Budget, Article V, and more…

Interesting week that just passed by. Here are some of the highlights.

Budget Agreement

  • The House approved a budget compromise that was later adopted by the Senate.
  • The bill is essentially what the House approved after debate the prior week, but with some key additions:
    • The conference committee report includes compromise language that puts a hold on new STAR Bond projects in Wyandotte County. If STAR Bond reform is passed by the legislature this year, the proviso will no longer be in effect.
      • This is Senate language that was added to the CCR because of concern over tens of millions of dollars in consumption taxes would have been diverted away from the state to go toward development projects on the local level in Wyandotte County.
      • This will increase transparency on the proposed project in Wyandotte County STAR bonds by providing a second look.
    • The CCR contains language to reassure Kansans who rely on Medicare that even if the Interstate Healthcare Compact were to become law, Medicare cannot be privatized nor run by the state. Additionally, it limits potential implementation to two years down the road (should congress approve the compact).
      • Indiana approved similar language after they passed the same healthcare compact.
    • The CCR also includes language prohibiting the state from taking on more than 4 percent debt as a percentage of its total revenues (including taxes, transfers, interest, and agency earnings). The 4 percent cap applies to debt principal as well as interest.
  • The budget agreement contains key provisions already approved by the House, including funding for safety-net clinics, mental health, public safety, KPERS protection, bonding oversight, among other provisions.
  • With the completion of the budget work, the committees can proceed toward looking at recommendations from the efficiency study and addressing the recent school finance ruling.

HCR 5010

  • The House debated HCR 5010, which would join Kansas with a number of other states petitioning congress for an Article V constitutional convention. I voted in favor of this, seeing the necessity to bring into check the abuses of the federal government.
  • If 34 states make the same petition, the constitutional convention would be limited to proposing constitutional amendments on three topics:
    • Imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government.
    • Implementing congressional term limits.
    • Limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government
  • New constitutional amendments proposed by the constitutional convention would require ratification by 38 states.
  • A constitutional convention is a method created by the founding fathers for use in this type of situation.
  • The resolution will be up for final action Monday and requires 84 votes in the House for passage.

Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

  • The House approved a bill expediting licensure for Kansas doctors to be able to practice medicine in the 12 other states that have joined a new interstate license compact.
  • The bill will not only expand practice options for Kansas doctors, but Kansans across the state, by increasing access to specialists who may reside in others states.
  • A patient in Kansas could be treated by a doctor from the Mayo Clinic without having to travel to Minnesota, because the Mayo physician can get an expedited Kansas license.
  • The compact will especially help patients in rural Kansas by increasing telemedicine options from out of state specialist physicians. New technology has greatly expanded telemedicine treatment techniques.
  • Doctors will be able to obtain an expedited license in any compact state, allowing them to treat patients.
  • If doctors choose to practice telemedicine in another state they must adhere to the jurisdiction of the state medical board where their patient is located.
  • The compact does not change a state‚Äôs existing medical practice act.
  • The licensure option is completely voluntary. Doctors who do not want to practice in other states are under no obligation to meet the licensure requirements of the compact.
  • The states that have already enacted the compact include: Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, West Virginia, Alabama, and Montana.
  • There are eleven other states who are considering joining the compact at this time.

Next week’s update will provide a more personal view, including some of my convictions on the current state of affairs, so stay tuned.

At your service,

Randy