Weeks 10 and 11 of the 2024 Session - Kansas Health Institute (2024)

During Weeks 10 and 11 of the session, legislators were busy holding hearings and working bills related to health, including Medicaid expansion, health care for minors, emergency medical services, controlled substances, child welfare, abortion, homelessness, pregnancy services, and child care, and both the Senate and the House passed their budget bills. Drop Dead Day and First Adjournment are less than two weeks away. This edition of Health at the Capitol looks at health-related policy issues discussed during the tenth and eleventh weeks of the session, from March 11-22.

Health at the Capitolis a weekly summary providing highlights of the Kansas legislative session, with a specific focus on health policy related issues.Sign up here to receive these summaries and more, and also follow KHI on Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, and Instagram. Previous editions ofHealth at the Capitolcan be found on ourARCHIVE PAGE.

On Wednesday, March 13, the House, on a vote of 80-40, passed House Substitute (Sub.) for SB 233, which would prohibit health care professionals from providing specified treatments for a child whose gender identity was inconsistent with the child’s sex, including surgical procedures, puberty blockers and other medications. The bill would allow a civil cause of action against health care professionals in violation of the provisions of the Act, would prevent professional liability insurance from covering related damages and would provide that a violation of the Act would result in revocation of professional licenses. The bill would restrict the use of state funds and resources from being used to provide, promote or advocate for the defined treatments. The bill also would prohibit state employees whose duties include the care of children from promoting or advocating for social transitioning or surgical or medical treatment as defined in the bill.

On Thursday, March 14, the Senate voted to non-concur with House Sub. for SB 233 and a conference committee was requested.

Also on Thursday, March 14, the Senate voted 24-15 to pass its budget bill, Substitute (Sub) for SB 514, which would adjust total state expenditures for fiscal year 2024 to $25.3 billion, including $9.9 billion state general funds (SGF), and would appropriate $25.1 billion, including $10.2 billion SGF, for fiscal year 2025. Health-related amendments approved by the Senate would:

  • Prohibit the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025, from making changes to targeted case management services for persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities without express approval by the Legislature.
  • Require the Attorney General, for FYs 2025 and 2026, to enforce the provisions of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act against a manufacturer that engages in any of the following action:
    1. Deny, restrict, prohibit or otherwise interfere with the acquisition of a 340B drug by or delivery of a 340B drug to a pharmacy that is under contract with a 340B-covered entity and authorized under such contract to receive and dispense 340B drugs on behalf of the 340B covered entity, unless such receipt and dispensing of 340B drugs by such pharmacy is prohibited by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
    2. Interfere with a pharmacy that has a contract with a 340B-covered entity.
  • Transfer $4.0 million for certified community behavioral health clinic (CCBHC) planning grants from KDADS to the Department of Administration for debt service.

On Thursday, March 14, the Senate, on a vote of 29-11, passed SB 539, an estimated $1.78 billion tax cut bill that would make various changes to income and property tax law, including providing for a single individual income tax rate to be set at 5.7 percent in tax year 2024 with continuing reductions down to 5.45 for tax year 2029; creation of a child tax credit; and acceleration of the elimination of the state sales and compensating use tax on food and food ingredients to July 1, 2024.

Also on Thursday, March 14, Rep. Angela Stiens, R-Shawnee, was sworn in to replace Rep. Owen Donohoe, who retired on March 13. Rep. Stiens will assume Rep. Donohoe’s committee assignments, including Social Services Budget.

On Monday, March 18, SB 555, which would create the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, was introduced, and referred to the Federal and State Affairs Committee. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday, March 28.

On Wednesday, March 20, the House voted 91-32 to pass its budget bill, Sub. for House Bill (HB) 2273, which would adjust total state expenditures to $25.3 billion, including $10.0 billion SGF, for FY 2024, and would appropriate $25.1 billion, including $10.4 billion SGF, for fiscal year 2025. Health-related amendments approved by the House would:

  • Require the Attorney General, for FYs 2025 and 2026, to enforce the provisions of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act against a manufacturer, as described above.
  • Require the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) – Division of Health Care Finance, for FY 2025, to submit to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) an approval request to increase the hospital provider assessment rate to an amount not less than 5 percent and not greater than 6 percent; to include hospital inpatient and outpatient net operating revenue in the hospital provider assessment and to base such assessment on each hospital’s FY 2022, provided that KDHE shall cause notice of such approval by CMS to be published in the Kansas Register and provided that the changes to the hospital provider assessment shall take effect on and after Jan. 1 or July 1 immediately following such publication; and provided that after such date, no additional moneys appropriated from the State General Fund shall be expended to support rate enhancements under the hospital provider assessment.
  • Transfer $155,106 from the State General Fund to the Cafeteria Benefits Fund of the Department of Administration, for FYs 2025 and 2026, and require the Department to conduct a pilot project for calendar year 2025, in effect on Jan. 1, 2025, to provide for diagnostic breast examinations and supplemental breast examinations with no cost-sharing requirement applicable to a diagnostic or supplemental breast examination for breast cancer imposed on a person qualified to participate in the program when such an examination is furnished to such qualified person through the State Employee Health Benefits Plan.
  • Require KDADS to establish a system and collect data from the long-term care ombudsman and such assisted living facilities, residential health care facilities, home plus and boarding care homes on any involuntary transfers or discharges pursuant to K.A.R. 26-39-102(d) and (f).
  • Transfer $2.5 million on July 1, 2024, from the Kansas Fights Addiction Fund of the Attorney General to the Valley Hope Substance Use Disorder Fund of KDADS.
  • Transfer $5.0 million on July 1, 2024, from the Kansas Fights Addiction Fund of the Attorney General to the Indigent Support Fund of KDADS.

House Health and Human Services Committee
(Rep. Brenda Landwehr, Chair)

On Monday, March 11, the Committee held a roundtable discussion on HB 2793, which would prohibit individuals licensed by the Board of Nursing and the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board from providing a health care service to a minor without the consent of the minor’s parent. The bill also would provide that violation of this provision would subject the individual to professional discipline from such health care provider’s appropriate licensing agency. Roundtable participants included Andy Brown, Dep. Secretary of Programs, KDADS, and representatives of Olathe Public Schools, Kansas Medical Society, Children’s Alliance of Kansas, Kansas School Nurses Organization, Wyandot Behavioral Health Network, Child Advocacy Centers of Kansas, Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ, Kansas Mental Health Coalition, Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, and Children’s Mercy Hospital. Discussion focused on concerns and perspectives regarding the bill, with a key emphasis on stakeholders providing suggestions and solutions to improve the bill. Key topics included:

  • The origins and purpose of the bill.
  • The broad language of the bill and its potential impact on providers or other unintentional consequences.
  • The importance of parental consent, particularly in school settings.
  • The need for clarification regarding exemptions from the provisions of the bill.
  • The need to provide timely care in crisis situations, including initial assessments and minors seeking help without parental consent.
  • Challenges in identifying abuse if parental consent is required for medical assessments.
  • Challenges associated with requiring and obtaining consent forms for school nurses and the need to minimize disruptions in schools.

Chair Landwehr indicated that the Committee would review the information provided by the participants in the roundtable and work the bill at a later date.

On Monday, March 18, the Committee worked HB 2793 (described above). The Committee approved several amendments to narrow its scope to focus mainly on health services provided in schools, including:

  • Expanding the definition of “school facility” to cover buildings operated by educational authorities accessible to students, excluding home schools.
  • Requiring parental consent for health care providers to conduct certain medical actions at school facilities, with some exceptions, as defined in the bill.
  • Adding an exemption allowing health care providers to conduct behavioral health assessments or interventions for minors in crisis or perform required school screenings.
  • Clarifying parental consent requirements for various medical procedures and services involving minors.

The Committee then removed the contents of SB 287, which would have permitted the issuance of a silver alert for a missing person 18 years of age or older who has dementia, a developmental disability such as autism spectrum disorder or a cognitive impairment, to create House Sub. for SB 287, and passed it favorably out of committee.

On Wednesday, March 20, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2556, which would expand eligibility for Medicaid to adults age 19-64 with income not exceeding 138 percent of the federal poverty level. KDHE would be required to adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement and administer the Act prior to Jan. 1, 2025. Proponent testimony was provided by Christine Osterlund, Deputy Secretary for Agency Integration and Medicaid Director, KDHE; Rep. Donny Lambeth and Sen. Jim Burgin of the North Carolina Assembly; representatives of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, the Sunflower Foundation, Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, Johnson County Mental Health Center, and the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by 457 organizations and private citizens. Opponent testimony was provided by Rep. Will Carpenter; Sen. Beverly Gossage; and representatives of Americans for Prosperity, Kansas Family Voice, the Cato Institute, and the Opportunity Solutions Project. Neutral testimony was provided by a representative of the Kansas Health Institute (KHI), who presented KHI’s recent estimate that 152,000 individuals would newly enroll in Medicaid, if expanded, and projected costs of $680 million over 10 years, with an estimated $509 million offset by American Rescue Plan Act subsidies.

Committee members asked questions regarding hospital reimbursem*nt rates, potential funding mechanisms, reimbursem*nt rates for Medicaid compared to other payors, physician acceptance rates, the potential need to increase the Inspector General’s powers, implementing work requirements, employment status and disability rates among individuals eligible for expansion, correlations between Medicaid expansion and reduced property taxes, enrollment options for individuals on the waitlists for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) services and how Medicaid expansion could impact the waitlist, and drug rebates related to the expansion population. On Thursday, March 21, the Committee worked HB 2556 and considered a motion to pass the bill out of committee with no recommendation, but the motion failed.

Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee
(Sen. Beverly Gossage, Chair)

On Tuesday, March 12, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2784, which would transfer authority for certification of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) from the Kansas Insurance Department to KDADS. The bill would define CCRCs to mean any place or facility that combines a range of housing and services to encompass the continuum of aging care needs provided at an independent living facility, an assisted living facility, a residential health care facility, or a skilled nursing care facility within a single place or facility to avoid the need for residents to relocate to a separate place or facility. Proponent testimony was provided by Lacey Hunter, Commissioner for Survey Certification and Credentialing at KDADS and Eric Turek, Director of Government and Public Affairs for KID. Neutral testimony was provided by Rachel Monger, LeadingAge Kansas, who suggested amendments to the bill to include Home Plus on the list of care settings in the definition of CCRC and restoring the original language that allowed reporting based on the end of the fiscal year instead of the proposed April 1 deadline. Written-only proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Brenda Landwehr and there was no opponent testimony.

The Committee also held a hearing on HB 2547, which would amend the law regarding the stock maintenance and administration of emergency medication kits in schools, including epinephrine and albuterol. The bill would provide a level of immunity from liability for a pharmacist, physician or a mid-level practitioner who distributes or prescribes emergency medications to a school or provides training on the administration of the emergency medicine for school personnel, and for the school personnel who administer the medications under specific circ*mstances. Proponent testimony was provided by Alexandra Blasi, Kansas Board of Pharmacy, and representatives of the Kansas School Nurses Organization and Kansas Association of School Boards. Written-only proponent testimony was provided by the American Lung Association, Kansas Action for Children, Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kansas State Board of Nursing, Kansas Public Health Association and one private citizen. There was no neutral or opponent testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding protection from liability for non-medical staff in other statutes, training standards for school personnel, potential impact of the bill on addressing health emergencies at schools and school sponsored events and administering medications to individuals with unknown medical histories in large gatherings.

The Committee also held a hearing on HB 2579, which would amend law concerning emergency medical services (EMS) to add to the list of interventions that emergency medical responders (EMRs) may provide. The bill would add the distribution of non-prescription, over-the-counter medications, as approved by the EMS medical director. The EMS medical director would not be able to include as approved OTC medications any compound, mixture or preparation that has a detectable quantity of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine and is exempt from being reported to the statewide electronic logging system for the sale of methamphetamine precursors. Proponent testimony was provided by representatives of the Johnson County Department of Emergency Services, Kansas Emergency Medical Services Association and Mid-America Regional Council Emergency Rescue. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments, Kansas Medical Society, Kansas City Kansas Fire Department and Unified Government of Wyandotte County Leadership, Kansas Public Health Association, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Board of Pharmacy and a private citizen. Written-only neutral testimony was provided by the Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services, and there was no opponent testimony.

On Wednesday, March 13, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2751, which would amend current law to permit the Secretary for KDADS to place a condition or restriction on a license of providers of disability services; authorize the Secretary to waive a regulatory requirement when health, safety or welfare would not be jeopardized by the waiver; and clarify that the Kansas Administrative Procedures Act and Kansas Judicial Review Act processes apply for all remedies. Providers of disability services include crisis intervention centers (CICs), residential care facilities, residential and day support facilities, private and public psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric residential treatment facilities, community mental health centers and other providers of disability services licensed by KDADS. Proponent testimony was provided by Lacey Hunter, Commissioner of Survey, Certification and Credentialing, KDADS, and a representative of Goodwill Industries of Kansas. Written-only proponent testimony was provided by InterHab. There was no neutral or opponent testimony.

The Committee then worked HB 2596, which would amend the state Uniform Controlled Substances Act to add 35 new substances to the Act, including 23 fentanyl-related controlled substances. The bill would add four additional substances to be excluded from control as Schedule II opioids: thebaine-derived butorphanol, naldemedine, naloxegol and samidorphen. The bill would add daridorexant, a medication used to treat insomnia, and serdexmethylphenidate, an active ingredient in medication used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, to the list of Schedule IV substances. The bill would add ganaxolone, a medication used to treat a particular type of seizure, to Schedule V. The Committee amended the bill to add tianeptine, its optical isomers, salts and salts of isomers as Schedule I controlled substances, and then passed it favorably out of committee, as amended.

The Committee also worked HB 2629, which would amend provisions in law pertaining to the State Child Death Review Board. The bill would eliminate certain reporting requirements by a coroner involving the investigation and autopsy of child death and would require KDHE to provide the Review Board with a copy of the child death certificate. The Committee amended the bill to require a coroner to immediately notify the parent or legal guardian of the completion of an autopsy and provide information on how to obtain the autopsy results and then passed it favorably out of committee, as amended.

On Thursday, March 15, the Committee held a hearing on 2023 HB 2453, which would enact the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact (Compact) to provide interstate practice privileges for dentists and dental hygienists. The bill contains uniform language that would enact the Compact in Kansas. Proponent testimony was provided by representatives of the Association of Dental Support Organizations, Kansas Dental Association, Oral Health Kansas and the Council of State Governments. Written only proponent testimony was submitted by the Kansas Dental Hygienists Association and the U.S. Department of Defense. Committee members asked questions regarding the advantages of the compact for dentists, the process for a state to exit the compact, the cost to the state and the application process for dentists wanting licenses in multiple states.

The Committee then worked SB 488, which would expand the programs which may be audited or investigated by the Office of Medicaid Inspector General to include cash, food and other health-assistance programs. Currently, these activities are limited to the Medicaid program. The Committee amended the bill to limit the estimated 20 full time equivalent (FTE) positions and $2.4 million cost in the fiscal note to 5 FTEs with a budget cap adjustment of $775,456 and added a four-year sunset clause to ensure legislative oversight of the program’s effectiveness. The bill also was amended to reinstate language in current law that limits the Inspector General’s access to personal information other than files necessary for verifying a contractor’s invoices or compliance with the contract provisions or program requirements and prohibits compelling a health care provider to provide individual medical records of patients who are not clients of the Medicaid program, MediKan or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The bill, as amended, was then passed favorably out of committee.

On Monday, March 18, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2484, as amended, which would establish the Social Work Licensure Compact to facilitate interstate practice of regulated social workers. The bill also would amend law to add the background check procedure for the Social Work Licensure Act and add a fee relating to multistate licenses under the Compact. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Susan Ruiz, David Fye with the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (BSRB) and a representative of the Kansas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by representatives of Fresenius Medical Care, Fort Hays State University, Pittsburg State University, AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, Integrated Psychiatric Consultants and Responsive Centers, the U.S Department of Defense, and seven private citizens. There was no opponent or neutral testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding the number of seats that Kansas would have on the compact board and disparities in compensation between states, particularly border states.

The Committee then held a hearing on HB 2578, as amended, which would amend law regarding the certification of certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs). The bill would require that, prior to July 1, 2027, only community mental health centers (CMHCs) licensed by KDADS and that provide certain services could be certified as CCBHCs in Kansas. On or after July 1, 2027, the bill would require KDADS to certify as a CCBHC any CMHC that is licensed by KDADS and provides certain services, as in current law. The bill also would require KDADS to adopt rules and regulations to implement and administer the certification process.

Proponent testimony was provided by representatives of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, COMCARE, Pawnee Mental Health Services and Johnson County Mental Health Center, who highlighted the positive impact of CCBHCs on workforce expansion and improved crisis response. Opponent testimony was provided by representatives of the Behavioral Health Association of Kansas and KVC Kansas, who both raised concerns about the restrictions on eligible organizations and the potential impact on accessibility. Written-only proponent testimony was provided by Labette Center for Mental Health Services, Four County Mental Health Center and the Kansas Association of School Boards. Written-only opponent testimony was provided by DCCCA. Neutral testimony was provided by Andy Brown, Deputy Secretary of KDADS and a representative of Community Care Network of Kansas. Committee members asked questions regarding the certification status of CMHCs (10 fully certified, 14 provisionally certified, two expected to be certified by July 1) and what defines patient success in the CCBHC model (outcome measures, such as access to timely care and reductions in emergency room visits and hospitalizations). The Committee worked the bill on March 20 and passed it favorably out of committee.

On Tuesday, March 19, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2749, as amended, which would amend reporting requirements for abortions performed in Kansas. The bill would provide for the written report of pregnancies lawfully terminated to be submitted by medical care facilities and persons licensed to practice medicine and surgery to KDHE on a biannual basis. (Current law requires submitting reports on an annual basis). The bill would require, except in the case of medical emergency, a patient to be asked, prior to the termination of a pregnancy, to indicate the most important factor regarding the reason for deciding to seek an abortion. Proponent testimony was provided by representatives of Kansans for Life and Kansas Family Voice, who both emphasized the need to collect data to inform policy decisions to support women and families seeking abortion services. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by a representative of the Kansas Catholic Conference. Opponent testimony was provided by representatives of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, Trust Women Foundation, and Care Access Strategies, who expressed concerns regarding the protection of patients’ rights and well-being, the importance of respecting privacy and autonomy in reproductive health care decisions, and the unlikelihood that the data collected will contribute to the research field. Written-only opponent testimony was submitted by representatives of Mainstream and Loud Light Civic Action. There was no neutral testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding the change of the references to “woman” to “patient” (consistent with existing language in the statute), the requirement to let the patients know they are not required to answer the questions, and the inclusion of certain questions in the reporting form, such as religious affiliation and understanding of abortion. The Committee worked the bill on March 21 and passed it favorably out of committee.

The Committee then worked HB 2777, which would prohibit any representative of the State Fire Marshal from using body cameras or other media recording devices during on-site inspections of licensed care facilities, which include hospitals, recovery centers, hospice facilities, psychiatric residential treatment facilities or child care facilities, or community-based locations where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive habilitation services. The Committee amended the bill to allow audio recording during an on-site inspection and to allow photographic images of violations, and then passed it favorably out of committee, as amended.

The Committee also worked HB 2547, which would amend the law regarding the stock maintenance and administration of emergency medication kits in schools, including epinephrine and albuterol. The bill would provide a level of immunity from liability for a pharmacist, physician or a mid-level practitioner who distributes or prescribes emergency medications to a school or provides training on the administration of the emergency medicine for school personnel, and for the school personnel who administer the medications under specific circ*mstances. The Committee amended the bill to strike the waiver of civil liability from the bill and stipulate that training be provided by a school nurse, physician or mid-level practitioner, and passed it favorably out of committee, as amended.

The Committee also worked HB 2536, as amended, which would establish a new legal permanency option for children 16 years of age or older who are in the custody of the Secretary of the Department for Children and Families (DCF). The bill also would amend various statutes contained in the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children to reference this new form of permanency, which would be designated as SOUL Family Legal permanency. The bill was passed favorably out of committee.

On Wednesday, March 20, the Committee worked HB 2453, which would enact the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact (Compact) to provide interstate practice privileges for dentists and dental hygienists. The bill contains uniform language that would enact the Compact in Kansas. The bill was passed favorably out of committee.

The Committee then worked HB 2484, which would establish the Social Work Licensure Compact to facilitate interstate practice of regulated social workers. The bill also would amend law to add the background check procedure for the Social Work Licensure Act and add a fee relating to multistate licenses under the Compact. The bill was passed favorably out of committee.

On Thursday, March 21, the Committee worked HB 2751, as amended, which would permit KDADS to waive a requirement of the rules and regulations related to licensing of disability services in certain circ*mstances, would include a definition for day service provider as it relates to criminal history record checks, and would require notice to licensees to include notice of appeals available under the Kansas Administrative Procedure Act. The bill was amended to clarify the definition of day service provider and was passed favorably out of committee.

House Child Welfare and Foster Care Committee
(Rep. Susan Concannon, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 13, the Committee heard a presentation about the iGrad program from representatives from Keys for Networking. The iGrad program primarily serves foster care students across the state of Kansas to ensure students receive the support they need to graduate. The presentation highlighted a 90 percent graduation rate for the general population, while the graduate rate for foster care youth is 64 percent. The iGrad program offers several services, including tracking individual student progress and school moves using a computer program; providing training to DCF, schools and counselors advocating for students; and offering support in negotiating lost or missing credits. Funding for the program was approved by both the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committees for FY 2025. Committee members asked questions about funding, the number of students served (approximately 2,500), how the program connects to children in foster care (voluntary program) and amount of time spent with each child.

The Committee also heard a presentation from a representative of the McAdams Academy, which has been providing a behavioral program for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges for 10 years, including expelled teens and foster youth. The average length of enrollment of youth at the Academy is 96 days, and 87 percent of those in attendance are male. Since September 2023, the Academy has served 74 students with 22 in-house and 29 on the waiting list. The Academy has seen success with a reduction of juvenile detention by 92 percent and an 86 percent decrease in post-program trouble incidents. Committee members asked questions regarding enrollment numbers (expected to be around 100 this year), the ratio of male to female students, the gender of staff (more female teachers than male), and the number of foster youth enrolled.

On Wednesday, March 20, the Committee worked HB 2189, which would add the definition of non-minor dependent to the Kansas Code for Care of Children, which would be an individual who is at least 18 years old but less than 21 years old, and except for the age requirement, meets the definition of a child in need of care. Upon a written request by a child to a court, the bill would prohibit the court from issuing an order terminating jurisdiction over the child before June 1 of the school year in which the child turns 18 years old if the child is in an out-of-home placement, is still attending high school and has not completed a high school education, or who is a non-minor dependent in the custody of the Secretary of DCF when in out-of-home placement and is transitioning to adulthood. Committee members discussed the re-entry process for individuals previously in custody, the services they would receive and the fiscal note associated with the bill, and expressed concerns regarding the duration of services, accountability and the distinction between re-entry services and those provided under the independent living program. The Committee amended the bill to add definitions for “non-minor dependent” and “behavioral health crisis”, set an expiration date for the independent living services for June 30, 2029, and created Sub for HB 2189 and passed it favorably out of committee, as amended.

Joint Committee on Child Welfare Oversight
(Rep. Susan Concannon, Chair)

The Joint Committee met on Friday, March 15, and heard presentations from representatives of the Casey Family Programs, Kansas Division of the Child Advocate, DCF, Children’s Alliance of Kansas, Cornerstones of Care, DCCCA, KVC Kansas, Saint Francis Ministries, TFI Family Services and several private citizens.

Dr. David Sanders, Casey Family Programs, recommended that the Legislature leverage the Family First Prevention Services Act, evaluate the state’s definition of neglect, and consider a public health approach to abuse and neglect prevention. Committee members asked questions regarding Kansas’ definition of neglect as compared to other states (the Kansas definition is broader), ways to improve communication between the public and DCF, ways to support foster families to improve retention, and how to support kinship caregivers.

Kerrie Lonard, Child Advocate, provided an update on the Office of the Child Advocate and its key initiatives in 2023, including a former foster parent survey and best interest staffing report. Lonard stated that recommendations from these projects include addressing placement stability (including the importance of incorporating youth perspectives) and supporting and growing the workforce. Committee members asked questions regarding who may file complaints with the Child Advocate (any concerned citizen), examples of service provider complaints (frustration with high caseloads, supervision issues and relationships with other entities), caseload differences in high-complaint versus low-complaint areas, considerations for expanded appeal rights after parental rights termination, and the broad definition of abuse and neglect.

Representatives of EmberHope Youthville shared information about its reorganization under the new case management contract for Sedgwick County and Catchment Area 7. The agency has been working on transitioning services from Saint Francis Ministries since the contract was awarded in February. EmberHope Youthville needs to fill more than 300 positions before July 1 and is focused on collaborating with DCF, Saint Francis Ministries and other community partners and implementing evidence-based practices like Resolutions Together and the Crossover Youth Practice Model.

DCF Sec. Laura Howard provided an update on the agency, including the recent award of new contracts that will begin on July 1 and remain in effect until June 30, 2028. Family preservation contracts were awarded to TFI, DCCCA and Cornerstones of Care and will focus on stabilizing safety supports for families at risk of out-of-home placement. The foster care case management contracts awarded to TFI, KVC Kansas, Cornerstones of Care and Saint Francis Ministries (EmberHope in Sedgwick County) have lower caseloads and have incorporated additional non-case carrying staff members. She also reported that the procurement process for the new Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) is ongoing, with three finalists identified for the design, development and implementation phase.

Sec. Howard also addressed four areas requested by the Joint Committee, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder screenings (completed if a child is referred for an out-of-home placement), support for children in homeless encampments (referral to local organizations), utility service terminations in homes with child present (there are no state policies, determined by the utility carriers), and grant funding for nonprofit organizations supporting children with disabilities (DCF received $1 million for youth intellectual/ developmentally disabled services at the end of the 2023 legislative session). Committee members asked questions regarding incentives for providers to shorten the time to permanency in the new contracts (emphasis on permanency within 12 months), the high percentage of reports not resulting in investigations, concerns about the process of approving foster homes for children, the transition process from foster care to adoption, clarification on the hearing process and court involvement in decisions, the strategy for achieving lower caseloads amidst workforce shortages, education needs of children in homeless encampments, and potential solutions for the “bottleneck” in the court system.

Justin Horton, Cornerstones of Care, reported a 98 percent success rate in keeping families together in January and February, during which the agency received 76 referrals. He also reported a decrease in the number of foster children in Catchment Area 5, from 562 to 517, and discussed efforts to improve staffing, caseloads and retention. He also reported on the implementation of functional family therapy for at-risk youth, which aims to prevent involvement in juvenile justice or foster care systems. The therapy has shown positive results in stabilizing families and reducing the need for group or congregate care.

Jeanette Owens, DCCCA, discussed the positive impact of a change in state Medicaid policy that will make Medicaid behavioral health codes available to non-mental health center providers starting in July. This change will allow increased access to mental health and other community resources. DCCCA currently services 425 foster homes with 532 children in placement. DCCCA also provides Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) waiver services.

Angela Hedrick, KVC Kansas, reported that since the last Joint Committee meeting, there have been 12 occurrences of youth overnight office stays, all due to foster family refusal or youth refusal. KVC is also working on reducing caseloads in advance of the beginning of the new contract with DCF. Other changes with the implementation of the new contract include the expansion of their Outpatient Behavioral Health Services Department’s role in completing assessments and continued implementation of timely and consistent placement and mental health services.

Matt Stephens, Saint Francis Ministries, reported that the Family Centered Therapy and Seeking Safety programs are both showing success rates in keeping children at home during service delivery. He also noted that the agency has had 24 youth sleep in office for 36 nights since January 2023, mostly due to refusal of foster families or lack of placements able to accept youth with specific needs.

House Welfare Reform Committee
(Rep. Francis Awerkamp, Chair)

On Thursday, March 14, the Committee heard presentations from representatives of the McPherson Housing Coalition, the City of Wichita and Johnson County, who discussed their current efforts to address homelessness and possible future developments utilizing grant funds that may become available through HB 2723. The bill would create a $40 million grant fund for FY 2025 that would be administered by KDADS to create homeless shelter infrastructure and a program to administer the funding and contracts with KDADS awarding grants to local governments that meet the specified requirements. The funds would be for the building of, or capital improvements to, congregate and non-congregate shelters that provide services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and persons at risk of homelessness. Funding awarded to a local government would be matched by the local government dollar-for-dollar.

On Thursday, March 21, the Committee worked HB 2723, which would create a grant fund that would be administered by KDADS to create homeless shelter infrastructure and a program to administer the funding and contracts. The funding would not exceed $40.0 million from the State General Fund and would be for FY 2025 only, and KDADS would award the funds to Kansas local governments that meet the specified requirements. The funds to be allocated would be for the building of, or capital improvements to, congregate and non-congregate shelters that provide services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and persons at risk of homelessness. Funding awarded to a local government would be matched by the local government, dollar-for-dollar. The Committee approved two amendments to the bill but then approved a motion to table the bill. No further meeting was scheduled.

House Insurance Committee
(Rep. William Sutton, Chair)

On Monday, March 18, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2825, which would create the Consumer Protection Related to Hospital Price Transparency Act and establish requirements for hospitals to provide certain pricing information to the public, provide the Attorney General with enforcement authority, and establish procedures for hospitals not in compliance with the Act. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act would constitute an unlawful or deceptive trade practice under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. Proponent testimony was provided by a representative of Opportunity Solutions Project, who stated that because many hospitals have failed to comply with the federal hospital transparency rules, this bill would authorize the Attorney General to ensure that consumers are provided with the pricing information provided for in the bill. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by a representative of the Kansas Chamber. Opponent testimony was provided by representatives of Stormont Vail Health, Greenwood County Hospital, Great Health Alliance and the Kansas Hospital Association, who argued that the bill is unnecessary because it is duplicative of the federal rule, described the complexity of the hospital financial process, and that the bill would increase the financial burden on hospitals. Written-only opponent testimony was submitted by representatives of the Kansas Association of Counties, Mountain Region Common Spirit Hospital, Physicians Hospital of Kansas and Ascension Via Christi. Committee members asked questions regarding whether the provisions of the bill mirror the federal rule, how the pricing information would account for complications or unexpected procedures, whether the bill would apply to providers other than hospitals (no), and whether a non-compliant hospital would be subject to both state and federal penalties. The Committee subsequently worked the bill on Wednesday, March 20, and passed it favorably out of committee.

The Committee also held a hearing on HB 2834, which would transfer all powers, duties and functions of the staff of the Division of the State Employee Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) of the Department of Administration (DOA) to the Insurance Department under the direction of the Insurance Commissioner. The bill also would transfer all officers and employees of the SEHBP who are engaged in the exercise and performance of the powers, duties and functions involving the administration of the State Employee Health Benefits Plan (SEHP), as well as all officers and employees of the DOA who are determined by the Insurance Commissioner to be engaged in providing administrative, technical or other support services, to the Insurance Department. The bill also would designate the Insurance Commissioner as the Chairperson of the Kansas State Employees Health Care Commission and the Commissioner would administer all budgeting, purchasing and related management functions of the Commission. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Barb Wassinger and a representative of Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by a private citizen. Opponent testimony was provided by Adam Proffitt, Secretary, DOA, who argued that the operation and administration of the SEHP is an executive and administrative function within the DOA and under the purview of the governor as the chief executive officer of the state. He also mentioned that location of the SEHP within the DOA in 2020 was the result of recommendations from an efficiency study in 2016, that cited natural overlaps between the SEHP and the DOA and pointed to other benchmark states that had their employee health plans administered by their departments of administration or the agency that managed the human resource functions. Committee members asked questions regarding whether there was a potential conflict for the Insurance Department to administer the SEHP when it serves as the regulator of insurance companies and the number of SEHBP employees. The Committee subsequently worked the bill on Wednesday, March 20, amended it to transfer the authority over the State Workers Compensation Self-Insurance Fund from the division of the SEHP to the Department, and passed it favorably out of committee, as amended.

On Wednesday, March 20, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2824, which would require every individual or group health insurance policy, medical service plan, contract, hospital service corporation contract, hospital and medical service corporation contract, fraternal benefit society or health maintenance organization that provides coverage for accident and health services on or after Jan. 1, 2025, to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric acute-onset neuro-psychiatric syndrome (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). The bill would require that on or before March 1, 2024, the Health Care Commission must submit a report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that includes certain information pertaining to the coverage for PANS and PANDAS provided during the 2023 plan year. Following receipt of the report, the Legislature could consider whether to require coverage for PANS and PANDAS to be included in any individual or group health insurance policy, medical service plan, contract, hospital service corporation, hospital and medical service corporation contract, fraternal benefit society or health maintenance organization that provides coverage for accident and health services on or after Jan. 1, 2025. Proponent testimony was provided by three private citizens and written-only proponent testimony was submitted by one private citizen. Opponent testimony was provided by a representative of Kansas Employers for Affordable Health Care and written-only opponent testimony was submitted by the Kansas Chamber. Committee members asked questions regarding the effectiveness of intravenous administration of immunoglobulins (IVIG) treatment for PANS and PANDAS, how many children in Kansas would require IVIG treatment, the number of mandated benefits passed by the Legislature and the process for reviewing potential new mandates.

House Committee on Federal and State Affairs
(Rep. Will Carpenter, Chair)

On Tuesday, March 12, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2809, which would create the Every Mom Matters Act to require the state treasurer to contract with eligible organizations to provide information and support services to pregnant women and parents considering adoption and establish the Every Mom Matters Program within the KDHE. Proponent testimony was provided by representatives of Advice & Aid Pregnancy Center, Kansas Catholic Conference, Kansas Family Voice, and Kansans for Life, who expressed concerns regarding the declining population growth rates in Kansas and the need for pregnant women to have immediate access to accurate medical information throughout the state. Opponent testimony was provided by the Trust Women Foundation, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, Loud Light Civic Action, Kansas Birth Justice Society and Mainstream, who argued that the bill duplicates existing state and private community reproductive health care programs and excludes organizations that provide abortion services. They also recommended that attention be directed toward supporting birthing centers, improving access to contraception, expanding doula and midwifery care, and advocating for equitable maternal health. Committee members asked questions regarding data collection on the effectiveness of the program (would require monthly reporting to KDHE), marketing plans for the hotline (would be an RFP process not outlined in the bill), the purpose of the hotline, what organizations can apply for funding, adoption challenges, referral sources for Planned Parenthood and options counseling.

The Committee also held a hearing on HB 2813, which would create the crime of coercion to obtain an abortion. The crime would be defined as engaging in coercion with knowledge that a woman is pregnant and with the intent to compel the woman to obtain an abortion when she has expressed a desire to not obtain an abortion. The bill would classify this offense as a person felony, carrying a 30-day minimum sentence of imprisonment and a fine of $500 to $5,000. The bill would specify that if the adult father of the unborn child is the one committing coercion to obtain an abortion, the offense would carry a minimum sentence of 90 days to one year of imprisonment and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. The bill would provide definitions for coercion, abortion and unborn child. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Rebecca Schmoe and representatives of Kansans for Life, Project 2 Restore, Kansas Family Voice, Kansas Catholic Conference and A Better Choice. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by a representative of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Opponent testimony was provided by a representative of Kansas Birth Justice Society. Written-only neutral testimony was submitted by a representative of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Committee members asked questions regarding adding other forms of reproductive coercion to the bill and pressure from individuals versus circ*mstances. The Committee subsequently worked the bill on Tuesday, March 19, amended it to replace provisions of the bill relating to a new crime of coercion to obtain an abortion with provisions creating a new crime of reproductive coercion that would cover reproductive autonomy, including coercion of abortion, coercion to become pregnant, interfering with contraception use or other tactics used to control pregnancy outcomes, and passed it favorably out of committee, as amended.

On Tuesday, March 19, the Committee worked HB 2653, which would amend KSA 20-165 to add “the direct medical and pregnancy-related expenses of the mother if the child is an unborn child” to the list of factors to be considered by the court when adopting rules establishing guidelines for child support. The bill would prohibit the inclusion of any costs related to an elective abortion, would define “elective abortion” and “unborn child” and update definitions in related statutes. The amount of support for the unborn child would be calculated from the date of conception and the maximum amount would not exceed the direct medical and pregnancy-related expenses of the mother of the unborn child. The bill would state that the term “child” includes any unborn child. The bill was passed favorably out of committee.

Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee
(Sen. Mike Thompson, Chair)

On Monday, March 18, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2358, as amended, which would modify the Uniform Vital Statistics Act provisions concerning who may certify a cause of death. The bill would specify that a cause of death certifier could certify the cause of death of a deceased person. “Cause of death certifier” would mean:

  • A person licensed to practice medicine and surgery by the State Board of Healing Arts (Board).
  • A physician assistant licensed by the Board.
  • An advanced practice registered nurse licensed by the State Board of Nursing.
  • A district coroner.
  • A deputy coroner.
  • A special deputy coroner.

Immunity would be granted under the bill for a cause of death certifier who makes a certification in good faith. Proponent testimony was provided by a representative of the Kansas Funeral Directors Association, who stated the purpose of the bill is to expand certification authority and improve the timeliness of the preparation of death certificates. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by a representative of the Kansas Academy of Physicians Associates and one private citizen. There was no opponent or neutral testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding the process and timeframe of filling out and filing death certificates, how the death certificate impacts the publication of obituaries, why civil liability was included within the bill, how amendments could be made to death certificates, and concerns with challenges in determining the cause of death. The Committee subsequently worked the bill on Wednesday, March 20, and passed it favorably out of committee.

On Tuesday, March 19, the Committee held a hearing on SB 527, which is the companion bill to HB 2813 (described above) and would create the crime of coercion to obtain an abortion. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Rebecca Schmoe and representatives of Kansans for Life, Kansas Family Voice and the Kansas Catholic Conference, who pointed to the prevalence of coercion in abortion decisions and referred to a Charlotte Lozier Institute study that found that nearly two-thirds of women who received abortions were coerced or pressured to make that decision. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by representatives of A Better Choice and Project 2 Restore. Written-only opponent testimony was submitted by a representative of the Kansas Birth Justice Society. Neutral testimony was provided by a representative of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Written-only neutral testimony was submitted by a representative of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Committee members asked questions about the study design, methodology and peer review of the Charlotte Lozier Institute study and whether women facing coercion can go for assistance. The Committee subsequently worked the bill on Thursday, March 21, removed the contents of HB 2436, as amended, which would have created the Kansas Public Investments and Contracts Protection Act and amended the Kansas Public Employees Retirement Fund, and inserted the contents of SB 527, to create Senate Sub. for HB 2436, and passed the bill favorably out of committee.

House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee
(Rep. Sean Tarwater, Chair)

On Monday March 11, the Committee continued the hearing on HB 2785, which would establish the Kansas Office of Early Childhood within the Executive Branch, to be administered under the direction and supervision of the Executive Director of Early Childhood. Melissa Rooker, Kansas Children’s Cabinet, explained that the bill, if passed, would take effect on July 1, 2024, but that FY 2025 would be dedicated to planning and reorganizing the budget for the new agency. Rooker also responded to questions regarding the demand for child care in Kansas and highlighted data from the Kansas Point-In-Time Child Care Data by Childcare Aware Kansas, including:

  • 79,518 estimated potential child care slots are needed in Kansas.
  • Presently, 54,657 children are enrolled in child care programs.
  • The desired capacity, reflecting the number of children providers are willing to accommodate, is 67,420.
  • Approximately two-thirds of Kansas children under the age of six have parents who require child care services.
  • The current licensed capacity stands at 79,360 slots.
  • Kansas has had an increase of 8,607 slots since 2021.

Committee members asked questions regarding who the agency would report to, the expected timeline for administrative processes and procedures if the bill were passed, the current and future mechanisms for ongoing funding and administering grants, plans to reconcile and streamline regulatory requirements, and associated costs and fees for providers interested in offering care. The Committee subsequently worked the bill on Thursday, March 21.

On Thursday, March 14, the Committee held a hearing on 2023 House Sub. for SB 96, which would establish and update law regulating child care centers and child care homes. The bill would provide certain definitions, provide license capacity and staff-to-child ratios and establish staffing requirements, including professional development training. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Kenny Titus, the Kansas Chamber, Opportunity Solutions Project, Modern Government and a private citizen. Opponent testimony was provided by Derik Flerlage, Director for the Bureau of Family Health, KDHE, and a representative of Child Care Aware of Kansas. Written-only opponent testimony was submitted by representatives of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and Kansas Action for Children, and a private citizen. Neutral testimony was provided by a representative of the Kansas Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs.

House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee
(Rep. Stephen Owens, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 13, the Committee worked SB 414, as amended, which would amend the Kansas Criminal Code with respect to fentanyl-related controlled substances. The bill would specify the penalty to be applied in the crime of unlawful distribution of fentanyl when distributed by weight or dosage unit, modify language pertaining to the rebuttable presumption of intent to distribute, and apply a special sentencing rule to the crime of unlawful distribution of fentanyl. The Committee discussed the bill’s potential impact on individuals with substance use orders and the potential for harsh penalties and amended the bill to (1) replace a rebuttable presumption in current law with a permissible inference and (2) remove the provisions expanding quantities of controlled substance to also include amounts of material containing any quantity of the controlled substance that would lead to a presumption of intent to distribute. The Committee then passed the bill, as amended, favorably out of committee.

The Committee also worked SB 419, which would amend law in the Kansas Criminal Code pertaining to the crime of aggravated endangering a child. Specifically, the bill would amend elements of the crime to reflect conduct involving fentanyl-related controlled substances, increase the penalty for the crime when bodily harm is inflicted upon the child, and add “fentanyl-related controlled substance” and “methamphetamine” to the list of terms defined in the crime. The Committee amended the bill to take effect upon publication in the Kansas Register and passed it, as amended, favorably out of committee.

Senate Committee on Education
(Sen. Molly Baumgardner, Chair)

On Monday, March 18, the Committee held a hearing on Sub. for HB 2494, as amended, which would require school districts to adopt cardiac emergency response plans based on the statewide standards developed by the Secretary of KDHE, require automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be accessible in each school district building and require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED training for each coach, sponsor, assistant or aide of any school activity, and any other school district personnel designated under the bill. The bill also would establish the School Cardiac Emergency Response Grant Program (Program) and create the School Cardiac Emergency Response Grant Fund (Fund). The bill would take effect on and after Jan. 1, 2025. Proponent testimony was provided by Sen. Kellie Warren, representatives of the Kansas Association of School Boards, United School Administrators, Children’s Mercy Hospital, American Heart Association, Kansas National Education Association, KDHE and three private citizens. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by the Kansas State Board of Education; Kansas Emergency Services Association; and Kansas Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. There was no opponent or neutral testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding whether all schools already have an AED (No), the cost of an AED ($1,500 to $3,500), the longevity of an AED (3-5 years), and availability of screening for heart conditions in youths. The Committee worked the bill on Thursday, March 21, but a motion to pass the bill out of committee failed.

On Tuesday, March 19, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2669, which would create the Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) Program Act, codifying the program in statute. Mental Health Intervention Team Provider (MHIT Provider) would mean a center organized pursuant to KSA Chapter 19, Article 40 regarding mental health centers and services, a mental health clinic organized pursuant to KSA Chapter 65, Article 2 regarding local mental health clinics, or a federally qualified health center (FQHC) as defined by section 1905(1)(2)B of the federal Social Security Act. MHIT Provider also would include other provider categories authorized by KDADS to serve as a partnering provider under the Act. An MHIT Provider would also need to provide:

  • Services that include support for students available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Person-centered treatment planning.
  • Outpatient mental health services.

The Act would establish the MHIT Program, which would be a continuation of the MHIT Pilot Program first established through a budget proviso in 2018 and continued and expanded through subsequent appropriation acts of the Legislature. Proponent testimony was provided by Andy Brown, Deputy Secretary of Programs, KDADS, and representatives of Family Service & Guidance Center, Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, COMCARE of Sedgwick County, Community Care Network of Kansas, Kansas Catholic Conference, St. Patrick Catholic School (Wichita), Wyandot Behavioral Health Network, and Catholic Diocese of Wichita, and one private citizen. Sec. Brown noted the 24/7 access to the program and the importance of addressing mental health emergencies within student populations. Written only proponent testimony was submitted by representatives of the Catholic Diocese of Salina; St. Anne Catholic School; Diocese of Wichita; All Saints Catholic School; St. Mary Catholic School; Diocese of Dodge City; St. Margaret Mary Catholic School; Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS; Catholic Schools Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas; Kansas Action for Children; Kansas National Education Association; and the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas. There was no neutral or opponent testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding the qualifications and responsibilities of the program liaisons in the MHIT programs, the inclusivity of school types this bill would cover, and the 24/7 crisis response requirement. The Committee worked the bill on Thursday, March 21, but a motion to pass it favorably out of committee failed.

On Wednesday, March 20, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2613, which would create a statewide Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) educator in the Office of the Attorney General. The DARE educator would be charged with providing DARE curriculum instruction, including content on fentanyl and other opioids, to public K-12 schools and would perform services and provide materials and information necessary to support the DARE program in Kansas. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Robyn Essex, and representatives of the Office of the Attorney General, Leavenworth County, and Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, and two private citizens. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Kansas Sheriffs Association, Kansas Peace Officers Association, Kansas Association of Counties, DARE America, and Olathe Board of Education. There was no neutral or opponent testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding the discontinuation of DARE programs in some schools, the impact of the new position on the current DARE staff role, lack of reporting requirements in the bill, alternative programs such as Project ALERT, age appropriate curriculum, the primary sources of fentanyl ingestion among youth overdoses, and the Kansas State Department of Education role in schools teaching about the dangers of drug use and tobacco use, as well as initiatives in curriculum without legislative intervention. The Committee worked the bill on Thursday, March 21, and amended it to include an annual reporting requirement but no further action was taken.

House Judiciary Committee
(Rep. Susan Humphries, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 13, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2300, which would add duly ordained ministers of religion, as defined in statute, as mandated reporters. A duly ordained minister of religion who suspects physical, mental or emotional abuse, neglect or sexual abuse of a child based on penitential communication would not be required to violate penitential privilege. Proponent testimony was provided by Sen. Cindy Holscher, a representative of the Family Service and Guidance Center, and three private citizens. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by Rep. Kirk Haskins, representatives of Grace United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan, Wichita United Church of Christ, Mainstream and Kansas Catholic Conference. Written-only opponent testimony was submitted by a representative of Central States Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who disagreed with the inclusion of an exception to protect penitential communication. Neutral testimony was provided by a representative of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Written-only neutral testimony was submitted by representatives of St. John’s Lutheran Church, and Kansas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Committee members asked questions regarding whether some clergy are already reporting abuse and neglect, the need for training for clergy, and the availability of trainers or resources for training of clergy.

On Thursday, March 21, the Committee worked 2023 Sub. for SB 232, which would have established the Office of the Child Advocate within the Office of the Attorney General and the Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight. The Committee inserted the contents of HB 2299 to create House Sub. for Sub. for SB 232, which would amend law in the Kansas Code for Care of Children (Code) governing orders granting custody for adoption when parental rights have been terminated. The bill also would amend law governing jurisdiction of proceedings under the Code to specify if orders granting custody for adoption involve an American Indian child, the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) would apply instead of the Code. In an order granting custody to proposed adoptive parents, the bill would require the court to be guided by the best interests of the child. The bill also would specify in this type of order, any prior custody order would cease upon the granting of custody of the child to the proposed adoptive parents. The Committee then passed the substitute bill, as amended, favorably out of committee.

Senate Judiciary Committee
(Sen. Kellie Warren, Chair)

On Monday, March 11, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2628, which would modify the law governing access to confidential information regarding children alleged or adjudicated to be in need of care. The bill would require DCF to release certain information to the public in response to an open records request pursuant to the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) within seven business days of receipt of the request, if criminal charges are filed with a court alleging that a person caused a child fatality. Proponent testimony was provided by DCF Sec. Laura Howard, who stated that she requested the bill and believes it will allow DCF to be more transparent, while still preserving confidentiality safeguards.

On Thursday, March 14, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2487, as amended, which would provide immunity from prosecution for possession of a controlled substance or certain drug paraphernalia if the person seeks or provides medical assistance to a person under the influence of a controlled substance or who is under the influence of a controlled substance and is in need of medical assistance. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Pat Proctor, representatives of Behavioral Health Association of Kansas, DCCCA, Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Kansas Sheriffs Association and Kansas Peace Officers Association, and six private citizens. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by Rep. Jason Probst, Rep. Nick Hoheisel, representatives of the Kansas Public Health Association, Kansas School Nurses Association, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, Wyandotte County Public Health Department, Kansas State Board of Indigent Defense Services, KDHE, KDADS and Johnson County Mental Health Center, and six private citizens. Opponent testimony was provided by one private citizen. No neutral testimony was submitted.

House Local Government Committee
(Rep. Emil Bergquist, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 13, the Committee held a hearing on SB 384, as amended, which would authorize the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board to grant a permanent variance from a rule and regulation adopted to implement, enforce or otherwise regulate provisions regarding minimal staffing on each vehicle providing emergency service. The bill also would make a technical amendment to clarify the personnel required on each vehicle providing emergency medical service. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Duane Droge and representatives of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board, League of Kansas Municipalities, and Kansas Emergency Medical Services Association (KEMSA), who stressed the need to address the challenges of maintaining adequate emergency medical staffing in rural communities, particularly during long-distance interfacility transports. Written-only proponent testimony was provided by a representative of the Meade County Commission and written-only neutral testimony was provided by the American Heart Association. Committee members asked questions regarding ambulance personnel credentials, the bill’s impact on both rural and urban areas, training for certified drivers and communication access in rural areas. The Committee then voted to work the bill and passed it favorably out of committee.

Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee
(Sen. Caryn Tyson, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 13, the Committee met to work SB 498, which would enact the Pregnancy Resource Act that would allow contributions to eligible charitable organizations operating pregnancy centers or residential maternity facilities to receive a 70 percent tax credit beginning in tax year 2024. Additionally, the bill would establish a child tax credit, increase the tax credit amount for adoption expenses and make the credit refundable and provide a sales tax exemption for pregnancy resource centers and residential maternity facilities. The Committee amended the bill to eliminate the provision that would have created a child tax credit and passed the bill favorably out of committee. The Senate subsequently passed the bill, on a vote of 28-12, on Thursday, March 14.

House Appropriations Committee
(Rep. Troy Waymaster, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 13, the Committee held a hearing on HB 2811, which would require the Department of Corrections to establish a women’s correctional center nursery on the grounds of the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF) by Jan. 1, 2026, subject to appropriations. The Department would create the Nursery Program for Incarcerated Moms, which would allow eligible offenders to live with a child born to them while in custody for up to 36 months following the birth of the child. The bill specifies that to be eligible for the Program, an offender would have to give birth to a child after sentencing or while in custody, have 36 months or less remaining on their sentence, meet other criteria established by the Department and have a child that meets the Department’s established eligibility criteria. The bill also specifies that any offender with current or prior convictions of certain violent or dangerous crimes would be automatically disqualified from the Program. Proponent testimony was provided by Sen. Kristen O’Shea; Gloria Geither, Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC); and representatives of the Ministry to Incarcerated Families, United Women In Faith, Board of the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, and Topeka Doula Project. Sen. O’Shea stated that the bill was modeled after the Missouri prison nursery program that passed last year and Nebraska has had this program in place since 1994. Kansas would become the 11th state to have a nursery program. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by representatives of the Kansas Catholic Conference, Health Forward Foundation, Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services, Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Safe Families for Children, Criminal Justice Program, Ft. Hays State University, Nurture KC, United Way of Kaw Valley, Kansas Family Voice, Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc., and a private citizen. Opponent testimony was provided by a representative of the Kansas Birth Justice Society, who argued that the funds that would be used for the prison nursery program should be used to provide services that would allow the mothers to stay in their communities to bond with their babies and older children. There was no neutral testimony. Committee members asked questions regarding the maximum capacity for the nursery (10 individual rooms in 5,000 square foot facility), what level of offenders are held at TCF (all severity levels), the availability of data showing the impact of this program on mothers and children (data from Washington and Nebraska indicate that recidivism rates are lower for women who participate in the program), and whether the cost stated in the fiscal note could be reduced.

Senate Ways and Means Committee
(Sen. Rick Billinger, Chair)

On Tuesday, March 19, the Committee held a hearing on SB 542, which would create a grant fund that would be administered by KDADS to create homeless shelter infrastructure and a program to administer the funding and contracts. The funding would not exceed $40.0 million from the State General Fund and would be for FY 2025 only. KDADS would award the funds to Kansas local governments that meet the specified requirements, including enforcement of local ordinances regarding camping and vagrancy. The funds to be allocated would be for the building of, or capital improvements to, congregate and non-congregate shelters that provide services for individuals experiencing homelessness and families and persons at risk of homelessness. Funding awarded to a local government would be matched by the local government dollar-for-dollar. Proponent testimony was provided by Rep. Leah Howell and representatives of the City of Wichita; City of Liberal; Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas; and Andy Brown, Dep. Secretary of Programs, KDADS. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by representatives of the Wichita Regional Chamber, Sedgwick County Commissioners, Johnson County, Kansas Mental Health Coalition, Community Health Care of Southeast Kansas, and Mental Health America of South Central Kansas. Neutral testimony was provided by representatives of Kansas Statewide Homeless Coalition, Kansas Balance of State Continuum of Care, Cicero Action, and United Community Services of Johnson County. Written-only neutral testimony was submitted by representatives of the Coalition to End Homelessness in Wichita/Sedgwick County, Kansas Action for Children, Cross-Lines Community Outreach, and Kansas Statewide Homeless Coalition. Committee members asked questions regarding whether funds could be used for temporary shelters, whether the bill limits the amount of funds that a local government can receive, whether a percentage of the funds should be set aside for small communities, whether individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs are allowed to stay overnight in shelters, and whether communities have identified existing buildings that could be used for shelters. On Thursday, March 21, the Committee approved several amendments to the bill, including:

  • Reducing the homeless shelter infrastructure grant appropriation to $15.0 million for FY 2025.
  • Prohibiting the expenditure of homeless shelter infrastructure grant funds for the building of capital improvements to a homeless shelter located within the boundaries of Sedgwick County precinct 606.
  • Appropriating $5 million of homeless shelter infrastructure grant funding for FY 2026.
  • Requiring local governments to limit shelter space and wraparound services to persons with U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.
  • Requiring local governments to implement and enforce a policy that individuals seeking to stay overnight at shelters shall not be under the influence of drugs of alcohol.
  • Requiring cities and counties to adopt ordinances or resolutions prohibiting unauthorized public camping, sleeping or obstructions of sidewalks.
  • Requiring KDADS to award at least 20 percent of the total amount appropriated for the grant program to counties with a population of less than 90,000.
  • Authorizing local governments to receive and use private moneys for the purpose of meeting the matching dollar amount required by the bill.

The Committee then passed the bill, as amended, favorably out of committee.

On Wednesday, March 20, the Committee held a joint informational hearing with the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Medicaid expansion. Conferees who spoke in favor of Medicaid expansion included Christine Osterlund, State Medicaid Director, KDHE; and representatives of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, Three Rivers Independent Living, Sunflower Foundation, Hays Medical Center, and Kansas Sheriffs’ Association; and two legislators from the North Carolina General Assembly and one private citizen. Written-only proponent testimony was submitted by over 450 organizations and private citizens. Neutral testimony was provided by a representative of the Kansas Health Institute, who presented KHI’s recent estimate of expansion enrollment and net costs.Opponent testimony was provided by Rep. Will Carpenter, Sen. Beverly Gossage, and representatives of Americans for Prosperity, Kansas Family Voice, the Cato Institute, and the Opportunity Solutions Project. Committee members asked questions regarding the percentage of Medicaid enrollees that are not working in expansion states, the prevalence of fraud in the Medicaid program, and whether individuals with disabilities would become eligible under expansion.

Weeks 10 and 11 of the 2024 Session - Kansas Health Institute (2024)
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