Legislative Update from Representative Shannon Francis

Newsletter - March 7, 2021

Ron Ryckman, Sr Senator District 38

On March 4th, our Republican Precinct People selected Ron Ryckman Sr to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Senator Bud Estes.  I know Bud couldn’t be happier than Ron filling his shoes.  They had a great friendship and shared the same conservative values and goals for growing Southwest Kansas.  I know Senator Ryckman will be a strong supporter of highways and Seward County. I look forward to working with my friend Senator Ryckman.  At 9:00 am on March 13th, the Liberal Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring a legislative forum at the Depot.  I hope Senator Ryckman can join us.

TurnaroundThis week was turnaround, that means all House bills must be passed by the House and on their way to the Senate and vice versa to be considered during the remainder of the session. There are a few exceptions for bills that have been in an exempt committee.

The legislature has deadlines such as these because our sessions are geared to be only 90 days long. These deadlines help us stay efficient and timely so we can deliver good policy for our communities and follow through on our promises to be good stewards of the public’s trust and taxpayers’ dollars.

Turnaround usually sees a lot of activity and this week was no exception. The House passed 63 bills this week.

Unemployment Reform HB 2196Thursday, the House passed HB 2196 to push Governor Kelly to overhaul the Kansas Department of Labor’s (KDOL) unemployment system. One of the most frequent calls I get are from people who are having trouble with the unemployment system.  Kansans who work hard and lose their jobs because of Covid-19 should have some help until they get back on their feet.  The goal of this bill is to make sure that the administration addresses the current problems and to guarantee the long-term stability of the state’s unemployment trust fund. The bill contains three main components:
  • Oversight & IT Modernization. HB 2196 creates oversight to ensure computer systems are upgraded for security and accessibility.
  • Fraud Immunity. The bill provides protections so that Kansas businesses are not left to pay the price for fraudulent claims paid out by the department over the past year. Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment trust fund was stable with more than $1.2 billion in reserves. Today, less than $200 million sits in the fund’s reserves due to an unknown chunk of those dollars being paid out in fraudulent claims. According to the Legislative Post Audit from last week, potentially $600 million in fraudulent unemployment benefits were disbursed since the pandemic began. Employers should not bear the burden of replenishing funds that were lost due to fraud.
  • Rate Table Adjustments. Because the trust fund is exclusively paid for by employers, employers would be required to pay exorbitant amounts in taxes to refill the trust fund due to the non-fraudulent claims paid out through this pandemic. While employers understand taxes will have to be paid to restore the health of the trust fund, there are structural limitations in the rate tables that – if not addressed - would leave employers to disproportionally pay back the fund. HB 2196 seeks to remedy that, establishing parity for businesses by proposing new rate tables that will spread the restoration of the trust fund more evenly across the employer community.

Strengthening our Disaster Laws HB 2416

HB 2416 remakes our Kansas Emergency Management Act to require that any governor cooperate and collaborate with the legislative branch in times of disaster. This ensures we have the sort of appropriate and measured response that means we can keep our freedoms and our safety.

This bill keeps flexibility for a governor to act but allows for checks and balances from the legislative branch. If a citizen is harmed by an executive order, it gives them due process in a Kansas court within 72 hours to plead their case. If a governor overreaches, their orders are held to the strictest legal standard and courts may dismiss them.

This bill prohibits this and any future governor from acting on their own to close businesses, churches, or schools. No one person should have that kind of power in our state and I voted to keep it that way.

Fighting for Transparency in  Property Taxation SB 13 One complaint I hear often is about property taxes. Even when the school district, city or county keeps the mill levy the same, people’s taxes seem to go up. In our system two factors determine property taxes, appraisal values and mill levies.

SB 13 brings transparency to this process. Whenever a home, land, or business owner is going to see an increase in property tax payments, they will receive a notice and have a chance to be heard on the issue.

Easing Restrictions to Increase
Our Workforce - HB 2066
Kansas has allowed expedited professional licensing for military members and their spouses for years. When a soldier is moved to Kansas and his or her spouse is a nurse, they should not have to go through a long and drawn-out licensing process to get a job and practice here.

HB 2066 expands that same principle and law to apply to non-military professional applicants. Kansas needs professionals to provide a range of services to our families and communities. This bill breaks down barriers and helps professionals in good standing from other states get to work quickly in Kansas.

Other Bills of NoteHB 2088 Adrian’s Law—this bill requires a visual observation of a child when there is an allegation of child abuse. The bill came about because of a tragic death that might have been prevented if social workers, police or DCF workers had met with the child and seen his condition.

HB 2085 Student’s Right to Know—this bill requires Kansas high schools to share the degree prospectus already created by the Board of Regents for their chosen career path. This prospectus contains information about the likely cost of the degree, earning potential and career prospects so students can be fully informed before they incur student loan debt.

HB 2126 Nursing Home Liability—during the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic the Governor’s KDHE required nursing homes to admit patients who were COVID-19 positive. Many smaller nursing homes did their best to accommodate patients and keep them safe. This bill shields those good actors with immunity. For those nursing homes that failed to protect their residents and acted in a reckless or willful manner there is no immunity protection. Without this bill, trial lawyers and lawsuits could devastate many small-town nursing homes across the state.

HB 2183 Protecting our Elections—this bill would make it clear that no one, not the Governor, Secretary of State or the courts can change our election laws. That power is reserved to the legislature alone. In times of disaster the Secretary of State can take action to ensure all Kansans who are registered can vote, but the laws cannot be changed unilaterally as we saw happen in other states in 2020.

HB 2153 Protecting the Vulnerable—this bill increases the penalty for mistreatment of a dependent adult or elder person when that person resides in an adult care home. Those who would hurt the vulnerable should face a stronger penalty.

Constituent Services

Thank you for the opportunity to continue serving working families in Seward County. Please reach out to me any time I can assist you with a state agency concern. I do ask that you send the request to me by email. This ensures that I get the information correctly to the agency we are working with.  You can reach me when I am in Topeka by email, by phone (785) 296-7466, or by mail at 300 SW 10th Avenue, 274-W, Topeka, KS 66612

Contact Shannon

At the Legislature

Room: 274-W
State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-7466

At Home:

1501 Tucker Court
Liberal, Kansas 67901
Phone: 620-624-9571

Useful Resources

State of Kansas Website

The Kansas Legislature

Legislative Bill Reports

Listen Live to Proceedings

Find a State Agency

Kansas Unclaimed Property

Current Road Conditions

National Do Not Call List

Kansas Charity Check

Useful Phone Numbers

Department On Aging

Child/Adult Abuse Hotline

Child & Family Services

Consumer Protection

Crime Tip Hotline

Crime Victims'
Information Referral

Disability / Social
Security Fraud Hotline

Edler Abuse Hotline
Governor Laura Kelly
Constituent Services

Highway Road Conditions
In-State Dial 511

Housing Hotline

KanCare Clearinghouse

Kansas Lottery

Legislative Hotline

Mental Health Services

National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline

School Safety Hotline

Taxpayer Assistance

Tax Refund Status

Unclaimed Property

Unemployment Insurance

Voter Registration

Welfare Fraud Hotline

Workmans Compensation

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Shannon Francis for State Representative · 1501 Tucker Court · Liberal, KS 67901 · USA

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