The Kansas Senate recently made progress as it tackled a number of important issues for the 2013 legislative session.
• Large corporations now are allowed to have agriculture operations in Kansas after approval at the county level. Senate Bill 191 would have removed the local control and repealed corporate family farming laws in the state to allow more Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), large hog and dairy operations with thousands of head. I offered an amendment to SB 191 to keep the local option. Instead of voting on the amendment or the bill, the committee chair decided to put the bill on hold for further study.
• The Senate debated its proposed budget, which has an ending balance of $492 million in FY 2014 and $3777.7 million in FY 2015. The budget submitted by Gov. Sam Brownback had an ending balance of $533.9 million and the Senate budget includes an additional $48.7 million in savings over two years. The budget includes the governor’s recommendation to hold K-12 education at current funding levels.
• The Senate passed HB 2078 to allow military personnel to use training received in the military to serve as the educational requirements needed for state licensing for medical or other professional licenses. This bill would not require state regulatory agencies to issue licenses. Instead, it would allow the military education to be substituted for civilian training, and the board would have final decision as to whether an individual meets the necessary requirements for a health care-related license.
• The Senate passed House Bill 2025, which establishes the Robert G. (Bob) Bethell Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight. State Rep. Bethell died last year in a car wreck a few hours after running a similar bill on the House floor. If passed, the committee would consist of 11 members from the Legislature and would be required to meet at least three times when the Legislature is in session and at least once during each of the second, third and fourth calendar quarters. The committee would provide oversight of the administration of KanCare by those accountable to the people — the elected members of the Legislature.
• According to HB 2025, state agencies would be required to provide to the committee data and information on KanCare programs, including pay for performance measures, quality measures and enrollment and disenrollment in specific plans, KanCare provider network dates, and appeals and grievances made to the KanCare ombudsman. The committee would then be required to submit its own report to the Senate president, the Speaker of the House, the House Committee on Health and Human Services, and the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare. It also would be able to introduce legislation as deemed necessary in performing its functions.
Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, represents Franklin County and the 12th District in the Kansas Senate. Email her at Caryn.Tyson@senate.ks.gov or call (785) 296-6838.