Policy & Research


2021 Kansas Legislative Recap (August 2021)

COVID-19 and KEMA Dominate Early Part of Session

By Linda J. Sheppard, J.D., Peter F. H. Barstad, Hina B. Shah, M.P.H., Sydney McClendon | August 19, 2021

2021 Kansas Legislative Recap (August 2021)


When the 2021 session gaveled in on Jan. 11, legislators immediately set their work on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how state government would respond to public health emergencies in the future. With the introduction of more than 100 health-related bills, legislators also worked many behavioral health, child welfare, and licensing and scope of practice bills, but fewer than 20 became law. Medicaid expansion briefly appeared but failed to receive any significant attention. The 2021 Legislative Recap examines key health-related bills that were considered during the session and includes an issue brief, budget summary and bill tracker. 

Key Points from the brief include: 

  • A district court judge in Johnson County ruled on July 14, 2021, that SB 40, which concerns governmental response to the COVID-19 emergency, is “unenforceable” but an appeal of that ruling has been filed.
  • SB 159, the Omnibus Appropriations bill, provides $2.7 million, including $1.2 million SGF, for certified community behavioral health centers, a new delivery model for behavioral health services.
  • Although Gov. Kelly announced in her State of the State address that Medicaid expansion was a priority for the session, companion bills introduced in March failed to receive hearings.
  • SB 199, which would have amended Kansas law related to policy periods for short-term, limited duration insurance (STLDI) to conform with federal health insurance regulations approved in 2018, was passed on May 7 but vetoed by Gov. Kelly on May 20.
  • H. Sub for SB 159, a bill that would have created the Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act, was passed by the House on May 6. This bill and SB 315, introduced by the Senate on the same day, will be available for consideration during the 2022 session.
  • SB 283, signed by Gov. Kelly on March 31, allows out-of-state physicians to treat patients in Kansas via telehealth through March 31, 2022, if they hold a temporary emergency license from the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts.

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.