Legislative Update from Brenda Dietrich

April 1, 2019
Heading to First Adjournment

Beginning Monday, April 1st we are in the last week of the regular session and on Friday, April 5th we will gavel out for First Adjournment.  There are a lot of moving parts this next week that have to be addressed in Conference Committee with the Senate.  I’ll post a Newsletter as soon as our work is finished this next week. In the meantime, here is what has happened the past two weeks…….

In our Community

St. Patrick’s Day events!  I was on the HCCI (Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc.) Board for several years and always participate in the Great Topeka Bed Race prior to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  We had outstanding weather and some very unique participants this year.  In the picture below you can see how creative the teams were as they raced up and down 10th Street in front of the Capitol!

I served “brunch” at Let’s Help on Saturday, March 30th with Topeka South Rotarians and their family members. We served a lot of folks who came in from the snowy weather! It was so cold that we had Rotarians roaming the dining area with pots of hot coffee!

At The Capitol

It was my honor to introduce the seven educators who have been selected as 2018 Master Teachers of the Year to the House on March 24th.  What a talented group of teachers!

Emporia State University established the Kansas Master Teacher awards in 1954. The awards are presented annually to teachers who have served the profession long and well and are simply the “best of the best”.



I had three 7th graders from Lindsborg, Kansas join me as pages on March 12th. Thank you to my niece, Hope Duncan and her classmates, Jordyn Elseth and Kenzie Heline! They had a great time and posed for a picture with Governor Kelly.


Farewell to my Intern, Shelby!

Tuesday, March 26th was the last day for my Washburn University Intern, Shelby Bergeron.  Shelby was with me 2 days each week and helped with special projects, constituent services, and research.  Shelby is a junior at Washburn and hails from Hutchinson.  We wish her all the best!


Important Updates From the Last Two Weeks:

Medicaid Expansion
The House took some unusual measures on Wednesday, March 20th, to find a way to debate Medicaid expansion on the floor.  In a move that most folks think is not very transparent, an amendment was offered to replace the contents of House Bill 2066, a bill that expands the practice authority for APRN’s (Advance Practice Registered Nurses), with Medicaid expansion.  This action is often referred to as a “gut and go.”

As feared, the amendment was ruled Not Germane by the Rules Chair.  In an effort to force debate, a bipartisan coalition came together to overrule the Chair, a procedural move that had not been used successfully since 1998. (I voted YES).  After hours of debate, Medicaid expansion received a 70-54 vote.  In Final Action the next day, it passed 69-54.  We had two absences. (I voted YES) The bill now advances to the Senate.  If you have been following this in the media, there is some concern that the Senate will not agree to debate this bill.  Over 70% of Kansans support Medicaid Expansion and in some communities it is over 80%
Governor Vetoes SB 22
On March 25th, Governor Kelly vetoed SB 22 which passed the House 76-42 and Senate 24-16.  SB 22 would remove a restriction under current law preventing Kansas individual income taxpayers from itemizing deductions for state income tax purposes unless they also itemize deductions for federal income tax purposes.  The bill would also reduce the sales tax rate on certain food and food ingredients from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent beginning October 1, 2019 and enact an Internet Sales and Use Tax.  Because the bill is a Senate Bill, the Senate has the opportunity to consider the Governor’s veto first. This is the first bill Governor Kelly has vetoed.  As a reminder…. it takes 27 votes in the Senate and 84 votes in the House to override a veto.
K-12 Education Bill Advances
On Tuesday, March 26th, the House approved H. Sub. for SB 16 on a vote of 63-61 after several false starts and two legislators changing their votes in order to get to 63 votes.  I voted NO because there are many policy provisions in this bill that are questionable and because not all sections of this 63 page policy bill had hearings in Committee.  The House did not consider their School Finance bill (HB2395) because there were not enough affirmative votes. Consequently, the House goes into Conference Committee meetings on Monday, April 1 with no position on school finance.  This 6-member Conference Coommittee made up of 3 Senators and 3 House members, will negotiate final details of the Education plan, including the policies listed in SB 16, as well as funding levels. 
House Adopts Budget
On Monday, the House considered H. Sub. for SB 25.  The bill is a combination of the Joint Committee on Special Claims Against the State’s recommendations (SB 25, as introduced), the Governor’s Supplemental Appropriations for FY 19 (HB 2121), and the Governor’s Mega Appropriations for FY 20 (HB 2122) bills.

On Tuesday, March 26th the House voted 99-25 to approve the Appropriations bill. I voted Yes.  On Wednesday afternoon, leadership of the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committee began conference committee negotiations to work out differences in budget bills passed in each chamber.  Documents related to the conference committee are on the KLRD website.

Key highlights of the bill are:

FY 19 recommendation totals $17.2 billion, with $7.1 billion from the State General Fund (SGF).Recommendations include:
  • $2.2 million SGF for the KanCare Clearinghouse to address eligibility and backlog concerns; $452,516 SGF for the Family First Prevention Act, which will draw down Federal fund and $400,000 for additional child welfare positions in the Department of Children and Families.  Both support efforts to improve the foster care system in Kansas.
  • The bill did not follow the Governor’s recommendation on the Pooled Money Investment Board, which would have paid off the interest-free loan in its entirety.  The bill accelerates the repayments to four years, rather than the six in current law.  Additionally, the bill does not follow the Governor’s recommendation on the KPERS Trust Fund.  The Governor had eliminated transferring $56.0 million SGF to the KPERS Trust Fund.  The bill restores that planned transfer.
FY 20 recommendations total $18.2 billion, with $7.7 billion from the SGF.  Recommendations include:                      
  • State Employee Pay Increases: $22.3 million for 2.5% pay increase for state employees (excluding Judicial and Legislative Branch); $1.6 million for judges’ salary increase (phased in salary increases over 5 years); $3.4 million for non-judicial employees (phased in salary increases over 3 years)
  • Social Services: $5.0 million SGF for primary health projects; $3.0 million ($1.3 million SGF) to increase Medicaid dental reimbursement rates; $13.4 million ($5.5 million SGF) to provide a 2.0% increase in the reimbursement rates for providers of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers; $6.0 million ($2.5 million SGF) to reduce wait lists for Medicaid HCBS waivers  for individuals with an intellectual/developmental disability and individuals with a physical disability; $3.0 million SGF for Community Mental Health Center grants; $13.6 million ($5.6 million SGF) for 2.0% increase in the reimbursement rates for nursing facilities; $12.4 million ($5.3 million SGF) to increase the protected income level for Medicaid HCBS waiver services recipients and individuals in the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly to 150.0% of the Social Security income level.
  • Other increases: $10.5 million SGF to Board of Regents for Performance Grants, Non-Tiered Course Credit, Postsecondary Tiered Technical Education State Aid, Municipal University Operating Grants, and Comprehensive Grants’; $6.4 million from the State Highway Fund, for the acceleration of delayed T-Works projects.
Electronic Prescribing for Opioid Prescriptions
On Tuesday, March 26th, the House passed HB 2389 which would require prescription orders issued for a controlled substance in schedule II-IV that contains opiates to be transmitted electronically.  Electronic controlled substance prescriptions cannot be altered or copied, and are trackable, thus ensuring that prescriptions are not fabricated or falsified.  Studies have shown that electronic prescriptions are also less prone to errors.  Further, patients are more likely to fill prescriptions that are sent electronically to their pharmacy and begin the medication treatment in a quicker manner.  This method also allows prescribers to track if prescriptions are filled and filled.

The House voted to pass HB 2389 with a vote of 122-2. I voted Yes. This bill is now under consideration by the Senate.
AO-K to Work Program—Accelerated Opportunity
The House unanimously passed SB 199, which would allow individuals to apply for and receive a high school equivalency credential from the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR), should they be accepted into an adult education program at specific community colleges and technical colleges in Kansas.  Additionally, these individuals must be at least 21 years-old, not have received a high school diploma, demonstrate high school equivalency according to criteria established by KBOR. 
GED students are adults who often have jobs, families, transportation difficulties, and other important commitments.  The Accelerated Opportunity program in Kansas asks students to take GED classes and college classes simultaneously, which requires 6-7 hours of classes per day.  A more practical option is offered whereby GED classes are taken first, and then college classes are taken, but that takes years to complete.  Because of this difficult process, individuals seeking greater employment opportunities either lose interest or are discouraged completely.  These changes to the Accelerated Opportunity work program outlined in SB 199 will help many Kansans achieve better employment.

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Reminder of Dates

April 5th
Drop Dead Day.  No bills considered after this date except bills vetoed by the Governor or Omnibus Appropriations bills.
May 1st
Veto Session begins.
May 17th
Day 90.

Contact Me

If you have any questions about the activities in my committees or want to share your views on any of the issues before the legislature, please feel free to email me or call my office.

Representative Brenda S. Dietrich
Room 165-W State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th St.
Topeka, KS     6612

Contact Brenda

Room 165-W
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66610
Phone: 785 296-7648
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