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 - Sine die June 26, 2017


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. Here are the three aspects and where we are on them:

√ Recission

HB 2052 and was passed by the House on Feb 17, 2017 and appropriates money to close the current year budget gap. The Senate debated and passed HB 2052, and while it had some trouble making it back and forth in conference committee, eventually it was passed. HB 2052 was signed by the Governor on April 18, 2017.

√ Two year budget

The Kansas Legislature struggled to come up with a budget plan for the next two years (2018-19), stymied by the lack of movement on revenue reform (see below). Several bills were advanced, and one sat in the House while tax reform was batted back and forth. In the end, after tax reform was determined, HB 2002 was worked and passed by the chambers, went to conference committee, eventually passing and being signed by the Governor.

√ Tax and revenue reform

Briefly: Tax reform had a bumpy road in the Legislature in 2017, but eventually SB 30 was passed (then vetoed, then passed despite the veto), and rolled back the 2012 tax cut policies and returned revenue, though not to the level it was at prior to the cuts.

Not so briefly: Tax reform—which in this context means eliminating the LLC "loophole," the "March to Zero" policy, returning three tax brackets, raising tax rates, and returning some deductions—had a rocky road in the Legislature. Early in the session, HB 2178 was passed by both chambers, but failed to override the Governor's veto by just three votes in the Senate. That set off a circus of tax proposals, from a handful of attempts to pass a "flat tax," (see: SB 214) to multiple votes on tax reform package similar to what eventually passed, but defeated for various reasons (either they taxed too much or did not raise enough). In the end, running up against the next fiscal year, the Legislature found the will to pass, and override the guaranteed veto.

Other measures

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. This did not advance.


School Finance

The block grants were 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 loomed over the proceedings. Finally, midway through the session, the Court did rule that the current plan was unconstitutional, and that change was needed.

Throughout the session, there were several attempts to produce a bill. Before session, work was done on a bill that eventually became HB 2270, which set the benchmark for what a school finance bill should achieve. That bill did not advance, but informed another bill, HB 2410, that was introduced into the new House Committee on K-12 Education Budget. It received a lot of work in that committee, and the eventual result was understood to be good policy but woefully short on funding. But the Kansas Senate produced their own bill, SB 19, along the lines f the House bill, but with some steps backwards. Nevertheless, with enough good changes and a closing deadline, SB 19 is what passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor. The bill that is now under review at the Kansas Supreme Court.

There were a number of other school finance related bills that saw some action, including one to require all school district employees participate in a statewide high-deductible health plan, another requiring district purchases for some items go through a central state agency. None of them were advanced.

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 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.

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, passed the Senate, was vetoed by the Governor, and failed to muster enough votes in the House to override the veto.

Progress:

  • HB 2064 hearing on February 8, 1:30 pm in House Health and Human Services - MainStream testified in support
  • HB 2044 hearing March 20, 9:30 am in Senate Public Health and Welfare - MainStream is testified in support
  • HB 2044 passed the House on Feb 20, 2017, by a vote of 81-44. Vote record here.
  • HB 2044 passed the Senate on Mar 27, 2017, by a vote of 25-13. Vote record here.
  • HB 2044 was vetoed by Governor Brownback on Mar 30, 2017
  • HB 2044 failed to receive a veto override vote in the House, Apr 3, 2017, 81-44. Vote record coming.
  • KanCare expansion advocates still hope to reintroduce the bill this session.

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.

Progress:

  • HB 2179 received a hearing on Feb 14, 3:30 pm in House Education
  • HB 2186 was amended and passed by the House on Feb 22, 2017, 72-52. Vote count here
  • The Senate eventually passed a version, and a conference committee was created, but they did not complete their work.

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.

Progress:

  • Neither bill has gotten a hearing.

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.

Mainstream opposes this bill.

Progress:

  • SB 37 hearing on Feb 7, 9:30 am in Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government (Testimony)
  • The bill has not progressed any further.

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.

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

MainStream opposes these bills.

Progress:

  • HCR 5009 has not yet had a hearing.
  • SB 98 had a hearing on Feb 7, 10:30 am in Senate Federal and State Affairs
  • SB 98 was passed out of committee on Feb 8, 2017, and is available for a floor vote in the Senate
  • HB 2319 had a hearing on March 14, 9:00 am in House Federal and State Affairs
  • HB 2319 was passed out of committee on March 27, 2017
  • HB 2319 was passed by the House on March 30, 2017, 87-37. Voting record here.

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.

MainStream opposes these bills.

Progress:

  • Hearing on both bills on Feb 15, 10:30 am in Senate Federal and State Affairs - MainStream testified in opposition
  • SB 158 was passed out of committee on Mar 27, 2017.
  • SB 157 was passed out of committee on Mar 28, 2017
  • Both bills are available for a floor vote in the House.

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.

Progress:


 

 

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