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Mark's Musings - 2017 Legislative Session
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This Week in the Legislature

We began the week observing the holiday named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King lived and worked in a contentious time in our country’s history. Dr. King and those who marched with him were brave in the face of those who opposed them. In the end, they made a difference, and his message for unity is as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago. During our floor session, this past Tuesday, Representative Barbara Ballard from Lawrence remarked about Dr. King’s mission and life. She also read a quote attributed to Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1968. Her quote is “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” Service comes in different forms school, community, family, government. However you serve, thank you.

My committees continued to receive informational briefings from agencies and organizations. These presentations provide extensive background for committee members as we prepare to hear bills. Following is a brief review.

Water and Environment
(Tuesday/Thursday, 9 – 10:30)


Kansas Division of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, K-State and Kansas Geological Survey spoke about issues related to water use and research into such things as alternative crops, specifically grain sorghum. On Thursday, we heard from significant water users, such as the ag community, municipal and rural water entities. An issue that has been debated for many years is how to pay for the state’s water plan. In 2015, Governor Brownback formed the Blue Ribbon Funding Task Force for Water Resource Management to find a solution. Their proposal is to carve out 0.1 cents of the state sales tax to be used for funding the state water plan. One committee member noted the state does not have a good track record in locking down that type of funding in future years. HB 2032 has been introduced and addresses water plan funding, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications
(Monday/Wednesday, 9 – 10:30)


We heard presentations from the major telecommunications companies, and the Clean Energy Business Council. Some rural areas of our state are not able to get high speed internet service. The issues the companies have is how to get that service to those residences in an affordable manner. AT&T is researching how to use electric lines to transmit the data stream. It may be an answer to how these isolated areas get internet service.

Transportation Committee
(Monday – Friday, 1:30 – 3:00)


Kansas Highway Patrol and the Motor Vehicle Division made presentations. A member asked the KHP if they were concerned with the concealed carry law. He said they were not concerned with the law since they always assume someone is carrying a weapon. However, their concern has been on the increased power of the weapons they see along with the expanded clip sizes. Our law enforcement officers and staff protect our safety because they train for a multitude of hazardous situations. My hat is off to all of them!

Education Committee
(Monday – Friday, 3:30 – 5:00)


First, Dr. Bill Mullins, chairman of the Kansas Coalition of Innovative School Districts educated the committee (no pun intended) about the innovative school concept. It’s about two years old and appears they are just getting to the point of incorporating some of their innovative ideas among the seven participating school districts. You can find out more at http://innovativedistricts.com/. Dr. Larry Isaak, president of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) discussed the opportunities that MHEC provides to Kansas students wanting to attend a university in another state within the compact. Our daughter participated in this program when she decided to attend the University of Minnesota. The Compact is able to provide a reduced out of state tuition for those that qualify and have other services available to school districts, non-profits and local governments. Their website is www.mhec.org. Last, we heard from Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education. He walked us through the Kansans CAN initiative which is a new vision for Kansas K-12 education that provides support and resources for individual success. The outcomes to be measured are:

Kindergarten readiness;
Individual Plan of Study based on career interest;
Graduation rates;
Postsecondary attendance/attainment;
Social/emotional growth measured locally.

It’s exciting to see our Commissioner and the State Board of Education focused on student success, but as he mentioned often in his presentation it will take everyone, including parents and communities, to reach the full potential of the board’s vision. Find out more at http://www.ksde.org/Agency/Fiscal-and-Administrative-Services/Communications-and-Recognition-Programs/Vision-Kansans-Can

Live Streaming

 
The 2016 Legislature authorized the expansion of livestreaming Committee rooms in the Statehouse.  Previously, only the Old Supreme Court Room (346-S) could livestream.  For the 2017 Session, Rooms 112-N, 548-S, and 582-N are now livestreaming (audio only).  Kansans can listen in live to the following Committee meetings:
  • 112-N: House Appropriations (9 AM); House Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development (1:30 PM); and House Judiciary (3:30 PM)
  • 346-S: House Federal and State Affairs (9 AM); Senate Judiciary (10:30 AM); K-12 Education Budget Committee (1:30); and House Taxation (3:30 PM).  346-S streams bo th audio and video feed.
  • 548-S: Senate Commerce (8:30 AM); Senate Assessment and Taxation (9:30 AM); Senate Ways and Means Committee (10:30 AM); and Senate Utilities (1:30 PM)
  • 582-N: House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications (9:00 M/W); House Water and Environment (9:00 T/TH); House Transportation (1:30 PM); and House Agriculture (3:30 PM)
To listen in live, go to http://kslegislature.org/li/b2017_18/committees/ and click on the specific Committee that you are interested in following.  Later in the Session, perhaps late February or early March, the following rooms will be added to audio live streaming: Rooms 152-S, 218-N, 281-N, and
546-S. 

Financing for the livestreaming project was made possible from grants from the Information Network of Kansas (INK) Board.

KanCare Update


Thursday afternoon, news broke that our state’s application to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (also called CMS) to extend KanCare—Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program that provides coverage for over 400,000 individuals—for another year, was denied. The House Health and Human Services Committee will receive a briefing on the issue from Secretary Susan Mosier of Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Monday, January 23 at 1:30pm in Room 546-S. The report identifies a serious lack of oversight on the part of KDHE. Kansas has thirty days to respond to the report, and I am anxiously awaiting that response. I believe the oversight of KanCare needs strong leadership. Effective oversight of this program is critical to the delivery of quality health services to Kansans.
 
A brief KanCare primer… KanCare is the program through which the State of Kansas administers Medicaid. Launched in January, 2013, KanCare is delivering whole-person, integrated care to more than 415,000 people across the state. Kansas has contracted with three health plans, or managed care organizations (MCOs), to coordinate health care for all people enrolled in Medicaid. The KanCare health plans are Amerigroup of Kansas, Inc. (Amerigroup), Sunflower Health Plan (Sunflower), and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas (United).
 
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) administer KanCare within the State of Kansas. KDHE maintains financial management and contract oversight of the KanCare program while KDADS administers the Medicaid waiver programs for disability services, mental health and substance abuse, as well as operates the state hospitals and institutions. Each Medicaid consumer is assigned to one of the KanCare health plans. Consumers in KanCare receive all the same services provided under the previous Medicaid delivery system, plus additional services. The inclusion of services provided through the Home and Community Based Services waiver for consumers with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) became part of KanCare in February 2014. In addition to the services that were available to Medicaid consumers prior to 2013, the three health plans offer new services to their members, such as preventative dental care for adults, heart/lung transplants and bariatric surgery (excerpted from www.kancare.ks.gov).
 
Enrollment in KanCare has steadily increased the last several years. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) had the effect of increasing enrollments as more people sought health care coverage and some discovered they were eligible for KanCare based on their income.
 
The upward trend has created a backlog, and for the last several years the state was not able to process eligibility applications as quickly as it received them.  Under federal rules, most applications must be processed within 45 days. Several factors led to the backlog, including the installation of a new computer system called the Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System (KEES) as well as an administrative change which funneled all Medicaid applications through a single KanCare clearinghouse run by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.  At one point, more than 10,000 applications had been pending 45 days or more.
 
The determination made by CMS is not surprising. There are serious problems with KanCare and we will find a solution to serving our most vulnerable citizens.

Pages:


Please call my office if you have a child or young friend that would like to serve as a page for me. Each legislator has a limited number of days available for pages. The Page Office requests pages be at least 12 years old.
 

Quote of the Day:


You must do the things you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

If you have questions about the activities in my committees or want to share your views on other issues before the legislature, please feel free to e-mail, text or call me. If you are visiting the Capitol, please stop by to say hello. I may be in a committee but my assistant, Deborah, will be glad to take a note.
 
Representative Mark Schreiber
Visit my website at http://www.schreiberforkansas.com/
 
Home
1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, KS   66801
Home: 620-342-6954
Cell: 785-230-0897
Email: mschreiber82@gmail.com
 
 
Legislative Office
Room 167-W, State Capitol Building
300 SW 10th Street
Topeka, KS   66612
Phone: 785-296-2721
Email: mark.schreiber@house.ks.gov

 Paid for by Mark Schreiber for Kansas House – Cindy Lore, Treasurer
 

Contact Mark

 

StateHouse Office

Room 167-W
300 SW 10th Street,
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: 785-296-2721
Mark.Schreiber@house.ks.gov

Home

1722 Yucca Lane
Emporia, Kansas 66801
Phone: 620-342-6954
mark@schreiberforkansas.com  
 

Communities
of the 60th District

 

Resources

Copyright © 2017 Mark Schreiber for Kansas House, All rights reserved.


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