Kansas legislators reached the first major benchmark date of the session a day early this week. “Turn-around Day” (the date when the House and Senate complete work on their own non-exempt bills) was scheduled for today, February 27th. However, both houses managed to finish their work and adjourn on Thursday, although the Senate ran late into the evening. Legislators will return next Wednesday, March 4, to begin the sprint to first adjournment, which is set for Friday, April 3rd.

It is generally understood that final decisions on the big issues - the budgets for FY 2016 and FY 2017 and any accompanying tax measures - will be put off until the veto session which starts the last week of April after new state revenue estimates for the remainder of this fiscal year and for FY 2016 have been announced.

The right to carry concealed firearms, with or without a concealed carry license, garnered a lot of attention this week with the Kansas Senate passing SB 45 (the slightly ironic number attached at random to the bill) by a vote of 31-7. The bill is expected to have strong support in the House, as well. Concealed carry licenses would still be available, as would the right for business establishments to post signs prohibiting firearms.

Also attracting significant debate this week was a bill to move school board and municipal elections to November in odd-numbered years. Proponents argued it would increase participation in these elections, which traditionally see low voter turnout when held in the spring. The bill (SB 171) squeezed through the Senate late Thursday by a 21-18 vote.

There has still been no legislation introduced addressing Governor Brownback’s plan for funding of K-12 education. This is, of course, the “elephant in the living room,” since such funding involves half of all State General Fund (SGF) expenditures. The Governor has indicated that he wants to scrap the school finance formula in favor of block grants to school districts in the coming fiscal year. Legislative leaders are currently talking with House and Senate members to see if there are sufficient votes to repeal the current formula before presenting the Governor’s plan.

From now until the end of the session, only bills which have cleared either the Senate or House, plus bills introduced or “blessed” by exempt committees, can be considered. If not stricken from the House and Senate calendars, all other bills can be carried over to the 2016 session.

Listed below are bills which were introduced prior to today’s deadline or are bills that received floor action during the week. The floor actions are indicated in italics.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

SB 11 – Creates the Scrap Metal Theft Reduction Act and empowers the Attorney General to implement, administer, and enforce all provisions of the Act. Establishes the scrap metal theft reduction fee fund to support actions taken by the Attorney General. Prohibits local units of government from enacting resolutions or ordinances that are contrary to the Act. Amends the current regulations relating to scrap metal dealers and establishes what constitutes violations of the Act. Sets a range of civil and criminal penalties for each violation. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Judiciary)

Sub for SB 38 – Amends the Kansas Consumer Protection Act by specifying what would and would not be construed as bad faith assertions of patent infringement under the Act. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Judiciary)

SB 124 – Authorizes the Secretary of Health and Environment to adopt rules and regulations relating to the “land spreading” of wastes created by the drilling of oil and  gas wells. Requires the land owner to give notification of the land spreading if and when the real estate involved is offered for sale. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Environment)

SB 125 – Lifts the current prohibition on the disposal of low-level radioactive waste in underground burials. Grants the Secretary of Health and Environment authority to develop regulations on allowable amounts of low-level radioactive waste. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Environment)

HB 2154 – Allows private employers to establish a voluntary hiring preference policy for qualified veterans. The policy would have to be in writing and veterans would be required to provide proof of military service. (Passed by the House on a vote of 121-0. Referred to the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs)

HB 2254 – Amends current roofing contractor registration requirements by specifying that an “exempt general contractor” cannot be considered a roofing contractor. Further defines what constitutes an exempt general contractor. Establishes the circumstances under which the Attorney General could issue a letter of exemption for a general contractor. (Passed by the House on a vote of 112-9. Referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce)

HB 2384 – Creates the Rule of Law Restoration Act, which would prohibit any employer or business entity from “knowingly” hiring or recruiting an alien, as defined in the bill. Also prohibits the deductibility for tax purposes of any business expenses relating to the employment of an alien. (Referred to the House Committee on Judiciary)

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

SB 36 – Allows the holder of a Multi-year Flex Account (MYFA) water permit to make a small change in the permit’s “place of use” and to roll over a certain amount of water when moving to a new MYFA. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources)

FINANCIAL  SERVICES

HB 2258 – Excludes contractor liens from the definition of “mortgage loan” in the Kansas Mortgage Business Act. (Passed by the House on a vote of 121-0. Referred to the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance)

HEALTH  CARE

SB 95 – Creates the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act and prohibits a “dismemberment abortion” except to preserve the woman’s life or when the continuation of the pregnancy would cause substantial and irreversible physical impairment. The Act provides for criminal penalties, authorizes a civil action with the potential for an attorney fee award, and authorizes injunctive action. A dismemberment abortion is defined as knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and  extracting  the  child  one  piece  at  a  time  from  the  uterus  using clamps, forceps, tongs, scissors, or other instruments that by the convergence of two rigid levers slice, crush or grasp a portion of the child’s body to cut or rip it off. Amended to clarify the definition of dismemberment abortion. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 31-9. Referred to the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs)

SB 101 – Changes the definition of “health care provider” in the health care provider insurance availability act to exclude nurses with exempt licenses. Specifies that nurse anesthetists employed by the federal government are not covered health care providers. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Insurance)

SB 117 – Amends the Health Care Provider Insurance Availability Act to include nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and residential health care facilities as defined health care facilities making them eligible to self-insure provided the other statutory requirements are met. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Health and Human Services)

SB 123 – Repeals statutes providing there should be no prior authorization requirements for medications used to treat mental illnesses. (Rejected by the Senate on a vote of 15-25)

SB 142 – Excludes from the definition of adult care homes centers approved by CMS as a program for all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE) which only provide PACE services. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Health and Human Services)

SB 180 – Creates the medical assistance fee fund in the state treasury. Fund monies will be collected by the Insurance Commissioner from HMOs and MPOs. Increases the HMO privilege fee to 5 1/2 %. The fund will be used to finance medical assistance payments. Limits the time period for the increase in privilege fees and establishes a termination date for the Fund and its requirements. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 38-2. Referred to the House Committee on Health and Human Services)

SB 181 – Amends K.S.A. 39-7,120 enabling the Secretary to place a hold on new prescription only drugs until the  Medicaid  Drug Utilization Board has completed its review. Requires public meetings of the board be held at least quarterly; permits the Secretary to require prior authorization of new prescription only drugs until review by the Board; and provides for approval prior to Board review when the drugs are used within FDA guidelines and clinically reputable compendia. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 39-1. Referred to the House Committee on Health and Human Services)

SB 254 – Permits the Behavioral Science Regulatory Board to submit fingerprints to the KBI and FBI for criminal record checks to be used in licensing and disciplinary matters and permits the Board to charge a fee for the criminal record checks. The bill amends various licensure statutes to remove the statutory provision tying the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders to the APA diagnostic and statistical manuals. It makes changes to various licensure and fee criteria for BSRB licensees and permits the Board to impose fines, in addition to disciplinary sanctions. It requires licensees providing postgraduate clinical supervision to be Board approved clinical supervisors and provides a process for Board approval. The bill also creates a licensure category of master’s addiction counselor. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare)

SB 265 – Creates the Designated Lay Caregiver’s Act and requires hospitals to recognize post-discharge designated lay care givers. Provides that a patient or legal guardian may designate a lay caregiver after admission and  prior  to  hospital  discharge  and  requires  a  hospital  to notify the designated lay caregiver of the patient’s discharge or transfer to another facility. In addition to meeting other notification and documentation requirements, the hospital must provide a  discharge plan detailing the patient’s aftercare needs and provide education and instructions on all aftercare issues and tasks identified in the plan. Also provides that hospitals cannot be liable for the acts of lay caregivers; that lay caregivers are not reimbursed by government payers for aftercare assistance; that reimbursement obligations of entities issuing health benefit plans are not obviated by the Act; and that hospital boards must adopt policies and procedures to comply with the Act. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare)

HB 2149 – Provides that medically necessary prescribed breast milk is reimbursable under the Medicaid program for critically ill infants under the age of three months who are in a neonatal intensive care unit. (Passed by the House on a vote of 123-0. Referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare)

HB 2225 – Provides that a written medical retainer agreement does not constitute an agreement for insurance and is not subject to state insurance statutes or regulations. Also establishes specific content for such agreements. Requires notice to the patient that the agreement does not constitute insurance and a documentation requirement. (Passed by the House on a vote of 122-1. Referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare)

HB 2275 – Adds new substances and compounds to Schedules I, II, III and IV of the uniform controlled substances list. (Passed by the House on a vote of 123-0. Referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare)

HB 2376 – Increases the number of physicians on the emergency medical services medical advisory board; permits the Board to impose additional fines on certificate holders and ambulance services for regulatory violations; permits the Board access to documentary  and other evidence in investigations; permits the Board to issue testimonial and documentary subpoenas and includes a process for contesting such subpoenas; and provides for maintaining the confidentiality of material produced in investigations. (Referred to the House Committee on Health and Human Services)

HB 2386 – Creates the Interstate Compact for Recognition of Emergency Personnel Licensure providing a system enabling emergency personnel licensed in one compact member state to perform services in another compact member state. (Referred to the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs)

HB 2387 – Makes technical and clarifying changes to the emergency medical services statutes, including expanding and renaming providers of training to sponsoring organizations; removing MICT from the definitions; removing and adding certain EMT and EMR procedures; and amending the training officer certificate process. (Referred to the House Committee on Health and Human Services)

INSURANCE

SB 47 – Requires principle-based reserves (PBR) for life insurance companies and updates standard non-forfeiture law for insurance companies. Also redefines certain insurance terms that become effective upon publication of the manual of valuation instructions adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Insurance)

SB 55 – Raises to $500,000 from $100,000 the maximum amount that can be paid for all outside consulting and data processing fees necessary to perform any financial examination of a company or society which has $200 million or more in gross premiums in the preceding calendar year. Also increases from once every three years to once every five years the frequency of examinations on the financial status of the Kansas Uninsurable Health Insurance Plan. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Insurance)

SB 76 – Creates the Risk Management and Own Risk and Solvency Assessment Act. Establishes the requirements for maintaining a risk management framework and for completing an own risk and solvency assessment (ORSA) summary report to the Kansas Insurance Commissioner. Exempts certain insurers doing business in Kansas. Provides for penalties with a $50,000 cap if the ORSA summary is not filed in a “timely” manner. Sets a “sunset” date of 7/1/2022, unless the Legislature takes certain steps relating to confidentiality. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Insurance)

HB 2142 – Amends the Kansas Insurance Code by redefining what constitutes a “fraudulent insurance act” and “external review organization.” Also removes the optional provision for insurers to have an anti-fraud plan submitted to the Commissioner and makes submission of such a plan mandatory. (Passed by the House on a vote of 106-16. Referred to the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance)

REAL ESTATE AND CONSTRUCTION

SB 106 – Makes numerous technical amendments to two real estate- related statutes. Also grants the Kansas Real Estate Commission additional authority over the offering of real estate courses and to take disciplinary action for violations of the real estate statutes. (Passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0. Referred to the House Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development)

STATE GOVERNMENT

HB 2383 – Creates the Kansas Charitable Raffle Act to be administered by the Secretary of the Department of Revenue, who will appoint an Administrator of Charitable Raffles. Provides for licensure of organizations planning to conduct raffles within the state and specifies penalties for violations of the Act. (Referred to the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs)

SB 262 – Same provisions as HB 2383 (see above). (Referred to the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs)

TAXES

SB 257 – Sets a 10-year limitation on property tax exemptions allowed for property used to produce and generate electricity. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation)

SB 258 – Eliminates the exemption in the statewide 20-mill school levy of the first $20,000 of appraised value of property used for residential purposes. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation)

SB 259 – Makes motor vehicles, including motorcycles, subject to the state school district property tax levy starting in 2016. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation)

SB 260 – Includes “passive” income, as defined in federal law, in the calculation of Kansas adjusted gross income for purposes of determining state income tax liability. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation)

SB 261 – Eliminates the current exemption from state sales tax on sales of gas, electricity, and heat delivered to residential premises for non- commercial use or for agricultural use. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation)

SB 264 – Eliminates the state sales tax exemption for farm machinery and equipment. (Referred to the Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation)

HB 2377 – Allows for the creation of a property tax averaging payment plan and a property tax monthly installment payment plan. Specifies original and continuing eligibility requirements for each plan. The averaging payment plan would begin in 2017 and the installment payment plan would begin in 2016. (Referred to the House Committee on Taxation)

HB 2379 – For purposes of calculating state income tax liability, there would be added to the federal adjusted gross income provision, starting in tax year 2015, the amount of net gain from the sale of business assets as determined under the federal internal revenue code. (Referred to the House Committee  on Taxation)

HB 2392 – Same provisions as SB 260 (see above).  (Referred to the House Committee on Taxation)

Jim Maag