February 14, 2022 IN THIS ISSUE:
I am honored to serve as your Senator. My office is located in 124E. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Also feel free to forward my email to someone who may be interested in subscribing.
We are officially one month into session. This week marked the last week for bill introductions. With a few exceptions, as of Friday at 5 p.m., no more bills can be introduced for the 2022 session. The deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin, also known as turnaround day, is February 24.
This week, the Senate took action on several non-controversial bills along with a motion to override Governor Kelly’s veto of the Ad Astra 2 congressional redistricting map and a motion to concur on the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion (APEX) Act.
LEAVENWORTH CITY COMMISSION UPDATE
I was glad to appear before the Leavenworth city commission during their regular meeting this week to talk about some of the major and local issues coming in front of the Senate this month.
Here is a link to that session--my section starts at 11:57 minute mark:
You will recall that one of our big tasks this year is to rebalance the districts so that Congress representatives, State Senators and State Representatives represent roughly equal numbers of people, as happens every 10 years. Our first map to be worked is the Congressional maps. On Thursday, February 3, 2022, Governor Laura Kelly vetoed the Ad Astra 2 congressional redistricting map, which passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 9 before passing in the House by a vote of 79 to 37. In her veto message, Governor Kelly cited the map’s dilution of minority communities’ voting strength as one of the reasons she did not sign the bill.
Senate President Ty Masterson moved swiftly on Monday to override the governor’s veto. I voted NO, because I agree that the map unnecessarily divides communities of interest including racial and religious groups and unnecessarily puts only the city of Lawrence into the western CD1. Republican senators Dennis Pyle (Hiawatha), John Doll (Garden City), Mark Steffen (Hutchinson), and Alicia Straub (Ellinwood) joined the 10 Democrats present in voting no, which prompted a call of the Senate.
Twenty-four hours later, we returned to the chamber, where President Masterson moved to reconsider the previous action on the governor’s veto. His motion passed by a vote of 28 to 11, and his motion to override the veto prevailed by a vote of 27 to 11, with Senators Doll and Pyle voting “pass” and Senators Steffen and Straub flipping their votes to “yes.”
Legislators and members of the press corps quickly connected the dots between Senator Steffen and Straub’s flip-flop and their legislative priorities getting pushed out of committee. S Sub for HB 2280 includes Senator Steffen’s language requiring pharmacists to fill prescriptions of off-label medications to treat COVID-19; prohibiting the Board of Healing Arts from investigating physicians who prescribe off-label drugs; and requiring child care facilities and schools to grant philosophical exemptions from vaccination requirements for all childhood vaccines. The Senate President then took the extraordinary measure and stripped three Republican senators from many of their committees.
My hope is we can do better as a Senate and work towards maps that more fairly represent the people of Kansas and don't prompt such partisan strong-arm tactics when it comes to the Senate and House maps.
POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE of KCK Great time helping call BINGO for a good cause this past weekend. P.A.L. hosts nearly 400 kids a week in their facility, building relationships between the Police and at-risk kids. It takes years to build trust and these officers are up to the task.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to concur with House amendments to SB 347 by a vote of 31 to 9. This bipartisan bill – called the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act (APEX) – could help Kansas land the biggest private sector investment in the state’s history. The current project would bring 4,000 new jobs to Kansas and inject $4 billion in business investment into the Kansas economy.
“We need something. We need a tool in the toolbox that can attract new industry and grow our economy,” said Sen. Jeff Pittman, D-Leavenworth. “We’re looking at competing not only in the United States but globally with this bill.” - The Kansas Reflector, Feb. 9, 2022.
MEDICAID EXPANSION: ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER BILL
Governor Laura Kelly announced legislation to expand Medicaid (KanCare), a law that would provide more than 150,000 hard-working Kansans access to affordable healthcare and create more than 23,000 new jobs, bolstering the Kansas economy.
“Expanding Medicaid so that thousands of hard-working Kansans have access to affordable health care would boost the Kansas economy,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Expansion would inject billions of dollars into our state, create thousands of jobs, help retain our healthcare workers in Kansas – and help rural hospitals’ bottom lines. It's time to work together to deliver for Kansans and get this done once and for all."
Under the proposed legislation introduced on February 9, Medicaid will be expanded to cover Kansans earning up to the full 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, 90 percent of which would be paid by the federal government, starting on January 1, 2023. Furthermore, if Medicaid is expanded, the state is poised to receive an additional $370 million over the next eight fiscal quarters for the current Medicaid population. That’s a total of $68.5 million in State General Fund savings in Fiscal Year 2023 alone, which will be reallocated for one-time strategic investments on housing, childcare, and workforce development.
A 2022 statewide survey finds that almost 8 in 10 Kansans – 78 percent – support expanding Medicaid to allow more Kansans to qualify for health care coverage. This is not only the right thing to do for our state, but it’s incredibly popular among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike.
Expanding Medicaid in Kansas would boost the economy by:
● Providing affordable health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Kansans
● Stimulate the economy for rural, suburban, and urban communities alike
● Create tens of thousands of new jobs
● Inject billions of dollars in increased economic output
● Retain health care jobs in Kansas
COMMITTEE WORK CONTINUES Some committee work to keep an eye on ● VOTING RIGHTS: There are multiple election bills being heard in the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs next week. SB 351, SB 390, SB 418, SB 394, SB 391, and SB 445 all address various aspects of our elections, including: requiring all advance voting ballots be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day; requiring ballots show the number of years an incumbent has served in office; and prohibiting the use of additional ballot boxes for the return of advance voting ballots. You can find the full agenda for the week here. http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb351/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb390/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb418/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb394/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb391/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb445/ ● STATE BUDGET: Every year, the Governor whether Democrat or Republican proposes an executive budget recommendation, and the legislature reviews the priorities and finances to see what needs revising. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means is starting to work on major components of the budget, contained in SB 422 and SB 444. For a refresher on the governor’s budget recommendations, here is her press release laying out the details. http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb422/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb444/ ● BURDENING EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS: The Senate Committee on Education will have hearings on two bills requiring school districts to publish online lists of training materials and activities used for both student instruction and teacher professional development. One bill includes penalties for violations of this legislation. They’ll also have an informational hearing on a “Parental Bill of Rights.” Texas and Wisconsin are considering similar measures this year. ● TAXATION CONSIDERATIONS: SB 432 has a hearing Tuesday in the Senate. It woul open up tax exemptions for back to school supplies. The Food Sales tax bill disappointingly had a large number of additions amended onto it, so we will see what happens there. http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb432/ ● INSURANCE & PENSIONS: There are hearings this Monday in the House 3:30pm committee on HB 2612, HB 2593 and HB 2639 all dealing with KPER, including consideration of a COLA (Cost of Living Allowance). http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2612/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2593/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2639/ ● VIRTUAL SCHOOL BILLS: This Monday in the House K-12 budget committee, there are hearings on virtual school, graduation rates, course credit and more. http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2602/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2515/ http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2649/ ● MEAT IS MEAT?: This Tuesday in House Agriculture, they will have a hearing on HB 2530 regarding the labeling of meat and meat substitutes. The Livestock Association apparently only likes the real thing being called meat. http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2530/ ● PARENTAL CUSTODY: Monday in House judiciary, there is a hearing on HB2647 which will addinto the factors of child custody and residency a parent's hisory of committing sexual abuse and those on the sexual registry. http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/hb2647/
SUSAN B. ANTHONY DAY HEARING Just an update that the Susan B Anthony ay Bill, SB179, made it out of committee and is waiting to go to the Senate floor. As a reminder, this was introduced per request of the Leavenworth Historical Society. SB 179 seeks to designate February 15 as Susan B. Anthony Day in the state of Kansas. This isn’t creating a holiday, so has no impact on state agencies, and is merely a designation. This would recognize the historic female role model that Susan B. Anthony was and her impact on Kansas. http://kslegislature.com/li/b2021_22/measures/sb179/
BLACK LEGISLATIVE DAY IN TOPEKA Members of the local Richard Allen Cultural Center, celebrating the African American experience throughout local history, and the NAACP came to the Capitol this week. Lots of advocacy, information and meetings with local legislators.
IMPORTANT STATE PHONE NUMBERS As I stated before, it is a special honor to serve as your State Senator I both value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 124-E 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the legislative session online at www.kslegislature.org My Legislative Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Pittman05 My Twitter Account: www.twitter.com/votepittman My Website: www.votepittman.com
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