iLottery (internet gaming platform), I find the Senate version problematic. It includes provisions that favor the casinos over the state of Kansas. The bill's revenue streams do not benefit all stakeholders – the citizens, the state of Kansas, and the operators. I anticipate working a better version in the House.
Senate Bill 294 eliminates the local property tax lid that originally passed in 2015. It replaces it with requirements for cities and counties to send notices to all taxpayers and hold a public hearing, if they intend to raise property taxes in the coming year. The bill passed 39-0.
Senate Bill 371 requires notices with resources of help for victims of human trafficking to be prominently posted a host of public places. The bill passed 39-0.
Senate Bill 381 creates a loan assistance program through the University of Kansas Medical Center for students seeking to pursue the practice of obstetrics and gynecology. The goal of the program is to encourage future OBGYNs to establish practices in rural areas. However, doctors who complete the program are penalized in the event that they establish abortion clinics or perform, induce, or attempt to perform or induce an abortion. They then have to pay back their loan assistance.
Senate Bill 404 creates law outlining procedures to allow a woman who has become pregnant as a result of rape can petition to terminate the parental rights of the rapist. The bill passed 40-0.
Stagnant Bills in the Senate
In the Senate, a host of important bills that directly impact hardworking Kansans remain unworked. There has been no movement on Medicaid expansion. In fact, Senator Gene Suellentrop, who is the chair of the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare, issued a statement last Monday indicating that the committee will only pass a bill on Medicaid expansion when the constitutional amendment on abortion passes the House.
Additionally, no action has been taken on bills that would end surprise healthcare billing; reduce the cost of insulin; add domestic violence protections; impose fines on unlicensed childcare providers; provide unemployment for school bus drivers; or extend unemployment benefits to 26 weeks.
An important one for local priorities deals with insurance coverage to prevent suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in Kansas. Senate Bill 249 would help all Kansans. It is a bipartisan bill that I also co-sponsored in the House and is intended to ensure that both mental health and substance abuse issues are treated in the same manner as physical health issues as required under the federal mental health parity act. The bill remains in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance. It hasn’t received a hearing or had any additional action taken, as it is being blocked by Senate President Susan Wagle.
These are all bills addressing real issues faced by real Kansans in our districts. Addressing these issues will move Kansas forward. Although attempts were made to amend some of these into bills considered on the Senate floors, all attempts failed.
The Senate's Majority leadership, and those they control, have made it clear that political gains are more important than to do what is right for Kansans. This needs to change.
Upcoming Hearings of Interest in the House
Hearings allow the proponents and opponents of different bills to weigh in. These occur strictly in committees. Here are some hearings and some final votes of interest coming up this week.
House Fed & State Committee
In Fed & State on Tuesday at 9:00 in room 346-S, there will be a hearing on a bill proposed at the bequest of the Leavenworth County Historical Society, HB2650 (Designating February 15 of each year as Susan B. Anthony Day in the state of Kansas).
Susan B. Anthony spent a substantial amount of time here in Leavenworth with her brother who was editor of the paper back in the 1860s. Anyone wishing to give testimony should have a pdf of the written testimony delivered by Monday to Committee Assistant, Connie Bahner (785-368-7166).
That same day there is also a hearing on HB2723 (Requiring medical directors of emergency medical services to provide medical oversight of such services and emergency medical service providers).
Fed & State will also discuss Sports Betting. Proponents for HB2671 (Authorizing sports wagering under the Kansas expanded lottery act) will be on Wednesday at 9am. Thursday, March 12, there will be a hearing of opponents on the same bill.
House Judiciary Committee
On Monday, 3:30 in Judiciary (346-S):
Senate Bill 331— Authorizing department of corrections employees, local correctional or detention officers, judicial branch employees and municipal court employees to have identifying information restricted from public access on public websites that identify home addresses or home ownership.
Senate Bill 157— I co-sponsored this bill in the House. It successfully passed out of the Senate. It is around creating 50-50 shared parenting presumptions related to temporary parenting plans and defining related terms under the Kansas family law code.
House Tax Committee
On Monday also at 3:30 in Tax (112-N):
Hearing on House Bill 2720 (Providing a refundable income tax credit for certain purchases of food and discontinuing the nonrefundable food sales tax credit).
Final voting on House Bill 2542 (Increasing the subtraction modification for social security income to $100,000).
House Bill 2517— This one is directly related to the F-4 tornado that hit Leavenworth county. It provides property tax abatement for agricultural improvement destroyed or substantially destroyed by a natural disaster.
House Corrections Committee
On Wednesday, March 11, in Corrections (152-S):
Hearing on Senate Bill 45 (Enhancing penalties for offenses causing death or serious bodily injury to public safety sector employees).
House Appropriations Committee
Also, on Wednesday, March 11 at 9:00 in Appropriations (112-S), the Committee may take action on the new 10 year transportation plan that is being proposed, House Bill 2588 (providing for the FORWARD transportation program).
Young Sign Company Wins Small Business Award
I co-sponsored a resolution, House Resolution 6039, that commends the various Small Business Award winners. These included local firm, Young Sign Company, that came to the Capitol on Thursday to accept the 2020 Small Business of the Year award from the Kansas Small Business Development Center.
Young Sign Company has been in Leavenworth since 1978 and has grown into a full-service electric sign manufacturing business. They produce a variety of sign types, including electric signs, channel letters, and dimensional signs, and offers large-format printing on vinyl and rigid substrates.
Young Entrepreneur Competition
So glad to have been able to interview some of the students from around Leavenworth County who competed this week for a prize total of $3500. They had to present their business ideas to the GROW Leavenworth appointed judges in an elevator pitch, Shark Tank style presentation and with trade show materials.
First Incident of Corona virus in Kansas
I have been actively engaging with stakeholders, including KDHE, the Adjutant General and the Governor’s staff. The Governor had a number of press conferences to cover the State level response that’s in action.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is confirming its first presumptive-positive case of COVID-19 in Kansas. The possible case was identified today with testing sent to KDHE’s Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories (KHEL). KHEL, which is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to perform COVID-19 testing, found presumptive-positive results this afternoon. These results will be verified by the CDC lab, but will be treated as positive unless determined otherwise.
The case is located in Johnson County and the patient is currently in home isolation, following the guidance of the CDC. KDHE continues to work with the local health department and CDC to identify and contact people who may have come into contact with the individual while they were infectious, and will monitor them for fever and respiratory symptoms. The patient is a female under the age of 50 years old.
Meanwhile here is some helpful information about Corona virus.
Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath. These symptoms can develop 2-14 days after exposure. The symptoms can range from mild to severe – and in rare cases, have resulted in death.
If you have recently traveled to areas including China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea and have developed fever with lower respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel or have had contact with someone with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. You may also call the KDHE phone hotline number.
KDHE HOTLINE NUMBER: 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF)
There is no current vaccine for COVID-19. However, there are ways to prevent the spread of this disease.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Cough into your sleeve and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning products.
Stay home when you are sick
The CDC considers this a significant threat as does the World Health Organization. With cases in over 13 US states, the Federal government has taken some steps towards funding a preparatory defense. CDC has deployed multidisciplinary teams to support state health departments case identification, contact tracing, clinical management, and communications.
Position on the Constitutional Amendment Proposed Around Abortion
Over the past week, there have been mail and publications that have been dishonest about my vote regarding the Constitutional Amendment on abortion.
I published an explanation of my vote at the time to thoroughly explain my position based on robust feedback I have received from our district regarding this topic.
My office address is Room 561-W 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7522 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. Additionally, you can e-mail me at email@example.com.
Rep. Jeff Pittman
Kansas House of Representatives
House District 41 (Leavenworth)
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