Statehouse Snapshot: Veto Session Preview
Kansas Action for Children
April 25, 2022
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JUST A FEW WEEKS LEFT FOR LAWMAKERS TO HELP KANSAS KIDS
Lawmakers are reaching the finish line for the 2022 Session as they start the last phase commonly known as “veto session.” This legislative time (which is currently scheduled to end on May 10) represents the last days of session, and lawmakers typically focus on outstanding issues and veto override attempts.
This week will be packed full of action. More deals are likely to be brokered in conference committees – and behind closed doors as legislative leadership tries to gain enough votes to override Governor Kelly’s vetoes. We are hopeful lawmakers will concentrate on the unfinished business they left on April 1, such as cutting the state food sales tax, addressing the child care crisis in Kansas, passing a K-12 budget with adequate funding, and agreeing to a final state budget bill.
We’ll make sure to update you on our Twitter @kansasaction about any developments throughout the week.
IS CUTTING THE STATE FOOD SALES TAX STILL ON THE TABLE?
Before the April break, the tax conference committee negotiated three tax bills. One of these bills passed both chambers (Senate Sub. for HB 2239) and was signed by the Governor during the Legislature’s spring break.
When legislators return for veto session, we anticipate the other two tax bills to be voted on by the House and Senate at some point. Senate Sub. for HB 2597 is a conglomerate bill, which would cost the state at least $430 million in the first three years, not including components of the bill the Department of Revenue estimates could lead to an additional reduction of state revenue by at least $100 million.
The major piece of tax legislation KAC is eager to see action on during the remaining days of the session is addressing the high state-level food sales tax. Proposals have been discussed since January, but none have been debated by the full House or Senate. Right now, the conference committee bill (HB 2106) is the most likely bill to be voted on. The bill would gradually reduce the state tax rate on food in the coming years, with it eventually reaching full elimination on January 1, 2025. We urge lawmakers not to end the 2022 Session without addressing the second highest food sales tax in the country.
STATE BUDGET FORECASTS REMAIN STRONG
Last Wednesday, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group met to deliver their state budget forecasts for the rest of this fiscal year, as well as FY 2023 (starting July 1, 2022). The forecast indicates strong revenues in future years, but lawmakers must still remain mindful of spending our state’s money responsibly and prioritize bills that invest in Kansans.
KAC Director of Fiscal Policy Emily Fetsch said about the forecasts: “With forecasts showing an overall increase in state revenues by a combined $340.7 million for this fiscal year and FY 2023, lawmakers must show their commitment to passing legislation that helps those who live here.
"This forecast is good news for our state. And it will be good news for Kansas kids if lawmakers use their remaining time to pass essential policies that benefit families. When the Legislature reconvenes for the final days of the 2022 Session, we urge legislators to pass bills that will help families — not make it harder for them to make ends meet — and allows our state to prioritize much-needed investments now and in the future.”
GOVERNOR VETOES BILL THAT WOULD INCREASE KANSANS’ FOOD INSECURITY
As a reminder, lawmakers sent Senate Sub. for HB 2448 to Governor Kelly before they adjourned in the early morning hours on April 2. This bill would make the food assistance employment and training program, administered by the Department for Children and Families (DCF), mandatory for all able-bodied adults aged 18-49 without dependents (ABAWDs) not working at least 30 hours per week. This is higher than the 20 hour per week federal work requirement for ABAWDs participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The bill would add paperwork and administrative burden to Kansans already dealing with a long and thorough food assistance application process.
The Governor vetoed the bill during the April break. If lawmakers fail to overturn her veto, it will mean that advocates kept these additional burdens at bay for the 1 in 8 Kansans facing hunger and food insecurity. While the Senate vote reached veto-proof majority, the House vote for the bill was 70-46, which is well below the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
To ensure that low-wage working Kansans don’t face additional barriers to food access, you can contact your lawmakers who voted against this harmful bill and ask them to maintain that position.
POSTPARTUM EXTENSION PASSES, BUT SOME LAWMAKERS STILL SEEKING HARMFUL HEALTH POLICIES
Just last week, Governor Kelly signed the state budget bill (House Sub. for Sub. for SB 267), which included a provision extending postpartum Medicaid coverage for mothers from 60 days to 12 months. We are pleased lawmakers included the funding for this administrative change and Governor Kelly signed the final bill to make it law. This extension will help mothers and babies receive the health care they need during such a crucial time. It’s estimated this change will help about 9,000 Kansas mothers.
We continue to advocate against troubling public health and childhood immunization-related language that is still pending. The concerning language is included in Sen. Sub for HB 2280, SB 541, and SB 489.
We are waiting to see if the House takes action on the conference committee report for HB 2387, which contains the concerning language to delay the next round of the KanCare MCO RFP process. Since this language has been revised, it doesn’t appear to be as problematic as when it was first introduced, but we remain concerned about the precedent it sets.
K-12 FUNDING UNFINISHED AS LAWMAKERS ENTER FINAL DAYS OF SESSION
When the Legislature adjourned for their April recess without passing – or even debating – the education budget package that the conference committee advanced, it was unclear what kind of negotiations might occur during their April break. Since then, the Governor vetoed SB 160 (anti-transgender athlete bill) and SB 58 (“Parents’ Bill of Rights”), potentially setting up a legislative scrap over whether they should attempt to override either or both of those vetoes. While the vote for SB 160 was close enough that it’s unclear how the override votes will fall, an override attempt on SB 58 will be more difficult for those in favor of the controlling legislation.
Click here to urge your senator to vote NO on the Senate's attempt to override the veto on SB 58.
With little news on the remaining education bills, it’s difficult to say how those conversations have gone, or if they’ve even begun. Given the abrupt end of session earlier this month, it’s very possible that House and Senate education leadership will return to the negotiating table and come up with a new proposal. That could contain any combination of the policies listed above, as well as any other education policy item passed by either the House or Senate earlier this session or last year.
At the end of the day, lawmakers need to avoid partisan distractions and pass a budget that adequately funds Kansas public schools and ensures that every Kansas student can learn and thrive. Let’s hope they used their April break well.