2019 Legislative Update 10

A very exciting week as the House passed Medicaid Expansion (see report below) which now heads to the Senate. Representative 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 healthcare option. 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 & 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 & 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 & 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 impact 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 20th, after almost 8 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% of Kansans support Medicaid Expansion. Newly elected Governor 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:

House Democrats Host Department of Children and Families Acting Secretary Laura Howard

On Thursday, the House Democratic Caucus hosted 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 Governor 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 are as follows:

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.

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