Friday, January 24, 2020

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? Conservatives barrel forward on anti-abortion amendment, a Medicaid expansion compromise hearing, and more!


  • What’s happening?

Republicans on the House and Senate Federal and State Affairs committees on Wednesday passed a constitutional amendment conservative lawmakers are sprinting to enact in order to eliminate the right to an abortion under the Kansas Constitution. The amendment was approved in both committees in a party-line vote after a crowded two-day hearing early in the week. Republicans now seek the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature to send the amendment to voters in the August 4 primary election.

The breakneck pace comes a year after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitution protects the right to an abortion as a matter of bodily autonomy, a right which would continue if the U.S. Supreme Court struck down or severely limited the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. The proposed measure would let lawmakers ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, even in cases of rape or incest.

As most of state government closed for a snowstorm at the end of last week, anti-abortion proponents set a quick Friday deadline for each side to submit testimony in a rare joint, bicameral hearing. The hearing was marred with exceptions for proponents speaking without required written testimony, bifurcated speaking times for opponents of the amendment, and inaccurate scientific claims from supporters. Gov. Laura Kelly, a strong supporter of abortion rights, cannot veto constitutional amendments passed by the legislature.

Republican leaders have made it clear that passing the amendment through the legislature is their top priority. The full Kansas Senate and House may vote on the measure as early as next week.

Here’s what the proposed amendment states:

“Regulation of abortion. Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, in circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

Find your lawmakers’ phone numbers at and demand they oppose the proposed amendment!

Click here


  • What’s happening?

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday and Friday held well-attended hearings on the bipartisan Medicaid expansion compromise announced before the 2020 legislative session by Gov. Kelly and GOP Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning. Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman, Sen. Denning, and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley were among the proponents at the Thursday meeting. Opponents of the legislation will testify next week.

Conservative Republican lawmakers want to amend the bipartisan plan, proposing the legislature adds work requirements and a “right of conscience” provision, which would block Medicaid from covering abortion services, birth control, and gender reassignment care. Gov. Kelly opposes both priorities, and has repeatedly insisted on a straightforward expansion of health care under the Affordable Care Act to as many as 150,000 Kansans. In addition to opposing the “right of conscience” proposal, Sen. Denning on Thursday said that work requirements would be a waste of energy and would fail to pass muster with investigators.

Representatives from health and business groups joined supporters in touting the increases in business activity and access to care that Medicaid expansion would engender.

A spokesperson for Gov. Kelly reiterated the governor’s desire for clean, straightforward Medicaid expansion legislation. “Gov. Kelly opposes any proposal that would increase administrative barriers, limiting access to health care,” the spokesperson said.


  • What’s happening?

Gov. Kelly notified the Kansas Legislature Tuesday that administration of the state employee health plan and worker compensation program would be moved from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to the Kansas Department of Administration. The transition, which will occur on July 1 absent action from the legislature, brings the employee programs together with the administration department’s other employee services.

Gov. Kelly said her mission to provide affordable, quality health care to the 40,000 state employees enrolled in the state health plan drove the decision.

Gov. Kelly: “During past administrations, premiums for state employee health insurance increased drastically each year. This made it more difficult and expensive for our employees to receive important health benefits.”


  • What’s happening?

The Johnson County Democratic Women North will be hosting a State of the Union Bingo Party in Mission on February 4. Scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Lucky Brewgrille, the event’s proceeds will go to Democratic candidates in the area. Each $25 ticket includes a hamburger or chicken dinner.