KEPC NEWS: Halfway mark, Medicaid expansion blocked by leadership, eco devo transparency, expensing, HPIP, broadband

In this issue …

  • Legislature begins five day break marking halfway point
  • Medicaid expansion approved by committee but blocked by leadership
  • Hearing held on economic development transparency
  • Expensing bill passes Senate 31-8
  • HPIP changes referred back to committee
  • Broadband issue is aired on House floor 2701


Legislature begins five day break marking halfway point

The 2018 Kansas Legislature is now on a five day break following a busy week on the House and Senate floors debating bills.  Legislation that has not passed one of the chambers by now is gone for the session, unless it comes from an “exempt” committee, such as Appropriations, Ways & Means, Federal and State Affairs, and Taxation.

There has been little activity on school finance with the exception of lawmakers reviewing the Kansas Supreme Court decision declaring the current law unconstitutional.

Although most lawmakers have gone home, some will be staying into Friday to hear from Professor Dr. Lori L. Taylor of Texas A&M, who’s be hired to conduct a cost study of K-12 education in Kansas.

Her report is due to the legislature by March 15.

Lawmakers will return next Wednesday, February 28 for a short week.  As of this writing the committee schedule has not been published.  Thursday of this week was officially the 33 day of the 2018 Kansas Legislature.


Medicaid expansion approved by committee but blocked by leadership

A Medicaid expansion bill introduced in 2017 was worked by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Monday and sent to the full Senate for debate.

However, Senate leadership did not allow the bill to come up before Thursday’s deadline for bills to be voted out of their house of origin.  Senate Bill 38 would expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), beginning in 2019.  It would add as many as 150,000 people who would have the ability to access the health care insurance.

The legislation would establish the KanCare Bridge to a Health Kansas Program.  To qualify, Kansans could not have an income exceeding 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The bill requires:

  • Referral to workforce training programs
  • Creation of a Program Drug Rebate Fund
  • Creation of a Program Privilege Fee Fund
  • Creation of a health insurance coverage premium assistance program
  • Addressing federal denial and approval of financial participation
  • Submission of a waiver request to the federal government
  • Various program reports to the Legislature
  • Creation of a Program Working Group

There were about 140 proponents who submitted testimony in support, including business, community, economic development interests, health foundations, policy and advocacy organizations, hospitals, community support agencies, health care providers, community health centers, and private citizens.

They said the bill would provide better health care for more Kansans, bring businesses and jobs to communities, providing funding for hospitals that are struggling, and return millions of federal tax dollars back to Kansas.

Opponents included Americans for Prosperity, the Foundation for Government Accountability, the Kansas Policy Institute, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

They said the bill could not accurately predict Medicaid enrollment, that expansion would be costly, and expressed uncertainty that the Affordable Care Act will continue to exist and provide funding to the states.


Hearing held on economic development transparency

A hearing was held Monday in the House Taxation Committee on HB 2672, which requires public disclosure of certain economic development incentive data.  A joint legislative committee would be created to meet at least twice a year to study economic development incentives

Although it was not voted out of committee, the bill remains alive since it is in a committee which is exempt from legislative deadlines.

Representative Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) testified in support of the bill, saying it’s about transparency.  An internet portal would be created where people could access incentive data.  She said the bill would help lawmakers make better informed decisions on incentives and how to get the greatest return on investments.


Expensing bill passes Senate 31-8  

The bill that expands the expensing economic development incentive passed the Kansas Senate by a vote of 31 to 8 on Thursday.  Senate Bill 303 would allow certain individual income taxpayers to claim the expensing deduction now only available to C Corporations.

The tax incentive would be to reward businesses for the costs of placing certain tangible property (mainly machinery and equipment) and computer software into service in Kansas.


HPIP changes referred back to committee

A bill making changes how businesses use High Performance Incentive Program tax credits has been returned to the Senate Commerce Committee.  It had been on the Senate Calendar under General Orders for debate after passing out of the Commerce Committee earlier this week.

For many years, lawmakers and others have complained the program’s structure made it impossible to predict when the tax credits would be used, which could have a substantial impact on money available in the state general fund for state operations like education.

It’s unclear whether the bill (SB 334) will remain alive this session.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 430 was introduced on Wednesday.  It extends the HPIP tax credit carry forward from 16 to 25 years.


Broadband issue is aired on House floor

A bill on the issue of providing broadband to rural areas of Kansas passed the Kansas House 117 to 0 on Thursday.

HB 2701 creates the Statewide Broadband Expansion Task Force.

Its mission is to collaboratively evaluate the broadband needs of Kansas citizens, business, industries, institutions, and organizations.

It is also tasked with indentifying opportunities and potential funding sources to:

  • Expand broadband infrastructure and increase statewide access to broadband services
  • Remove barriers that might hinder deployment of broadband infrastructure or access to services
  • Enable the creation and deployment of new advanced communications technologies
  • Prioritize the expansion of broadband to unserved areas of the state first and then to underserved areas

The bill requires the Task Force to submit a report to the 2019 Legislature on its work and recommendations.


Bill tracking

Here’s our latest bill tracking on measures we think are of interest to our readers.  All of these bills are held over from 2017.  As new bills of interest are introduced, I will add them to the list.

You should be able to click on the bill number and be taken to the Kansas Legislature’s web site page for that particular bill.  You will be able to see all actions taken, read the bill, and read any supplemental notes (layman’s descriptions) and fiscal notes (how much does the bill cost the state) that have been prepared.