On Wednesday, March 20, we were planning to debate House Bill 2066, which would have updated the regulations for Advanced Practical Registered Nurses. However, in a process referred to as a “gut and go,” an amendment was used to strip all of the language from HB 2066 and insert the policy for Medicaid Expansion.
This amendment provides coverage for individuals who are 138 percent below the Federal poverty level. The idea for states in implementing Medicaid Expansion derived from the Affordable Care Act because a segment of the population did not qualify for Medicaid or ACA due to their income level. The cost to the state of Kansas is expected to be $47 million annually since there is a cost-share mechanism with the Federal government providing 90 percent of the funding and Kansas will be responsible for the remaining 10 percent.
I did present an amendment to help with these costs, which passed, that would require a monthly fee for those in Medicaid Expansion of $25 each month or $100 maximum for families. My amendment stipulates that if the Federal government ever would reduce the amount of funding below the 90 percent, the state of Kansas “shall” be able to opt out of Medicaid Expansion.
Even with my amendment passed, I have continually said that I could not vote in favor of Medicaid Expansion in amendment form. This needs to be vetted and worked as a bill in the Health and Human Services committee. Since it came as an amendment, I could not support HB 2066. The bill did pass the House, 69-54.
The Appropriations committee passed out the budget bill for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 late in the afternoon on Wednesday. We had a lengthy deliberation on the budget that was submitted by Governor Kelly, requests from the many state departments and agencies, and the recommendations of the budget committees that report to the Appropriations committee. Some of the details of the budget bill address the many needs of social services across the state of Kansas, increasing the number of social workers for the next two years for the Department of Children and Families, reinstating funding for the Kansas Main Street Program, a 2.5 percent pay increase for state employees, and continuing to make our obligations to the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System. We are planning to debate the budget bill on the House floor on Monday, March 25.
House Bill 2369 – Transportation Tolling
In addition to passing the budget out of the Appropriations committee, we also deliberated on some details for the future transportation plan. During the interim, I served on the Joint Legislative Transportation Task Force, where we addressed the future needs for the Kansas transportation infrastructure. One of the recommendations from that task force dealt with tolling in the state of Kansas and how we could address infrastructure needs by tolling.
House Bill 2369 authorizes the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation to construct new toll projects or designate existing highways as toll roads. This bill expands this authority for the Secretary, although, she would need to be granted approval by the Kansas Turnpike Authority Board and the State Finance Council, of which I am a member, for each new tolling project. The intent is also for the local communities to have a decision on the new tolling projects. This bill was discussed and passed out of the Appropriations committee Thursday morning and hope to debate it next week on the floor.
Troy Waymaster (R-Bunker Hill) serves at the 109th Kansas House District representative. Contact him by calling 785-296-7672, follow on Twitter at @waymaster4house, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you happen to visit the statehouse, let his office know.