Legislative Update 6, 2017

Last week there were several key amendments that would of benefited Kansas workers, and just today there was a vote to override Governor Brownback’s Medicaid expansion veto.

On Wednesday, March 29, Representative Curtis offered an amendment tn SB 55 that would allow Wyandotte County to use prevailing wage on public construction projects. With many Legislators claiming they are in favor of local control one would think that they would be in favor of this amendment. When speaking about the amendment Representative Burroughs, who is from Wyandotte County, stated that, “the largest economic expansion that ever happened in Kansas was done using prevailing wage”. He was referring to the huge economic expansion that has happened in Wyandotte County. Legislators during debate also cited a recent UMKC study that found, “The repeal of the prevailing wage statutes in Kansas did not decrease total construction costs as claimed by proponents.” Unfortunately when the Curtis amendment came up for a vote it failed, 48-77.

On Thursday, March 30, Senator Hensley offered an amendment tn SB 135 that would restore civil service protections for Kansas state employees. In 2015 the Kansas Legislature passed, and Governor Brownback signed into law HB 2391. What HB 2391 did was it moved many state employees from classified to unclassified positions. HB 2391 says that any new position the State of Kansas offers must be an unclassified position, and it also gives powers to state agency heads to move current positions from classified to unclassified. If you are moved to or made an unclassified state employee this means you loose civil service protection and benefits. This opens up abuse for a patronage system and corruption. Senator Hensley’s amendment would repeal state agency heads ability to change vacant positions from classified to unclassified. His amendment would also remove statute that says any new state agency positions must be an unclassified, thus ensuring that future state employees have civil service protections. Unfortunately, the Hensley amendment failed 14-26. You can see how your Senator voted on the Hensley amendment here:

Today, the House attempted to override Brownback’s Medicaid expansion veto. If you recall, last week Brownback decided to veto HB 2044 which would expand Medicaid to 150,000 Kansans who currently do not have health insurance. It takes 2/3 of each chamber to override a Governors veto. This means 84 Representative would have to vote in favor of overriding his veto. Medicaid expansion is widely popular with 82% of Kansans favoring the idea. Unfortunately 44 Republicans decided to side with Brownback instead of their constituents. The final vote was 81-44, just three votes short of a override. You can see how your Representative voted  on the veto override here:


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