26 April 2024 | Health Education Economic Security Tax and Budget Early Learning

2024 Statehouse Snapshot: Week 14

Kansas Action for Children
April 26, 2024

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Veto Session Kicks Off after Governor Acts on Several Priorities

Veto Session always marks the beginning of the end of the legislative session. There has been a great deal of action by the Governor since lawmakers started their April break on April 6. Since then, Governor Kelly has vetoed 15 bills (adding to the flat tax veto early in session), signed 56 (totaling 84 for the entire session), and allowed three to become law without her signature.  

Two bills we’re thrilled to see become law are HB 2536 (SOUL Family Legal Permanency Option) and HB 2547 (authorizing school nurses to maintain certain medications like albuterol and epinephrine for emergencies).  

With the passage of HB 2536, Kansas is now the first state in the country to allow a fourth option for foster children 16 or older to create permanent, legal relationships with adults they trust while still allowing them to maintain close familial relationships. The policy is seen as a transformative step forward for older children in foster care. 

And with the Governor’s signature on HB 2547, Kansas kids, school staff, and community members at school events who experience allergic and respiratory emergencies can now get medical help more quickly until emergency help arrives. This is particularly crucial in rural areas where emergency services may take a while to arrive. 

On the flipside of approved bills, several vetoed bills KAC and its partners are watching include: 

  • Senate Sub. for HB 2036 (large tax cut bill) 

  • House Sub. for SB 233 (ban on gender affirming care for minors) 

  • Senate Sub. for HB 2436 (creating the crime of “abortion coercion”) 

  • HB 2446 (preempting local plastic bag bans) 

  • HB 2465 (providing funds for “pregnancy resource centers”) 

  • HB 2614 (recording the names of those delivering advance ballots) 

  • HB 2618 (creating the crime of falsely representing an election official) 

  • HB 2749 (requiring providers to report the reasons for an abortion) 

To override the Governor’s veto on any bill, the House of Representatives requires 84 votes while the Senate requires 27. With slim supermajority margins in both chambers, the majority party cannot afford to have many defections.  

Governor Vetoes Tax Cut Plan, House Quickly Overrides

On Wednesday, the Governor vetoed Senate Sub. for HB 2036, the large-scale tax cut bill. In her veto message, she said she based the decision on the cost of the bill and the likelihood that the state’s budget could go into the red in future fiscal years. 

The Legislature resumed their work today, and first order of business for the House (who previously passed the bill unanimously) was voting to override the tax cut veto. While a handful of Representatives walked back their initial “yes” votes, the override vote easily passed 104-15.  

The Senate is next up to vote on whether to override or sustain. Senators were initially less sold on the plan, so the votes could be there to keep the veto intact when they come back on Monday. 

While we aren’t thrilled with some less-than-ideal provisions in and cost of Senate Sub. for HB 2036, we’re concerned how a new tax cut plan will come together by the Tax Conference Committee (that is, if the Governor’s veto is sustained). As we’ve seen so far this session, plans can change in an instant, especially when lawmakers feel the pressure of looming deadlines.  

And don’t forget – if lawmakers are unable to negotiate another tax deal before they end the 2024 session, the Governor may make good on her threat to bring the Legislature back for a special session. How the Senate’s vote unfolds on Monday will be the first of many events that will shape the next course of action.  

Senate Falls Short on Final Medicaid Expansion Attempt

First thing this morning, the Senate took up a procedural motion to pull SB 355 – the Governor’s 2024 Medicaid expansion bill – out of committee. There was no debate for this procedural motion, and it failed, only receiving 18 of the needed 24 votes to reach another legislative hurdle.

In a vote explanation, one senator shared how young adults age 19-25 would be among those most likely to benefit from expansion. Recent data shows they account for more than 40 percent of those likely eligible for Medicaid expansion.  

It is frustrating that a majority of lawmakers continue to stymie forward progress on Medicaid expansion, especially with the positive impact it would have on Kansas parents, children, women before pregnancy, newborns, and the workforce. As Kansas kids and families keep waiting for this issue to receive a robust debate by both chambers, please consider thanking the 18 senators who voted yes.  

With this procedural vote failing, it’s almost certain that Medicaid expansion is done for the year. But as always, we’ll keep working alongside other advocates and more than 70% of Kansans to get this done someday for the now 150,000 who would benefit. Hopefully, the Legislature will listen to everyday Kansans and will make progress on this front in 2025. 

Omnibus Budget Process

Last Friday, the state’s latest Consensus Revenue Estimates were released, showing about a $119 million decrease for the current fiscal year. However, the state is still expected to end the year with a $2.7 billion surplus, leaving the state in a healthy economic position. Read more about the state’s recent estimates release here. 

Yesterday, the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means met to discuss “omnibus” budget items. The omnibus budget bill is a large bill that comes after the mega budget (SB 28, which was passed on April 5) to tie up loose ends.  

Some reasons for omnibus items:  

  • To wait for more information, like the Consensus Revenue Estimate 

  • To see if other legislation addresses it 

  • To bring back items that were forgotten or missed  

  • To correct budget errors in the mega budget  

  • To address the Governor’s Budget Amendments 

  • To address the Governor’s line-item vetoes from the mega budget bill without having to attempt override votes on the chamber floors 

The omnibus process has pros and cons. For one, it allows legislators to address items constituents care about that weren’t originally prioritized in the mega budget bill. Additionally, lawmakers may push items to omnibus because they either expect more information, believe that other legislation will take care of the item, or will have a better idea of available funding due to vetoed bills or other fiscal impacts. Omnibus bills also give the Governor time to propose amendments before and during the April legislative recess. 

However, problems arise when legislators get in the habit of pushing items or moving an item for discussion at omnibus to gain more political leverage or try to sneak something into the budget without much feedback from the public or other interested parties.  

For details on the current omnibus bill and what’s in it related to kids, keep an eye out for a blog post coming next week. 

K-12 Education Budget 

The House passed House Sub. for SB 387, the K-12 funding bill, with a vote of 115-2 and the Senate passed the bill 35-2. The new bill was revised in early April to remove the concerning funding issues related to SPED and is now mostly non-controversial. With the bill passing both chambers, it heads to the Governor’s desk. 

What to Expect in Week 15

We expect lawmakers to wrap up their final days of the 2024 session next week. While they accomplished some items on their first day back today, they still have quite a bit of work left to do.  

Child Care Bill. The Senate has yet to take up House Sub. for House Sub. for SB 96, the child care bill that also would establish the Office of Early Childhood. We’re unsure if it’s being held for political purposes or if it just hasn’t been prioritized.  

Veto Overrides. Next week is likely the Legislature’s last opportunity to attempt any overrides before they adjourn for the year. So far, lawmakers have 15 bills (and 24 line-item vetoes in the budget bill) that they could act on.  

Omnibus Budget. The House and Senate appropriations committees met separately the last few days in anticipation of coming to the table for negotiations next week. This budget bill is likely one of, if not the final bill that is voted on before lawmakers leave Topeka for the year.  

With lawmakers unable to campaign until they are officially done with session, we’re sure they’re anxious to finish their work and get to fundraising for their upcoming elections this fall.  

Get day-to-day updates on what bills KAC is monitoring during the 2024 Session here. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @kansasaction for updates throughout the week.