Newsletter - March 21, 2021
Legislature Sends Emergency and Disaster Legislation to the Governor
This week the House and Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support Senate Bill 40
. The House voted 118-5 in favor and the Senate 31-8. The bill has been sent to the governor’s desk, who has until April 4th
to act on it. It addresses the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergencies and disasters.
Currently, executive orders issued by the governor during the COVID-19 emergency must be reviewed by the State Finance Council—the council that Governor Kelly chairs. SB 40
would require the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC), a council made up of legislators exclusively, to review these orders. These executive orders must be reviewed within 24 hours and may be revoked. This adds accountability and inserts extra layers of checks and balances. In addition, all the governor’s current executive orders will be revoked on March 31, 2021, including the mask mandate. The governor would still be restricted from limiting the gathering or movement of Kansans attending religious, civic, business, and commercial activity. She also would not be able to restrict the sale and ownership of firearms and ammunition. The bill would also allow the Legislature or the LCC to revoke health orders issued by the Secretary of Health and Environment.
The COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration is extended only through May 28, 2021 with some caveats. Previously, the State Finance Council was able to extend disaster declarations. This bill moves that authority to the LCC, ensuring additional legislative oversight over disaster declarations. During this specific disaster emergency, the governor would not have the ability to unilaterally close schools. Only local school boards would have the authority to take action that includes closing of any school or authorizing any form of attendance other than full-time, in person instruction. The governor would also not be able to unilaterally close businesses.
Lastly, if individuals feel like they have been unduly aggrieved by an executive order, a school board’s decision, or a municipality, they can request a formal hearing. A board would be required to conduct a hearing within 72 hours. A civil action suit could also be filed in a local district court or in the Shawnee County District Court.
House Formally Opposes “Packing”
the U.S. Supreme Court
Our Founding Fathers did not include any provision in the U.S. Constitution that speaks to the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court. As such, over time, Congress has increased and decreased the membership of the court from as few as five and as many as ten. While Congress and former presidents have made efforts to “pack” the Court, the size of the Court has not changed since 1869—one chief justice and eight associate justices.
On Thursday, the House adopted HCR 5013
, which formally urges Congress to adopt the “Keep Nine” constitutional amendment. If adopted, this amendment would codify in the U.S. Constitution that the Court would be composed of nine justices, effectively preventing Congress or the President of the United States from undermining the independence of the Court. Upon approval from the Senate, a formal letter will be sent to Congress expressing Kansas’ opposition to court packing.
House Approves Kansas Promise
House Bill 2287
. The Kansas Promise Scholarship Act is designed to help get Kansans back to work and help build the workforce needed to further boost our state’s economic recovery. HB 2287
will provide scholarships to Kansas high school graduates who agree to complete a certificate or two-year program in one of 10 high-demand areas. The program may be completed at a community college, technical school, or trade school. The high-demand areas will be determined in consultation with employers and the Department of Commerce. Last year, Governor Kelly vetoed the bill that contained the Promise Scholarship Act. Due to the pandemic, the Legislature was unable to pursue an override of the veto.
Other Bills Passed this Week by the House.
Authorizing the issuance of bonds for the construction of a state veterans’ home in North East Kansas
Standardizing firearm safety education training programs in school districts.
Expanding educational benefits of tuition and fees waiver for spouses and dependents of public safety officers and personnel who are injured or disabled while performing service-related duties.
The bill would provide a targeted employment tax credit for businesses that employ individuals with disabilities in integrated settings.
Authorizing exclusion of the sales comparison approach in mortgage financing appraisals of certain unique residential real property in rural counties.
Increasing state financial assistance to local health departments to $15,000 a year if funds are appropriated.
Expanding the crime of election tampering to include changing or altering votes cast, manipulating computer hardware or software or vote tabulation methods or producing false vote totals.
Enacting the audiology and speech-language pathology interstate compact.
Making permanent provisions for the advisory committee on trauma and the statewide trauma system regional council to conduct closed meetings and keep privileged records regarding trauma cases.
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 Shannon.email@example.com
, by phone (785) 296-7466, or by mail at 300 SW 10th
Avenue, 274-W, Topeka, KS 66612