Legislative Update
March Madness in Full Swing at Statehouse
All signs of March madness were in full swing at the Statehouse last week. The Legislature was working full speed to finalize committee work on bills and readying them for debate, as the deadlines for the regular session are just around the corner.

The week brought a dizzying flurry of final bill hearings where bills were amended, moved, refurbished, gutted and replaced with other bill content. Truly, basketball doesn’t own all the madness of March.

This week will be largely dedicated to floor debate and conference committee action, where compromises are negotiated between Senate and House positions on legislation. The Legislature will break on Thursday for Holy Week recognition and return Tuesday, Apr. 6 for a few days of work leading up to first adjournment on Friday, Apr. 9.
Senate Panel Advances Anti-vaccination Legislation
The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday advanced legislation that would transfer the authority for determining additional child care facility and school entry immunizations from the Secretary of KDHE to the Kansas Legislature.

SB 212 (link goes to original bill) would place in statute the current list of required child care and school entry vaccinations and only allows the KDHE secretary the authority to remove any of those deemed unsafe or unnecessary in the future. Further, it would no longer authorize the KDHE secretary to add vaccinations to the current schedule.

In committee action, much of the content of SB 213, which would prohibit an employer from taking any adverse employment action against an employee because of the employee's vaccination status, was amended into SB 212.

The amended language from SB 213 bars employers from requiring vaccines, but would not include the civil penalties included in the original bill. The bill adds provisions that would shield businesses from legal liability if an unvaccinated employee infects someone else. The same would apply to a business’ allowing any other unvaccinated person on their premises who might infect someone else.

The committee’s action brought a swift rebuke from both the health and business sectors. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce had previously testified against SB 213 when it had a hearing in Senate Commerce, citing it as an unnecessary infraction on business decisions. In KAFP testimony against the same bill, Dr. Chad Johanning drove home the point that there was a strong need for the health sector and others to protect the health and safety of Kansans.

Last Thursday, a number of health and business entities, including the KAFP, joined in sending a letter to all Kansas senators, urging them to oppose the legislation. KAFP testified against both bills in committee hearings.
Governor Signs KEMA Legislation
Governor Kelly has signed SB 40, which places restrictions on the powers and orders of the governor, the Secretary of KDHE, and local public health officers in managing a state emergency or disaster. Supporters of the restrictions voiced concerns that the governor and health officers had wielded too much power to in closing businesses and schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the amended Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA), the governor may issue emergency orders, but those are checked by the Legislature or, when not in session, the Legislative Coordinating Council, which is comprised of GOP and Democratic leaders from both chambers.

When local health officers issue new orders, those must be reviewed and voted on by the board of county commissioners. The bill also clarifies that only local boards of education have the power to close schools.

The legislation provides greater access to legal regress for businesses, students and citizens who believe their rights have been aggrieved by any emergency orders. Speedier time limits and processes are put in place for these situations.

In last year’s special session, the Legislature took action by passing temporary legislation that put some new checks in place and said they intended to take an in-depth look at the entire act in the 2021 session.

Upon signing SB 40 into law, Governor Kelly signaled she plans to issue a slate of new orders after March 31 that will include a statewide order for face masks in public places. That will be subject to legislative approval and some legislative leaders have publicly stated they will oppose that action.
Governor’s Medicaid Expansion Plan Introduced
Governor Kelly’s plan for expanding Medicaid and providing for the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana as a way of paying for the program has been introduced. HB 2436 was introduced in House Appropriations and referred to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, both of which are exempt from legislative calendar deadlines.

If passed, it would provide health insurance to an estimated 165,000 Kansans and make Kansas the 48th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

While the governor remains a staunch advocate of Medicaid expansion, the legislation faces a steep challenge going forward. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee has dedicated countless days to another medical marijuana bill, and will be challenged to even get it moved out of committee this session.

House and Senate GOP leaders have maintained their strong opposition to expanding Medicaid and, especially given this late point in the session, it is unlikely the bill will receive action this year.
Family Doctor of the Day

KAFP is again sponsoring the Family Doctor of the Day (FDOD) program during the Kansas legislative session. Licensed physicians, including residents, volunteer to provide mostly-minor health needs to legislators and their staff. The Legislature highly values and appreciates access to these services, especially when so many are away from their hometown primary care physicians.

We want to thank the following for their service to legislators and Capitol staff members this past week: Dr. Ashley Houser (Fredonia); and Dr. Debra Doubek (Manhattan). Your time and efforts in serving as Doctor of the Day are greatly appreciated!
Bills We’re Monitoring
SB 40 – Prescribing powers, duties and functions of the board of education of each school district, the governing body of each community college and the governing body of each technical college related to the COVID-19 health emergency, adding the vice president of the senate to the legislative coordinating council, modifying the procedure for the declaration and extension of a state of disaster emergency under the Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA), prohibiting certain actions by the governor related to the COVID-19 health emergency and revoking all executive orders related to such emergency on Mar. 31, 2021, establishing judicial review for certain executive orders issued during a state of disaster emergency and certain actions taken by a local unit of government during a state of local disaster emergency, authorizing the legislature or the legislative coordinating council to revoke certain orders issued by the secretary of health and environment and limiting powers granted to local health officers related to certain orders.
Status: approved by House and Senate; now goes to the governor
SB 92Creating the Kansas equal access act to authorize the use of medical marijuana
Status: Referred separately to S-Public Health & Welfare and S-Fed & State Affairs

SB 174Updating scope of practice requirements for advanced practice registered nurses without a supervising physician, imposing requirements therefor and updating certain licensure requirements *KAFP entered opposing testimony
Status: S-Public Health & Welfare hearing on 2/18; Blessed for future action
SB 212 – Prohibiting the secretary of health and environment from permanently requiring additional immunizations to attend a child care facility or school; amended to include provisions from SB 213 *KAFP entered opposing testimony
Status: S-Public Health & Welfare passed favorably

SB 213 – Prohibiting an employer from taking any adverse employment against an employee because of the employee's vaccination status *KAFP entered opposing testimony
Status: S-Commerce hearing on 2/25; Blessed for future action

SB 295 – Giving counties the authority to adopt prioritized COVID-19 vaccination plans separate from state guidelines
Status: S-Public Health & Welfare passed favorably

HB 2066 – Expanding the military spouse and servicemember's expedited licensure law to all applicants who have established or intend to establish residency in Kansas, providing for the practice of telemedicine by out-of-state physicians, permitting the issuance of temporary licenses in emergencies and the use of electronic credentials (defers to state of license origination) *KAFP opposed, before amendment; now neutral
Status: House passed as amended 103-21; Senate passed 36-2; in conference committee

HB 2158 – Making permanent provisions for the advisory committee on trauma and the statewide trauma system regional council to conduct closed meetings and keep privileged records regarding trauma cases
Status: Passed House 121-1; S-Public Health & Welfare passed favorably

HB 2174 Establishing the rural hospital innovation grant program to assist rural hospitals in serving rural communities
Status: H-Health & Human Services hearing on 3/16
HB 2184Creating the Kansas medical marijuana regulation act
Status: H-Federal & State Affairs discussion & action on 3/23, 3/24

HB 2206 – Updating certain definitions, referral to specialty services and coordination of care provisions in the Kansas telemedicine act
Status: Hearing in H-Health & Human Services on 2/9; Blessed for future action

HB 2259 – Permitting the use of expedited partner therapy to treat a sexually transmitted disease
Status: House passed 75-49; S-Public Health & Welfare

HB 2340 – Increasing the minimum age to 21 to purchase or possess cigarettes and tobacco products *KAFP supports
Status: H-Federal & State Affairs passed favorably

HB 2380 – Amending the healthcare stabilization fund minimum professional liability insurance coverage requirements and the membership of the board of governors of such fund
Status: H-Insurance & Pensions final action on 3/22

HB 2436 – Enacting the Kansas medical marijuana regulation act and enacting the Kansas innovative solutions for affordable healthcare act to expand medical assistance eligibility
Status: H-Federal & State Affairs
Legislative Committee Calendar, Week of Mar. 29, 2021
The early part of the week will be devoted to floor debate and conference committee meetings to reconcile differences between legislative positions passed the House and Senate. Conference committee schedules are fluid and often occur with little notice. Committee meetings and floor debates are live-streamed and can be accessed online at www.kslegislature.org.
The legislature will adjourn for the Easter Break Thursday, April 1, and will return on Tuesday, April 6.
Key Dates for the 2021 Legislative Session
The following schedule assumes no major disruptions for the remainder of the session.
  • April 1 – April 5: Legislative Break for Easter
  • Friday, April 9: First adjournment
  • Monday, May 3: Veto session begins
  • Wednesday, May 12: 90th Day of the Session