Statehouse Snapshot: Week 3
Kansas Action for Children
January 28, 2022
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MOVEMENT ON ENDING THE STATE SALES TAX ON FOOD
This past Tuesday, Kansas Action for Children provided testimony in the House Taxation Committee about the elimination of the state-level sales tax on food. A big thank you to all of our partners who also participated! We testified in support of HB 2487 and neutral for HB 2484, primarily because HB 2487 is a more fiscally responsible, targeted solution to help families put food on their tables. The Senate Tax Committee will be having its own hearing on the elimination of the state-level sales tax on food this upcoming Tuesday, February 1.
Don’t forget, lawmakers need to hear from you! Use the link below to email your lawmakers so they know there is statewide bipartisan support for this policy. SHOW YOUR SUPPORT
HEARINGS ON BILLS TO IMPROVE KANSANS’ FOOD SECURITY
House committees are taking up bills that would expand access to food assistance.
HB 2215, a bill that would expand access to the food assistance program for Kansans with drug-related felony convictions, was heard in the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Wednesday. Kansas Action for Children provided testimony in support of the bill. [WATCH: Testimony begins at the 1:36 mark.] Several other proponents, including Kansans impacted by the current rule, also testified and spoke about the importance of support programs like this for people reintegrating into their families and communities.
The food assistance program is a very effective anti-poverty, anti-hunger program, and every Kansas child and family deserves to have enough food on the table. The Committee will vote on the bill next Wednesday, and we hope to see it pass out of Committee.
HB 2525, a bill that would remove the child support cooperation requirement for food assistance and child care assistance, has a hearing scheduled in the House Committee on Children and Seniors on Monday, January 31. KAC will be testifying in support of the bill, along with many of our partner organizations.
INFORMATIVE WEEK FOR EARLY LEARNING ISSUES
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Children and Seniors held an informational briefing on how childhood trauma impacts brain development. Tara Wallace, Executive Director of Lighthouse TCO and KAC board member, presented how “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs) have lifelong consequences that continue to manifest in a person’s adulthood. “[The ACEs study] explains so much about why people behave the way that they do… It doesn’t have to make sense to you, but you have to understand.”
We are also excited to announce the first Early Learning Caucus forum will be next Wednesday, February 2. This bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate comes together during session to learn from experts on a wide range of issues that affect early childhood education and development – including ACEs. Next week, they will hear from leaders in child care and explore how high-quality child care and education can take place in the variety of settings available to Kansans. This will be the first of four learning opportunities the caucus will sponsor this session, with the others building upon this foundation and exploring how investments in high-quality care benefit Kansas kids, families, and the economy.
BILL WOULD PREVENT KANCARE CHANGES FOR YEARS
On Wednesday in the House Committee on Health and Human Services, Kansas Action for Children testified in opposition to HB 2463, which delays the normal administrative process to re-write, re-bid, select, and sign contracts for the MCO companies managing the KanCare (Medicaid and CHIP) program, until January 1, 2026. Watch our testimony here.
This contracting process presents numerous opportunities to improve the program for its next five-year cycle under privatized managed care. Why would the process be delayed by lawmakers? Reminder: 75% of KanCare’s enrollees are children and their parents/caregivers.
Also, excessively broad language in the bill could prevent normal day-to-day KanCare changes and processes, as well as stopping opportunities to improve the program, including changing federal authority for the program (waivers), postpartum extension, increasing reimbursement rates for providers, or addressing longstanding HCBS waiver waiting list issues.
During the hearing, committee members asked pointed questions, including wondering why no one testified in favor the bill. The House Committee on Health and Human Services will vote on the bill next Tuesday. We will continue to closely monitor this troubling legislation.
Finally, no bill hearings are scheduled (yet) for the growing number of bills that would weaken childhood vaccines. We are closely monitoring HB 2498 (forbidding the COVID vaccine from being required for kids), SB 398 (new philosophical exemption), and SB 212 (childhood vaccine requirement changes and employer vaccine ban, which could be brought to Senate floor for debate at any time).
WHAT TO EXPECT IN WEEK 4
This coming week will be a busy one for us here at Kansas Action for Children! We will provide testimony on several bills:
- Monday in House Committee on Children and Seniors – proponent testimony for HB 2525, which would remove the child support cooperation requirement for food assistance and child care assistance
- Tuesday in Senate Tax Committee – proponent testimony on SB 342 and neutral testimony on SB 339, both of which deal with ending the state-level sales tax on food.
- Thursday in Senate Tax Committee – opponent testimony on SB 328, which would create a single income tax rate
On top of these bills, committees will begin to vote on the bills that they held hearings on. This includes potential action on the House food sales tax bills (HB 2484 and HB 2487), the bill to expand SNAP access to those with prior felony drug convictions (HB 2215), and the bill to prohibit changes to KanCare until 2026 (HB 2463).
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.