Veto Session, Part 1: Report
by: Lauren Tice Miller
The following is an update on proposed legislation as of adjournment of the veto session, part 1, of the Kansas Legislature on April 29, 2022. The legislature is set to return for the veto session, part 2, on May 23, 2022. (CCR = Conference Committee Report; this is the grouping of legislation that is agreed upon during conference committee negotiations. Conference committees consist of the 3 Representatives and 3 Senators from the associated legislative committee.)
- Omnibus Budget (CCR for HB 2510)
- Senate vote: 33-7; House vote: 95-22
- This is a follow-up budget that incorporates any necessary adjustments based on previously passed legislation and includes a fiscal note and those requested by the governor. There were no significant changes made. There is a projected ending balance of $2.1 billion in FY 2022 and $2.4 billion in FY 2023.
- K-12 Monster Budget Bill (CCR on S Sub for Sub for HB 2567):
- Senate vote: 24-14; House vote: 75-45
- The bill includes appropriations that satisfy the Gannon school funding lawsuit. It does not include additional funding for special education.
- It also includes 17 unnecessary policy provisions. All but four of these policies never had a standalone vote in either chamber. Two provisions never had committee hearings. Two provisions never passed out of committee. The most egregious of the provisions include:
- Third Grade Literacy: This provision started as a section within a merit pay bill (HB 2690) that came shortly after the House K-12 Budget Committee heard a presentation from a group of educational experts outlining what is needed to get 3rd graders to read at grade level. The bill included none of their recommendations. Instead, this provision usurps the authority of the State Board of Education by making mandates on school districts related to the instruction of literacy. It also creates additional (and likely costly) administrative burdens. KNEA opposed this in its original form and continues to oppose it.
- Part-Time Enrollment: This provision started as a standalone bill (HB 2514) but never had a vote on it by the House as a whole. It requires local school boards to adopt a policy to allow private school or home school students to enroll part-time in any courses, programs, or services offered by the school district. Coupled with the open borders provision in the bill, the part-time student would not have to be a resident of the district. KNEA opposed this in its original form and continues to oppose it.
- Open Borders: The Conference Committee primarily adopted the Senate position on this issue, which was originally contained in SB 455. The House version was originally contained in HB 2553. The bill requires local school boards to adopt a policy that establishes the capacity of the district to accept non-residential students in each grade level of each district building and hold a public hearing on or before January 1, 2024. The student-teacher ratio for each grade determines capacity. This policy does not factor in the individual needs of the student. Then, beginning in the 2024-25 school year, any student wishing to transfer may apply between June 1 and June 30. If there are more students than seats available, a lottery is held to determine who fills the available seats by July 15. If the accepted student requires additional services, such as special education needs, the district will be required to make the appropriate accommodations before school begins in August. Then, once accepted, a district is required to accommodate the student – regardless of any changes to capacity – until they graduate. Students cannot be admitted or denied a seat solely based on ethnicity, national origin, gender, income level, disabling condition, proficiency in the English language, measure of achievement, aptitude, or athletic ability. There are many issues with this provision: oversteps local control, increases in administrative costs (i.e., funds not going to classrooms, impacts local taxpayer costs negatively, and so on. The question also remains: Is this the first step to forced consolidation of all school districts in Kansas? Read more about these concerns from a new coalition. KNEA opposed this in its original form and continues to oppose it.
- Voucher Eligibility Expansion: Rep. Patrick Penn (R-Wichita) requested during the House K-12 Budget discussion on the original House monster K-12 budget that a provision be added to expand the age of eligibility from 6 years old to 7 years old for the tax credit for low-income student scholarship contributions. This was not part of any standalone bill; it was offered as a conceptual amendment during the committee process. KNEA has consistently opposed this voucher scheme, and continues to do so. (Related: A new legislative post-audit published April 2 found that not all Scholarship Granting Organizations comply with the law. Read the full report here.)
- Accountability Reports: This was another provision initially contained within the House merit pay bill (HB 2690). It creates an incredible administrative burden on the Kansas State Department of Education by mandating specific reports to their liking rather than relying on the reports on student performance already generated by the KSDE. There is no doubt that no matter what kind of data is gathered, analyzed, and reported by KSDE it will be pulled out of context and used to perpetuate further misinformation about the performance of our schools, which is a direct insult to educators. KNEA opposed this in its original form and continues to oppose it.
- The Conference Committee did remove language previously added that would have allowed Kansas tax dollars to be used for scholarships to out-of-state students for Kansas community colleges and technical schools.
- In short, the only way the extreme conservatives could get these bad policies passed is by bundling them with school funding that satisfies Gannon. This budget is riddled with unnecessary and bad policy that stomps all over local control and the constitutional authority of the State Board of Education. Additionally, this sets a terrible precedent for passing laws. Both chambers agreed to a set of joint rules to prevent monster pieces of legislation like this one from occurring in the first place. Yet, we saw those very rules manipulated into irrelevance during the debate on this bill. Make no mistake; this is what happens with the supermajority of extreme conservatives in the Kansas Legislature.
- Next steps: The bill is on its way to the governor’s desk. Once received, she will have ten calendar days to veto it, sign it, or allow it to become law without her signature.
- Open Enrollment
- Open enrollment is bundled into the K-12 monster budget bill.
- Part-time enrollment
- Part-time enrollment is bundled into the K-12 monster budget bill.
- “Parents’ Bill of Rights” aka Teacher Demoralization & Censorship Bill = DEAD FOR NOW.
- Governor Kelly vetoed CCR for SB 58.
- The Senate voted to override the veto with success. The vote of 27-12. It then went to the House.
- The House failed to override the veto. The vote of 72-50 was 12 votes shy of the 2/3 majority (or 84 votes) needed to override the veto.
- Veto is sustained; the bill is dead, for now.
- Next steps: There has been talk of a motion to reconsider when the legislature returns for the veto session, part 2, on May 23. Be sure to thank those who voted to sustain the governor’s veto.
- Transgender Athlete Prohibition = DEAD FOR NOW
- Governor Kelly vetoed CCR for SB 160 in conference committee.
- The Senate voted to override the veto with success. The vote of 28-10. It then went to the House.
- The House failed to override the veto. The vote of 81-41 was just 3 votes shy of the 2/3 majority (or 84 votes) needed to override the veto.
- Next steps: There has been talk of a motion to reconsider when the legislature returns for veto session, part 2, on May 23. Be sure to thank those who voted to sustain the governor’s veto.
- Computer Science Curriculum Mandate + Career Technical Education Pilot Program
- A conference committee combined the computer science curriculum mandate (Sub for HB 2466) with a bill establishing a CTE credential pilot program (HB 2631) to create CCR for Sub for HB 2466.
- Funding needed to create the $1 million to create a pre-service grant program with the Kansas Board of Regents and the $1 million to create a professional development grant program with the State Board of Education was provided in the omnibus budget and the K-12 budget, respectively.
- Next steps: The bill is on its way to the governor’s desk. Once received, she will have ten calendar days to veto it, sign it, or allow it to become law without her signature.
- Kansas Promise Scholarship Act:
- This is one of the provisions added to the K-12 monster budget bill.
- Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship = SIGNED INTO LAW.
- The bill introduced by Rep. Mari-Lynn Poskin with bipartisan support to double appropriations for the Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship (HB 2626) was included in the mega-budget bill that passed before the session adjourned for spring break. Governor Kelly signed it into law.
- Academic “Transparency” = DEAD FOR NOW
- Senate versions: SB 363 and SB 393 never made it out of committee
- The House version is contained within the House’s version of the so-called Parents Bill of Rights (Sub for HB 2662). It made it out of committee, but no further action was taken.
- Survey “Transparency”
- Sections of HB 2513 that amend parental notification and consent requirements regarding nonacademic tests, questionnaires, and surveys regarding a student’s personal and private attitudes, values, beliefs, or practices were added to the K-12 monster budget bill. This will directly impact Communities that Care surveys and other questionnaires used for social-emotional purposes.
- Merit Pay = DEAD FOR NOW
- Provisions related to merit pay that were contained within HB 2690 remain in the House K-12 Budget committee. There was not a merit pay equivalent introduced in the Senate.
- Voucher Accounts = DEAD FOR NOW.
- House version: What started out as HB 2550, the bill establishing a major voucher program under the guise of “educational savings accounts,” was bundled into Sub for HB 2615 just before turnaround in late February. It was then stripped out of that bill in committee.
- Senate version: SB 475, creating the hope scholarship program to provide education savings accounts for students. No action has been taken on this bill in the Senate.
- Vision Screenings (SB 62) = SIGNED INTO LAW
- This is a carryover bill from the 2021 Session that establishes the Kansas children’s vision health and school ready commission to make recommendations on when to have vision screenings in school. It is now CCR for SB 62 as it was bundled with SB 185 (a non-controversial bill related to the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing). KNEA did not take a position on this bill.
- Liability Protections for Work-Based Programs (H Sub for SB 91) = SIGNED INTO LAW
- This is another carryover bill from the 2021 Session. It provides liability protection for businesses, municipalities, and educational institutions that participate in high school work-based learning programs. The conference committee negotiated a few technical changes. CCR for H Sub SB 91, then passed both chambers. KNEA did not take a position on the bill.
- Driver’s Ed Programs to DMV (SB 215) = SIGNED INTO LAW
- This is another carryover bill from the 2021 Session. It transfers authority for postsecondary driver’s education programs and driver training schools from the board of regents to the department of revenue. In the Conference Committee, it was combined with HB 2596 (pertaining to school districts contracting with transportation network companies like Uber). The bundled piece then became CCR for SB 215. The bill passed both chambers unanimously. KNEA did not take a position on either bill.
- Next steps: This bill now heads to Governor Kelly’s desk.
- Changes to Federal Impact Aid
- This is one of the provisions added to the K-12 monster budget bill.
- Critical Race Theory Prohibition = DEAD FOR NOW.
- SB 515: Never had a hearing; never made it out of committee.
- Gun Safety Training Standards = DEAD FOR NOW.
- SB 522: Passed out of committee, but no further action has been taken. KNEA opposed this bill.
- Due process
- HB 2671 was introduced and referred to the Committee on K-12 Education Budget. It never had a hearing. No action was taken.
Just as we anticipated at the end of the regular session, a massive public health bill came out during the veto session. In less than 24 hours, a conference committee assembled CCR for Sub for SB 34, which contains the provisions that will undoubtedly make it more difficult to control the spread of any contagious or infectious disease in Kansas. KNEA opposed similar provisions contained in different bills earlier this session. The CCR specifically contains the following provisions:
- Prohibits any governmental entity or public official from ordering or otherwise requiring a person to wear a face mask to respond to any contagious or infectious disease. (There is currently a tuberculosis outbreak in Wyandotte County.) This provision does not apply to medical care facilities.
- Prohibits any governmental entity or public official from issuing COVID-19 vaccination passports without individual consent; requiring a COVID-19 vaccination passport within the state for any purpose; or denying access to places accessible to the general public based on an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status.
- Amends the Kansas Emergency Management Act to prohibit the governor or a governmental entity or public official from requiring the wearing of face masks in response to any contagious or infectious diseases during a state of disaster emergency or state of local disaster emergency.
- Strips authority from the Secretary of Health & Environment and local health officers to order any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other law enforcement officer of the state to enforce any order regarding infectious and contagious diseases.
- Prohibits requiring tests and immunizations for first-time enrollment at schools and preschools or daycare programs by the Secretary of Health & Environment, under circumstances where it has not received full approval by the FDA for the age of the student the requirement applies.
- Senate vote: 23-17; House vote: 64-53
Next steps: The bill is on its way to the governor’s desk. Once received she will have ten calendar days to veto it, sign it, or allow it to become law without her signature.
- CCR for HB 2056 includes changes to election laws negotiated within the conference committee. The CCR passed the Senate 21-17, but it did not get a vote in the House.
- The Conference Committee removed the changes to when advance ballots are accepted, but it still includes a number of limitations on ballot drop boxes. KNEA continues to oppose any effort that restricts access to voting.
- Next steps: The House did not take this up for a vote during veto session, part 1, but could still take it up when they return for veto session, part 2.
- Property Tax Changes = SIGNED INTO LAW
- An assortment of property tax, income tax, and sales tax provisions were bundled into CCR for S Sub for HB 2239 (this includes much of what was contained in SB 282). Senate vote: 39-0; House vote: 103-10. Governor Kelly signed this bill into law.
- CCR for S Sub for HB 2597 includes a number of proposals related to income and sales taxes. None of which are good. The CCR came out of the conference committee but never made it to either chamber floor for a vote.
- Next steps: No action was taken during the veto session, part 1. It could still come back up during the veto session, part 2.
- CCR for HB 2106 contains a plan to gradually phase out the state sales tax rate on food, entirely eliminating it by January 1, 2025. This plan was being called a compromise or a good starting point, but ultimately the state budget surplus would allow for this to happen right away.
- Senate vote: 39-0; House vote: 114-3
- Next steps: It now heads to the governor’s desk. Governor Kelly has indicated she plans to sign it into law, but has called on the legislature to come back during the veto session, part 2, and adjust it so that it is eliminated as of July 1, 2022.
SOCIAL SAFETY NETS
- A bill that makes it more difficult for Kansans ages 18 to 49 without children or without the custody of children to receive food assistance (S Sub for HB 2448) passed the Senate on a vote of 27-12. This bill contains the contents of Senate Bill 501, a bill requested for introduction by a Florida-based conservative lobbying organization. They were the only proponent, while there were nearly a dozen opponents. This bill went to Conference, and a few minor changes were negotiated. CCR for S Sub for HB 2448 then passed both chambers.
- Governor Kelly vetoed CCR for S Sub for HB 2448. The House voted to override the veto on a vote of 86-36. The Senate voted to override the veto on a vote of 29-11. Veto override was successful; the bill will now become law.
- KSLEG MAPS
- CCR for Sub for SB 563 contains the redistricting maps for the Kansas Senate (known as Liberty 3), the Kansas House of Representatives (known as Free State 3F), and the Kansas State Board of Education (known as Apple 7). KNEA has been watching these maps closely but did not take a formal position on any of them.
- STATE BOE MAP
- Bundled with the House and Senate maps in CCR for Sub for SB 563. The Kansas Supreme Court will not automatically review this map. A separate challenge of this map is anticipated.
- CONGRESSIONAL MAP
- The congressional map was struck down by a Wyandotte County judge late in April. The opinion has been appealed. It now goes to the Kansas Supreme Court for review. The review is scheduled for May 16 at 1:30 p.m.
- CCR for SB 421 transfers $1.125 billion from the State General Fund to KPERS. This is broken into two transfers. One is for $253.9 million, which pays off early the layering payments established after Governor Brownback skipped several KPERS payments. This early payoff was proposed by Governor Kelly in her original budget proposal; it will ultimately save the state $172.4 million of state general fund dollars. The other portion of the bill is $871.1 million that would be applied to the KPERS-School unfunded actuarial liability. This extra payment was initially proposed as $1 billion by Derek Schmidt, who is Governor Kelly’s challenger in the upcoming election. Although, on the surface, this seems like it would be a good thing, there is uncertainty as to what it does structurally to the budget, and it is questionable whether this is just an attempt to load up KPERS to use, once again, as a credit card should there be a Schmidt administration.
- House vote: 106-10; Senate vote: 26-10
- Next steps: The bill is on its way to the governor’s desk. Once received she will have ten calendar days to veto it, sign it, or allow it to become law without her signature. KNEA supported Governor Kelly’s proposal to pay off the layered payments early. We did not take a position on the other portion of the bill.
Two Veto Sessions?
by: Timothy Graham
The word perplexed could probably be used to describe the reaction “oldtimers” may have upon hearing that the 2022 legislature will have two veto sessions.
As described many times, what used to be a short, and sometimes uneventful “veto session” has evolved over the years into the “wrap-up session.” This has occurred as many controversial issues have been delayed until the end of the session.
Why? The answer to this question depends upon perspective. My interpretation is that it is mainly used for strategic reasons. Changing the session’s focus, formerly known as “veto,” and pushing it into May serves as a “wear them down” tactic. With graduations, Mother’s Day, and summer activities beginning in the first half of May, Legislators have been far less likely to hold out for sound policy and far more likely to settle for less than satisfactory legislative proposals.
The speeches for this part of the session were written years ago and only needed to be dusted off and reused. They all start with something like, “the hour is late.” Next, you’ll likely hear, “This bill is not perfect.” Or “I can find many reasons not to like this bill.” And then you should expect the resounding “BUT….” Which moves right into phrases like, “the train is leaving the station” or “it only gets worse from here.”
Ultimately, these speeches end with the time-honored “CAVE,” where reasonable legislators give in to some of the more unreasonable legislators and lend their votes for poor legislation.
But what about this second veto session business? At the moment, the second veto session is scheduled for May 23 because the Congressional Redistricting proposal that was passed, vetoed, and overridden, was struck down by a Wyandotte County court. This decision was appealed and will be heard by the Kansas Supreme Court on May 16. The hearing outcome will dictate whether action should be taken on a possible new Congressional Redistricting plan on that May 23 date.
This appears to be a legitimate reason for the second session. Unfortunately, this also allows legislators to fall back on the wear them down scenario mentioned above to cause mischief. Let’s hope the second veto session is relatively uneventful. We will undoubtedly be following closely.
Time to Rest?
The greatest feeling for Statehouse veterans is when the Legislature wraps up and goes home for the year. On the professional side of things, they can catch up on returning those long-overdue calls and e-mails. Maybe they have a stack of papers that need to be filed, shredded, or recycled. They often have research projects or other constituent issues that need attention.
On the personal side of things, it’s a great time to manage your physical and mental health by catching up on those dental and eye appointments, catching up on some sleep, and hopefully, having that much-deserved vacation.
2022 is no different…except it is.
We’re in a non-presidential election year. The entire Kansas House is up for election, as are all statewide elected officers for the state of Kansas. State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, and Governor are all standing for election.
Political pundits predict a bad election night for candidates that typically are pro-education. They’re not in trouble because they’re pro-education but in danger because most of our allies belong to political camps facing challenging circumstances.
Strike One: History will tell us that the immediate election following a change in the White House is tough for the party in power.
Strike Two: President Biden’s approval ratings aren’t particularly ideal.
Strike Three: Inflation makes the electorate uneasy, and polling indicates that it is a driving issue in this cycle.
The drama surrounding United States Supreme Court’s impending ruling on Roe v. Wade could undoubtedly significantly impact the election. Still, it’s not clear how impactful it will be yet.
What does this mean for us?
Our allies need our people-power.
Those we support who are true and consistent champions of public education will likely be outspent by the deep pockets of the super-wealthy. But we can outwork our opponents and give our candidates a real chance to win.
This work is key to electing pro-education legislators.
And despite the early pontification regarding the bleak outlook in November, we can still make a difference here in Kansas.
Here are a few suggestions.
Tim’s Top Ten Things-To-Do
10. Register to Vote. https://www.ksvotes.org/
9. Know which districts you reside in. Find out here: https://www.ksvotes.org/
8. Commit June 1st to memory. Candidate filing deadline (notwithstanding a delay because of the redistricting litigation, this date will likely be delayed to June 10th or later).
7. Get to know the candidates running in the districts mentioned above.
6. Decide what you can do to help. Can you walk parades or door to door? Can you donate to candidates or KPAC (www.joinkpac.org)? Can you do something from home like volunteer to work at a phone bank?
5. Look for KPAC recommendations
4. Commit August 2nd to memory. Primary election
3. Vote in the primary
2. Commit November 8th to memory. General Election.
1. Look for KPAC recommendations and VOTE FOR PRO-EDUCATION CANDIDATES IN THE GENERAL ELECTION.
These things sound simple and obvious, but the primary and general elections will be here quicker than we can imagine. Time is the one resource a candidate can not get more of, so please see the list above and start planning today.
KNEA has a process of screening candidates and making recommendations based on that process. Those involved are diligently putting these pieces in place already.
Contributing money to candidates is always essential, but our real power is walking with our candidates in parades, going door to door with the candidate, and doing literature drops.
The number of elections for the Kansas Legislature that have been decided by less than one hundred votes in the last ten years has been remarkable. If we show up, we can make a difference in electing candidates and show others that we are involved and willing to exercise our first amendment rights to protect public education, educators, and our students.