Updates and Alerts

State Legislative Update (May 16-20)

The Kansas Supreme Court had a busy week! After hearing oral arguments in legal challenges to legislative redistricting maps, the Court upheld the U.S. Congressional and state legislative maps passed by lawmakers. The Court’s decision was unanimous in affirming the state maps, but split on the Congressional map — the full majority opinion and concurring/dissenting opinions in that case have not yet been released.

Last week the Supreme Court also held hearings in the so-called “dark store” property tax case being appealed by Johnson County. At issue is whether Johnson County significantly overvalued 11 Walmart properties, taking into account factors outside of what is permitted by law. Prior judicial decisions have sided with WalMart. The closely-watched case potentially has broad implications for taxpayers and taxing jurisdictions.

Now that the maps have been affirmed, it’s unclear what action state lawmakers may take when they reconvene in Topeka to continue the veto session. It’s expected they may attempt to override at least some of the Governor’s vetoes.

Last week the Governor vetoed two measures (one aimed at prohibiting mask mandates for any infectious disease and one delaying the rebidding of the state’s KanCare Medicaid contracts) and signed a K-12 education bill that combined education funding with policy changes that included a controversial move permitting K-12 students to enroll in any school district in the state that has capacity to take them, regardless of residency. Once enrolled, the student would be allowed to remain in the district through graduation.

See below for a full Legislative Update!

REDISTRICTING
In a split decision, the Kansas Supreme Court rejected the legal challenge to the legislature’s Ad Astra 2 map (SB 355), instead upholding the map redrawing boundaries of the state’s four U.S. Congressional Districts. The full majority opinion and concurring/dissenting opinions have not yet been released. The Attorney General had argued state courts don’t have authority to consider federal maps, and even if they do, the map meets all redistricting criteria and is constitutional. The Supreme Court decision overruled the opinion of a District Court judge in Wyandotte County who had sided with plaintiffs in finding the U.S. Congressional redistricting map was impermissibly gerrymandered in violation of the state constitution, primarily for its treatment of Wyandotte County and the City of Lawrence. Lawmakers passed the map (26-9) and (79-37) (see how senators voted and see how House members voted), Governor Kelly vetoed the map, and lawmakers then voted (27-11) and (85-37) to override her veto (see how senators voted to override and see how House members voted to override.)
       The Supreme Court also affirmed all state maps – the Liberty 3 map redrawing boundaries of the Kansas Senate’s 40 districts (see how senators voted on their map), the Free State 3F map redrawing boundaries of the Kansas House’s 125 districts (see how House members voted on their map), and the Apple 7 map redrawing boundaries of the State Board of Education’s 10 districts (added by conference committee). The redistricting process requires these state maps be reviewed and certified by the Kansas Supreme Court. The House passed (83-40) and the Senate passed (29-11) the conference committee report combining all three state maps in SB 563; the Governor signed the measure. See how House members voted. See how senators voted.
       Democratic Kansas Senator Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, had challenged the Liberty 3 map, arguing that if the U.S. Congressional map was found to be unconstitutional then similar principles should also apply to the Kansas Senate map. Holland was drawn out of his current Senate district and into the same district as a Republican incumbent, where Holland is unlikely to win. 

Prior to the Supreme Court issuing its opinion and without a clear timeline, Secretary of State Scott Schwab had delayed the candidate filing deadline for U.S. Congressional, Kansas House, and State Board of Education races from June 1 to June 10 (the Kansas Senate is not up for election this year.) The deadline for county commission and statewide races will remain June 1.

REGULATIONS
The Governor VETOED the conference committee report on SB 34, aimed at mask mandates, quarantine orders, and vaccine passports in response to infectious diseases. The bills says no governmental agency or public official (including schools) can mandate face masks as a response to any infectious or contagious disease (with an exception for certain health care workers) – including such diseases as tuberculosis and whooping cough – nor issue/require vaccine passports or compel law enforcement to assist in the execution or enforcement of any order regarding infectious and contagious diseases (such as a quarantine order.) The bill’s prohibitions do not apply to the private sector. The measure passed the House (64-53) and the Senate (23-17). Read the conference report summary. See how House members voted. See how senators voted. It remains to be seen if lawmakers will attempt to override the veto when they return to Topeka; it passed by numbers far short of the 2/3 votes required for an override (84 in the House, 27 in the Senate).

EDUCATION
The Governor signed the conference committee report on HB 2567, fully funding K-12 education and making policy changes related to K-12 and higher education. In addition to appropriating funding for K-12 education in accordance with the Gannon case, the bill’s many policy changes include:

  • Authorizing boards of education of school districts to allow students enrolled in grades 6 through 12 to earn course credits through alternative educational opportunities outside the classroom, including at a business, nonprofit organization, or trade association.
  • Establishing an “open borders” transfer system whereby nonresident students may attend school in any school district in the state based upon the student capacity of each district. Concerns have been raised about the impact of this policy on local property taxpayers, whose local property tax burden will increase to pay for nonresident students who may also hasten the need for additional bond issues. Most area school districts oppose the measure saying whether to accept non-resident transfers should remain a local decision based on individual district factors and input from district patrons.
  • Amend the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act, a program passed last session providing last-dollar scholarships for Kansas students who attend postsecondary educational programs that correspond to high-demand, critical need, or high-wage career fields. The bill would clarify the responsibilities of the Board of Regents and post-secondary educational institutions, authorize designation of additional qualifying programs and fields of study, and provide caps and other clarifications.
  • Amending the Johnson County Research Triangle Authority Act, broadening the allowed purposes of the use of funds at the Johnson County campus of Kansas State University.
  • Expanding the Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program, which provides state income tax credits for contributions to scholarships for eligible students to attend an eligible private school of their choice, to include children seven years of age or under in the definition of “eligible student.”
  • Requiring KSDE to prepare and submit to the Governor and the Legislature a summary report regarding student achievement.
  • Establishing “Hero Scholarships” for qualifying dependents or spouses of certain first responders and military personnel.

The measure passed the House (75-45) and the Senate (24-14). Read the conference report summary. See how House members voted. See how senators voted.

HEALTH CARE
The Governor VETOED the conference committee report on HB 2387, delaying the rebidding process on new KanCare Medicaid contracts until after January 31, 2023. The measure effectively bars the Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment (KDHE) from rebidding $4 billion in contracts with private insurance companies that administer the State’s Medicaid program set to expire next year and instead requires the contracts with current companies be extended. Lawmaker proponents say the goal of the policy is to ensure the RFP and renegotiation process – which were set to begin this year – will instead be conducted by the same gubernatorial administration that will take office after the 2022 elections.
       In her veto message the Governor challenged the legality and wisdom of essentially no-bid contract extensions. KDHE and health care providers had also warned the move could endanger Kansas’s federal Medicaid funding if the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not approve the change.
       The bill also further amends law regarding the powers of the Governor under the Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA), limiting a governor’s powers regarding firearms/ammunition and the authority to prohibit attending or conducting religious services. The measure passed the House (84-38) and the Senate (26-12). Read the conference report summary. See how House members voted. See how senators voted. It remains to be seen if lawmakers will attempt to override the veto when they return to Topeka; it passed by numbers very close to the 2/3 votes required for an override (84 in the House, 27 in the Senate).

Coming Up
Legislators return to Topeka on May 23 for a continuation of the “veto session” to attempt to override bills vetoed by the Governor and complete any additional unfinished business.

“See How They Voted” Lenexa-Area Legislator Guide!

Interested in a bill and want to learn more?  Remember, you can:

 

CHAMBER CO-SPONSORS LEGISLATIVE UPDATE LUNCHEON

Last week the Lenexa Chamber joined with nine other Johnson County chambers to host a Legislative Update Luncheon featuring a panel of six area state legislative leaders.

More than 200 attendees enjoyed networking before hearing an update on the latest from Topeka.

A second joint Legislative Update Luncheon will be held on June 8 – mark your calendar and watch for registration information soon!

 

AREA LEGISLATORS ZOOM WITH CHAMBER

On Friday, January 14, nearly all Lenexa-area state legislators were guests of the Chamber’s Legislative Affairs Committee to talk about issues in Topeka, resulting in good dialogue and good fellowship!

Thanks to Kansas Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes and Kansas Reps. Linda Featherston, Jo Ella Hoye, John Resman, Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard for taking time to engage with your business constituents.

 

CHAMBER BOARD APPROVES 2022 STATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

The Lenexa Chamber Board of Directors has approved a legislative platform to guide our advocacy in the upcoming 2022 state legislative session.  The platform addresses a spectrum of issues important to the business community including pandemic relief and recovery, tax policy, key business costs and regulations, K-12 and higher education, health care, transportation, economic development, and others.

For a summary of the platform, please click here.

Questions or feedback?  Call Ashley Sherard, Vice President and Director of Legislative Affairs, at 913-888-1414 or email asherard@lenexa.org.

Lenexa Chamber on Twitter:

A beautiful day for a Chairman’s Ambassadors meeting on the patio! Thank you Martin City Brewing Company #Lenexa for hosting us and for a delicious meal! pic.twitter.com/R94y9le2XB