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Join us for Health at the Capitol, a Kansas Health Institute webcast focused on health-related policy discussions and action at the Kansas Legislature.    

On this episode of Health at the Capitol, the Kansas Health Institute’s legislative monitoring team discusses health-related bills that did and did not cross the finish line during the regular session. They also address the history of special sessions in Kansas and what we can expect with the latest one that starts this week. They describe KHI’s legislative tracker that will be available soon on the KHI website for the 2024 session – a great tool to follow health-related bills from start to finish in the legislative process.

The Kansas Health Institute would like to thank the Kansas Legislative Research Department (KLRD) for information about the special session process and bit of history.


Theresa Freed 0:00
The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. Each legislative session KHI is hard at work keeping you informed on the latest health policy discussions from across the street in downtown Topeka. Health at the Capitol is a KHI production. A monthly recap with our legislative monitoring team, offering you a closer look at policy work happening now in Kansas and coming up.

Thanks for joining us for Health at the Capitol. I’m your host, Theresa Freed, Director of Strategic Communication and Engagement for the Kansas Health Institute. And as always, we have with us Linda Sheppard, she has our legislative monitoring team. And we also have Cynthia Snyder, another member of the legislative monitoring team. Thank you both for joining us once again. Thank you. Thank you. All right. So we are about to head into the special session. So, we’re definitely going to talk a little bit about that. But we also want to talk about sort of the, the last minute activity that happened towards the end of the regular session. So, Linda, if you want to just start us off with what are some of the key health-related pieces of legislation or action that we saw?

Linda Sheppard 1:08
Yeah. And actually, Cynthia’s going to do, to do that part, but just a little bit of introduction, the session ended very early on the morning of May 1. Cynthia will be talking about some of the, the action that happened specifically with bills during that time period, the bills that were signed during May. And, and then you’re right, and then we’ll talk about the special session.

Theresa Freed 1:28
All right, very good. All right. Cynthia, go ahead. Tell us, tell us what you know.

Cynthia Snyder 1:32
Sure. So, it like Linda was saying at that end of April, beginning of May, there were several bills that the Governor signed, vetoed, and there was also some override activity, so, we’ll talk a little bit about. So, House Substitute for Senate Bill 419. It’s a interesting bill, in that it provides immunity for, from prosecution for individuals who are seeking medical care for someone who’s under the influence and in need of help. I think we’ll hear more about this bill in terms of how its interpreted and applied at a local level. So we’ll, I think probably more to come on than that. House Sub for Senate Bill 287, it actually did a number of things. There was a No Patient Left Behind Act, which for hospitals and nursing care facilities, it has rules related to allowing visitors. There was also some changes in the licensure relating to emergency hospitals, rural emergency hospitals. And then there was a change in EMS regulations related to being able to provide over the counter medications, in terms of the approved list. So those were some of the things that got signed into law at that the, at the end there, and as well as Senate Bill 28, which was basically the budgets for all the state, for many of the state agencies. Within that, we’ll kind of transition to vetoes because she also vetoed 30 line items, many of them were health related. Of note, there were two line item vetoes related to the home and community based, the waivers. And so the Physical Disability, and the Intellectual and Developmental Disability waivers, both have significant waiting lists. And during the session, there was additional resources put in to reduce those waiting lists and the thing, the two items that were vetoed, were putting caps on how large those waiting lists could get. And so those that, the veto was overridden. And so basically, KDADS has to provide in January, the dollar amount to the legislature of what it would take to keep those waiting lists for IDD community. It’s under 4,800 individuals. And then for the Physical Disability Waiver, it’s what it would take to keep it under 2,000. So that’s, that was a big change. Now vetoes, in, require really a two thirds vote of each of the chambers to overcome a veto. So for the Senate, that number is 27. And for the House, that number is 84. I had to math for a second. And so a number of significant bills were overridden in terms of they, they had enough votes in each of the chambers to override the Governor’s veto. Let’s see, two, two of those bills that were overwritten by, were related to abortion. So House Bill 2749, which changed the reporting requirements related to abortions performed in Kansas. And then also it required that a patient be asked the reason, the most important reason for deciding to have an abortion, if it was not in the case of an emergency. The other bill related to abortion was the Senate Sub for a House Bill 2436. And that makes it a crime to coerce someone into having an abortion. There was also activity related to the Adoption Savings Account Act and the Pregnancy Resource Act, which were part of House Bill 2465. So that also overcame the the veto. And it, with the Adoption Savings Account Act, it allows individuals who are planning adoption to put resources away into an account for those expenses. And then the Pregnancy Resource Act is related to tax credit for contributions to pregnancy resource centers and residential pregnancy resource centers, and maternity facilities.

Theresa Freed 6:24
Okay, that was a lot of information and there’s more.

Cynthia Snyder 6:28
There was a lot happening.

Theresa Freed 6:30
Yes, there was a lot happening. And so anything that you can think of that didn’t get the movement or momentum that that was initially thought might happen, this session that we might see, revived, or, or brought new for the next session?

Linda Sheppard 6:48
You know, obviously, I think each each year that we’ve gone into it, certainly over the past five years, you know, bills for, related to Medicaid expansion had been introduced. You know, once again, for this 2024 session, that did not happen. There was, there were bills introduced in each chamber. One of the bills did get a hearing, but did not, did not come out of committee. So there was no consideration for that. There was some, some attempt to try to bring some of that, bring that up during discussions on the floor, and, again, didn’t, didn’t ultimately come to pass. So that’s certainly something that, that was expected.

Theresa Freed 7:33
So we’ve heard some, some mention of the possibility of that being discussed during the special session. So, we kind of transition over into that discussion. If you can start off by telling us a little bit about, you know, what the special session really is for, and then what can we expect to see happen?

Linda Sheppard 7:51
Right, so there is, the Governor on May 29, announced that she was calling a special session of the legislature. They will be returning on Tuesday, June 18. And, she has not yet issued her official proclamation for that session yet. But in her announcement of calling the special session, indicated that it’s her understanding that the primary focus will be on tax bill. So, the, the tax bill that was passed by the legislature, the Senate Bill 37, passed very early hours of May 1, was ultimately vetoed by the Governor on May 16. So that left, left us without a tax bill for this year, which it, was certainly a priority for both chambers. So, they are going to be returning, presumeably necessarily just for that purpose. Bu t, you know, it’s, it’s been very interesting, because we have heard of other possible topics that can come up. And honestly, Theresa, was, this gave us kind of an opportunity. We’ve never done this in the past, but had delve a little bit into just how do the special sessions work? How does that all come to pass? What what can they do and can’t they do during during those sessions? So that’s been a little fun side assignment for us to check that out.

Theresa Freed 7:51
Right? And so what can you tell us about that?

Linda Sheppard 8:17
So, the calling of a special session, that that ability to be able to do that either by the governor, or the legislature can actually do it as well, is all built into this, to the Kansas Constitution and then also built into Kansas law. So in this case, the Governor took, used her authority under the Constitution to call this special session. And again, for, primarily from her perspective, I think the, with the focus on them working on another tax bill since she vetoed the one that was been that had been done. There has been a lot of attorney general opinions and some other case law that’s occurred. Since those things were built into the Constitution and state law that kind of dictates what can happen so actually her

She is actually prohibited from in her proclamation either limiting which topics they, the legislate legislators will cover while they’re here and also putting any time limit on it. So when she calls them back, they actually could can stay for as long as they want, I guess, although, you know, although there are certainly some some financial constraints on that I think that everybody’s aware of but they can, they can cover other topics outside of what she’s called them back for.

One, one interesting thing, you know, that one of our questions was, can they go back and work on bills that were still being worked at the end of the original session, and they cannot. Those bills are actually dead at the end of the official session. And so if there were issues that they wanted to deal with, related to matters that came up during the special session, they would actually have to introduce new legislation, and work that, work that through the process while they were here. So they’re not limited, they can do it. But, you know, obviously, they don’t have the benefit of having a whole long time to do committee meetings and hearings and those kinds of things. So it’s, you know, it, it probably limits them somewhat to what they can do. But, but technically, they they have the ability to bring up any any topics that they want.

Theresa Freed 11:17
So they can’t talk about, necessarily the bills, but still the topics that were addressed within bill. So for example, Medicaid expansion, they could introduce something new.

Linda Sheppard 11:27
Yes. And we have heard some rumors that there, that there may be a Medicaid expansion bill introduced. While they’re here, I, you know, I think one interesting thing that, that we learned is that they are, they are not allowed to pass a bill on the day that it’s introduced. So if they were to introduce any bill, Medicaid expansion or otherwise, on the 18th, when they come, they would have to be here for at least two days, because they could not actually pass that bill all in all, in one shot in one day. So that does, does, you know, would suggest that they’d have to have some more time to take care of that. But, you know, again, for the for purposes of the tax bill, you know, from from a health perspective, really the only provision that was in the tax bill, and this, again, was the Senate Bill 37 was the elimination of the sales tax on food and food ingredients. And so that was something that the Governor has certainly wanted. And this bill would have moved up that eliminate, that complete elimination of that sales tax on July 1 of this year, so next month, and it right now, it’s still it’s still set in law that it would not go away until January of 2025. So we would be gaining six months of that if, if that’s included in the new tax bill that they pass next week.

Theresa Freed 12:47
Gotcha. Okay. Well, any speculation about any other topics that might pop up?

Linda Sheppard 12:51
Well, so actually, that, and this is totally unrelated to health, but there was a letter that was sent by Speaker of the House, Dan Hawkins and also Senate President Ty Masterson was sent to Clark Hunt. It’s very interesting, the letter doesn’t have a date on it. So I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but has indicated that there is legislation on a STAR bond that is going to be considered during the special session, that would be basically reaching out to the Kansas City Chiefs to move to Wyandotte County.

Theresa Freed 13:24
So not directly health related, but definitely impacting a lot of our viewers.

Linda Sheppard 13:28
Yes, absolutely. And obviously, you know, I mean, it would mean would be a significant economic change for for the state of Kansas, if that were to occur. But anyway, that, you know, I think initially, it wasn’t clear that that was going to happen. But I think by virtue of the fact that that leadership has indicated to Mr. Hunt that, that this is something that they’re going to talk about, that that at least there’ll be some discussions about. So that’d be great.

Theresa Freed 13:54
Very interesting. I, of course, will monitor we’ll see what happens. We may not have all the details on that particular action, but we’ll certainly be paying attention like the rest of the state of Kansas, I’m sure. So, historically, these special sessions have not gone on very long. I’m sure that people are anxious to wrap up their work and, you know, move on to campaigning or whatever else they need to do during that time. So, speculation again, about how long we could we could be in?

Linda Sheppard 14:23
Well, you’re exactly right. This is a this is an election year. And so, you know, it is expected that the legislators are going to want to get here and get their work done, and then get back out on the on the campaign trail. Again, that’s certainly a priority for them. So again, looking back at some of the history, it’s been kind of interesting in the, since, and I apologize, I have to look at my note here real quick. 1874, I think was the first special session and since 1874, up through 2020, which was the session where we were dealing with all the COVID-19 pandemic work and then also some pretty major changes to the Kansas Emergency Management Act, there had actually been 24 special sessions during that period of time, and covering a wide variety of topics. And it was interesting to note that those those special sessions sessions lasted anywhere from two days, clear up to one year there they were here for 38 days. It was kind of interesting, because it’s like one chamber came, and then the other chamber came afterwards. So if you add up, the total of the days, they were here, it was was 38 days. So that was a pretty lengthy one. And they have not typically been that long in the past. So that’s very unusual. But you know, I was, it was very interesting to note that the first two sessions that happened were somewhat health related, which was the first session was related to the grasshopper, you know, I guess at the time there were there were was a huge grasshopper problem in Kansas, for dealing with grasshopper plague. Yeah, grasshopper plauge that, and then the year after that, it was foot and mouth disease. So anyway, that we had these, we had these health related matters that came up and then again, in 2020, huge issues dealing with the pandemic with COVID-19 pandemic. So.

Theresa Freed 16:18
There, they seem to be fairly common now, though.

Linda Sheppard 16:21
Yeah, no, yeah. And you’re right. I mean, we’ve had them since 2020, you know, on other topics. But yeah, it’s, there have actually been several, over the years and we’ll see what happens this year.

Theresa Freed 16:32
Yes, indeed. All right. So we want to wrap up by talking a little bit about a resource that’s available through the Kansas Health Institute. We actively track legislation throughout the session. But we also want to make sure that people who come visit us on our website or watch you know, this webcast or any of our other resources related to the session, have an easy way to access the information and understand what health related legislation was available and what happened with it. And so Cynthia, if you want to talk a little bit about our tracker.

Cynthia Snyder 17:04
Sure. So at the end of each year’s sessions, we put together two products, which are really to talk about the, what’s happened during the legislative session. One is the tracker, and then we organize that by themes. So you can go and look what were the bills related to any particular set of themes. Another nice thing, in addition to being able to tell what happened with each of the bills is there’s a hyperlink that will take you to whatever that last version of the bill, whether it’s the enrolled bill, if it was a bill that that was vetoed, the the letter would be there from the Governor explaining why why she had vetoed that particular bill, in addition to the bill. So it really is a nice feature. Any anything else I need to add on the tracker?

Linda Sheppard 17:51
Yeah, the other product that Cynthia was referring to was just, we issue, we do an issue brief. And so that is really just a summary of and again, we break it down into categories that just described the bills that got the, certainly the bills that got passed that were health related, but any bills that made significant progress through the process that were related to health and clearly an indication of the things that the legislature was interested in as related to health. And we had, we had a lot of bills. We have had, over the last, I don’t know, handful of years, the number of health related bills has continued to increase. And so there was a lot, a lot of things going on on a lot of different topics. And so we, we tried to cover a number of those specifically the ones that apparently had some legs under them and made some progress.

Theresa Freed 18:42
Yes, definitely kept your your team busy. And of course, this webcast, we’ve touched on a wide range of these topics, but just, you know, barely hitting the surface. The the brief along with the tracker has much more information. So if you’re really interested in health related legislation, this is a great place to go to get that information and you can receive that to your email inbox by subscribing to our emails. You can do that on our website at Thank you for joining us. Thanks for joining us for Health at the Capitol. Sign up to receive our emails at to get a weekly recap of health policy activity during the Kansas legislative session. You’ll also receive our latest publications and information about upcoming events.

Transcribed by

Health at the Capitol Production Team

Theresa Freed, M.A., Host, Producer, Editor

Stewart Cole, Editor, Multimedia Specialist

About Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.

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