01 March 2022 | Tax and Budget Health Early Learning Economic Security

After Turnaround, what issues remain that impact Kansas Kids

Surprisingly, the Legislature left town a day early for a long weekend. The all-day floor action last Tuesday and Wednesday was largely dull, save for the House rejecting HB 2525 and long-winded Senate commentary on plastic bags and driverless delivery vehicles. 

Last week, we wrote about what to expect during Turnaround Week and the other remaining weeks in the legislative session.  

Instead of voting on a number of policies on the House and Senate agendas, leadership chose to “bless” many dangerous bills, giving the measures the chance to keep moving forward in the legislative process even after the Turnaround deadline. It’s almost certain these “blessed” bills will be heard in committee, as well as debated and voted on by both chambers.  

HB 2525 (and Other Bills that Would Impact Kids) Fails to Move Forward 

The House took up HB 2525 as the last bill on the schedule on Tuesday, and debate lasted for less than an hour before the bill failed 53-66. The result is frustrating and disappointing, especially because the bill was approved unanimously by committee.  

KAC President John Wilson wrote the following in our most recent Statehouse Snapshot update: 

“It was disheartening to realize how disconnected these lawmakers are from the reality of being a parent living on low wages and trying to provide for their kids. I was appalled to listen to certain lawmakers amplify decades-old talking points rooted in discriminatory stereotypes and character judgements about the working poor in Kansas.  

“Sadly, this is the only bill so far this entire session that failed to advance in the House or Senate. Think about that. Amid a child care crisis, hunger crisis, and a pandemic that forced parents (primarily moms) out of the workforce, a bill that would have helped Kansans access food and child care assistance programs was proudly rejected by a majority of the Kansas House.” 

Despite the bill failing, it is encouraging to see this policy make it the furthest it has since the HOPE Act (which included the restrictions HB 2525 would have overturned) was enacted in 2015 and 2016. We’ll be hard at work alongside partners to continue the efforts in 2023. 

Because legislative leadership did not schedule votes on a number of bills before the Feb. 24 deadline, lawmakers essentially “killed” those measures for the rest of this legislative session: 

  • What We Supported: HB 2215, which would have expanded access to the Kansas food assistance program for people with more than one felony drug conviction, was denied a vote by House leadership. 
  • What We Opposed: HB 2498, and other anti-vaccination bills, which could have jeopardized the required childhood immunization list for school and child care attendance. 

“Blessed" and Exempt Bills Going Forward

Bills in the budget, tax, and federal and state affairs (and calendar and printing) committees are exempt from the Turnaround Day rule and will continue to move forward in the legislative process. What’s interesting, however, are the bills that House and Senate leadership ensured were “blessed” before the end of the Thursday deadline. Leadership is unlikely to “bless” a bill unless they generally support the policy and intend for the bill to keep moving forward. 

As a result, unfortunately, the list of what we oppose is much longer than what we support. Here are the bills we continue to closely watch.  

What We Oppose 

(Blessed) SB 501, which would make stricter the requirements for families to receive food assistance. Essentially, this bill is HOPE Act 3.0 and will put unnecessary and harmful restrictions on families who are food insecure. 

(Blessed) HB 2463, which would freeze the state’s Medicaid program, KanCare, until 2025, resulting in administrative red tape and legislative overreach for the entire KanCare program. The bill would also delay much-needed changes that impact kids for the state’s next round of managed care organization contracts. This bill had zero proponents in its hearing.  

Senate Sub. for HB 2280 and SB 212 (blessed), which both would negatively change childhood immunization requirements or administration of the requirements. 

(Blessed) Be on the lookout for several “Frankenstein” bills that are a combination of individual and unrelated policy bills that are being marketed as the “parents’ bill of rights.” Republicans on the House K-12 Education Budget Committee bundled 13 distinct policy initiatives into three bills – and then Chairwoman Williams announced her intention to further merge her proposals into a single bill that also includes school funding, which is roughly half of the state budget. 

(Blessed) SB 484, which would prohibit some public school students from participating on school athletic teams that align with their gender. 

SB 339, which, in its current form, would eliminate the state sales tax on food but also adds several items that make the full bill unaffordable in the long term. There are several other bills that end or reduce the state sales tax on food on which the Legislature can invest their time. 

SB 519, which would raise the standard deduction for the second year in a row. 

HB 2186, which would allow certain industries to use the single sales factor formula to determine their tax responsibility. 

What We Support 

HB 2414, which would expand the existing employer child care tax credit. 

SB 407, which would fix a 14-year error in Kansas law concerning eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This would be a simple technical fix that would help Kansas children have health insurance.  

HB 2711, which would eliminate the state sales tax on food in an affordable, fiscally responsible way in the long term. The bill would gradually decrease the 6.5% tax from 3.5% to 0% over several years as long as the Budget Stabilization Fund (the state’s Rainy Day Fund) retains $100 million at the end of the fiscal year. This and the other five food sales tax bills are compared here.

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