Veto Session Report and Action Alert

The Kansas legislature's veto session begins tomorrow. They will be in session until May 4, and during that time they will be working on bills that are in various stages of the process. We have positions on the following bills, and encourage our supporters to take the actions indicated in each section:

HB 2042 – conceal carry reciprocity and lowering the conceal carry age to 18.

Our watchword for this kind of legislation this session has been “stop the insanity.” This bill would also introduce a lot more guns onto our state college campuses – including into dorms.

Action: This bill is coming out of conference committee and will have to go before both chambers. So please call both your senator and your representative and ask them to vote NO! on HB 2042.

HB 2481 - “Sincerely-held religious belief” exemption for family placement services.

The Catholic conference is proposing this legislation, which would exempt their adoption and family placement services from any prospective anti-discrimination regulations that may come in the future (they don't exist yet).

Of course we want people to be able to observe their religion in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, but on the other hand the term “sincerely-held religious belief” too often seems to be used as a cover for discrimination, particularly against LGBT folks. Many evils in American history have been defended by the assertion of a “sincerely-held religious belief.”

In the past the general rule has been that a religious organization could do whatever it wanted with private money, but when public money is involved, services have to be available to everyone. That's a sensible balance and we believe that any prospective anti-discrimination legislation would have to accommodate it. But we also believe that this legislation is specifically intended to open the door for religious-based providers to get state money and yet discriminate, and that's unacceptable.

The bill will come before the House, either on general orders (amendable) or as a “concur” with the action of the Senate (not amendable). The offending section – the possibility of state funding - is Section D. If that is removed, the bill is okay. If it remains in, we urge a No vote.

Action: Who to call: House member. How to vote: No

At the end of the regular session the Senate passed a tax cut bill. It's hard to believe that after the disaster of the Brownback tax experiment – a hole it will take the state years to climb out of – and the years-long underfunding of public schools, that conservative senators still think that cutting taxes should be any kind of priority at all, but there we are. We hope this won't come to the House, but if it does we encourage a No vote.

Action: Who to call: House member. How to vote: Hell No

To review: KanCare, Kansas' privatized Medicaid program, has to be renewed because the original contracts are coming up for renewal. It's pretty much been a disaster, and there is a bipartisan understanding that the problems with the program need to be fixed before it is renewed. In addition, Gov. Colyer wants to put new policy pieces into the renewal, including work requirements and lifetime limits on coverage, which we strongly oppose. (Let me say that again: we strongly oppose these cruel and unnecessary provisions.)

A bill passed out of a Senate committee to delay the implementation of KanCare 2.0, (SB 300) allowing time to fix the problems as well as pushing off the policy pieces, but Senate leadership has refused to allow the bill on the floor, because they're afraid that Medicaid expansion would be amended to it. And that's a conversation they refuse to have. So rather than just having the conversation, they have prevented discussion of legislation that most everyone agrees is needed. And if the delay bill isn't passed, Gov. Colyer could just implement the policy pieces unilaterally, and we believe he would do so.

It's possible that both the KanCare 2.0 delay bill and expansion will be introduced on the floor as (separate) amendments to a budget bill. Of course we support expansion, but don't see how it can become law in that way, because Gov. Colyer could use a line-item veto against it and there would be no opportunity to override. KanCare 2.0 delay, however, has bipartisan support and Gov. Colyer at least putatively understands the problems with the program, so would be less likely (we think) to line-item veto it.

Action: Who to call: both Senate and House. Action: Support a KanCare 2.0 delay bill if it comes up as an amendment to a budget bill.

Clean Energy:
There is a possibility of an amendment to a budget bill to protect distributed generation (solar in particular) from punitive treatment by the KCC as well as requiring it to include efficiency and distributed generation in a comprehensive study of electricity rates. Kansas has the highest electricity rates in the region and we believe that efficiency and distributed generation would help to address that, if the KCC and the investor-owned utilities would soften their hostility. We support this amendment.

Action: Who to call: Both House and Senate. What to ask: support an amendment to protect distributed generation and include it and efficiency in a comprehensive study. Protect Kansas' ratepayers!

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