KDP Weekly Rundown #7

Friday, May 3, 2019

Welcome to the KDP Weekly Rundown – the Kansas Democratic Party’s update of the biggest things going on in the Kansas Legislature and the state party. What are we focused on this week? Medicaid expansion, tax reform, and more!

MEDICAID EXPANSION

  • What’s happening?

Kansas Senate lawmakers narrowly voted against advancing Medicaid expansion out of committee. The vote was 23-13, one vote short for the measure to pass. The deciding vote was Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, who voted pass on the measure. Governor Kelly responded to the vote in a statement by reiterating that “Medicaid expansion is one of the most critical issues left to address this year. Two senators – Wagle & Denning – are preventing a vote on this bill. These two senators are preventing 150,000 hardworking Kansans from having access to health care. It’s time to get it done.” The effort to pass Medicaid expansion this session seems unlikely unless the measure gains another vote.

TAX REFORM

  • What’s happening?

The Senate took another stab at tax reform this week, voting 27-13 to pass HB 2033. The plan would impact how much Kansans are taxed on groceries and what corporations owe in taxes. It is expected to cost the state almost $240 million over the next three years. This plan is similar to SB 22, which the Governor vetoed earlier this year. In a statement, Gov. Kelly stressed that tax reform  “discussion should be guided by a thoughtful, data-driven, big-picture vision for Kansas – not by a hasty attempt to achieve an immediate political victory.” The Kansas House is expected to debate the bill next week.

COURT OF APPEALS

  • What’s happening?

Gov. Kelly nominated Lenexa attorney Sarah Warner to the Kansas Court of Appeals on Tuesday. This is the Governor’s second attempt to fill the vacancy; her first nominee, Jeffry Jack, withdrew himself from consideration after several partisan tweets came to light. Under Kansas law, the Governor has 60 days to nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy or the chief justice has the power to make the nomination. Kelly nominated Jack exactly 60 days after a seat on the bench became vacant. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments next week over whether Kelly has the power to make the appointment.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS BUDGET

  • What’s happening?

Gov. Kelly submitted a plan to the legislature this week to address overcrowding in state prisons. The amended plan calls for $35 million to raise corrections officer salaries, improve healthcare access, and transfer prisoners to different facilities. This follows her February decision to declare an emergency at the El Dorado Correctional Facility due to chronic staffing shortages.

2020 PARTY-RUN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

  • What’s happening?

The Kansas Democratic Party released its draft Delegate Selection Plan for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Kansans can review the plan during the 30-day public comment period and submit their feedback at KansasDems.org/2020.

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