(May 6, 2019) – The Kansas House and Senate wrapped up the 2019 Kansas legislative session early on Sunday morning, 1:32 a.m. and 2:47 a.m. respectively. The session lasted 77 days, even though the legislature allocates roughly 90 days per year. The legislature will briefly reconvene on Wednesday, May 29, for Sine Die.
Leading into the veto session, there was rampant speculation the session would last roughly three days. This assumption quickly dissipated when rumors started to circulate that a coalition of House members would reject the budget to force Senate leadership to vote on Medicaid expansion. On Friday, the House bi-partisan Medicaid expansion coalition voted to send the first budget back to committee, and then outright failed the second budget by a vote of 42-81. The legislature then returned on Saturday morning to debate a reconstructed budget; but after a series of recesses by both chambers, the House didn't finally start the debate until that evening. During the interim, the House Medicaid expansion coalition met several times with House and Senate leadership, to no avail, to force the Senate to debate expansion. As an alternative, the Senate leadership countered and promised to have a legislative interim committee draft a Medicaid expansion bill that would be considered by the Senate next January. Against the urging of Governor Laura Kelly and the House Democrats, several House Republicans agreed to the offer and voted for the budget, which swiftly ended the session.
Entering into the 2019 legislative session, the Kansas Hospital Association knew that passing expansion would not be an easy task, especially knowing that legislative leadership in both chambers had been adamantly opposed to the idea. Toward that end, both chambers did take some version of a vote on expansion, albeit the Senate vote was a procedural vote to pull House Bill 2066 out of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. These legislative votes continue to show strong rank-and-file support for expansion in both chambers. This level of support would not exist if it wasn't for the dedicated hospital and health care advocates. KHA would like to express our appreciation to the KHA membership for your tireless work on this important policy issue that nearly crossed the finish line. KHA will now regroup with our legislative supporters in both chambers and work with them to demand that the legislative promises that were made by legislative leadership are fully followed through.