2019 Legislative Policy Watch 
Weekly E-Update

Issue No. 9, March 8, 2019

In This Issue
Legislative Updates
Rural Revitilization
Senate Approves KFB Health Benefits Bill
CEP Livestreaming Interviews
About Policy Watch

About Policy Watch 

The Legislative and Policy Watch Weekly E-Update is a project of the Kansas Rural Center.

Editor: Mary Fund
Paul Johnson, Policy Analyst

Policy Watch Sponsors
The Kansas Rural Center
promotes the health of the land and its people through research, education and advocacy that advance an ecologically sound, economically viable,  and socially just agriculture. For more information about KRC go to  www.kansasruralcenter.org.

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The Kansas Natural Resource Council (KNRC)
promotes environmentally responsible practices and sustainable natural resource policies to ensure the quality and abundance of these resources for future generations. For more information about our organization and programs, or how to become a member, please visit

Kansas Farmers Union is the state's oldest  active farm organization working to protect  and enhance the economic interests & quality of life for family farmers, ranchers & rural communities. For more information go to:

League of Women Voters of Kansas is a grassroots volunteer political organization with nine local chapters across Kansas. For nearly 100 years, LWVK has encouraged the informed and active participation of citizens in government. For  more information, contact  lwvk.org.

Climate and Energy Project  (CEP) is a  Kansas-based non-partisan non-profit working to find practical solutions for a clean energy future. For More information go to:

Audubon of Kansas (AOK)  is a statewide non-profit organization  established to promote appreciation and stewardship of Kansas' natural ecosystems, with special emphasis on conservation of prairies, birds, other wildlife, and habitat. For more information go to  www.audubonofkansas.org .

Friends of the Kaw (FOK)
works to protect and preserve the Kansas River for present and future generations.
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Sen. Jerry Moran
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Sen. Pat Roberts
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Rep. Roger Marshall, 
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Rep. Steve Watkins
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Rep. Sharice Davids
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Rep. Ron Estes
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Paul Johnson - March 8, 2019

Kansas revenues were up $31.4 million in February. The revenues put Kansas about $600,000 below estimates for the fiscal year that started last July 1 but up $118 million (2.8%) above last year's receipts for the same time period. Individual income taxes were $134.6 million which was $44.6 million or 49% above estimates. Sales tax continued to fall below estimates at $168.9 million which was $7.1 million (4%) below estimates for the fourth straight month. The closeness of the overall estimates may mean that dramatic revenue swings from state and federal law tax changes might be decreasing and better revenue estimates can counted on.

There have now been 37 states and the District of Columbia that have expanded their Medicaid programs. Legislative leadership continues to block any legislation from committee work or any floor action in the House or the Senate. There are three days of 'Medicaid Expansion - A Roundtable Discussion' before the House Health and Human Services committee but no debate on any given bill. Expansion would cover low-income adults and families making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level - $17,000 per year for a single person or $35,000 for a family of four. It is projected expansion would cover an additional 150,000 uninsured Kansans.

Opponents claim that Medicaid is for children and vulnerable Kansans and not for adults capable of working and purchasing private insurance. Opponents cite cost as an issue and enrollment has exceeded expectations in most expansion states. Opponents question whether expansion would really help struggling rural hospitals stay open. Opponents fear the expansion of an entitlement program like Medicaid could never be reversed.

Proponents - such as the Kansas Hospital Association (KHA) - have estimated that expansion would generate enough economic growth and savings in current programs to cover the expansion cost with $5 million to spare. That was the case in Montana where expansion cost the state $24.5 million but leveraged $25.2 million in savings and offsets. KHA testified that expansion dollars would offset about 18% of the uncompensated care costs of urban hospitals. For rural hospitals the same offset would be 26% and climb to almost 45% for the frontier hospitals that operate in the most sparsely populated areas of Kansas. The clock keeps ticking and the 2019 session continues to shorten so the debate over Medicaid expansion in Kansas is far from settled.   

 Contact Paul Johnson at  pdjohnson@centurylink.net.


The new Kansas House Rural Revitalization committee started off the legislative session with a number of informational presentations. These presentations covered topics from closed rural grocery stores to rural demographic/population trends to agricultural property tax impacts to the effect of Dollar stores. These presentations in January are now online.

On January 29, Dr. David Proctor - Director of KSU's Center for Engagement and Community Development had a 26-slide power point on the Rural Grocery Initiative and Kansas Healthy Food Initiative. Rural grocery stores are important economic drivers. 30% of Kansas counties are considered food deserts and 800,000 Kansans lack access to healthy food sources. There is now a Rural Grocery Toolkit available to assist communities losing their only grocery store.

There are examples of communities responding with different models to support a local food store. The Kansas Healthy Food Initiative was begun in November of 2017 and brings technical assistance and financing to communities to support healthy food access. To this point 39 counties have received technical assistance. Slides detail the assistance provided.

On January 17, Dr. Matt Sanderson - KSU professor of sociology, anthropology and social work - brought the committee a 44-slide power point on Rural Kansas Population Trends. The first step is defining rural and for Kansas that entails 86 counties rural with 32% of the population (956,485 persons) and 19 urban counties with 68% of the population (1,896,633 persons). From 2014 to 2044 22 counties are expected to grow with Sedgwick and Johnson Counties having 47% of the State's population in 2044. In 1980, Kansas was 57% urban and 42% rural while in 2016 Kansas was 68% urban and 32% rural. Birth rates trended down for Kansas from 2011 to 2017. There are charts on death rates and net migration and age composition. There are charts on the loss of farms, that farms are getting larger and the primary occupation of the principal farm operator being off farm. There are charts on Hispanic and white populations and the changing age profiles.

On January 28, Roger Hamm - Deputy Director, Kansas Department of Revenue Division of Property Valuation, gave a presentation on Kansas Property Valuation. The property tax is the largest, single source of revenue in Kansas. Property taxes are the main source of revenue to fund local services provided by cities, counties and other taxing subdivisions (such as parks, ambulance, fire and police protection, schools, community colleges, etc.). For 2017 it generated $4.72 billion per year from $34.75 billion of taxable value on 1.6 million parcels. In 2018, it generated $4.929 billion with schools at $1.940 billion, counties at $1.433 billion, cities at $801 million and community colleges $253 million.

These slides start with a comparison of four counties as to the levied tax and the tax per capita that varies from $5,872 in Greeley County to $1,482 in Reno County. Counties are now under a property tax lid without voter approval. Sales tax can be increased by one cent if voters approve and can be more if the Legislature grants your county special authority. Overall assessed value has gone from $11 billion in 1983 to $36.67 billion today. Every classification of real property (residential, public utility, commercial/industrial, etc.) and tangible personal property (mobile homes, mineral leaseholds, motor vehicles) are valued on market value except for agricultural land that is valued on productivity/income. For 2017, assessed value  by class  was 50% residential, 27% commercial/industrial, 12% utilities, 7% ag land, 2% oil/gas and 2% other. Value of ag land has gone from $1.4 billion in 1985 to $2.78 billion in 2018. In 2017, Kansas had 49 million appraised acres at $174 appraised value per acre and a tax of $6.80 per acre. Kansas effective tax rate on $100,000 of market value generates $1,563 from residences, $3,398 from commercial, $4,486 from utilities and $330 from ag land. Slides 47 and 48 offer unrealistic option's in today's political environment and political challenges for policymakers.  


On January 30, Jon McCormick - President/CEO of the Retail Grocers of Greater Kansas City & Kansas Food Dealers Association (KFDA) - said this is the hardest year for being a grocer in the supermarket industry. Owners are not expanding and new owners aren't showing up to buy, build supermarkets. KFDA membership declined 50% from 2000 to 2018. The 197 Kansas' supermarket/groceries had sales of $1.37 billion with over 10,000 employees and wages of $310 million. There are 21,000 independent supermarkets in the U.S. with 25% of the domestic market. Dollar stores are bad business for neighborhoods and they gut local and independently owned businesses.

Contact Paul Johnson at pdjohnson@centurylink.net.


On  Wednesday  the Senate passed (28-11) a bill authorizing the Kansas Farm Bureau to offer health benefits - technically not insurance - to KFB members without having to cover pre-existing conditions or needing oversight from the Kansas Insurance Commissioner.

Proponents argued that SB 32 offers farmers a more affordable option for healthcare for their families.  But opponents see problems with the plan. For example, the plan can offer less expensive coverage only by cherry-picking those without pre-existing conditions thus creating a pool of young, healthy Kansans. This selective process undermines coverage for everyone else and could result in increased premiums for other Kansans in the market.

Furthermore, this policy underwrites individuals. If a family of four applies, there is no guarantee all four will be covered. There's also no maternity coverage. Finally, if those healthy Kansans become sick or have a catastrophic emergency, the insurer can later deny coverage.

An amendment was offered during Senate consideration which would prohibit discrimination of applicants based on pre-existing conditions. The amendment failed 15-24.

FACT SHEET FOR SB 22 - Corporate Tax Cut and Slight Reduction in Food Sales Tax

Click here to review the  SB 22 Fact Sheet. The Bill  includes a corporate tax cut and slight reduction in food sales tax. An update from Paul Johnson will be included in next week's Policy Watch.

Last Day to Register for WEALTH Day 

Calling all Solar Advocates -
It's time for a rally to Save Kansas Solar!
Tuesday, March 12th, 2019  is our annual day of environmental advocacy and education at the Capitol. It goes by the name WEALTH Day which stands for Water, Energy, Air, Land, Transportation, and Health.
CEP and partners have been hosting this important day at the Capitol building in Topeka for several years, and this year we're adding a Save Kansas Solar Rally to shower the Capitol with solar advocates showing support for SB 124, the Kansas Energy Fairness Act.
Will you join us? If yes, please make sure you're registered for WEALTH Day and make sure you check the box that says you are interested in advocating for solar to help us get a head count for t-shirts. Everyone who participates in the rally will receive a yellow "Don't Block the Sun on Kansas" t-shirt to wear at the Capitol on March 12th.
Note: WEALTH Day has optional agenda items throughout the day. The Save Kansas Solar Rally will occur at 2:30 PM on the first floor.

Climate + Energy Project
PO Box 1858
Hutchinson, KS 67504


School finance is finally moving. The Governor's school funding proposal has been divided into two  Senate Bills -142 & 147 . SB 147 continues the basic funding package that was passed last year. SB 142 is the additional money ($90 million yearly for four years) to meet the inflationary costs identified by the Kansas Supreme Court. The bills have been voted out of committee and SB 142 will be debated on the Senate floor next week. SB 147 is moving through the budgetary process along with the rest of the State budget. SB 142 is very similar to the Governor's request to comply with the Court. Now the House has yet to debate school finance. When SB 142 moves over to the House there may be amendments such as vouchers and more aid to private/parochial schools added. So far there has not been the political will to try a constitutional amendment to strip the Courts of any jurisdiction over school funding.

The Senate Ways & Means committee has increased the Governor's request for more funding for the State Water Plan (SWP). The Governor had $3.25 million of state funding for 2019 and 2020. By statue, state funding should be $8 million ($6 million SGF/$2 million lottery receipts) but this has been ignored since 2010. The Senate committee added an additional $700,000 to bring the total to not quite $4 million in state funds. $500,000 was added for Water Resources Cost Share for a total of $2.45 million in 2020. $100,000 was added for Water Transition Assistance/CREP for a total of $301,000 in 2020. $500,000 was added for Contamination Remediation for a total of almost $1.1 million in 2020. A new program to proactively manage nitrates in drinking water - the Drinking Water Protection Program - was given $350,000. In the process the 2019 SWP ending balance of $521,000 was brought down to zero in 2020. The House committee did not recommend any of these changes so the differences will be settled in a conference committee. The total SWP expenditures would increase from $11.2 million in 2018 to $16.3 million in 2020 if the Senate's version is accepted. This will depend on the revenue picture and what may happen with tax cuts.

The Kansas Health Institute issued a policy brief with new projections on the cost of Medicaid expansion in Kansas. This expansion would cover an additional 90,000 adults and 40,000 children - a 31% increase in participation. The cost to Kansas in terms of state match in 2020 would be $47.4 million climbing to $58 million in 2029. Total economic and programmatic benefits are documented. There are other cost savings estimated by the Kansas Hospital Association not included in this cost estimate.

There is discussion to build a conference center hotel on the grounds of the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. There are three buildings now on the fair grounds that would serve as convention space totaling 1 million square feet. There are over 500 events scheduled for the State Fairgrounds this year. The State Fair board has the authority to lease or sell land for such a convention hotel. The plan would be to lease the ground and have a private developer build and operate the hotel. The City of Hutchinson will have to be an active partner in this endeavor.



By looking at the Kansas Legislature's website at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/ you can track the planned committee meetings for next week by looking at the 'Calendars' tab for the House and Senate that are released on Thursday and Friday. 

Informational hearings continue along with introduction of bills , and the start of a few actual hearings on bills. You can find bills filed by going to the "Bills and Laws" tab on the website;  click on either House or Senate bills. You can read through the title of each bill and click on the bill that interests you. By clicking on "Legislators" you can click on a given House or Senate member and it will list under 'Bills and Resolutions' on their site the legislation sponsored by that lawmaker.

Kansas WEALTH Policy, Civic Engagement and YOU
Throughout the 2019 Kansas legislative session, Climate and Energy Project (CEP) will host live interviews with organizations whose mission includes one of the  WEALTH  topic areas: Water, Energy, Air, Land, Transportation, and Health.  Leading advocacy organizations will provide updates on current WEALTH policy priorities, offer tips for civic engagement in Kansas, and answer all of your pressing questions!

On Tuesday, March 5 at 2PM CST Climate and Energy Project will talk with Dawn Buhler, Friends of the Kaw on water issues in Kansas. If you miss it, check back on CEP's Facebook event page for a link to the recording. Here are links for the previous broadcasts:

CEP Live with Dawn Buehler, Friends of the Kaw
CEP Live with Christie Appellanz from the Children's Alliance of Kansas

CEP Live with Mary Fund, Kansas Rural Center https://www.facebook.com/CEPheartland/videos/258035308442575/ 

CEP Live with Zack Pistora, Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club. 

CEP Live with with Moti Reiber, Kansas Interfaith Action
Part 1
Part 2 with Moti Reiber

CEP Live with Cille King of League of Women Voters KS https://www.facebook.com/CEPheartland/videos/237109557191264/

CEP Live with Jessica Lucas of Clean Energy Business Council https://www.facebook.com/CEPheartland/videos/978651145663277/

Jessica Lucas
Clean Energy Business Council
1 / 22
Cille King &
Teresa Briggs
League of Women Voters
Voter Engagement
1 / 29
Moti Rieber
Kansas Interfaith Action
Social Justice & Health
2 / 5
Zack Pistora
Kansas Sierra Club
Mary Fund
Kansas Rural Center
Shaun Rojas
Kansas Leadership Center
Civic Engagement
Christie Appelhanz
Children's Alliance of Kansas
Health & Children
Dawn Buehler
Friends of the Kaw


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If you have any questions about Policy Watch, contact Mary Fund, editor at  mfund@kansasruralcenter.org, or contact Paul Johnson at pdjohnson@centurylink.net


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