by Rep. Pam Curtis
This past week the Legislature held conference committees to work out differences in bill versions between the House and Senate.
A conference committee is made up of three members from each chamber, typically the chairperson, vice chairperson, and ranking minority member of the standing committee, or other committee, that originally considered the bill in that chamber.
HB 2279, that Representative Ponka-We Victors and I introduced, was included in the Conference Committee Report “CCR” for SB 18 and passed unanimously. The measure will help arm victims of domestic violence with the information they need at the time of arrest to make safe decisions. We appreciate everyone’s help in getting this measure passed.
It was a real pleasure to spend time on Wednesday with students from Schlagle High School and staff from El Centro who were at the Capitol to participate in Hispanic Day on the Hill and visit with lawmakers. I am looking forward to participating in the Join My Table Community Potluck event with students at Schlagle High School on April 29. It will be a great opportunity to discuss their ideas and suggestions on various issues and learn about the changes they want to see in our community.
Many thanks to everyone that attended the Legislative Coffee on March 30 at the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library. It was great to have this opportunity to discuss our work in Topeka. I also want to thank the KCK Public Library, Bonner Springs Public Library, League of Women Voters of Johnson County and the NAACP for sponsoring the coffee.
The Legislature adjourned on Friday, April 5, for first adjournment and will be on break until May 1 when we return for the veto session.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
School funding debate continues
It was an intense week for the House-Senate K-12 Budget Conference Committee. The Republican-led Senate, the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, and Governor Laura Kelly, for the most part, were united on their approach to education.
With the intent of meeting the Kansas Supreme Court’s “adequacy” funding requirement in the Gannon case, they agreed to $90 million a year for the next five years.
However, the House Republican caucus staunchly disagreed with the bill. In a departure from previous decorum, the House Democratic representative was excluded from the majority of the House discussions. After three long days of contentious meetings, the Republican caucus conceded. In addition to funding increases, the plan also requires districts to produce academic performance reports on each of its schools.
After a furor of objection from Republican leadership on the floor, the House voted to concur. The CCR (conference committee report) on Senate Bill 16 passed 76 to 47. Shortly after, the Senate passed the CCR with 31 votes to 8. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
Gov. Kelly, lawmakers, and the state Board of Education are hopeful the plan will meet the Supreme Court’s standards; ending the cycle of litigation over education funding, and meeting the needs of Kansas students, teachers, and schools. The deadline is April 15.
Inaction on Medicaid expansion in the Senate
Despite the bipartisan measure to pass Medicaid Expansion in the House, the Senate has refused to address Medicaid Expansion. The bill is currently sitting idle on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee unless there is a procedural vote to move the bill onto the Senate calendar.
In a Tuesday morning press conference, Gov. Kelly again urged the Senate to vote this week on the bill. She iterated that the bill has garnered bipartisan support and previously passed the Legislature in 2017- but was vetoed by then Gov. Brownback. Shortly after her press conference, Senate President Susan Wagle responded, doubling down on her refusal to allow the bill to make it to the floor.
Senate confirms first round of governor’s secretaries
On Monday, the Senate confirmed Laura Howard as secretary of the Kansas Department of Children and Families and secretary of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services. They also confirmed in a 23-14 vote, David Toland as secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce. This was the first, and arguably most partisan, round of confirmations so far.
Potential SB 22 veto override stalled
As soon as Gov. Kelly vetoed Senate Bill 22, Senate President Susan Wagle declared that she would move to override her veto. An override attempt of her veto would require two-thirds of the House (84 votes), and Senate (27 votes) to be successful. It was widely rumored an override would be attempted this week, however, for now, this effort seems to have fallen short. In a meeting with Republican college kids on Wednesday, Senator Wagle conceded the Senate does not have the votes to override.
This week on the floor
This week, the House-Senate Conference Committees worked a number of bills. To read the full list visit www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/committees/conference/. Note that a few bills were bundled together. Here are a few highlights:
HB 2274: Requiring notification to patients that the effects of a medication abortion may be reversible.
HB 2167: Senate Substitute for HB 2167 by Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources – Establishing a commercial industrial hemp program.
SB 18: Providing a process for the attorney general to enter into diversion agreements; authorizing certain entities to access a criminal defendant’s presentence investigation report; amending the crime of counterfeiting currency.
SB 78 (bundled with SB 150, HB 2279): Regulating assignment of rights or benefits to a residential contractor under a property and casualty insurance policy insuring residential real estate; amending the definition of consumer transaction; and in the Kansas consumer protection act; Housing protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking; Domestic violence calls; Law enforcement agency notification policies.
HB 2031: Amending the definition of “service-connected” in the Kansas police and firemen’s retirement system.
HB 2007: Senate Substitute for HB 2007 by Committee on Transportation – Authorizing certain toll projects for new projects or expanded capacity with approval from local units of government, the KTA and the state finance council; changing the requirement to fully fund toll projects solely through toll revenue.
HB 2087: Allowing certain light screening material on motor vehicle windows.
HB 2225: Senate Substitute for HB 2225 by Committee on Transportation – Providing for an increase in permit fees for oversize or overweight vehicles and required registration for escort vehicle service operators.
HB 2209 (bundled with SB 32, HB 2058, HB 2056, HB 2055, HB 2054): Authorizing the state board of regents to purchase cybersecurity insurance.; Exempting certain non-insurance healthcare benefits from the commissioner’s jurisdiction.; Updating definitions relating to small employer health plans and association health plans.; Exempting health plans issued to associations of small employers from certain statutory provisions governing small employer health plans.; Making certain self-funded association health plans subject to the jurisdiction of the commissioner.; Providing for fully-insured association health plans.
HB 2084: AN ACT concerning the Kansas 911 act; relating to emergency services; 911 fees, collection and distribution; amending K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 12-5363, 12-5364, 12-5365, 12-5366, 12-5367, 12-5368, 12-5369, 12-5370, 12-5371, 12-5372, 12-5373, 12-5374, 12-5375, 12-5376, 12-5377, 12-5378, 12-5380 and 19-101a and repealing the existing sections; also repealing K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 12-5327, 12-5338 and 12-5361.
HB 2103: Amending the revised Kansas code for care of children to provide requirements for placement of a child in a qualified residential treatment program.
HB 2144: Requiring community colleges to publish certain taxpayer and student transparency data.
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.
SB 130: Substitute for Senate Bill No. 130 by Committee on Ethics, Elections and Local Government-Permitting persons voting an advance ballot to correct a signature deficiency prior to the final canvass.
HB 2178: AN ACT concerning utilities; relating to the Kansas underground utility damage prevention act; definitions; location of facilities and duty to mark, exceptions; amending K.S.A. 66-1802, 66-1805 and 66-1806 and repealing the existing sections.
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