KS Legislative Tracker

On this page we keep track of legislation in the KS Legislature in Topeka. These are the bills we have noticed and think important to keep in mind. As always, check our more immediate feeds for information that may be more up to date: email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Contact us if you'd like us to consider a particular bill or issue.

How legislation is made in KS: Here's a brief pdf from the Kansas Legislature on how a bill becomes law (or the long version, Kansas Legislative Procedures). Basically, laws are proposed and sent to a committee, where the chair determines if it should come up. It then receives a hearing, any amendments, etc and is voted on. If passed, it goes to the floor of the main chamber. The chamber leadership decides if it comes up, and if it does, it gets debated, amended, and voted upon. If passed, it goes to the other chamber, goes through the same process. If the two chambers disagree but pass the bill, a conference committee is formed to hash out differences. The compromise bill then has to get an up or down vote in each chamber. If passed, the Governor can sign it or veto it. These are the slim basics, but there are a lot of blind alleys and secret doors and hidden staircases the legislators can use in the process.

On the veto. The Governor has a line item veto, such that he (or she) can eliminate all or part of legislation. It takes a 2/3 vote of both chambers in the Legislature to overcome a veto, so 27/40 in the KS Senate, and 84/125 in the KS House.

A note about status: No bill is ever dead in the Kansas legislature. Knowing exactly the status of a bill is an art, and one few have mastered.

Here is last year's 2016 Tracked Legislation


2017 Kansas Legislative Session

January 9, 2017 - TBD


There are three areas of emphasis for MainStream this legislative session: the budget and tax, school funding, and medicaid expansion. We have grouped bills by these categories, and then another section for other bills we are tracking.


Budget and Tax

House and Senate have a lot to do to both fill the revenue gap for this year, and also increase revenue streams so that these gaps do not keep happening. There will be a lot of movement these issues this session. The issues at hand appear to be repealing the LLC tax exemption, cutting spending to make the gap smaller this year, finding one-time money to close the gap this year, and raising taxes to increase revenue in upcoming years.

SB 215 is a tax bill that is identical to HB 2178, except the tax increase does not take effect until Jan 1, 2018. This bill was introduced by Sen. Jim Denning (R) on Feb 23, 2017, after HB 2178 failed to get out of the Senate. There is not yet any information on how this delay would affect projected revenues as compared to HB 2178.

HB 2178 is a tax bill that raises taxes, reinstates three tax brackets (the 2012 tax cuts pared them to the current two), repeals the LLC exemption, repeals the March to Zero (wherein taxes would get cut every time the state met financial obligations), and does a few other things besides.

    • This bill was passed by the both chambers on Feb 17, 2017
    • It was vetoed by the Governor on Feb 21, 2017
    • The House overrode his veto on Feb 21, 2017, but the Senate tried and failed to do so.

HB 2052 and HB 2161 are bills passed by the House on Feb 17, 2017 that would appropriate money to close the current year budget gap, standing at just over $300 million right now. The first would freeze contributions to the State's retirement fund for the time being. The second would borrow $317 million from a state investment fund, with a plan to pay it back over time. The Senate has debated and passed HB 2052, and it is on its way to a conference committee.

SCR 1602 is a Constitutional amendment of the sort generally called a "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," legislation dear to the conservatives who want to codify Brownback's tax policies. It would put restrictions on the ability of the state to make economic policy. MainStream has testified against this legislation.

Other bills that may no longer be in the running: HB 2023 would have repealed the LLC tax exemption. That is included in HB 2178. HB 2237 is a bill that implemented the Res Up tax plan. It included provisions to lower food sales tax, protect highway fund, etc. MainStream testified in support of HB 2237.

Read more: 


School Finance

The block grants are set to expire this year, requiring a new school funding plan from the legislature. In addition, the specter of a Kansas Supreme Court ruling on the school funding adequacy lawsuit looms over the proceedings. Any day a decision could come down requiring additional money be put into schools.

HB 2142 is a plan to create a high-deductible health insurance plan and require all employees of public schools to participate.  The idea came from last year's efficiency report, which claimed $80 million in savings. A more recent report by KLPA, however, says that it will only save $63 million, and that $25 million of that will come from shifting the cost of care from districts to teachers.

    • MainStream opposes this bill

HB 2143 would require that school districts purchase food, fuel, and technology through a statewide purchasing program, instead of on their own. This also comes out of last year's efficiency report. Savings appear minimal, with even the Administration admitting only a $7 million savings with questions remaining as to unexpected costs.

    • MainStream opposes this bill

HB 2242 is a school finance proposal that would retain the current block grant funding plan one more year, while testing a new plan in four school districts. The plan requires KLPA to estimate classroom expenditures per district and then applies a formula dividing funding among them. It also includes school performance evaluations, ostensibly with which to punish underperforming schools.

    • MainStream opposes this bill

HB 2270 has been introduced to create a new finance formula that supports school districts and provides for differences between district needs, depending on student population, demographics, and other factors. It also provides for early childhood education, and ties an annual increase in funding to the CPI.

    • MainStream supports this bill
    • A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017, 1:30 pm in 346-S

HB 2346 is a bill from former legislator and Chamber of Commerce leader Mike O'Neal. It very simply appropriates money for education and directs the Kansas Department of Education to distribute it. Effectively, this takes school finance decisions out of the people's hands and puts it in the hands of the Governor and his appointed leaders.

    • MainStream opposes this bill

Read more:


Medicare Expansion

Kansas refuses $1.9 million every day ($1.7 billion to date) that could be used to expand Medicaid (called KanCare in Kansas) and cover 150,000 working Kansans without access to health care.

HB 2044, was originally a bill to provide Medicaid reimbursements in specific cases, but on the floor of the House it was amended to include the KanCare expansion measure from HB 2064. The amendment addition passed, and the resulting bill passed, and is now waiting for Senate action. A hearing is set in the Senate committee.

HB 2064, called the KanCare Bridge to a Healthy Kansas bill, it was largely written by the Kansas Hospital Association and is intended to make heath care available to the 150,000 Kansans who fall in the coverage gap under KanCare. MainStream testified in support of this bill. This bill has been tabled, effectively ending its chances this session, but the measure was lifted out as an amendment and attached to HB 2044.

Hearings:

  • HB 2044, March 20, 9:30 am in Senate Public Health and Welfare - MainStream is testifying in support
  • HB 2064, February 8, 1:30 pm in House Health and Human Services - MainStream testified in support

Read more: 


Other Bills


Restoring due process for teachers

HB 2179 would restore the due process that was taken from teachers several years ago. This bill also received no support in committee, creating some turmoil, in fact, when the committee chair cancelled meetings and refused to hold more to prevent it from being brought up. But the measure was added to HB 2186, an arbitration act, and that bill was passed by the House. It still must face the Senate process.

MainStream supports this bill.

Hearings:

  • Tuesday, Feb 14, 3:30 pm in House Education

Read more:


Bills to repeal campus carry (and other gun bills)

Read our mid-session report on guns in the Kansas Legislature.

Here's the short version. Many bills have been introduced this session to repeal campus carry, and we are now left with one partial bill and the likelihood of the full measure being attached to other bills as an amendment.

After much starting and stopping, much push back from the NRA, almost every bill to repeal campus carry has been stalled. One bill (HB 2278), aimed specifically at hospitals and health care, but not universities, has had a procedural trick applied to try to get it through. Tow other pro-gun bills (HB 2042, HB 2081) that may be brought to the house floor could be amended to include the full repeal efforts.

They all bear watching: HB 2042HB 2081HB 2278.

Bills that have fallen by the wayside (but nothing is ever dead in the Kansas Legislature!) are HB 2074, SB 53HB 2150HB 2114, and SB 235, the bill that has become HB 2278.

MainStream supports repealing campus carry. MainStream testified in support of these blls.

Read more: 


Same day voter registration

Two bills were introduced by Rep. Gail Finney (D-100%) and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D-100%) and would allow for voter registration at the polls. This bill is part of the ACLU of Kansas' push to let Kansas vote. Imagine, legislation making it easier to vote, rather than harder. HB 2020 was referred to the Committee on Elections, and SB 49 is still pending. Neither appear to be moving forward this session.

MainStream supports these bills.

Read more: 


Create two-tier voting system

SB 37 would allow Secretary of State Kris Kobach to implement a two-tier voting system, where any Kansas resident who has not shown proof of citizenship would be limited to voting on Federal offices, and only with proof of citizenship would a Kansan be allowed to vote in state or local races. This bill does not appear to have moved forward.

Mainstream opposes this bill.

Hearings:

  • Tuesday, Feb 7, 9:30 am in Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government

Further barriers to women's health

SB 98 is intended to put up spurious barriers to women seeking an abortion, and those clinics trying to provide this legal procedure. It requires that clinics provide minutiae about the attending doctor's credentials, licenses, history and practice, and even specifies that this "shall be provided in a printed format in black ink with 12- point times new roman font." A House version, HB 2319, is moving though the Legislature as well. SB 98 made it out of committee, but has not appeared on the floor. HB 2319 has not made it out of committee.

Another measure, HCR 5009, a "personhood" measure, will not likely come up for any debate, but has been introduced.

MainStream opposes these bills.

Hearings:

  • SB 98 - Tuesday, Feb 7, 10:30 am in Senate Federal and State Affairs
  • HB 2319 - Tuesday, March 14, 9:00 am in House Federal and State Affairs

Immigration bills

A pair of bills have been introduced into the Kansas Senate, SB 157, which requires the Kansas Highway Patrol work in concert with the US Dept. of Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws, and SB 158, which prohibits Kansas cities from declaring themselves sanctuary cities. Both of these bills are heavy-handed dictates taking local control away from communities, breaking apart families, and causing undue harm to children, many of whom are American citizens. Both bills received a raucous hearing and nothing has happened with them since then.

MainStream opposes these bills.

Hearings:


Lowering the sales tax on food

SCR 1604 would introduce a staggered lowering of the sales tax on food and food ingredients, and incorporate it into the Kansas Constitution. Eventually, sales tax on food would land at 2%. As part of a measure two years ago to staunch the revenue crash in Kansas, sales tax was raised, resulting in record sales tax on food in Kansas. A promise was made to lower it one year later, a promise that did not come to pass. This measure has not moved forward.

MainStream supports this bill.

Hearings:


 

 

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