Statehouse Snapshot: Week 2
Kansas Action for Children
January 21, 2022
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HELP MAKE FOOD LESS EXPENSIVE IN KANSAS
Lawmakers have heard the call from Kansans around the state to take action to eliminate the state-level sales tax on food. In the past week, four different bills (two each in the Senate and House) have been introduced that, while containing some differences, would all end the 6.5% state-level sales tax on food.
To learn more about the bills and their differences, click here.
Your voice matters. Now is the time your senators and representatives need to hear from you on showcasing your support for an end to the state sales tax on food. Use the link below to email them as soon as you can so lawmakers know there is broad statewide support for this policy.
THE FIGHT FOR FOOD SECURITY
A powerful group of organizations – including Kansas Appleseed, Harvesters, and the Kansas Food and Farm Coalition – contributed to the informational briefing focused on hunger and nutrition in Kansas in the House Committee on Children and Seniors on Wednesday. Particularly of note, they spoke on how Kansans and food producers have been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic and how supply chain issues actually led to wasted food. Others discussed how hunger and food insecurity harm infant development and gave background on why WIC and food assistance programs provide crucial support for Kansas children and families. KAC hopes this information will help inform future discussions on the issue.
Two bills have been introduced that would directly expand eligibility for vital safety net programs. KAC supports both bills, as they would eliminate barriers put on families that need help making ends meet:
- HB 2215 (House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice) would remove the modified ban on individuals with drug-related felony convictions from accessing the Kansas food assistance program. The hearing will take place on Wednesday next week.
- HB 2525 (House Committee on Children and Seniors) would remove the child support cooperation requirement for food and child care assistance eligibility and reduce work requirements for parents pursuing education and receiving child care assistance. We hope to see a hearing scheduled for this bill soon.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR STUDENTS GOING INTO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
This week, the Senate Committee on Education revisited a program created in the 2021 session: the Kansas Promise Scholarship. Currently, the state allocated $10 million for scholarships to students entering “high-demand” fields of study – one of which is early childhood education. At this time, KAC is monitoring proposed changes to the bill (SB 340), which will have hearings next week. KAC will advocate that the state continues to prioritize scholarships for students who want to make teaching and caring for Kansas kids their profession.
BUSY WEEK FOR HEALTH COMMITTEES
Find time to watch the compelling testimony and Q&A exchange during a Senate Public Health and Welfare committee hearing on SB 42, which improves systems already in place for the study and investigation of maternal deaths in Kansas. KAC submitted written testimony in support of this important legislation.
Several legislative committees heard the recommendations from the Special Committee on Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Intellectual and Developmental Disability Waiver. Read the full report online. Over 4,600 Kansans remain on this waiting list; average waiting list is 9.5 years; 61%+ are under the age of 21. The Legislature faces pressure to address ongoing issues with all HCBS waiver waiting lists.
Unfortunately, the Senate saw its first anti-vaccination vote of the session on Thursday; a floor amendment attempt failed 17-19. While we are grateful the amendment failed, the battle surrounding childhood vaccinations is not over; concerning legislation has been introduced related to COVID-19 vaccines for kids (HB 2498). We will be closely monitoring this bill and other kids vaccine-related legislation that is expected.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN WEEK 3
Hearings on important issues are set for next week.
First up, on Tuesday at 3:30, the House Tax Committee will hear the two House food sales tax bills – HB 2484 and HB 2487 – and KAC will testify on both. We are eager to see how the committee members respond to the bills, particularly the differences between them, and any amendments that could be added before being kicked to the House floor for debate.
On Wednesday at 1:30, KAC will testify in opposition to HB 2463 (a bill that would delay changes to the KanCare program until 2026), in the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Also Wednesday at 1:30, KAC will testify in support of HB 2215, which deals with removing the modified ban on individuals with drug-related felony convictions from accessing the Kansas food assistance program, in the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice.
We will make sure to keep you updated on how these bills move forward in the legislative process. For breaking news on the Legislature and any unexpected changes to scheduled hearings we’re monitoring, follow us on Twitter @ksaction.