Legislative update: Field of bills narrows, but possibilities remain
Kansas Action for Children
March 5, 2021
This week, the Kansas Legislature hit turnaround. That's the date by which most bills (that don't originate in special committees) have to be approved by one chamber or the other. If they haven't been passed or otherwise "blessed," they're gone until next session. You can read more below on what that means for bills KAC has been supporting.
But as with so much about the Legislature, the session isn't over until it's over. We're only at the midpoint. Lawmakers return next week, and so will we.
EARLY LEARNING: HB 2371 doesn't receive House vote, but child care tax credit work continues
Last week, we were excited to share news about HB 2371 passing the House Children and Seniors Committee. The bill removed the child support enforcement requirement, and the work requirement for student-parents, from the child care assistance and food assistance applications. Unfortunately, today was the deadline for that bill to pass in the Kansas House of Representatives, and it did not even receive a vote. Essentially, the bill is dead until next session. While disappointing (to put it mildly) we will continue to organize around the state to encourage lawmakers to take up this bill in 2022.
On a positive note, HB 2414 – the employer child care tax credit expansion – is not subject to the same timeline as other legislation because it comes from the House Taxation Committee. Committee work will resume Wednesday, and KAC looks forward to working with lawmakers to pass this important piece of legislation.
You can contact Early Learning Policy Advisor Mitch Rucker at [email protected].
HEALTH: The great Medicaid expansion mystery – why hasn't it been introduced on the floor?
First, thank you for responding to an action alert for bills connected to a Day of Action for Black moms and babies. The Senate version was not blessed today, but the House version is still active and needs a hearing scheduled.
Once again, it’s the end of week eight, and we still don't have an official Medicaid expansion bill with a bill number. We know the bill was introduced into a committee 10 days ago. Why the ongoing delay for floor introduction?
For now, the only method available to move Medicaid expansion forward is through an amendment, which unfolded Wednesday on the Senate floor (video link). But at the end, the expansion plan was defeated, with a few “No” votes explaining they wanted to see the policy discussed in committee. But so far the “normal” legislative process is unavailable, which is frustrating, as expansion directly affects children and their families.
Finally, at the halfway point of the session, deliberate choices were made to protect harmful public health bills (SB 212, SB 213), allowing them to move forward. The Senate also passed legislation (SB 273) that includes several concerning restrictions to public health officials’ toolboxes during an emergency. That legislation is now before a conference committee, using the shell of SB 40. Why are legislators deliberately working to limit public health measures in Kansas, especially as a pandemic continues? Stay tuned.
You can contact Health Policy Advisor Heather Braum at [email protected].
FISCAL POLICY: Unemployment insurance bill passed by House, focused more on employers than recipients
Several tax bills passed the House this week, including SB 13, a bill that would establish notice and public hearing requirements before increasing property taxes and discontinue the city and county tax lid. The House also passed Substitute for HB 2196, a big bill dealing with unemployment insurance (UI). While the bill would do some positive things, such as modernize the UI system, it also would reduce the number of weeks a person experiencing unemployment is eligible to receive benefits. Overall, the bill focused more on the needs of employers than recipients.
KAC continues to be on the look out for any movement for bad tax policy bills, including SB 22 and its cousin HB 2421. So far, neither bill is scheduled to be discussed in the House Taxation Committee next week.
You can contact Director of Fiscal Policy Emily Fetsch at [email protected].
Keep up with KAC's Rise Up Kansas campaign on Twitter and Facebook. We're proud to support a movement of individuals and organizations dedicated to economic justice. We will offer tax and budget analysis and amplify the voices and experiences of partners. It’s time to Rise Up Kansas!