Legislative Update

Kansas AFL-CIO

2018 Legislative Update at Turnaround                    February 26, 2018

The 2018 Kansas State Legislature has hit Turnaround, the often-considered benchmark for the half-way point in the legislative session. From a Labor standpoint it is clear there is unwillingness to tackle anything that might be remotely controversial for the 2018 elections. The folks representing and lobbying for the business community have a real fear of helping working families on something like Worker’s Compensation. This is quite concerning when you see what the proposed bills try to accomplish.

Our Work Comp attorneys will meet this week with work comp attorneys representing the Chamber of Commerce to discuss SB 339. The bill simply provides an update on death benefits and the initial payment to a surviving spouse and / or children from the current law to reflect inflation. It is a simple fix to the Work Comp system that is long overdue, but fears are that the worker, or workers family may actually be treated with dignity and respect. How does this hurt business owners? The truth is, very little. It was revealed in a hearing for the bill that employer premiums would not be impacted, and it effects just 45 workers (fatalities) per year. SUPPORT!

Another bill catching some interest on the Senate side is SB 403 that would allow the freedom to choose your own doctor in the event of a workplace injury. Currently, employers are the selector of the health care provider for the injured worker. As you might expect, such cases where the doctor must arrive at a determination of the worker’s injury are tainted by the possibility the employers continued business could be affected. This is a real problem in terms of fairness. SUPPORT!

Despite bi-partisan support, the data and a pending court case, legislators are unwilling to even talk about HB 2059 that would revert back to the 4th AMA Edition from the current 6th AMA edition that Kansas is using. Thirty States have chosen to follow the 4th Edition because it treats workers unfair and most of the time the workers are left without a case. Experts in constitutional law testified as such in 2017 and warned of the implications. SUPPORT!

Amendments to accomplish what SB 403 and HB 2059 were both tried during a House Floor debate but each failed. It is in the Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committees in both the House and Senate where it is most evidenced of a reluctance to debate and consider labor bills, especially Work Comp bills. Each of these Committee Chairpersons have suppressed discussion on anything pro-working families. It’s time they heard from the voters! See our chart below for contact information on each member of these important committees.

Recall that Medicaid Expansion fell short by just two votes last year. Also recall that this bill had bipartisan, majority support. Governor Brownback however, exerted his veto power and getting a two-thirds vote for the veto override in the House Chamber fell two votes shy. While another hearing took place on this issue in 2018 and was given committee approval, the bill (SB 38) has not advanced for a Senate floor debate.

HB 2056 – Prevailing Wage is getting less traction this year, but the bill is “blessed” and still alive this year. The House Commerce and Labor Committee held a hearing on the bill last year and some votes “flipped” the other way on us. It is still being discussed among some lawmakers and opportunities that arise will likely be in the House Commerce and Labor Committee or by amendment. SUPPORT!

Teacher’s due process moved forward by way of an amendment on to an anti-bullying bill educators were supporting. While the bill passed out of committee, it was held “below the line” on General Orders, which means it would not be debated or considered for passage. On the last day before “Turnaround”, Rep Jim Ward motioned for a debate on the bill but the vote fell short 36-81. A new bill was introduced.

SB 285 – Is the bill establishing the joint legislative transportation task force. This bill would allow stakeholders to meet as a task force and evaluate the status of our Transportation plan and then come to a consensus on how to move forward with T-Works and other important segments of our transportation infrastructure projects. SUPPORT!

A bill to OPPOSE is HB 2457. It is a bill dubbed the Asbestos Transparency Act, but actually the bill only makes it more difficult for claimants diagnosed with mesothelioma. Clearly, this is a bill being pushed across the country by ALEC, which is the American Legislative Exchange Council. They are the conservative think-tank that relies on the deep pockets of corporations to fund them. The bill has passed the House and will now make its way over to the Senate for consideration.

The Kansas State Legislature is set to return February 28, 2018.

House Commerce Members:
Les Mason (Chair) Room 521-E 785-296-7640 les.mason@house.ks.gov
Ken Corbet (Vice Chair) Room 179-N 785-296-7679 ken.corbet@house.ks.gov
Brandon Whipple Room 452-S 785-296-7366 brandon.whipple@house.ks.gov
Dave Baker Room 167-W 785-296-6997 dave.baker@house.ks.gov
John Carmichael Room 451-S 785-296-7650 john.carmichael@house.ks.gov
J.R Claeys Room 274-W 785-296-7670 jrclaeys@house.ks.gov
Stephanie Clayton Room 512-N 785-296-7548 stephanie.clayton@house.ks.gov
Erin Davis Room 151-S 785-296=7658 erin.davis@house.ks.gov
Roger Elliot Room 168-W 785-296-7476 roger.elliot@house.ks.gov
Jan Kessinger Room 268-W 785-296-7436 jan.kessinger@house.ks.gov
Tom Phillips Room 512-N 785-296-7402 tom.phillips@house.ks.gov
Jason Probst Room 174-W 785-296-7645 jason.probst@house.ks.gov
Bradley Ralph Room 512-N 785-296-7501 brad.ralph@house.ks.gov
Louis Ruiz Room 47-S 785-296-7885 louis.ruiz@house.ks.gov
Joe Seiwert Room 481-W 785-296-7647 joe.seiwert@house.ks.gov
Jerry Stogsdill Room 452-S 785-296-7692 jerry.stogsdill@house.ks.gov
Sean Tarwater Room 268-W 785-296-7685 sean.tarwater@house.ks.gov

Senate Commerce Members:
Julia Lynn (Chair) Room 445-S 785-296-7382 julia.lynn@senate.ks.gov
Gene Sullentrop (V.Ch) Room 224-E 785-296-7385 gene.sullentrop@senate.ks.gov
Tom Holland Room 134-E 785-296-7373 tom.holland@senate.ks.gov
Larry Alley Room 541-E 785-296-7381 larry.alley@senate.ks.gov
Molly Baumgardner Room 224-E 785-296-7368 molly.baumgardner@senate.ks.gov
Barbara Bollier Room 237-E 785-296-7390 barbara.bollier@senate.ks.gov
Oletha Faust-Goudeau Room 135-E 785-296-7387 oletha.faust-goudeau@senate.ks.gov
Bruce Givens Room 225-E 785-296-7678 bruce.givens@senate.ks.gov
Robert Olson Room 236-E 785-296-7358 rob.olson@senate.ks.gov
Mary Pilcher-Cook Room 234-E 785-296-7362 mary.pilchercook@senate.ks.gov
Dinah Sykes Room 237-E 785-296-7367 dinah.sykes@senate.ks.gov