Capitol Update: Fate of Medicaid expansion, tax code ‘likely tied up with budget negotiations’ says Sen. Sykes

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. Cindy Neighbor, Rep. Brett Parker and Sen. Dinah Sykes are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Sen. Sykes’s filing:

Photo credit office of Sen. Dinah Sykes.

On April 5, the Kansas legislature adjourned for the break before Veto Session. The Veto Session starts May 1. While some legislators are vacationing over these weeks, many of us are actively engaged in our communities by meeting with constituents and preparing for what may happen when we return to Topeka.

The legislature completed our work on school finance and we are now waiting to see what the Kansas Supreme Court does. The Senate passed a budget while the House has not. The two chambers are currently in negotiations about the one item of business that the legislature is constitutionally required to complete. The veto session will see more work than passing a budget; however, the budget will be the main item of business and will likely lead to negotiation for other policy decisions.

The fate of Medicaid expansion and changes in tax code are likely tied up with the budget negotiation process. So far in the Senate this session prior to adjourning, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley made a motion to bring Medicaid Expansion out of committee. The Senate will vote on this motion when we return on May 1. This motion is necessary because Senate leadership is intent on avoiding this debate at all costs.

Requests by some for further study on Medicaid expansion can only be described as tactics designed to stall and prevent expansion. Rather than listening to the 70% of Kansans who are in favor of Medicaid expansion, some would prefer to continue to forgo the federal matching funds. It is time for the 24 of my senate colleagues who are in support of Medicaid Expansion or have voted for it in the past to come together and lead.

This year I have been working on a bill that would provide housing protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking. This was an issue that was brought to me prior to session from MOCSA (Metropolitan Organization Countering Sexual Assault). I’m very pleased that this legislation passed, though the process was not as direct as I had originally hoped. What this legislation does show is that there are areas where Kansans can pull together, both Republicans and Democrats, in order to better protect and serve Kansans. The bill was a compromise hard won through the work of listening and communicating. The bill provides protections for victims and landlords. Allowing victims to find safe housing can save lives.

My hope is that, as this session ends and the stage for next year is set, we can put aside the need to play partisan games in order to score points. For Kansas to continue to move forward, we must continue to sit down, listen, discuss concerns, and work together for fair compromises that put the interests of Kansans ahead of everything else. We are at our best when we work together to demonstrate we care more about the lives of those we represent than political gain.