The Kansas Legislature got off to a fast start, after gaveling in on January 11th. All 165 members of the legislature took the oath of office that day. Things look different for those of us who have been in Topeka for a few years, but adapting to “new normals” is what we Kansans do.
House Passes “Value Them Both” Amendment
The “Value Them Both” constitutional amendment is one step closer to letting the people of Kansas decide. Friday, January 22nd, the House passed the Constitutional Amendment with the required two-thirds majority vote. If approved by the Kansas Senate, Kansas voters will have the opportunity in the August 2022 election to vote on whether they believe they, through their elected Representatives and Senators, have the right to regulate abortion. The Senate is scheduled to take up the amendment this week.
You might recall the amendment came about as a result of a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling, known as the Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt decision. Due to this ruling, current law – such as parental consent for minors, 24-hour waiting periods and even simple safety standards for abortion clinics – are left open to litigation and very likely to be overturned. The “Value Them Both” amendment will allow Kansas voters the opportunity to weigh in.
House Passes COVID-19 Plan: Keeping Kansas Safely Open
On Thursday, January 21st, the House overwhelmingly passed SB 14 on a bipartisan vote of 119-3. SB 14 is the Legislature’s response to keeping Kansas safely open through the COVID-19 pandemic. Modeled after last year’s 2020 Special Session HB 2016, SB 14 continues the state of disaster emergency until March 31, 2021, and protects the checks and balances the 2020 Legislature put in place. This includes protecting Kansas’ ability to continue receiving federal disaster resources and prohibiting the Governor from being able to shutdown Kansas businesses.
SB 14 also protects temporary licensure for certain health care providers, access to telemedicine and business immunity from unwarranted COVID-19 claims so that health care providers and small business owners can continue to care for their patients and safely operate through the duration of the pandemic.
The bill passed the Senate earlier that week (on a bipartisan vote of 34-1), and the governor is expected to sign it.