KDP Weekly Rundown #29

Friday, October 4, 2019

Welcome to the KDP Weekly Rundown – the Kansas Democratic Party’s update of the biggest things going on in the state party and the state government. What are we focused on this week? The first meeting of the governor’s Medicaid expansion council, new developments on out-of-state online business sales taxes, and federal grants for Kansas foster services!

INAUGURAL MEDICAID EXPANSION COUNCIL MEETING

  • What’s happening?

Gov. Laura Kelly’s new council on expanding Medicaid held its first meeting Monday at the State House. After remarks by Gov. Kelly welcoming members of the council, members were briefed on the experiences of states that have already expanded Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act to low-income residents.

Despite overwhelming bipartisan support from Kansans and lawmakers in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature, the 2019 legislative session was marked by conservative legislative leaders’ partisan refusal to hold even a vote on the issue.

Gov. Kelly: “This council is committed to finding the right version of expansion for Kansas by using thoughtful, bipartisan discussions and data-driven decision-making.”

The council is tasked with developing guiding principles for lawmakers to expand Medicaid. Gov. Kelly specifically noted in her opening remarks that work requirements and limited expansions of Medicaid have not worked well in states where they have been attempted.

GOVERNOR RESPONDS TO ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION ON ONLINE BUSINESS TAXES

  • What’s happening?

Gov. Laura Kelly responded Tuesday to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s GOP-requested opinion on the Kelly administration’s authority to collect sales taxes from out-of-state online businesses, saying in a statement that the state department of revenue’s August decision on the matter reaffirms existing state law and promotes tax fairness.

Gov. Kelly: “This is about protecting our friends and neighbors doing business on Main Street and throughout our local communities across Kansas. They are working hard, playing by the rules and deserve to be on a level playing field with out-of-state retailers.”

Schmidt’s opinion stated that the department’s move was “not lawfully adopted.” Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, noting Schmidt cast the lone vote as a state senator in 2003 against the out-of-state tax law the executive decision is grounded in, said he saw “Derek Schmidt using the office of attorney general much like Kris Kobach used the office of secretary of state.”

KANSAS ALLOCATES FUNDS TO SUPPORT KIDS AT RISK OF FOSTER CARE

  • What’s happening?

Following the enactment of a 2019 law allowing Kansas to receive matching federal funding for the Family First initiative, Gov. Laura Kelly directed $13 million in federal grants to 18 state agencies tasked with delivering services to children at risk of entering the foster care system.

Caregivers and parents of children at risk of entering foster care will now receive evidence-based services to address substance use disorder, mental health, parent skill building, and kinship navigation. These new services will be funded through June 2020.

The Kansas Legislature allocated funds in the 2019 legislative session to the Kansas Department for Children and Families for the beleaguered department to hire 40 new social workers.

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