Capitol Update: Rep. Xu explains how practice of ‘bundling’ bills complicates voting decisions

Rep. Rui Xu.

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 Rep. Xu’s filing:

As we reach our first adjournment, here are some updates on three of the major ticket items going into the year:

  • 1.We finally agreed with the Senate on a school funding bill, which adjusted the formula to include an inflation adjustment, as we were instructed to do by the Supreme Court. The Governor signed it this weekend, and now we prepare for the Supreme Court ruling, which will likely come later this summer. This was a primary campaign issue for me, so I was incredibly proud to vote YES on this, which passed 76-47 with bipartisan support.
  • 2.The Senate still has not done anything with Medicaid Expansion. The good news is that we have 3 weeks to try and convince our senators to take control of this issue, even if their leadership won’t. Senate Minority Leader Hensley just brought up a procedural move to bring the Medicaid debate out of committee and onto the calendar. He’ll need 24 votes (so assuming 11 Democratic votes, we need 13 Republicans to vote with us) to pull it off. Even if you think your Senator already supports Medicaid Expansion, please contact them anyways and let them know you want them to support it! You can use this site to find their contact information.

    If you want to be involved in another volunteer organizing effort that will be happening later in April, please reach out to Rep. Brett Parker or me for more details!

  • 3.Going into the week, we heard lots of rumors that Senate President Wagle would be trying to override the Governor’s veto on Senate Bill 22, which would give a tax cut on giant multinational corporations, but that never happened because she lacks the votes. Even if it got through the Senate, the votes weren’t going to be there in the House to override.

    There are lots of interesting parts of the bill that I would have loved to have hearings on and debate in the House, such as decoupling itemization on taxes, lowering food sales tax, and taxing internet sales, but we weren’t given that opportunity. They just got bundled* together in this complicated bill, which I think is a shame.

*Speaking of bundling, this is a practice that has become common that I am very opposed to because they make for very complicated bills and very difficult votes. While in Conference Committees, the committee will often bundle up to five vaguely related bills together, but some of THOSE bills were pre-bundled back during the Standing Committee process, so when we receive our Conference Committee Reports, they can contain 10-plus different bills. When there are six good things but five bad things or vice versa, that makes it very difficult for us to decide how to vote. At the beginning of session, the House Democrats tried to put a stricter bundling limit in place in the House Rules, but were rejected.

Here’s an example: HB 2209, SB 32, HB 2058, HB 2056, HB 2055, and HB2054 were all bundled together into one single Conference Committee Report, which is just a simple “Yea” or “Nay” vote for the legislators.

  • HB2209 authorizes the state board of regents to purchase cybersecurity insurance
  • SB32 was the Kansas Farm Bureau’s “non-insurance” plan that would essentially pull healthy people out of the insurance market, making it more expensive for everyone else.
  • HB2058 updates definitions to small employer health plans and association health plans.
  • HB 2056 exempts health plans issued to associations of small employers from certain statutory provisions governing small employer health plans.
  • HB 2055 makes certain self-funded association health plans subject to the jurisdiction of the commissioner.
  • HB 2054 provides for fully-insured association health plans.

We’re now on a three week recess, so if you’re interested in meeting up, please feel free to reach out to me! I understand that being politically engaged can be very difficult, especially for the working families, so I’m more than happy to be flexible with hours/days to meet up. You can also always reach out to me on  Facebook, Twitter, email, or even call or text me at 913.535.8691. As always, thank you for giving me the honor of representing you!