The Kansas Legislative Session is Over

The Kansas Legislative Session restarted with a bang on Wednesday last week, and looked to roar into the weekend, but ended with a disappointing whimper at 3am Sunday. Leadership had continued to thwart a vote on Medicaid expansion, so legislators used the only leverage they had, holding the budget hostage until a vote on expansion could be held. The strategy succeeded at first, with the pro-expansion coalition holding strong through two votes. A third vote proved too much, however, as promises by Leadership for a Medicaid vote next year were enough to sway some legislators.

We are profoundly proud of those legislators who stood up to intransigent Leadership for the hundred and fifty thousand working Kansans who cannot access health care. These are our neighbors and friends, across the state, who go to work every day and deserve the security of health insurance. Leadership flatly refused to allow a vote, knowing full well that it would pass, as 77% of Kansans want expansion, and a majority of legislators, too. The extremes to which Leadership went to deny this to Kansans is infuriating.

Now that it is over, how did the Session go?

We began the year focused on three policy areas: taxes, education finance, and Medicaid expansion. The latter—Medicaid expansion—is now postponed until next year. But since the Kansas Legislature operates on a two-year cycle, Medicaid expansion will have a leg up in January, having passed the House this year. Still, politics is complicated, and more so in a wide-ranging election year like 2020 promises to be.

On education finance, a bill providing for the Governor's preferred amount made its way through and is now before the Kansas Supreme Court. Schools and advocates hope for a decision by the end of June, in time for the new fiscal year to begin on July 1. We remain hopeful that we can finally put the litigation behind us, moving forward with fully funded schools.

On taxes, the budget passed to the Governor is relatively non-controversial, but in the waning hours of the session the Legislature also passed HB 2033, a slimmed down version of Sen. Wagle's SB 22. HB 2033 is designed to give tax breaks to corporations doing business in Kansas, and is estimated to cost the state $240 million in revenue over the next three years. The Governor will have an opportunity to veto it, and has expressed her unwillingness to make tax changes given the state's shaky recovery from Brownback's tax policies.

Other bills were also heard, debated, and passed or turned down. You can get a full rundown on the bills we followed at our Kansas Legislative Tracker. In the end, the Legislative Session was dominated by Legislative Leadership's refusal to compromise on issues most Kansans support.

There was good news on women's health

In this last week, there was a little good news. While the Senate overrode Gov. Kelly's veto of SB67—the bill mandating doctors tell patients about a risky, unproven procedure to reverse medical abortions—the House fell short of overriding the veto. We applaud those legislators who stood with their constituents, and with women.

We urge all sides to work together to reduce abortions through better access to health care, family planning, sex education, and the myriad of other policies that have been proven to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, all while not curtailing women's reproductive rights.

What is next?

The Legislature will come back on May 29, 2019, for Sine Die, the last day of the session. They can take action then, and if the Governor vetoes the tax bill sent to her, they may try to override her veto.

Until then, legislators are back in their home districts, and we urge you to get in touch with them. Find who represents you at

Do more than vote.

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