Legislative update by Rep. Pam Curtis

Rep. Pam Curtis

by Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist.

A historically slow session came to a head last week when the House worked over 50 bills in two days. The House worked late into the evening both Monday and Tuesday nights, March 25 and 26 – just 30 minutes shy of the midnight rule on Monday. The pace will continue to be very busy leading up to first adjournment on April 5th as the Legislature attempts to come to a consensus on remaining issues.

Many thanks to Trinity and GiGi for serving as legislative pages on Wednesday. It was such a pleasure to have them both spend the day with us in the Kansas Legislature.

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address at the Statehouse is: Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at 785-296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also email me at: pam.curtis@house.ks.gov.

Budget passes the House
On Monday, the House passed a budget plan: House Substitute for Senate Bill 25, with little debate. The final vote was 99-25, which moved the bill to the Senate. The Senate non-concurred with the House amendments and a Conference Committee (three conferees from each chamber) was appointed. Overall, the House plan appropriates $18.2 billion in spending with a $7.7 billion impact on the state general fund.

The House budget plan contained many of the governor’s recommendations. A few highlights:
• Ridding a contract with Maximus, the Medicaid clearinghouse, and returns more than 300 employees to the state.
• A 2.5 percent pay increase for state employees. Judicial branch employee raises would be phased in over five years.
• Sets aside more than $50 million for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, including $13.4 million for home and community-based services, $6 million in services for intellectual and developmental disabilities, $13.6 million for nursing facilities, $3 million for community health centers, $4.8 million for psychiatric residential treatment, and $12.4 million for a program that serves the elderly.
• The budget also includes the governor’s significant recommendations for child welfare reform, including funding for additional 52 workers and participation in the federal Families First program.

Gov. Kelly vetoes SB 22
On Monday, Gov. Kelly vetoed the controversial Senate Bill 22. The Kansas Chamber immediately called for an override. An override attempt of her veto would require two-thirds of the House (84 votes), and Senate (27 votes) to be successful.

The bill would have benefitted giant multinational corporations, and was estimated to have reduced state revenue, at a minimum, of over $500 million over three years. Gov. Kelly stressed this would “throw our state once again into a self-inflicted budget crisis, diminishing all the investments we’ve worked so hard to rebuild and restore. It would put our future at risk once again in order to give significant tax breaks to entities who need them the least while continuing to leave working families behind.” This was the governor’s first veto.

School funding debate continues
The House has made little progress on school finance while the court-mandated deadline is looming. Senate Bill 16 has been strongly critiqued as a bad policy bill that fails to resolve litigation. It contains layers of unfunded mandates, strips school districts of local control, removes the consumer price index (CPI), and targets English Learner Language and special education programs (including reducing funding for SPED). It also removes the last two years of funding that was passed in 2018. House Democrats have always been strong proponents of education – every child deserves access to a quality education.

One of several Democratic amendments attempted was to restore due process for teachers. Since its repeal under Gov. Brownback’s leadership in 2014, House Democrats have continuously fought for its reinstatement. The amendment failed 68 to 55.

The underlying bill narrowly passed final action on a 63-60 vote.

This week on the floor

This week, the House worked over 50 bills. If you would like to read the full list of bills worked, please go to www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/chamber/house/journals/2019/3/. Here are a few highlights:
HB 2274: Requires notification to patients that the effects of a medication abortion may be reversible.
HB 2054: Provides for fully-insured association health plans.
SB 15: Amends the definition of “service connected” in the Kansas police and firemen’s retirement system.
HB 2018: Creates the Kansas criminal justice reform commission.
SB 90: Extends the tax credit under the center for entrepreneurship act to financial institutions and increasing the annual tax credit limit for all contributors.
SB 94: Establishing a minimum course duration for motor vehicle accident prevention courses. Reduces premiums.
H Sub SB 25: House Substitute for SB 25 by Committee on Appropriations – Appropriations for FY 2019, FY 2020, FY 2021 and FY 2022 for various state agencies.
HB 2137: Legislative review of exceptions to disclosure of public records under the Kansas open records act.
HB 2396: Allowing use of certified drug abuse treatment programs for certain offenders convicted of unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances.
HB 2173: Establishes a commercial industrial hemp program.
HB 2389: Requires electronic prescriptions for certain controlled substances.
HB 2383: Amendments regarding the licensure and regulation of barbering.
SB 20: Extends the judicial branch surcharge to fund the costs of non-judicial personnel; extending recognition of tribal court judgments pursuant to supreme court rules.
SB 16: House Substitute for SB 16 by Committee on K-12 Education Budget – Making amendments to the Kansas school equity and enhancement act and other statutes related to education.
HB 2154: Making unemployment benefits available for federal and state employees who are required to work without pay.
HB 2118: Providing income tax credits for aerospace and aviation program graduates and their employers.
HB 2326: Recognizing licenses to carry a concealed firearm issued by other jurisdictions. Contains amendment lowering license age to 18.
HB 2372: Providing for an increase in registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles.
HB 2244: Authorizing the use of cannabidiol treatment preparation to treat certain medical conditions.

State Library of Kansas

Learn Online with Universal Class
Universal Class https://kslib.info/uclass offers over 500 lifelong learning courses in more than 30 areas of study at no charge. Join a full course with instructors and readings or just watch the lecture videos to brush up on a topic. The wide range of courses offers something for everyone: from accounting to yoga, babysitting to parenting, cake decorating to computer training.


Resources

My Legislative Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK.
My Twitter account, https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck
My website, https://www.curtisforkck.com/
Kansas Legislature website, http://kslegislature.org/

Legislative update from Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist.

Rep. Pam Curtis

by State Rep. Pam Curtis

A very exciting week as the House passed Medicaid Expansion (see report below) which now heads to the Senate. Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore (from Wyandotte County) did an excellent job carrying the measure on the House floor.

Expanding Medicaid will provide about 150,000 working Kansans, that fall in the coverage gap, with access to much-needed health care options. It will also return our already paid federal dollars to Kansas, provide support to hospitals and clinics as well as stimulate our economy.

The REACH Healthcare Foundation sponsored the Wyandotte-Leavenworth Delegation Luncheon on Tuesday. Brenda Sharpe, president and CEO, spoke about REACH’s commitment to addressing health care coverage and access to quality health, mental health and oral health services as well as the need for Medicaid expansion. We appreciate Brenda Sharpe, Pattie Mansur and Todd Jordan joining us for this important discussion at our lunch and learn.

Many thanks to Amanda June Smith and Sara Rust-Martin for testifying in support of HB 2279 to help arm victims of domestic violence with the information they need at time of arrest to make safe decisions. HB 2279 is the bill that Rep. Ponka-We Victors and I co-sponsored. We appreciate everyone’s help and support with this effort. The bill passed in the House unanimously and on Friday passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It will now advance to the full Senate.

I want to give a shout-out to the young adults from Wyandotte County that have been actively involved in this year’s Kansas legislative session. Having young people from our community at the Statehouse testifying on issues they are passionate about makes me proud. Appreciate their involvement, which is so important because the laws we pass today will affect them and their voices must be heard.

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address at the Statehouse is: Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at 785-296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also e-mail me at: pam.curtis@house.ks.gov


House passes Medicaid expansion
On Wednesday, March 20, after almost eight hours of debate on the House floor, the House voted 70-54 to advance Medicaid expansion. In arguably one of the most action-packed debates this session, Democrats offered an amendment to replace the contents of House Bill 2066, a controversial bill to expand the practice authority for registered nurses, with Medicaid expansion. Though the amendment was ruled non-germane by the rules chair, a bipartisan coalition came together to overrule the chair and finally have a real debate on expansion on the floor.

Medicaid expansion offers innumerable benefits for Kansas. Presently, more than 150,000 Kansans fall within the health coverage gap—most of whom are employed, but whose incomes are narrowly outside the threshold to qualify.

This would broaden the current threshold to include Kansans earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level — $17,236 for an individual or $35,535 for a family of four. Expanding Medicaid will return billions of our taxpayer dollars back to Kansans, stimulate the Kansas economy, create thousands of jobs and maintain thousands more, help over 150,000 hardworking Kansans, including children and military veterans, and keep Kansas hospitals and clinics open. This is critical for rural hospitals because many disproportionately serve poorer, sicker, and older patients.

After a 69-54 final action vote on Friday, the bill now advances to the Senate. It is expected to have a narrower margin, but we remain optimistic that the Senate will do what is right for Kansans. In a nonpartisan study, over 70 percent of Kansans support Medicaid expansion. Newly elected Gov. Laura Kelly ran on Medicaid expansion as a top issue, receiving overwhelming support. We are thankful to our Republican colleagues for working alongside us. We look forward to continuing this bipartisanship moving forward.


Here are a few resources to learn more:
• Why Medicaid Expansion Matters to Kansas, https://www.expandkancare.com/why-expansion-matters/
• Kansas House Approves Medicaid Expansion, But The Fight Isn’t Over Yet, https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-house-approves-medicaid-expansion-fight-isnt-over-yet#stream/0

House Democrats meet with Department of Children and Families Acting Secretary Laura Howard
On Thursday, the House Democratic Caucus played host to Acting Secretary Laura Howard, of the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Aging and Disability, at our Thursday summit. Secretary Howard spoke on issues important to child welfare in Kansas. She brings an extensive background in social services to the table.

House Democrats have been continuously advocating for reform of DCF, especially within the foster care system. We look forward to working with Secretary Howard to address these necessary reforms and programs.

School funding update
The Kansas Senate passed SB 142, the school funding bill proposed by Gov. Kelly, through the chamber, but the House K-12 Budget Committee will not kick the bill out to the House floor despite bipartisan support of the plan. Rather, House Bill 2395, a Republican bill that removes funding for the last two years of the finance plan passed last session, is now the focus of the House.

On Thursday, after voting down SB 142 in committee, the K-12 Budget Committee used the gut and go procedure to insert HB 2395 into Senate Bill 16. HB 2395 contains no new funding and will not meet the requirements established by the Kansas Supreme Court ruling in the Gannon case. The state has a deadline of June 30, 2019, to pass a plan that meets the requirement.

HB 2395 passed on an 8-4 vote and heads to the House floor. House Democrats remain staunch supporters of fully funding K-12 education, and will continue to work towards a constitutional solution.

This week on the floor
This week, the House worked several bills on the floor. All of these bills passed through the chamber. They include:

HB 2188: Dissolves the White Clay watershed district no. 26, city of Atchison assumes obligations and amending the tax lid relating to the dissolution of any taxing subdivision

SB 40: Removes expired warning provision for approach of an emergency vehicle traffic violation.

SB 41: Clarifies that a violation of the statute requiring seat belt use is a traffic infraction.

HB 2041: Prohibits certain unfair or deceptive acts or practices under a life insurance policy for a living organ donor.

HB 2066: Expands Medicaid eligibility by enacting the KanCare bridge to a Healthy Kansas program.

HB 2082: Allows pharmacists to administer drugs pursuant to a prescription order.

State Library of Kansas
Consumer Health Complete covers all areas of health and wellness. Did your doctor prescribe a new medication? Recently diagnosed with a condition? Look it up here. Designed for the everyday consumer, this online database provided by the State Library of Kansas offers popular reference books, medical encyclopedias, fact sheets, and magazine articles. This full-text database covers topics such as aging, nutrition, cancer, fitness, drugs and alcohol, even yoga. https://kslib.info/ConHealth.

If the page above asks for a Kansas Library eCard number, you may get one at any library in Kansas. Most people will be automatically recognized as being in Kansas and will not need this step. Questions: kslc@ks.gov or 785-296-3296.

Resources

My Legislative Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK.
My Twitter account, https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck
My website, https://www.curtisforkck.com/
Kansas Legislature website, http://kslegislature.org/

Legislative update from State Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist.

Rep. Pam Curtis

by Rep. Pam Curtis

There was a lot of activity and events at the Capitol this past week including Theatre in Our Schools Advocacy Day, W.E.A.L.T.H. Day, Mental Health Advocacy Day, Kansas Ag Day, Nonprofit Day on the Hill and the State Refugee Update.

SportingKC was the sponsor for the Wyandotte-Leavenworth Delegation Luncheon. Even though the debate on the floor extended into the lunch hour most members were able to take a few minutes to visit with Marty Nevshemal, chief financial officer for Sporting KC.

It was such a pleasure to have former Mayor Joe Reardon, president-CEO Greater Kansas City Chamber, as the speaker for a joint Johnson-Leavenworth-Wyandotte County Luncheon. He gave a very informative presentation focusing on regional issues including early childhood learning, workforce development and transportation.

This past week, I joined my fellow legislators to promote a resolution to condemn the separation of children from their families at the border. Kansas House and Senate Democrats presented a resolution and hosted a press conference on the Keep Families Together Act. Resolution 1260 urges the federal government to end their separation and detainment practices of children and their families. We felt compelled to speak out because it affects many of our constituents.

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address at the Statehouse is: Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at 785-296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also email me at: pam.curtis@house.ks.gov

School funding finds traction

Late into the evening on Thursday, the Senate approved a clean K-12 education bill on a 32-8 vote.

The bill, which is in line with Governor Kelly’s education plan, will add roughly $92 million into the general state aid to public schools. The measure is hoped to meet the Kansas Supreme Court’s order requiring the state to provide “adequate” funding for K-12 education.

The bill will head to the House. House Democrats have repeatedly advocated to address school funding this session and are eager to resolve the continuous cycle of litigation, providing Kansas children with the quality education they deserve.

Meanwhile, a Republican bill was worked in the House K-12 Education Committee that is essentially a private school voucher bill poorly disguised as a public-school funding bill. It would actually remove around $200 million from base state aid that passed last year. Essentially, it would make policy changes and cut money from schools, all but guaranteeing an unconstitutional ruling if passed.


House Democratic caucus meets with Mexican consulate
This week, for the House Democrats’ monthly summit, they played host to the Kansas City based Mexican consulate delegate. We learned how beneficial Kansas’ relationship is with Mexico.

In 2018, Mexico became Kansas’ largest export market. $2.8 billion in goods are traded between Kansas and Mexico. 18.2 percent of Kansas’ worldwide exports go to Mexico. Mexico is also Kansas’ second largest export market for transportation equipment, particularly aerospace components and parts, with over $300 million in export revenue. 97 percent of worldwide corn exports, 26 percent of worldwide pork exports, and 16 percent of fresh beef from Kansas all head to Mexico.

They also advocated for labor rights and protections, explaining that they are at the core of USMCA, the new agreement between United States, Mexico and Canada. We enjoyed speaking with them on how to continue this successful relationship.


The ‘do-nothing’ Kansas Republican-led Legislature

The turnaround deadline two weeks ago officially marked the halfway point of the 2019 session.

With the deadline, over 40 bills and issues were left to die. These are bills that had passed through committees but were never brought to a floor debate by the House Majority Leader. The bills covered a range of issues, such as removing the spousal exception from sexual battery, medical marijuana, due process for teachers, and more.

Furthermore, Democratic attempts to address some of the most critical issues facing Kansans, like school funding, have been met with partisan games. These issues deserve serious deliberation and the development of policy alternatives to pursue the best path for Kansas. It is not a race, but the deadlines are real.

In 2011, the first year of Gov. Brownback’s administration, the Legislature debated and acted on 99 more pieces of legislation by this point in the session than they have this entire year. Under the direction of the ultra-conservative Republican leadership in both the House and Senate, only one piece of legislation has reached the governor’s desk.

We have deep respect for the legislative process. The Democratic House caucus started this session ready to reach across the aisle to get things done.

There are dire issues facing Kansas — our schools are severely underfunded, children are missing and dying in our mismanaged foster care system, rural communities are struggling, hospitals are closing, and our prison system is dangerously underfunded. Instead, we have spent a significant amount of session trying to give giant tax giveaways to giant, multi-national corporations and discussing issues that impact other states.

This past week, the House had a lengthy floor debate on SCR 1606. House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer released a statement:

“Today, 32 Kansas House Democrats voted ‘present’ on SCR 1606 in protest. Rather than focusing on the condemnation of New York’s policies, House Democrats believe we should be working toward funding our children’s educations, expanding Medicaid, and toward resolving the many issues facing our state. We were elected here in Kansas to serve the people of Kansas, not to waste time worrying about what other states decide to do for their constituents. The resolution brought to the floor today was further demonstration of a do-nothing Republican-led legislature.”

Senate Bill 22 update

The Senate concurred on Senate Bill 22 with a 24-16 vote. Senate Bill 22 is the massive tax giveaway to giant, multi-national corporations.

The bill will now head to the governor’s desk for either a veto or passage. The governor said shortly after the Senate’s passage saying, “Just two short years ago, the state of Kansas was on the brink of financial disaster. Our state faced a massive, self-inflicted budget crisis that caused three credit downgrades and devastating budget cuts. The consequences of those cuts were real and painful…In 2017, we defied the odds, acknowledged the mistake, and ended the experiment in a historic act of bipartisanship. Since then, Kansas has seen a gradual recovery. My administration has only just begun to repair the severe damage done in the last eight years. Our recovery is tenuous; our budget is fragile. This is not the time to make significant changes to our tax code.”

This week on the floor


This week, the House worked several bills on the floor. All of these bills passed through the chamber. They are as follows:
SB 17: Requires class M driver’s licenses when operating a motorcycle registered under a temporary permit.
SB 39: Compensation for warranty services under the vehicle dealers and manufacturers licensing act.
HB 2133: Required reporting for entities who deliver alcoholic liquors to consumers.
SCR 1606: Condemning the reproductive health act of New York.

State Library of Kansas
Early Learning Resources from the State Library
BookFlix is an online resource from the State Library of Kansas for children in grades PreK-3 that pairs video storybooks with related nonfiction e-books. Imagine Curious George paired with a nonfiction book about monkeys. The read-along storybook highlights each word as it is read. This option can be turned off. Related games reinforce early learning reading skills. BookFlix requires Flash.
Britannica E-Stax (PreK-6) features nonfiction books that can be read online or downloaded to any Internet-enabled device.
Britannica School has a Pre-K component called Britannica Learning Zone. This engaging online tool covers colors, letters, words, numbers, and more.
All are available at no charge through the State Library’s web site http://kslib.info/kids

Resources
My Legislative Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK.
My Twitter account, https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck
My website, https://www.curtisforkck.com/
Kansas Legislature website, http://kslegislature.org/