One veto override attempt, a couple of resolutions, and it’s done…

There was only one attempt to override any of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s recent vetoes. This one was on Senate Bill 29 – a bill expanding the availability of so-called “junk insurance” plans. These plans get around the Affordable Care Act in an effort to provide temporary coverage for individuals who may have lost coverage. The reason they are often called “junk insurance” is because they can use pre-existing conditions to deny coverage or put severe limits on coverage. SB 29 would have extended the amount of time they could be used. Governor Kelly vetoed the bill.

It’s interesting that Republicans back the expansion of these junk insurance plans but continue to oppose Medicaid expansion which would actually provide real health insurance to some 150,000 currently uninsured Kansans!

The Senate voted to override that veto but the House later voted to sustain the veto. The override attempt failed and the bill is now dead.

Other than that, there was a vote in both chambers on Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1616 which urges the Governor to cut off extended unemployment benefits. Republicans voting for the resolution are doing so at the request of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. They claim Kansans make too much money on unemployment and won’t take low-paying jobs. The real solution, of course, is to pay living wages to attract employees. The resolution passed both chambers but has no effect since it is just intended to pressure the Governor into cutting off those benefits.

Over in the House, they passed a resolution condemning the Palestinians for the recent violent incidents in Israel and the Occupied West Bank. Some legislators tried to urge the body to consider that both sides bear responsibility for the recent upsurge in violence. The resolution, HR 6018, was adopted by the House. No vote was needed in the Senate as it is a House resolution only. Resolutions like this one are intended to just “send a message” and have no actual impact.

With that, both chambers adjourned sine die until January 10, 2022, at 2:00 pm.

Three House Democrats Leaving

Three House Democrats have announced they are leaving the legislature after this session.

Rep. Brett Parker (HD 29, Overland Park) is leaving to pursue other opportunities and will be involved in work with a new voter program organized by former Senator Barbara Bollier.

Rep. Jennifer Day (HD 48, Overland Park) has built a new house in a different district and can no longer serve in her current district.

Rep. Elizabeth Bishop (HD 88, Wichita) is leaving for a variety of issues including health and family.

Their replacements will be chosen by Democratic precinct captains from their districts.

Will There Be More Departures?

There are often announcements of legislative retirements once the session is over and time will tell if there will be more.

However, we are wondering about the fate of a couple of Republican legislators.

Senator Gene Suellentrop (SD 27, R-Wichita) is facing a variety of charges stemming from an alleged drunk driving incident earlier this year. One of his charges is a felony and, if convicted, he would be ineligible to serve. Some speculate he may decide to resign just because the incident has tarnished his reputation.

Representative Mark Samsel (HD 5, R-Wellsville) has been charged with several misdemeanors stemming from an incident in a Wellsville secondary school while he was substitute teaching during the April break. While none of the charges is a felony, the fallout from the incident may result in his resignation. He has returned to serve in the House during the veto session and again on sine die.

New Senate Leaders

Suellentrop, who had been serving as the Senate majority leader, was stripped of his leadership role after being charged. The Senate Republicans held an election to replace him in that role. Senator Larry Alley (SD 32, R-Winfield) has been elected majority leader after having served as assistant majority leader. Senator Renee Erickson (SD 30, R-Wichita) has been elected assistant majority leader to replace Alley.