10 April 2021 |

Legislative update: Lawmakers scramble to pass bills, head into break

Kansas Action for Children
April 10, 2021

You might notice this update was delayed by a day -- that happened because Kansas legislators worked late Friday attempting to wrap up business before heading out for a multi-week break.

As you'll see from this roundup, they didn't exactly succeed. Big questions and challenges remain for the veto session, which will kick off early next month. In the meantime, KAC will keep up our advocacy. We'll be touch over the next few weeks.

EARLY LEARNING: Child care tax credit expansion hits snag; education not yet funded

Late Thursday, the leadership of the House Tax Committee offered the contents of HB 2414, the expansion of the employer child care tax credit, to be put into a conference committee report. The Senate rejected that offer, so we will have to prepare to get that policy through when the Legislature reconvenes in May.

SB 175, the latest iteration of the “Frankenstein” education bill that we discussed last week, narrowly passed the House, 64-59. The Senate took up the measure Thursday night and again Friday afternoon. After procedural shenanigans and vote switches, the bill failed on a 20-20 vote. So for now, the bill is dead, and the Legislature adjourned without a bill to fund education.

You can contact Early Learning Policy Advisor Mitch Rucker at [email protected].

HEALTH: Anti-vaccine amendment fails in Senate; more work needed to expand Medicaid

Sometimes, we wonder why we actively monitor floor debates on topics of little relevance to KAC. Here’s why: On the Senate floor Wednesday, a senator attempted to add part of SB 212 (changing the process for the required kids’ vaccine list) as an amendment to an infectious disease bill (HB 2224). Debate went on for an hour (watch here). Thankfully, the amendment failed, 17-18 (roll call vote), but that was too close. Vaccines should not be political; read partner testimony explaining why.

Much work and education is needed to continue to stop this bad policy from passing in future sessions (it’s come up in both 2020, before COVID, and 2021 now). If you’re interested in getting involved in vaccine education and advocacy, please contact me at the email below.

On the Medicaid expansion front, so far certain lawmakers are ignoring the new federal incentives for expansion (see Kansas City Star article). During the legislative break, we hope lawmakers take time to investigate the incentives, draw different conclusions, and come back during veto session ready to FINALLY pass expansion.

You can contact Health Policy Advisor Heather Braum at [email protected].

FISCAL POLICY: Problematic tax bill presented to governor; unemployment bill passes

The Senate and House Commerce committees conferenced on HB 2196, the multi-faceted unemployment insurance bill (110 pages!), throughout the week. It was approved by the full Senate and House on Friday evening. As mentioned above, KAC also monitored whether the child care tax credit would be inserted into another bill in the tax conference committee.

While other tax bills moved forward this week, we're continuing to keep a close eye on SB 50. On Tuesday, the bill was presented to Gov. Laura Kelly. She has 10 days from that presentation date to veto the legislation, which we hope she does. While there are some good components in the bill, there are many others that are concerning, and the overall cost is too high for Kansas to afford.

You can contact Director of Fiscal Policy Emily Fetsch at [email protected].


Finally, if you or someone you know has questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, check out this set of resources from KAC’s partner, the Immunize Kansas Coalition, which includes answers to common questions about the vaccine. Remember, use the vaccinefinder.org website to search for appointments near you.