Legislative Update
Interesting Times at the Capitol

There is an oft-spoken proverb that offers, “may you live in interesting times.” If that proverb was meant as any kind of blessing, then our cups this past week were overflowing. Governor Kelly tightened Capitol complex security out of an abundance of caution, due to threats of violence associated with the presidential transfer of power this past week.

Public entry to the Capitol required an email from a legislator or the governor’s office stating the person had specific business requiring their presence at the Capitol. State employees in the state buildings surrounding the Capitol were told to work from home and most legislators released committee assistants from working in the Capitol itself.

The action presented increased pressure on the new audio-visual system and led to a flurry of last-minute committee cancellations. Even committee chairs committed to working through the lockdown crisis found themselves hampered by members who did not want to risk working in the Capitol itself.

Committee business was not completely shut down for the week, but was interrupted and had the effect of delaying some hearings and presentations. Look for the business of the session to take off in full force this week – hopefully, with audio-visual systems running without glitches and no further work interruptions.
The COVID Clock

A new term has been coined in this new legislative year and it’s called the “COVID clock.” The term has come to play in the way legislation is being organized in this 2021 session. Legislation is being prioritized in a way it hasn’t in previous years.

Legislative leaders have seemingly given a nod to the possibility that a COVID emergency at the Statehouse could interrupt the legislative session, as it did in March 2020 – in fact, they are almost anticipating it. This year, legislative leaders are prioritizing legislation for consideration and, further, are encouraging legislative members to avoid more “frivolous” legislation and legislative hearings.

The House has elected to limit full chamber bill debates to one day a week, for as long as possible. This itself will slow down the volume of legislation that will likely be considered.

Thus far, both chambers have extended a looming deadline related to the COVID-19 emergency declaration and provisions in the Kansas Emergency Management Act, from Jan. 26, 2021 to Mar. 31, 2021, to allow time for full consideration of these provisions.

Expect to see the 2021 Legislature become much more focused on key legislation, with fewer committee hearings and bills debated by both chambers. Constitutionally, they are required only to pass a state budget by the end of June every session and, this year, must complete a redistricting plan based on the 2020 census results.
KAFP Testifies Against HB 2066

HB 2066 would expand provisions in state law related to expedited licensure for military service members and their spouses, to include all out of state applicants. KAFP opposed the expansion primarily due to the bill’s striking of language that a licensing body authorize licensure based on standards that “are equivalent to” and amending to say “a similar scope of practice.”

Lowering the standard would compromise and diminish the State’s sovereign authority to provide for the health and safety of its citizens. KAFP believes that licensing standards for the practice of medicine in Kansas should not be subverted to those established in or by another state.

While the bill amends the language to apply a “substantially equivalent” standard to Board of Healing Arts applicants, it provides only a “similar scope of practice” standard for all other licensing authorities – including the Boards of Nursing and Pharmacy. KAFP believes there would be the potential for other boards to cede Kansas’s standards for acts that constitute the practice of medicine, to those of another state where an applicant has practiced.

Following the public hearing on Tuesday, the committee chairman indicated he heard the concerns raised in testimony and that it’s clear the bill needs revision before it’s ready for committee passage. KAFP plans to work with committee members to revise the “similar scope of practice” standard contemplated in the bill to no less than providing “substantial equivalence.”
Governor’s Push for Medicaid Expansion

Governor Kelly has renewed her strong push for expanding Medicaid in Kansas, as contemplated in the federal Affordable Care Act. Her office has been calling on a variety of business leaders and associations to come to her aid in finally passing the expansion in Kansas.

Republican legislative leaders in the House and Senate, however, remain firmly opposed to its passage. Even if it were introduced, it would be sent to the health committees and it is unlikely either of the chairpersons would be inclined to hold hearings on the legislation. This is especially true this year, when leaders have legislation they have prioritized for passage – and Medicaid isn’t in that mix.
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.

Due to Capitol security measures, the Doctor of the Day office was not staffed this past week.

Volunteers are still needed to serve as FDOD this legislative session. Learn more.
Bills We’re Monitoring

The Legislature has hit the ground running and so have we! Following are bills we’re currently monitoring.

SB 10Enacting the right to earn a living act to minimize unnecessary occupational licensing and regulation. *KAFP opposes
Status: Hearing in S-Commerce on Jan. 27

SB 14 – An act concerning governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas; extends deadline to Mar. 31, 2021
Status: Passed Senate 34-1; Passed House 119-3

HB 2061 – Increasing the minimum age to purchase or possess cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21, and prohibiting cigarette vending machines and flavored vaping products *KAFP supports
Status: Referred to H-Federal and State Affairs

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 opposes
Status: Hearing in H-Commerce on Jan. 19
Legislative Committee Calendar, Week of Jan. 25, 2021

The following committee meetings and hearings are scheduled for the second week of the 2021 session. Please note, the calendar is subject to change. Although public attendance at committee meetings is limited, legislative committees and floor debates are live-streamed and can be accessed at www.kslegislature.org.

Tues, Jan 26
12:00 p.m., Joint Meeting House & Senate Health Committees
Briefing on: KDHE COVID Update
Wed, Jan 27
10:30 a.m., S-Commerce
Hearing on: SB 10 – Enacting the right to earn a living act to minimize unnecessary occupational licensing and regulation (KAFP will submit opposing testimony)
The following committee meetings and hearings are scheduled for the second week of the 2021 session. Please note, the calendar is subject to change. Although public attendance at committee meetings is limited, legislative committees and floor debates are live-streamed and can be accessed at www.kslegislature.org