2019 Legislative Update at Turnaround                                                March 5, 2019

A Labor Friendly Governor in Laura Kelly was a huge step forward for our state. While a “sensible governing” mandate was an outcome of the vote, at the half-way point of the Kansas Legislature, successes for working families are still a struggle. Turnaround means that if bills have not been passed by one chamber, they are dead and will not be considered by the other chamber. However, there are exceptions and committees which are exempt from this rule. Further, amendments are yet another opportunity to get something passed.  We are seeing that Kansans will continue to be hurt by the ongoing republican majority to resist the courts and adequate Public Education funding. Since Public Ed makes up such a large part of the budget, and one of the primary responsibilities of the Legislature is to pass a balanced budget, nearly all other issues are contingent upon settling that funding dilemma.

Labor is focused on making a long-awaited Worker’s Compensation fix and we have a court win to back us on that. The Supreme Court is set to hear the case of repealing the use of the 6th AMA Edition and a return to use of the 4th Edition of the AMA Guide very soon. In addition, new KS Department of Labor Secretary Delia Garcia has vowed that her department will put a lot of emphasis to legislators in how the court weighed in on this. Finally, a decisive and worker friendly voice from KDOL!

More on Work Comp - Choice of Physician is in HB2260 and the House Commerce, Labor & Economic Development Chairman Tarwater decided to pull the bill from getting a hearing just before the Turnaround break. Kansas AFL-CIO Work Comp attorney John Ostrowski was to deliver testimony, and we are still hopeful of that hearing. It will be a challenge to get this bill moving through the process having reached the half-way point. Talk is that Chairman Tarwater may only be interested in doing an informational hear than trying to actually bring about a vote and move it out of committee. It is worth mentioning that the person who is appointed Director of Worker’s Compensation Division within KDOL means a lot to Kansas’ working families. We are expressing our preference on this matter and expect a decision any day now.

An unexpected early vote on KPERS funding caused a little bit of angst, because it is of a budget nature. But it actually had the full legislature’s support in the end despite coming about as a political ploy. The urgency surrounding the KPERS vote is also being used for a tax cut. But guess who the tax cut primarily benefits. You guessed it, big business! SB22 is being pushed as way to make-up for the Federal Tax breaks Working Families lost at the Federal level. Remember that it was big business that pushed for those same Federal Tax Breaks for big business. Our state has no more recovered from the disastrous tax cuts of the Sam Brownback era than we working families have from these past eight years. It’s time to end this madness and Governor Kelly expressed as much. Let’s get the state on firm stable footing doing sensible affordable tax cuts later. An immediate return to the failure Brownback economics is idiotic and goes counter to the voice of Kansas voters. The bill has cleared the Senate and the House Taxation Committee. A vote is expected coming up in the House. IF a veto is in the cards for the future, watch for a close vote to veto sustain / override. A 2/3 vote of each chamber is required then. Call your House member to vote no on SB22.

With a strangle hold on bills that would benefit labor, committee chairs are letting zero bills by that even remotely could help Kansas’ workers. They are holding few, if any hearings on bills that could help Kansans. Your voice matters, and it will be heard if you contact your legislators. We know if that doesn’t work your voice will be heard come election time! Always be courteous when contacting your legislators.

Local Control is the term used to allow Local governments, be they County Commissions or City Councils to utilize a prevailing wage standard. A state law prohibits these local elected officials from having a say on their very own public construction projects. Consequently, skilled workers from the community are undercut and underbid by out of state contractors and workers who snatch up the work at rock bottom wages without benefits. This drains a community as the dollars earned leave the state, and eventually, contractors and skilled workers leave too. Prevailing Wage is proven to strengthen the local community, increase consumer spending and provide a $1.50 multiplier effect for every dollar paid in prevailing wage. To top it off, prevailing jobs almost always are finished earlier or on time, and on budget. HB2017 is “bottled-up” in the House Commerce, Labor & Economic Development Committee.

Fair Share is another bill (HB2175) that is getting no hearing because of the discretion of the majority leadership and chairman. But Fair Share has invoked more discussion about the work of unions such as repeal of Right-to-Work in our state, and this is good. Missouri’s success of repealing Right-to-Work has spurred one Kansas legislator to introduce HCR5008, which if passed by 2/3 of each chamber, brings about a vote for a constitutional change to repeal Right-to-Work in Kansas. No hearings have been scheduled though.

Unemployment Reform is not likely to get looked at this year in the 2019 legislative session, but we are sending the message that this is an area that is doing very little to help people and be the safety net it was meant to be. An economy that is performing well enough for skilled help to be in demand means we should make sure people can access help when they need the help, because eventually there will be a downturn in the economy again. The point is - to be ready.

School bus drivers are a group of workers that have for some reason been singled out as not eligible for UI benefits. Yes, it defies logic since every other school category of personnel who are seasonal, qualify for benefits. SB38 in the Senate and HB2148 in the House are the bills that address this fix. Please call your legislators to support these bills.

State Employees have grabbed the legislature’s attention as an example of what happens when a state chronically underpays its people. Corrections Officers are experiencing horrendous turnover rates and when inmate unrest occurs in the facility, a chance for increased incidents and a danger to the public is the result. Corrections Officer have long sought to be included in KP&F (Ks Police & Fire) sector of KPERS retirement. The job is dangerous, difficult duties and responsibilities is justification for the upgrade. This needs to happen Kansas legislators. Do right by them with pay and benefits and that equals keeping the public safe. Expect most of the discussion for the Governor’s recommendation of general State Employee raises as we move closer to consensus revenue projections come in (April).

Last, but not least, Medicaid Expansion. We finally have a governor that will sign this bill, but the problem is getting it to her desk. Recall that Medicaid Expansion fell short by just two votes in 2017. Also recall that this bill had bi-partisan, majority support. Governor Brownback however, exerted his veto power and getting a two-thirds vote for the veto override in the House Chamber fell two votes shy.  While another hearing took place on this issue in 2018 and was given committee approval, the bill was not advanced. Call your legislator and ask them to do the right thing, which is have a debate and vote.  Ask that extra question of legislators, “why”, and then listen. Why not support, why not debate and a why not vote on the measure.  Visit the Kansas AFL-CIO website for talking points.

The Kansas State Legislature is set to return March 6, 2019. Below is a list of bills your officers of the KANSAS AFL-CIO are tracking.


Bill Tracker 2019

House Bills:

HB2012 - Replacing the workers compensation prevailing factor standard with a substantial factor standard. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

*HB2013 - Amending the edition of the AMA medical guide used to determine impairment for awarding workers compensation benefits. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2014 - Amending the disallowance of workers compensation benefits for fighting or horseplay when not work related. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2016 - Allowing injured workers who are receiving their social security benefits to keep the full amount of their workers compensation. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

*HB2017 - Restoring local control over certain compensation, wage and benefit requirements for construction projects. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2022 - Enacting the Kansas working families pay raise act. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2026 - Enacting the fire sprinkler industry act. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2030 - Expanding eligibility for Medicaid benefits to the extent permitted by the affordable care act. (Health & Human Services) SUPPORT

HB2032 - Requiring that sports gaming be operated and managed solely by racetrack gaming facilities. (Fed & State) NEUTRAL

HB2060 - Repealing prohibition on municipal regulation of paid leave for employees. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2068 - Creating the Kansas sports wagering act. (Fed & State) SUPPORT

HB2076 - Removing a restriction for purposes of employment security law on the leasing of certain employees by businesses from lessor employing units. (Passed out of Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) NEUTRAL

HB2090 - Voter registration; departments of aging and disability services; children and families; labor and state board of education. (Elections) SUPPORT

HB2091 - Allowing early voting in person at least 10 days prior to an election. (Elections) SUPPORT

HB2092 - Allowing voter registration on election day. (Elections) SUPPORT

*HB2102 - Establishing the KanCare bridge to a healthy Kansas program. ((Appropriations) SUPPORT

HB2109 - Requiring electric public utilities to acquire a permit from the state corporation commission prior to the siting of certain electric transmission lines. (Energy, Utilities &Telecom)

HB2115 - Requiring verification of certain hours billed by contractors under certain contracts. (Fed & state) NEUTRAL

HB2118 - Providing income tax credits for aerospace and aviation program graduates and their employers. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo)

HB2128 - Decreasing the sales and use tax rate on food and food ingredients. (Taxation) SUPPORT

HB2131 - Providing for a sales tax exemption for construction and certain purchases for businesses qualifying as part of an enterprise zone. (Rural Revitalization)

HB2148 - Unemployment benefits for privately contracted school bus drivers. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2154 - Making unemployment benefits available for federal and state employees who are required to work without pay. (Rural Revitalization) SUPPORT

HB2175 - Enacting the fair share act. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2186 - Granting employees who earn sick leave the right to use it to care for their family members. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2197 - Amortizing the state and school KPERS actuarial accrued liability over a 30-year period and eliminating certain level-dollar employer contribution payments. (House Vote Failed) SUPPORT

HB2204 - Prohibiting the Kansas lottery from entering into or extending an existing management contract with a lottery gaming facility manager without prior legislative approval. (Appropriations) NEUTRAL

HB2207 - Requirements for school district construction contracts relating to requests for proposals that specify particular products or particular installation methods. (K-12 Education Budget) NEUTRAL

HB2254 - Requiring banks to make a minimum amount of subprime loans. (Financial Inst. & Pensions) SUPPORT

*HB2260 - Updating the per diem for injured employees when away from their residence for medical treatment. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) Hearing CANCELLED       SUPPORT

HB2262 – Enacting the Kansas Buy American Act. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2273 - Establishing the wind generation permit and property protection act. (Energy, Utilities &Telecom) NEUTRAL

HB2313 - Increasing workers compensation treatment expense limits from $500 to $2,000 for injured workers prior to claim approval. (Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) SUPPORT

HB2317 - Requiring certain electric transmission lines to acquire a siting permit from the state corporation commission. (Energy, Utilities & Telecom) SUPPORT

HB2341 - Ensuring a public employee's right to resign from a public employee organization. (Appropriations) OPPOSE

HB2343 – Removing provisional employment from adult care homes, home health agencies and providers of disability services. (Children & Seniors)

HB2354 - Substitute for HB 2354 by Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development - Resolving liability concerns regarding high school on-the-job training programs. (Passed out of Commerce, Labor & EcoDevo) NEUTRAL

HB2364 - Creating the Kansas Aerospace Commission. (Transportation)

HB2367 - Authorizing transfers from the state general fund to the local ad valorem tax reduction fund and county and city revenue sharing fund if the city or county has a new road construction or bridge improvement plan and the plan is approved by the secretary of transportation. (Taxation) SUPPORT

HB2368 - Tax lid exception for transportation construction projects. (Taxation) SUPPORT

HB2369 - Authorizing the secretary of transportation to designate toll projects on new and existing highways and changing financing requirements for toll or turnpike projects. (Appropriations) SUPPORT

HB2370 - Providing for an increase in motor fuel taxes and rate trips. (Taxation) NEUTRAL

HB2381 - Providing for a $.06 increase in motor fuel taxes. (Taxation) NEUTRAL


Senate Bills:

SB5 - Enacting the Kansas reinvestment act. (Commerce) NEUTRAL

*SB22 - Kansas itemized deductions, election, providing for deferred foreign income, global intangible low-taxed income, business interest, capital contributions and FDIC premiums income tax modifications. (Passed out of Senate) (In the House) OPPOSE

SB27 - Removing a restriction, for purposes of employment security law, on leasing of certain employees by client lessees of lessor employing units. (Passed by Commerce) NEUTRAL

SB38 - Unemployment benefits for privately contracted school bus drivers. (Commerce) SUPPORT

SB43 - Elections; registration; election day registration. (Ethics, Elections & Local Gov’t) SUPPORT

*SB52 - Due process for terminating teachers' contracts. (Education) SUPPORT

*SB52 - Establishing the KanCare bridge to a healthy Kansas program. (Public Health & Welfare) SUPPORT

SB56 - Requiring verification of certain hours billed by contractors under certain state contracts. (Ethics, Elections & Local Gov’t) Hearing CANCELLED    NEUTRAL

SB57 - Requiring review of information technology contracts by the joint committee on information technology. (Ways & Means) NEUTRAL

SB73 - Amortizing the state and school KPERS actuarial accrued liability over a 30-year period and eliminating certain level-dollar employer contribution payments. (Ways & Means) SUPPORT

SB76 - Sales tax rate on food and food ingredients. (Assessment & Taxation) SUPPORT

SB92 - Workers compensation impairment determination; use of AMA guidelines. (Commerce) SUPPORT

SB98 - Amendments to the Kansas expanded lottery act relating to racetrack gaming and Wyandotte county horse racing. (Fed & State) SUPPORT

SB129 - Allow voters to vote at any polling place within a county if approved by the county election officer. (Passed out of Ethics, Elections & Local Gov’t) SUPPORT

SB130 - Substitute for Senate Bill No. 130 by Committee on Ethics, Elections and Local Government-Permitting persons voting an advance ballot to correct a signature deficiency prior to the final canvass. (Passed out by Ethics, Elections & Local Gov’t) SUPPORT

SB131 - When township officials take the oath of office and the deadline for filing for municipal office when no primary is held. (Passed out by Ethics, Elections & Local Gov’t) NEUTRAL

SB141 - Increasing the minimum wage. (Commerce) SUPPORT

SB146 - Allowing injured workers who receive social security to keep the full amount of their workers compensation benefits. (Commerce) SUPPORT

SB150 - Enacting housing protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking. (Judiciary) SUPPORT

SB172 - Increasing the limit of healthcare expenses allowed as a worker’s compensation benefit for injured employees prior to formal authorization of a claim. (Commerce) SUPPORT

SB175 - Enacting the public employee right to choose act, providing public employees with the right of relief from the obligation to pay union dues through withholding of their wages. (Commerce) OPPOSE

SB180 - Enacting the Kansas buy American act. (Commerce) SUPPORT

SB186 - Creating the transportation planning program. (Ways & Means) SUPPORT

SB190 - Authorizing transfers from the state general fund to the local ad valorem tax reduction fund and county and city revenue sharing fund if the city or county has a new road construction or bridge improvement plan and the plan is approved by the secretary of transportation. (Ways & Means) SUPPORT

SB192 -Authorizing the secretary of transportation to designate toll projects on new and existing highways and changing the requirement to fully fund toll projects solely through toll revenue. (Transportation) SUPPORT

SB196 - Expanding the expense deduction to all taxpayers in addition to corporate taxpayers. (Assesment & Taxation) Hearing CANCELLED  

SB197 - Reducing the sales tax rate on food and food ingredients. (Assessment & Taxation) SUPPORT

SB204 - Establishing the legislative post audit economic development incentive review subcommittee. (Commerce) SUPPORT

SB206 - Authorizing the state fire marshal to have law enforcement powers and to investigate fire deaths. (Fed & State)