Legislative newsletter from Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-5th Dist.

by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald

This past week the Legislature passed 45 bills, and sent numerous bills to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Most committees have wrapped up their work – only exempt committees including Ways and Means, Assessment and Taxation and Federal and State Affairs are meeting.

Conference committee work has begun. We will be voting on conference committee reports all next week. Conference committees normally consist of three members from the relevant committee of each house. The chair, vice chair, and ranking minority member are normally appointed. The committee is to resolve differences in specific bills between the two houses producing a committee report that is then voted on by the House and the Senate for an up or down vote (no further amendments are permitted). If either house votes the report down the committee reconvenes and tries again. In subsequent tries the composition of the committee can be changed.

This week is the last legislative week before first adjournment, so debating conference committee reports will be a top priority to get as many bills to the Governor’s desk as possible before the break.

While a lot of bills have been passed, the legislature still must pass budget, tax, and school finance bills. There is still a lot of heavy lifting to do – including attempts to override the Governor’s vetoes. Much is at stake.

Student pages: I had five pages last month from Leavenworth High School. They are Elizabeth Bert, Holly Humes, Dylan Shaw, Governor Brownback, Senator Fitzgerald, Nathan Moore, and Chayne Dessaso. Great kids; in fact, Leavenworth High School always sends students who are outstanding.

HB 2044 – Medicaid expansion: Medicaid expansion, HB 2044, passed the House with a vote of 81- 44 earlier this month. The bill expands Medicaid coverage to Kansans making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty rate and includes a substantial fiscal note. HB 2044 passed the Kansas Senate 25-14. I voted against this bill.

The governor vetoed the bill with this statement: “I am vetoing this expansion of Obamacare because it fails to serve the truly vulnerable before the able-bodied, lacks work requirements to help able-bodied Kansans escape poverty, and burdens the state budget with unrestrainable entitlement costs.

“Most grievously, this legislation funnels more taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. From its infancy, the state of Kansas has affirmed the dignity and equality of each human life. I will not support this legislation that continues to fund organizations that undermine a culture of life.”

The House now has 30 days to vote to override the veto with 2/3 majority and send the bill to the Senate for a vote; if the House fails to override and sustains the veto, the bill is dead for this legislative session.

Key points to remember on expansion from chairman Hawkins:

There is a misconception that Medicaid Expansion brings more dollars to the populations already being served by KanCare (Medicaid). This is simply not true. Medicaid Expansion specifically (and only) makes eligible abled-bodied adults between the age of 19 and 64, primarily males who make less than the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). A single male working 32 hours at minimum wage $7.25 per hour will make just over $12,000 a year. The FPL is $11,777 per year for a single adult. So, a person working 32 hours per week at $7.25 per hour would make enough to qualify for the ACA and receive a Silver Plan for approximately $20 per month. Thus, working Kansans do not need Medicaid.

Of the 150,000 to 180,000 people estimated to be eligible under expansion, between 70,000 and 80,000 are already covered on private or group insurance. Those individuals will be forced off of their current coverage and forced onto government-run Medicaid, which is also known as the crowd out affect.

From a purely fiscal stand point, Medicaid expansion simply does not work. In FY 2018, from January 1st to June 30th (6 months) the cost to the state taxpayers for Expansion would be $26,355,642. In the first full year, FY 2019, the cost will be $57,639,536. When the feds change the match to FMAP, which is currently planned for Jan. 1, 2020, the cost to the state taxpayers will be $464.5 million.

Current caseload costs of Medicaid increase every year. Expansion will just make those caseload shortages more severe each and every year.

Every single state has missed their estimated cost. Our neighbors to the west (Colorado) had their enrollment go 207 percent over what they figured their maximum amount was.

On average the states that have expanded have missed their maximum enrollment by 110 percent. If this holds true in Kansas, we could see our costs approach $100 million the first full year, not $57 million like our fiscal note shows.

Expansion will redirect resources away from the truly needy and education, public safety and infrastructure funding.

Some examples of other state’s overall cost overruns:

California: $14.7 billion (222 percent) over-budget in the first 1.5 years
Colorado: 0.6 billion (45 percent) over-budget in the first 1.5 years
Illinois: 2 billion (70 percent) over-budget in the first 2 years
Iowa: 0.4 billion (56 percent) over-budget in the first 1.5 years
Kentucky: 3 billion (107 percent) over-budget in the first 2.5 years
New Mexico: 0.6 billion (45 percent) over-budget in the first 1.5 years
Ohio: 4.7 billion (87 percent) over-budget in the first 2.75 years
Oregon: 2 billion (128 percent) over-budget in the first 1.5 years

Regardless of what the left says, Medicaid expansion is not a job creator.

ObamaCare expansion advocates are peddling a false narrative that expanding will actually “create jobs.” The evidence proves this to be completely false. ObamaCare expansion has been shown to discourage work, leading to millions of able-bodied adults to drop out of the workforce. But it also ignores the experiences of other states, who heard similar promises and which were ultimately proven false. For example:

In Arkansas, proponents promised 1,000 new hospital jobs. However, the reality was that the state ended up losing 819 hospital jobs in the first 18 months of expansion, and one hospital closed. Not exactly the remedy they were promised.

It was a similar story in Kentucky where ObamaCare supporters promised over 5,000 new hospital jobs. After first year, however, Kentucky was lost more than 1,200 hospital jobs. Again, not at all what the advocates were claiming.

For years, the number one talking point of Obamacare supporters is that people who are uninsured end up getting costly care from hospitals’ emergency rooms. A new study, published in the journal Science, definitively reaches the opposite conclusion.

In Oregon, people who gained coverage through Medicaid used the emergency room 40 percent more than those who were uninsured.

The New England Journal of Medicine gave a report on the now-famous Oregon Medicaid experiment. This study compared a group of Oregonians who were uninsured, and stayed that way, to a group who had “won” a lottery to enroll in Medicaid. The study found that Medicaid “generated no significant improvement in measured physical health outcomes,” a finding that reinforces extensive published research.

In Massachusetts, under Romneycare, the math worked out in a similar way. The Bay State spent $661 million on uncompensated care in the year before Romneycare went into effect; by the 2009 fiscal year, that figure had decreased to $414 million: a savings of $247 million. But in 2011, the cost of the state’s insurance subsidy program was $830 million, and that doesn’t even count the tab paid by the federal government for the state’s expansion of Medicaid. Emergency-room usage in Massachusetts actually rose by 7 percent between 2005 and 2007, and the state’s costs for caring for ER patients rose 17 percent between 2007 and 2009.

The lessons of history and the hard numbers are clear: It is not fiscally responsible or wise to expand a strained entitlement program and rely on federal funding that is unlikely.

We are still working on the KanCare system, reforming Medicaid to better manage and coordinate care and promote medical price transparency.

Senate Sub. for SB 189 – Appropriations for FY’17-20
On Thursday, the Senate passed Senate Substitute for SB 189, an appropriations bill containing FY 2017 adjustments and a two-year budget for FY 2018 and FY 2019. The bill spends roughly $6.3 billion State General Fund (SGF) and close to $16 billion all funds. This does not include any additional funding for K-12 education, which is being handled through separate bills in both the House and Senate. The bill passed the Senate 25 – 15. I voted against this bill.

Thank you for engaging
Thank you for all your calls, emails, and letters regarding your thoughts and concerns about happenings in Kansas. Constituent correspondence helps inform my decision-making process and is taken into consideration when I cast my vote in the Kansas Senate. I hope you’ll continue to engage with me on the issues that matter most to you, your family, and our community.

Floor action
Statutory references relating to KDADS (SB 217): SB 217 updates several statutory references in accordance with SB 449 a bill which was enacted in 2016. SB 217 would replace the term “mentally retarded and other handicapped persons” in statutes with “individuals with intellectual or other disabilities” in accordance with current law. The bill would make other grammatical and formatting changes, all of which are technical in nature. This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

Kansas Pharmacy Act (HB 2030): HB 2030 changes the minimum age from 18 to 12 years of age for a person to whom a pharmacist or a pharmacy student or intern working under the direct supervision and control of a pharmacist would be authorized to administer a vaccine, other than the influenza vaccine, pursuant to a vaccination protocol and with the requisite training. Continuing law requires immunizations provided under the authorization of the Kansas Pharmacy Act be reported to appropriate county or state immunization registries. The bill would allow the person vaccinated or, if the person is a minor, the parent or guardian of the minor, to opt out of the registry reporting requirement. The bill would also require that, on and after July 1, 2020, physicians and other persons authorized in Kansas to administer vaccines to a person report the administration of a vaccine in the state to the state registry maintained for this purpose by the Secretary of Health and Environment. However, the bill would allow the person vaccinated or, if the person is a minor, the parent or guardian of the minor, to opt out of the registry reporting requirement. The manner and form of the reporting would be determined by the Secretary. For this purpose, the bill would define “physician” as a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery. This bill passed the Senate 35-4. I voted for this bill.

Administration of emergency opioid antagonists (HB 2217): HB 2217 creates standards governing the use and administration of emergency opioid antagonists approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to inhibit the effects of opioids and for the treatment of an opioid overdose. The bill would require the Board of Pharmacy to issue a statewide opioid antagonist protocol, define applicable terms, establish educational requirements for the use of opioid antagonists, and provide protection from civil and criminal liability for individuals acting in good faith and with reasonable care in administering an opioid antagonist. The Board of Pharmacy would be required to adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of the bill prior to January 1, 2018. This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

Diabetes information reporting (HB 2219): HB 2219 would require the Secretary of Health and Environment to identify goals and benchmarks and develop plans to reduce the incidence of diabetes in Kansas, improve diabetes care, and control complications associated with diabetes. This bill passed the Senate 25-13. I voted against this bill.

Kansas Healing Arts Act (S Sub. HB 2027); Senate Sub. for HB 2027 makes several amendments to the Kansas Healing Arts Act. The bill would allow a physician providing services to a patient pursuant to a medical retainer agreement to bill for anatomic pathology services when the patient’s bill meets certain specifications. The patient’s bill for such services would be required to identify the laboratory or physician that performed the services, disclose in writing to the patient the actual amount charged by the physician or laboratory that performed the service, and be consistent with rules and regulations adopted by the State Board of Healing Arts (Board) for appropriate billing standards applicable to such services when furnished under the agreement. The bill also would amend a statute governing institutional licenses and restrictions placed on practice privileges of these license holders. The bill would reinsert language stricken in 2014 to allow for reinstatement of an institutional license of an individual who was issued an institutional license prior to May 9, 1997, and who is providing mental health services under a written protocol with a person who holds a Kansas license to practice medicine and surgery other than an institutional license. This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

Kansas Pharmacy Act (HB 2055):Senate Sub. for HB 2055 would delete, add, and modify definitions to be consistent with federal standards (the updated definitions are inserted throughout the bill); modify the requirements for processing prescription orders to prohibit pharmacists from exercising brand exchange for a biological product; insert provisions to bring the Act into compliance with the federal Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) [Title II of the Drug Quality and Security Act, P.L. 113-54]; modify requirements for wholesale distributors; insert requirements for an automated dispensing system, a third-party logistics provider, and an outsourcing facility; change requirements for pharmacy technicians; set caps on registration fees for third-party logistics providers, outsourcing facilities, repackages, and automated dispensing systems; and expand the rules and regulations authority for the Board of Pharmacy in several areas. This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

Kansas Program of Medical Assistance: (S Sub. HB 2026): Senate Sub. for HB 2026 would change the Kansas Program of Medical Assistance by amending law and creating in law processes for managed care organizations providing Medicaid services and by creating an external independent third-party review process. This bill passed the Senate 34-5. I voted against this bill.

Hearing process for the Department of Agriculture: (HB 2312): HB 2312 would require that notice be provided and there is an opportunity for a hearing under the Kansas Administrative Procedure Act before final action could be taken on the certain fertilizer orders. The bill would also codify current rules and regulations that allow for review of water orders by the Chief Engineer, Division of Water Resources, Kansas Department of Agriculture and clarify current law that allows for the Secretary to review water orders and establish a uniform administrative appeals process for water orders.Lastly, the bill would repeal the requirement of the Department of Administration to contract with or employ administrative law judges, court reporters, and other personnel to conduct the proceedings that occur when an order of the Chief Engineer is reviewed. This bill passed the Senate 39-1.

Board of Nursing: (HB 2025): HB 2025 would make several changes to law regarding the Board of Nursing (Board). Of those changes the bill would allow appointment by the Attorney General of more than one assistant attorney general to represent the Board. Current law provides for the appointment of an assistant attorney general, whose salary is paid from the Board of Nursing Fee Fund (Fund), to represent the Board in proceedings arising in the discharge of its duties and to perform duties of a legal nature as directed by the Board. The bill would also amend the Kansas Nurse Practice Act to authorize the Board to revoke a license for three years and establish an application fee not to exceed $1,000 for the reinstatement of a revoked license. The bill would allow a person whose license has been revoked to apply for reinstatement after three years from the effective date of the revocation. The Application for reinstatement would need to be made on a form approved by the Board and be accompanied by the associated application fee. A denial of license reinstatement by the Board would make the person ineligible to reapply for reinstatement for three years from the effective date of denial. The bill would authorize the Board, on its own motion, to stay the effectiveness of an order of revocation of a license. Finally, the bill would also require the Board to submit a written report to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare and the House Committee on Health and Human Services. This bill passed the Senate 39-0.

Child care facilities background check and sleeping area requirements: (SUB HB 2304): Senate Sub. for HB 2304 would amend the statute governing standards and regulation of maternity centers and child care facilities and the statute concerning restrictions on persons interacting with child care facilities. The bill would require child care facilities to ensure children under 12 months of age could be placed to sleep only on a surface and in an area approved for use as such by the Secretary of Health and Environment and the sleep surface would be required to be free from soft or loose bedding, including blankets, bumpers and pillows, as well as toys, including mobiles and other types of play equipment or devices. Child care facilities would be required to ensure that children over 12 months of age are placed to sleep only on a surface and in an area approved for use as such by the Secretary. This bill passed the Senate 27-13. I voted against this bill.

Great Plains Interstate Fire Compact (HB 2140): HB 2140 adopts the Great Plains Interstate Fire Compact, and immediately authorize the Governor of Kansas to enter into an interstate compact to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the Great Plains region of the United States. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Weights and Measures: (HB 2136): HB 2136 would establish maximum license application fees for each service company that works with motor fuel dispensing devices. Beginning with the 2017 license year, the Secretary of Agriculture would be authorized, by order, to set the fees with the following maximum amounts: Commencing July 1, 2017, the maximum amount would be $100; Commencing July 1, 2019, the maximum amount would be $110; Commencing July 1, 2021, the maximum amount would be $120; and Commencing July 1, 2023, the maximum amount would be $130. The fees for license renewals would be equal to the license application fees provided for each place of business. This bill passed the Senate 35-5. I voted for this bill.

Licenses, permits, stamps and other issues of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism: (HB 2191): HB 2191 would make several technical changes to law pertaining to hunting and fishing regulations. The bill would amend current law that allows a resident of Kansas charged with violating provisions of law requiring a license, permit, stamp, or other issue from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to avoid being convicted if the person presents to the court or the office of the arresting officer an issue of KDWPT that was valid at the time of the arrest. The bill would amend the provision to require the issue of KDWPT to be valid at the time of the person’s alleged violation rather than on the date of the arrest. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Financial examination requirements: (HB 2043): HB 2043 would eliminate provisions directing the Insurance Commissioner to conduct an examination of the affairs and financial condition of municipal group-funded liability pools and group-funded workers compensation pools every five years. Instead, under the bill, the Commissioner would be permitted to conduct these examinations as the Commissioner deems necessary. The bill also would modify the examination period associated with the Kansas Insurance Guaranty Association to be consistent with the examination period specified for the Kansas Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Fingerprinting of applicants for a resident insurance agent license: (HB 2067): HB 2067 would modify a provision in the Uniform Insurance Agents Licensing Act concerning application requirements for resident agent licensure to authorize the fingerprinting of resident insurance agent applicants for the purposes of obtaining a state and national criminal history record check. Under the bill, the Insurance Commissioner would be permitted to: Require an applicant to be fingerprinted and submit to a state and national criminal history record check. The fingerprints would be used to identify the applicant and to determine whether the applicant has a record of criminal arrests and convictions in Kansas or in other jurisdictions. This bill passed the Senate 38-2. I voted for this bill.

Nonresident trust entity applicants: (HB 2110): HB 2110 would revise the ability of an out-of-state trust company or trust department of a bank to establish a branch facility in Kansas. Under current law, such out-of-state entities are prohibited from establishing or operating a trust facility in Kansas unless the laws of the state where the entity is located reciprocally authorize a Kansas-chartered trust company, trust department of a bank, corporation, or other such business entity to establish or operate a trust facility within that state. The out-of-state trust entity also must provide proof that its home state has reciprocity with Kansas. The bill would clarify this prohibition, by deleting the terms “reciprocally” and “reciprocity,” and instead provide that the proof provided by the home state demonstrates the home state (of the out-of-state entity) authorizes a Kansas-chartered entity to establish or authorize a trust facility within that state. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Health care provider insurance availability act: (HB 2118): HB 2118 would amend and create law supplemental to the Health Care Provider Insurance Availability Act and amend the Nurse Practice Act to address requirements and exclusions from coverage pertaining to the liability of the Health Care Stabilization Fund (HCSF) and charitable health care providers and certain exempt licensees of the Board of Nursing. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Employment security benefit relating to receipt of separation pay: (HB 2329): HB 2329 would revise a provision of Kansas Employment Security Law, commonly referred to as Unemployment Insurance, pertaining to the distribution of benefits when an individual receives a post-employment separation payment. Under current law, weekly UI benefits stop until separation pay has been exhausted, usually at the rate of the individual’ s normal weekly wage. The cessation of benefits begins a week after separation from employment. Under the bill, the start date of cessation would begin a week after separation pay has been paid. Individuals whose benefits stopped for 52 weeks or more due to separation pay would be entitled to a new benefit year, which would be calculated using the employment base period of the prior claim. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Governing body members, certain volunteer activities: (HB 2137): HB 2137 would allow any county commissioner or member of a city governing body to serve as an emergency medical service volunteer, ambulance service volunteer, or volunteer fire fighter, and receive the usual compensation or remuneration for their volunteer service. This bill passed the Senate 38-2. I voted for this bill.

Board of county commissioners meetings: (HB 2102):HB 2102 would require the board of county commissioners meet on such days and times each month as established by resolution adopted by the board. The bill would strike language differentiating meeting requirements of commissioners in counties with more than 8,000 inhabitants. HB 2102 would allow for a special session to be called for the transaction of any business by a call of most board members and would remove language about transacting general or special business and calling special sessions as often as the interest and business of the county may demand. The bill would clarify the business transacted at any special session would be governed by that business set out in the call for the meeting. Additionally, the bill would replace the term “chairman” with “chairperson.” This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Municipalities, contracts with other municipalities: (HB 2094): HB 2094 would expand the definition of “municipality” in the statute allowing contracts between municipalities to include a school district, library district, road district, water district, drainage district, sewer district, fire district, park and recreation district, recreation commission, any other political or taxing subdivision, or any other authority, commission, agency, or quasi-municipal corporation created by state law. Currently, only a city, county, or township is included in the definition. The bill also would exempt from review by the Attorney General interlocal cooperation agreements entered for joint or cooperative action that is subject to the oversight and regulation of a Kansas regulatory agency. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Expansion of commissioners: (HB 2006): HB 2006, as amended, would address how vacancies on county commissions are filled when the vacancies are created by an increase in the number of county commissioner districts pursuant to KSA 2016 Supp.19-204. The bill would remove the requirement that the Governor appoint the new members and would replace it with a requirement to hold an election. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Allowing the Governor’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board to recess for a closed or executive session: (HB 2128): HB 2128, would require any motion to recess for a closed or executive session to include a statement describing the subjects to be discussed during the closed or executive session and the justification for closing the meeting. Current law requires a statement of the justification for closing the meeting and the subjects to be discussed during the closed meeting. The bill would leave unchanged the requirement the motion contain the time and place at which the open meeting will resume. The bill would require the complete motion be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. Justifications for closing meetings would be limited to the circumstances listed in the bill. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Compact between the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas (SB 202): SB 202 would approve and adopt by reference as state law the compact relating to cigarette and tobacco sales, taxation, and escrow collection between the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas and the State of Kansas. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Driver’s license examiners: (SB 135): SB 135 would allow driver’s license examiners within the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) to have the choice to move from the classified to unclassified service. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Advance ballots submitted by mail on Election Day: (HB 2158): HB 2158 adds a requirement that all advance voting ballots received at any polling place in the county not later than the hour for closing of the polls on any election date for all elections be delivered by the county election officer to the appropriate special election board. The bill would also add requirements for the receipt by mail of advance ballots be deliver to a special election board or the county board of canvassers, in a manner as consistent as possible with canvassing of other advance ballots, those received after the closing of the polls on the date of any election and which are postmarked before the close of the polls on the election date; among other changes. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Criminal post-trial motions for correction of sentence and post-release supervision for sexually violent offenders:
(HB 2085): HB 2085 would clarify that lifetime post-release supervision is to be imposed on offenders sentenced to imprisonment for a sexually violent crime committed on or after July 1, 2006, if the offender was 18 years of age or older when the crime was committed. It would further establish a mandatory period of 60 months’ post-release supervision, plus good time and program credit earned and retained, for offenders sentenced to imprisonment for a sexually violent crime committed on or after the effective date of the bill, if the offender was under 18 years of age when the crime was committed. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Kansas Open Records Act: (HB 2301): HB 2301 would remove addresses of prospective jurors from the information included in the list of prospective jurors filed with the clerk of the court. The bill also would specify the list would not be considered a public record (under current law, the list is designated a public record). This provision would expire on July 1, 2022, unless the Legislature reviews and reenacts the provision. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Judicial Branch surcharge fund and requiring the responsible party to pay for the cost of collection services for debts owed to courts or restitution: (HB 2041): HB 2041 extends the sunset provision for judicial surcharges on a number of docket fees until June 30, 2019. The bill would also make technical corrections and reconcile amendments related to expungements made in the 2016 Session. Finally the bill would require the cost of collection of debts owed to courts or restitution be paid by the responsible party as an additional court cost in all cases where the party fails to pay any debts owed to courts or restitution and the court contracts with an agent to collect the debt or restitution. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Urging Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: (HCR 5003): HCR 5003 urges Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The proposed language of the Regulation Freedom Amendment would be as follows:
Whenever one quarter of the members of the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate transmits to the President their written declaration of opposition to a proposed federal regulation, it shall require a majority vote of the House of Representatives and the Senate to adopt that regulation.
This concurrent resolution passed the Senate 27-13. I voted for this bill.

Kansas Open Records Act: (SB 86): SB 86 would modify the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) regarding fees charged for public records, who may request and inspect public records in Kansas, and the format of minutes kept at meetings of state legislative and administrative bodies and agencies. This bill passed the Senate 30-9. I voted for this bill.

Lottery ticket vending machines: (HB 2313): HB 2313 allows the use of lottery ticket vending machines, amends law concerning underage purchasing of lottery tickets, repeals the sunset provision for the Kansas Lottery in current law, amends law directing transfers from the Lottery Operating Fund, and amends law concerning the State Debt Setoff Program. This bill passed the Senate 30-10. I voted against this bill.

Loss thresholds for certain property crimes: (HB 2092): HB 2092 would adjust the penalty provisions of various crimes related to monetary value, law related to probation revocation, and law related to public disclosure of probable cause affidavits. This bill passed the Senate 39-1. I voted for this bill.

Notification to persons paying fees that moneys have been transferred: (HB 2153): HB 2153 would amend a statute pertaining to the revenues placed in the State General Fund to specify that certain funds, identified in section 1(b), and any other fund in which fees are deposited for licensing, regulating, or certifying a person, profession, commodity, or product, must be used for the purposes set forth in statute and for no other government purpose. This bill passed the Senate 35-5. I voted for this bill.

Human trafficking: (SB 179): SB 179 would amend the law concerning human trafficking, including the creation of new crimes and amendments to existing crimes and other related provisions. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Bicycle rear lamp or reflector: (HB 2170): HB 2170 requires a bicycle in use at nighttime to be equipped on the rear with a red reflector visible from 100 feet to 600 feet, a lamp emitting a red light visible from 500 feet, or the operator wearing clothing that emits light visible from 500 feet. Current law requires both a reflector and a red light visible from the rear and also a lamp on the front emitting white light. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Distinctive license plates and decals on distinctive license plates: (S Sub HB 2174): Senate Substitute for HB 2174 establishes two distinctive license plates, authorize decals on distinctive license plates to indicate transportation of a person with a disability, and authorize additional decals indicating military honors on certain military-related distinctive license plates. The bill establishes the autism awareness license plate. The new plate will require paying an annual vehicle registration fees and a logo use royalty fee of between $25 and $100 to the organization Autism Hope for Families, Inc. Royalties would be deposited into the Autism Awareness Royalty Fund, which the bill creates. The bill also establishes Kansas 4-H Foundation license plate which would require an annual vehicle registration fee and a logo use royalty fee of between $25 and $100 to the Kansas 4-H Foundation, Inc. Those royalties would be deposited into the Kansas 4-H Foundation Royalty Fund, which the bill creates. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Special vehicle permit for certain vehicle combinations: (HB 2095): HB 2095 would authorize the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) to issue an annual overweight divisible load operating permit for a truck-tractor semitrailer combination vehicle and a truck-tractor semitrailer, trailer combination vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of more than 85,500 pounds but not more than 90,000 pounds transporting divisible loads on 6 or more axles. The permit would be with respect to highways under the Secretary’s jurisdiction, including city connecting links. The fee for the annual permit would be $200, and collected fees would be deposited into the State Highway Fund. No single-trip permits would be issued. This bill passed the Senate 39-1. I voted for this bill.

Allowing certain time away from work or normal duties to be credited as participating service under KPERS and KP&F: (SB 205): SB 205, as amended, would expand the definition of participating service for members of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) and the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (KP&F). Any period of time away from work or normal duties while in paid status authorized and approved by a participating employer would constitute service credit. Any administrative, vacation, sick, or personal leaves-including Worker’s Compensation or light or temporary duty assignments-would qualify as service credit without limitation. This provision would apply retroactively, starting on July 1, 2014. If a member does not return to work for the participating employer at the conclusion of the leave, except for death or disability, the service credit would be removed. If a member voluntarily quits employment, the period of leave exceeding 365 days would be removed from the service credit. In either case, the Retirement System would reimburse the employer and employee for contributions made during that period. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Death benefits for KP&F spouses: (HB 2111): HB 2111 would revise death benefits for certain surviving spouses covered by the Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (KP&F). Upon the service-connected death of a KP&F member, the member’s spouse would receive an immediate lump-sum benefit equal to 100 percent of the member’s final average salary and an annual spouse’s benefit equal to the greater of: Fifty percent of the member’s final average salary; Or the amount the member would have been paid had the member elected the joint and survivor retirement benefit option and retired as of the first day of the month following the date of death. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

KPERS licensed school working after retirement earnings limitation: (SB 138): SB 138 changes the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) pertaining to working after retirement. The bill would exempt from the earnings cap those retirees who retired on July 1, 2009, or later; were retired for more than 60 days prior to July 1, 2017; and were subsequently hired in a school position requiring a license. Under current law, only retirees who retired prior to May 1, 2015, are eligible for this exemption. The special exemption, which is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2020, would become permanent. The bill would repeal the 48-month or four school-year limit on the term of employment. The special exemptions for special education and certified hard-to-fill positions would be eliminated; the exemption for licensed school personnel would remain. The annual duty of the State Board of Education to certify the top five hard-to-fill positions would be repealed. This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Asbestos bankruptcy trust claims transparency act: (S Sub HB 2053): Senate Sub. for HB 2053 would enact the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act (Act), which would require plaintiffs to provide certain statements and materials within 30 days of filing an asbestos action or within 30 days after the effective date of the Act. The bill would define “asbestos action” to mean a claim for damages or other civil or equitable relief presented in a civil action arising out of, based on, or related to the health effects of exposure to asbestos and any other derivative claim made by or on behalf of a person exposed to asbestos or a representative, spouse, parent, child, or other relative of that person. Specifically, a plaintiff would be required to provide a sworn statement indicating an investigation of all asbestos trust claims has been conducted and all asbestos trust claims that can be made by the plaintiff have been filed, as well as all trust claims materials. This bill passed the Senate 27-12. I voted for this bill.

Information between state agencies and the Kansas Sentencing Commission (HB 2054): The bill would revise a provision in the Employment Security Law (Law) regarding information obtained by the Secretary of Labor pursuant to administration of the Law to allow disclosure of such information to public officials or the agents or contractors of a public official in the performance of their official duties. (Under current law, such information may be disclosed only to public employees in the performance of their public duties.) A provision prohibiting further disclosure of information disclosed under the Law would be amended to permit further disclosure for use in the performance of a party’s official duties. Those people’s subject to penalties for violating the disclosure provisions would be broadened from “the secretary or any officer or employee of the secretary” to “any individual.” This bill passed the Senate 40-0.

Appointment confirmations:
Last week, the Senate voted on the following appointment confirmations:
Arlen Siegfreid – Chief Hearing Officer, Kansas Board of Tax Appeals. This is a four-year appointment.
Ron Mason – Judge, Kansas Board of Tax Appeals. This is a four-year appointment.
Kelly Arnold – Member, Kansas Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees. This is a four-year appointment.
Nancy Toelkes – Member, Kansas Development Finance Authority. This is a two-year appointment.

These confirmations passed the Senate unanimously.

Bill signings:
This week, the governor signed the following bills into law:
SB 166 – Exempts Cleveland University-Kansas City from the private and out-of-state postsecondary educational institution act.
SB 66 – Reforms state bank commission appointments.
SB 17 – Amends the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan.
SB 15 – Updates the effective date of risk based capital instructions.
HB 2109 – Authorizes the state board of regents to sell particular pieces of property.
SB 68 – Establishes the Kansas Lay Caregiver Act.
SB 32 – Adopts recommendations of the Rural Health Care Workgroup headed by Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer to expand medical student loan agreements for psychiatric residencies.
HB 2192 – Officially renames “Lake Scott State Park” as “Historic Lake Scott State Park.”

The governor has now signed 12 bills into law this session and vetoed two. By law, the Kansas governor has 10 calendar days to sign the bill into law, veto the bill or allow the bill to become law without his signature.

This week
Non-exempt committees have wrapped up their work for the year but exempt committees (Federal and State Affairs, Assessment and Taxation, Way and Means) will still be able to meet in the coming weeks. Next week, the Senate plans to vote on Conference Committee Reports as they emerge from their Conference Committees of purview.

Session dates and deadlines
The following are dates and deadlines for the 2017 Legislative Session. As always, each is subject to modification and leadership will keep you updated on any changes which might occur.

Friday, April 7
Drop dead day, first adjournment
Monday, May 1
Veto session begins
Sunday, May 14
Day 90

It is an honor to represent you in the Kansas Senate,
Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-5th Dist., represents Leavenworth County and western Wyandotte County.


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