The 2020 session began on Monday, January 13, with both the House and Senate convening briefly in the afternoon. Rep. Brandon Whipple (D-Wichita), who was elected mayor of Wichita back in November, officially resigned his 96th district seat, and Stephanie Yeager was sworn in on Tuesday. On Wednesday night, Gov. Laura Kelly gave her second State of the State address and spoke about Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers’ statewide listening tour over the summer and fall to kick-off establishment of the Office of Rural Prosperity. She also pointed to Medicaid expansion, transportation infrastructure, lower food taxes and criminal justice reform as priorities for the session. On Thursday, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) officially resigned her 10th district seat and former Kansas City TV weatherman Mike Thompson will be sworn in to fill the remainder of her term.
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On Thursday, January 16, Gov. Kelly released a budget of $7.85 billion for the fiscal year starting on July 1, which included continued funding for K-12 education, initial funding for Medicaid expansion, and $53.2 million for the proposed food sales tax credit program. This new program would provide income tax credits to low-income households ꟷ those filing as “single” or “married filing separately” would receive a $60 tax credit if they earned less than $30,000, while those filing as “head of household” or as “married filing jointly” and who earned less than $40,000 would receive a tax credit of $180 and $240, respectively.
House Health and Human Services Committee
(Rep. Brenda Landwehr, Chair)
No meetings this week.
Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee
(Sen. Gene Suellentrop, Chair)
On Wednesday, January 15, Chair Suellentrop announced that newly appointed Sen. Mike Thompson would replace newly resigned Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook on the committee and indicated that the committee would hold hearings on Senate Bill (SB) 252, the Medicaid expansion compromise bill announced on January 9 by Gov. Kelly and Sen. Jim Denning. Proponent testimony on the bill will be heard on January 23 and 24, neutral testimony on January 28, and opponent testimony on January 29 and 30.
House Children and Seniors
(Rep. Susan Concannon, Chair)
On Wednesday, January 15, the committee received an update from State Medicaid Director Adam Proffitt on the Medicaid applications clearinghouse and the processing of applications for family medical and elderly and disabled individuals. After briefly describing past issues with delays in the processing of applications, Mr. Proffitt outlined the process by which the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) took over the quality assurance and training components of processing applications, as well as bringing the processing of all elderly and disabled applications back in-house. The contractor that had previously been processing all applications, Maximus, has retained responsibility for processing family medical applications, but KDHE has released an RFP for the processing of those applications and is currently reviewing the bids that were received.
Mr. Proffitt stated that as of January 14, 2020, out of a total of 13,000 applications, 1,500 were over the 45-day processing time-limit, and he noted that most of those applications were referred to the agency from the federal marketplace. He also stated that the agency is not satisfied with the current level of applications beyond the 45-day limit and employees have been working overtime to reduce that number over the last two weeks. Mr. Proffitt also advised committee members that the KEES operating system is being updated this week, which should speed up the process.
On Thursday, January 16, the committee heard an informational presentation by Laura Howard, Secretary for both the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS). Sec. Howard discussed implementation of the Families First Act, identified the new grantees for family preservation services (TFI and Cornerstones of Care) and foster care case management services (KVC Kansas, Saint Francis Ministries, TFI and Cornerstones of Care), and described the agency’s Special Response Team, which partners with law enforcement to find runaways. She also commented on the governor’s Executive Reorganization Order (ERO) for the proposed new Kansas Department of Human Services, which she hopes will strengthen family preservation, enhance access to services, create innovative service delivery options and better serve crossover youth. Secretary Howard and Deputy Secretary Tanya Keys then responded to questions from the committee regarding the drawdown of federal funds for Families First services, program evaluation, the lack of crisis beds and acute care services in western Kansas, services for youth aging out of care, and staff caseloads.
Chair Concannon announced the committee will hear several presentations during the second week of the session, including reports from the Child Death Review Board and the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature and will hear from KDADS on projections and services for seniors. The committee will hold hearings on House Bill (HB) 2438, which allows certain exceptions to the confidentiality of state child death review board documents, and HB 2229, which addresses concerns about the admission into evidence of any tape or recording created using an electronic monitoring device in an adult care home.
House Social Services Budget Committee
(Rep. Will Carpenter, Chair)
On Wednesday, January 15, Chair Carpenter announced the primary topics the committee would examine this session, including Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF), child support, workforce shortages, protected income limits (PIL), K-Tracks funding, state hospitals, and ERO for the proposed new Kansas Department of Human Services.
House Insurance Committee
(Rep. Jene Vickrey, Chair)
During a brief meeting on Wednesday, January 15, Chair Vickrey announced that he expects there will be a lot of bills on the agenda this session and expects hearings will begin during the second week of the session.
Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee
(Sen. Rob Olson, Chair)
On Tuesday, January 14, the committee heard a presentation from Melissa Renick of the Kansas Legislative Research Department (KLRD) reviewing the work and report of the 2019 Special Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance that met in September and October. Ms. Renick noted that the committee, which was charged with looking at health care benefits and costs, did not include any formal recommendations in its report, but heard testimony from various representatives of the health care industry, including providers, insurers, agencies and other stakeholders.
House Federal and State Affairs
(Rep. John Barker, Chair)
On Tuesday, January 14, the committee heard a presentation about the work and report of the 2019 Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs, which met to study the public policy implications concerning the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana. The Special Committee recommended that the standing Judiciary Committees consider introducing legislation providing an affirmative defense to residents of other states who have legally obtained a medical prescription for cannabis, marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in some form and who are traveling through or visiting the state of Kansas. The Special Committee further recommended using Ohio’s legislation as a guide if the legalization of medical marijuana was further considered. They specifically recommended that the following topics or issues be included in any legislation considered for Kansas: the prohibition of smokable forms of marijuana and the vaping of marijuana; the requirement of photo identification cards for persons purchasing medical marijuana; and a requirement that persons with prescriptions for medical marijuana have an obligation to securely store marijuana if it could be accessed by minor children.
Committee members asked follow-up questions about the Ohio legislation, time-limitations for the definition of “visiting” or “passing through,” and the appearance of providing more privileges to citizens of other states than to Kansas citizens.
Senate Ways and Means Committee
(Sen. Carolyn McGinn, Chair)
On Thursday, January 16, at a joint meeting of House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means, Larry Campbell, the director of the Division of Budget, provided a high-level overview of the Governor’s budget recommendations for Fiscal Years (FY) 2021 and 2022. During his presentation, Mr. Campbell focused primarily on State General Funds (SGF) and did not cover legislative or judicial branch budgets. He reported that the latest consensus revenue estimates show FY 2019 actuals up 1.0 percent, FY 2020 estimates up 3.8 percent, and FY 2021 estimates up 0.3 percent. He also discussed a couple of current issues which might impact revenues, including Spirit AeroSystems layoffs in Wichita, a projected decline in sales tax receipts, and uncertainty about trade issues.
The budget includes $17.5 million for FY 2021 for Medicaid expansion, increasing to $35 million for FY 2022; funding for the governor’s ERO to create the new Department of Human Services, and the following Human Services enhancements:
- Osawatomie State Hospital–Biddle Building, $5.8 million State Institutions Building Fund (SIBF)
- Regional Hospitals–Mental Health, $5.0 million SGF
- State Hospitals–Electronic Records, $2.8 million SIBF
- Adoption Assistance, $1.7 million SGF
- Child Protective Services, $0.7 million SGF
- Families First Prevention, $3.8 million SGF
- Comprehensive Child Welfare System, $2.0 million SGF
The budget also includes $9 million for FY 2020 to expand the Mental Health Intervention Team to schools in more counties across the state, increasing to $14 million for FY 2021.
House Corrections and Juvenile Justice
(Rep. J. Russell Jennings, Chair)
On Wednesday, January 15, the committee heard an informational presentation from Department of Corrections Acting Secretary Jeff Zmuda regarding the adult corrections system in Kansas and the growing aging population, system capacity issues, reduction in recidivism rates and addressing challenges such as adequate housing and behavioral health issues. Committee members asked about services for aging adults in corrections and continuum of care when released from custody. The committee then heard a presentation from Deputy Secretary Hope Cooper related to arrest data compared to juvenile intake and assessment services (JIAS), lower rates of youth returning to JIAS, and reductions in out-of-home placements. Deputy Secretary Cooper also discussed several initiatives, including statewide contracts for sex offender treatment and family functional therapy, statewide parent project training, the crossover youth practice model pilot and funding for evidence-based programs.
On Thursday, January 16, Deputy Secretary Cooper returned to respond to follow-up questions from the committee regarding correlations between juvenile detention and adult incarceration, additional funding for juvenile services in the Governor’s budget and the impact of multiple foster care placements and/or childhood trauma on likelihood to engage in criminal behavior. The committee also received an update from KLRD on the work and recommendations of the Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight that met in October 2019. Committee members asked questions about legislation on 24-hour detention periods, models discussed by Georgetown’s Shay Bilchik, and facility tours.