Legislative update from Rep. Pam Curtis

Rep. Pam Curtis

Opinion column

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

Week 6 was a very busy week as we approach the mid-point of the 2020 Kansas Legislative Session.

The Wyandotte County-Leavenworth County Legislative Delegation luncheon was sponsored by DCCCA and Cornerstones of Care and members heard about the family preservation programs they provide in our community. An additional luncheon was sponsored by Goodwill where we learned about the Artemis Initiative with Goodwill to prepare people with disabilities and barriers to employment for the 4th Industrial Revolution. A highlight was meeting the amazing Artemis robot named Rex.

Moms Demand Action were also at the Capitol advocating for common sense gun legislation! Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence, They have a chapter in every state and work tirelessly to address this tragic issue. More Americans are killed with guns than are killed in our peer countries in an entire calendar year. I appreciate their presence at the Statehouse and their advocacy. Here is a link to learn more about Moms Demand Action: https://momsdemandaction.org/about/.

On last Friday the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee met despite four members being absent to attend the funeral of a former representative. Replacements were appointed to fill in and we worked five bills that we had previously heard. It was disappointing that we did not wait for the regular members, who had the benefit of participating in the hearings, the discussion and receiving input from stakeholders, to return before working the bills. I was particularly disappointed with the outcome of two of those bills, HB 2315 and HB 2625.

One bill would have allowed private company school bus drivers to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, which is prohibited in current law with school bus drivers specifically singled out. The unemployment benefits for school bus drivers failed to pass out of committee along a party line vote. I hope the measure will be able to be brought forward in the future for consideration.
Link to HB 2315: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2315/

Another bill preempts cities and counties from prohibiting or regulating paper or plastic carryout bags and other single-use plastic items. Several cities are considering adopting ordinances to address the single use plastic waste and the passage of this bill would preempt and prohibit that effort. I think this is an overreach by the Kansas Legislature and encroaches on Constitutional Home Rule for our cities. Our citizens support strong local control and voted to add it to our state constitution long ago. The cities in our state are so diverse and a one-size-fits-all does not work in many instances. Local control allows our cities to be our laboratories of experiment, to try new policies, and if successful that can be adopted by other localities if supported by their community.
Link to HB 2625: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2625/

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 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.

Remembering Rep. Greg Lewis
A moment of silence was held to honor former State Rep. Greg Lewis who passed away last week. Rep. Lewis resigned in February of 2019 to focus on his health after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Rep. Lewis was a devoted servant to Kansas and its people. It was an honor to serve with Greg and I appreciated being reminded of his parting advice to us last February:
“Enjoy each day, enjoy your family, your friends, your fellow legislators, but do not take yourself too seriously. Serve your district with a servant’s heart.
• This is the House of Representatives.
• This is not. . .this is not the house of self-interest.
• This is not the house of special interest.
• This is the People’s House; long may it serve the People and this Great State of Kansas.”

Wise words from a wonderful man who worked to make his community and this world a better place. My sincere condolences to Greg’s wife Susan and their family.

Executive reorganization orders
Three of Gov. Laura Kelly’s Executive Reorganization Orders (EROs) were passed out of committee over the past week. Unfortunately, both Executive Order 44 (creating the Kansas Department of Human Services) and Executive Order 46 (establishing the Kansas Energy Office) were passed out of committee unfavorably. Executive Order 45, however, (which transfers the functions of the state employee health benefits plan and state workers compensation self-insurance fund from the Department of Health to the Department of Administration) was passed out of committee favorably. The EROs fall under Special Orders of Business on the House Calendar, where they’ll remain until the Speaker assigns a date for them to be worked on the floor. If no legislative action is taken on these resolutions, the EROs automatically go into effect.

Medicaid expansion
Last Thursday, the Senate committee on Public Health and Welfare worked SB 252 (Medicaid expansion), adding provisions that according to the Topeka Capital-Journal would allow medical providers to deny services to LGBTQ patients, add work requirements, and require both the pending ACA litigation be settled and the constitutional amendment regarding abortion pass both the Legislature and be passed by Kansas voters before Medicaid expansion could be implemented.

This week is turnaround week in the Kansas Legislature, where on Thursday the House receives the bills passed through the Senate, and the Senate receives the House bills. The Legislature is traditionally on the floor all day for several days debating and working on bills. After turnaround week, House committees will resume meeting to hold hearings and work bills sent to us from the Senate.

Bills on the House floor
HB 2524 “Updating motor carrier laws and regulation of motor carriers by the state corporation commission.” — Passed 118-0 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2524/

HB 2420 “Allowing military surplus vehicles to register with the division of vehicles for road use.” — Passed 122-0 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2420/

HB 2448 “Changing penalties for crimes related to motor vehicles.” — Passed 98-25 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2448/

HB 2454 “Self-storage unit rentals; sales and towing of property for nonpayment of rent or abandonment; contractual value of property.” — Passed 114-9 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2454/

HB 2429 “Adding a public defender to the Kansas criminal justice reform commission.” — Passed 121-1 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2429/

HB 2432 “Creating the Kansas pesticide waste disposal program and allowing up to $50,000 to be transferred annually from the Kansas agricultural remediation fund to a new Kansas pesticide waste disposal fund.” — Passed 122-0 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2432/

HB 2447 “Changing how two-way electronic audio-visual communication is used in courts.” — Passed 83-39 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2447/

HB 2449 “Changing the requirements for board of indigents’ defense services appointments.” — Passed 99-23 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2449/

HB 2451 “Amending Kansas department of agriculture division of animal health license, permit and registration renewal deadlines.” — Passed 122-0 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2451/

HB 2501 “Allowing salvage vehicle pools to apply for ownership documents for vehicles that are disclaimed by insurance companies.” — Passed 119-3 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2501/

HB 2595 “Eliminating the 30-day delay before offering state surplus property for sale to the general public.” — Passed 118-3-1 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2595/

HB 2515 “Creating the Kansas promise scholarship program.” — Passed 116-6 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2515/

HB 2500 “Amending the Kansas power of attorney act regarding the form of a power of attorney and the duties of third parties relying and acting on a power of attorney.” — Passed 122-0 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2500/

HB 2521 “Enacting the revised uniform athlete agents act.” — Passed 122-0 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/hb2521/

The Kansas Legislative Research Department provides nonpartisan, objective research and fiscal analysis for the Kansas Legislature. Many of the KLRD publications and reports are available online at: http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Policy.html

My Legislative Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK/?ref=bookmarks
My Twitter account, https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck.
My website, https://www.curtisforkck.com/?utm_campaign=2020ksleg4&utm_medium=email&utm_source=pamcurtis.
Kansas Legislature website, http://kslegislature.org/li/.

One thought on “Legislative update from Rep. Pam Curtis”

  1. Good update. You can help pass Medicaid expansion if you vote to put the abortion amendment on the ballot. Just you and three other reps could do it.

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