With the 2018 Kansas Legislative Session hurtling toward the deadline of Thursday’s Drop Dead Day, this week was expected to be action packed with the need to move through as many bills as possible. It was actually a short week as the Senate left around noon on Thursday and the House a bit later leaving the heavy lifting on K12 School Funding and the overall budget for next week.
School Funding Constitutional Amendment
On Thursday the House Tax Committee introduced the long expected state constitutional amendment resolution that would make the question of adequacy one that the legislature and not the court would answer. As stated in the resolution, “The determination of the total amount of funding that constitutes suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state is exclusively a legislative power and shall be made as provided by law.”
The resolution would need to pass both chambers with a two-thirds majority and would then be placed on the ballot in either the August primary, the general election in November, or possibly a special election to consider the question. It seems like a heavy lift but it should be interesting.
K12 Finance Plan
On Wednesday evening the House K12 Budget Committee sent to the full House a plan that would increase funding to K12 by $520 million over five years. Chairman Johnson argued it could be funded without a tax increase, an important consideration in an election year. And while initial reaction on the committee from Democrats was it is not enough it did garner some moderate Republican support. The question now is can the plan find enough support to pass before first adjournment on April 6th and if it does will the Supreme Court accept it.
Insurance & Health Care
SB 348 (electronic insurance documents) has been placed in conference. SB 351 (PBM) has been signed by the Governor. HB 2674 (Telemedicine) was amended by the Senate and HB 312 (Dental Therapists) was added to the bill. The bill is still on the Senate floor and the word is it will remain there in hopes the two chairs can negotiate an agreement on the various parts. HB 2496 (Nurse Licensure Compact) has passed the Legislature and on its way to the Governor
Transparency in Government
The House on Thursday passed to final action SB 394, the Transparency in Government bill, which would require anyone attempting to lobby members of the executive branch or its agencies to register and report. This was a big issue early in the session but has quieted down and seems likely to pass easily.
On Wednesday morning the Senate passed 34-6 its budget bill which contains the non-education funding for this and the next fiscal year and clears the way for the Omnibus bill which is on the horizon. The House will consider their version of the budget next week, probably Monday.
With First Adjournment looming on Friday the 6th the legislature has work to do next week. The largest issue, and the one that has been hanging over the entire session, is the K12 Finance issue. It will be interesting to see if it can be resolved by Friday. That, coupled with the work to be done on the budget bills will make up the bulk of the work as the 2018 session moves toward its long recess.
Significant Dates and Events
On Floor/2nd Chamber
Veto Session Begins