Capitol Update: With first major deadline near, Sen. Skubal looks at bills hitting floor

Sen. John Skubal

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Tom Cox, Rep. Rui Xu and Sen. John Skubal are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Sen. Skubal’s filing:

There’s a lot to say as we head toward the first major deadline of the session. We have been very busy in committees, hearing and passing bills to the full Senate for debate. I’ll get right to it.

On the Home Front

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Safe Home for advocating on behalf of domestic violence victims. If you feel threatened in your home, please consider calling them at 913-262-2868.

On the Senate Floor

The first handful of bills we deal with tend to be annual date changes or non-controversial technical edits. We’ve passed a lot of bills, but most of them have been unanimous because those “rats and cats” bills are the fastest to get through the committee process. Here are a few bills of broader interest:

  • We approved SB 32 that would allow the Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) to offer health benefit coverage without offering such coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. The coverage sold by KFB would not be subject to the oversight of the Kansas Insurance Department, and the bill would specify that the coverage offered would not be considered “insurance.” Bill supporters said that KFB can offer lower-cost policies to its members, many of whom have limited income. It passed 28-11. I voted YES.
  • SCR 1606 is a non-binding resolution condemning New York law, the Reproductive Health Act. The bill would allow abortions as legal within 24 weeks of the start of a pregnancy – “or at any time when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health.” The resolution passed 27-13. I voted NO. I signed onto the following Explanation of Vote:

    Mr. Vice President: Today’s episode of political theatre is as cynical as any that I have witnessed in the last three years. Today, we are wasting our time and the money of Kansas taxpayers. Today, we are pointing out the speck in a neighbor’s eye while we completely disregard the plank in our own. The cynic in me believes that the primary reason we are voting on this resolution is for postcards for 2020 elections. Does the resolution do anything for Kansans” NO! Instead of throwing stones at New York, why don’t we get our own house in order? The issues facing our constituents are many. Instead of focusing on New York, why are we not discussing Medicaid expansion, transportation funding, stabilizing our payments to KPERS, ending the litigation on school funding, the 70 children that went missing from DCF on our watch, or the ever growing waiting list for PRTF beds: How about mental health? These are the issues we should be discussing. These are the issues that affect Kansans! If we truly care about protecting life, we would be actually working on policy to protect and invest the the children and families that we are entrusted to represent.

  • SR 1605 is a constitutional amendment to change how military personnel and students attending postsecondary institutions in Kansas are counted when redrawing state House and Senate districts every 10 years. The resolution would remove current constitutional language requiring adjustments, based on the federal census, regarding how nonresident military personnel stationed i the state and nonresident students attending college in Kansas are counted. Constitutional amendments require a 2/3rds majority vote in both the House and Senate, and then is put on the ballot for a public vote. In response to moving local elections from the spring to the fall, SB 105 would make the regular term of office for city officers begin on a date established by the city, on or after December 1, but no later than the second Monday in January, after the certification of the election. If the city did not establish an alternative date, the term for elected officials taking office would begin on the second Monday in January.

Ways & Means

The committee listened to subcommittee reports on:

  • Emergency Medical Services Board
  • Kansas Bureau of Investigation CPOST
  • Kansas Neurological Institute
  • Parsons State Hospital
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Commerce
  • Health Care Stabilization Fund Board
  • Veterans Affairs
  • Larned State Hospital
  • Osawatomie State Hospital
  • Kansas Guardianship Program
  • Human Rights Commission

Ways and Means Subcommittees held hearings on the budgets of the following departments (my Health and Judicial Subcommittees did not meet this week):
Social Services Subcommittee

  • Department for Children and Families
  • Larned State Hospital
  • Osawatomie State Hospital

Thank you for allowing me to serve. If you have questions, please contact me at my Senate account