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Legislative News From Kansas State Senator Elaine Bowers

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 11:25
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Week Ten of our 2020 Legislature has concluded with a two weeks early First Adjournment due to the COVID-19 virus and the daily rise in positive cases.  On Thursday, March 19, the Kansas Legislature adjourned until April 27, 2020. This measure extends the regularly scheduled “spring break” that was slated to begin on April 4. When the legislature returns, an extended veto session will begin, lasting from (at this time) April 27 to May 21. However, the Legislative Coordinating Council can vote to bring officials back at any time prior to April 27 with a simple majority vote.  Members of the LCC include Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman (Chair), Senate President Susan Wagle (Vice Chair), Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, Speaker Pro Tem of the House Blaine Finch, House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins and House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer. 


The new calendar dates are April 27 - May 21: Veto Session; May 1: Deadline for 2nd house consideration (non-exempt bills) and May 8 as the final day for bills to be considered.



Executive Order Progression -

Governor Laura Kelly issued five executive orders this week in response to the threat posed by COVID-19.  The Executive Order declaring a State of Disaster Emergency was signed and filed with the Secretary of State’s office on March 16, 2020.  Declaring a state of emergency makes it easier for the state to mobilize its resources, provide aid to local communities and contract for services.  The Governor’s executive orders continued throughout the week and Kansas ultimately became the first state in the nation to close all K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year. 


  1. Executive Order 20-03 declares a State of Disaster Emergency.
  2. Executive Order 20-04 intends to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by prohibiting mass gatherings, defines the term “mass gatherings” to 50 people or more and lists exclusions.
  3. Executive Order 20-05 directs and orders specified Kansas utility and internet providers to not disconnect services for non-payment and lists the types of services included.
  4. Executive Order 20-06 directs and orders all financial institutions to suspend initiating any mortgage foreclosures, evictions or judicial proceedings.
  5. Executive Order 20-07 closes all K-12 public and private schools until May 29, 2020, lists exceptions and details suggestions for continuing meal programs, childcare and online learning opportunities.



SB 368 – Senate budget plan to become SB 66

After a full day of debate on the Senate floor and three amendments by the Committee of the Whole, the Senate has moved to fund the state for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, to the tune of almost $8 billion dollars per year worth of State General Fund expenditures. The original bill, worked by the Committee on Ways and Means, appropriated a total of $18.5 billion (including both state and federal funds) to the various state agencies for FY 2020, including $7.8 billion from the State General Fund.  It included a recommendation to increase total all-fund spending in FY 2020 by $118.2 million yet decreases transfers from the SGF by $34 million when compared to the previous year’s budget.


After being worked by a conference committee comprised of Senators Carolyn McGinn, Rick Billinger, and Tom Hawk and Representatives Troy Waymaster, Kyle Hoffman and Kathy Wolfe Moore, the budget was placed into SB 66. From there, several rounds of negotiations took place, with House and Senate members negotiating to work toward agreements on the bill’s nearly 200 sections. A conference committee report was agreed to during the evening hours Wednesday, and both chambers adopted the report Thursday. 


The state’s budget currently includes basic appropriations for the remainder of fiscal year 2020 and the entirety of fiscal year 2021. The hope is for both chambers to pass an omnibus budget when legislators return after the “spring break.” At this time, legislators appropriated $50 million for fighting Coronavirus, plus another $15 million for emergency preparedness, and increases overall state spending by $1.2 billion, or about 6.4% compared to last year. However, the final budget does not include additional investments into the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) which was agreed to by the Senate, nor any funding for a pay raise for executive branch employees. 



The 10-year transportation plan for the state’s transportation infrastructure was renamed The Eisenhower Legacy Plan after the 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower who first signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956 which led to the creation of interstates and highways across the country. This 10-year plan allows for the maintenance and improvement of our roads and highways in Kansas. The plan includes a mandate that all stalled T-Works projects must be completed before any new construction can begin in T-Works project districts, as well as a requirement for projects to be reviewed every two years instead of every ten years under the state’s previous transportation plan. The total cost over the life of the Eisenhower Legacy Plan remains at about $10 billion over a decade, and still includes language that would allow the Department of Transportation to fund certain highway projects using dollars collected from turnpike tolls. Additionally, there is still funding for broadband infrastructure grants and improvements to the state’s short line railroad system. The Eisenhower Legacy plan is now being sent to Governor Laura Kelly for her signature. 


SB 454 - Creating exemptions in the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) for election security records and cyber security records.


SB 491 - Expanding definition of “infectious disease” to include diseases designated as infectious or contagious in nature by the Secretary of Health and Environment through rules and regulations.


SB 432 - Clarifying the license terms and electronic submission of tax payments, reports and documentation for holders of a special-order shipping license.


SB 417 - Authorizing the sale or service of alcoholic liquor by a class A club for consumption on the licensed club premises by persons who are not members, their families, or guests during an event. Class A clubs include bona fide nonprofit social, fraternal, or war veterans’ organizations such as the American Legion.


SB 309 - Placing the burden of proof on the county appraiser in certain valuation and classification appeal hearings before the district court.


SB 322 - Making sales tax exemption permanent for certain cash rebates on sales or leases of new motor vehicles.


SB 474 - Permits student athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, likeness rights or athletic reputation when 15 other states adopt similar legislation.


SB 406 - Sedgwick county charter commission created to review and recommend changes regarding the structure of county government.


SB 433 - Allowing the director of alcoholic beverage control to suspend or revoke a license under the Kansas liquor control act or the club and drinking establishment act.


S Sub HB 2054 - Updating field of membership requirements of credit unions and allowing privilege tax deductions on certain business and single-family residence loans.


HB 2510 - Special districts may be dissolved, and responsibilities assumed by a city.


HB 2702 - Decoupling the KIT and KIR workforce training programs from the high-performance incentive fund program and enhancing the workforce training tax credit.


HB 2595 - Eliminating the 30-day delay before offering state surplus property for sale to the general public.


SB 346 - Authorizing the insurance department to retain the proceeds of the sale of insurance department surplus real estate and any improvements thereon in the insurance department service regulation fund.


SB 423 - Establishing the Sedgwick county urban area nuisance abatement act.


HCR 5025 - Ratifying and providing the continuation of the March 12, 2020, state of disaster emergency declaration for the state of Kansas. This declaration passed unanimously. 


HB 2168 - contains the provisions of SB 225 and SB 409.

Senate Bill 225 would take advantage of available federal funds to supplement the existing Medicaid fee schedule reimbursing physicians and hospitals at above the existing Medicaid fee schedule. The Medicaid fee schedule pays physicians and hospitals about 80% of the Medicare rate and about 50% of the commercial insurance rate. The bill allows for about $221 million of federal funds to be brought in to supplement the low Medicaid fee schedule. It will help keep hospitals and physicians from cost shifting to the commercial payers as they will get better Medicaid rates. The bill was amended to prohibit the use of the State General Fund to supplement hospital provider rates. 


Senate Bill 409 extends a sunset for the Nursing Facility Quality Care Assessment from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2030. Extension of the sunset allows the Assessment to continue to provide funding for increased nursing facility reimbursement rates.  This bill allows for about $57 million of federal funds to be brought in to supplement the nursing home’s low Medicaid fee schedule.    It is estimated that this Assessment results in a 15% increase to the nursing home’s Medicaid fee schedule. 



The Senate approved the appointment of Justin Nichols, to serve as a member of the State Banking Board. Nichols practices law with focuses in the banking and real estate industries.



Governor Kelly signed three bills into law Thursday aimed at addressing the rapidly changing public health situation due to Coronavirus.


These bills include SB 142, which authorizes school districts to receive full state funding despite not meeting legally required student attendance levels. Governor Laura Kelly ordered all schools be shuttered with the possibility of web-based schooling to be revisited later.


The second bill signed Thursday was House Substitute for SB 102, which authorizes the chief justice of the Supreme Court to extend or suspend court dates for pending cases in order to allow some judicial personnel to remain home amidst the current public health situation.


The final bill signed Thursday was SB 27. While this bill originally included provisions aimed at relieving local economic hardship due to Spirit AeroSystem layoffs, the current public health situation prompted the legislature to extend the 16-week limit on receiving unemployment compensation to 26 weeks. This extension is set to sunset on April 1, 2021.



Due to the ongoing concerns over COVID-19 and the desire of the legislature to expedite the legislative process, committee work was quite brief and composed mostly of final action on bills previously heard. 



Please email me at elaine.bowers@senate.ks.gov or call 785 243-3325x2 at my office in Concordia with questions or concerns during the break.  Continue to visithttps://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov for up to date information on the virus as it changes at this point hourly.