Baking the cake

Well, they got through Week 1 of the 2020 legislative session without any injuries (except a
House member who slipped on the ice returning from a reception) and no real scraps under the
dome…but they’re coming…

Biggest of those scraps starts Tuesday with hearings on a resolution that would amend the
Kansas Constitution to allow the Kansas Legislature to regulate abortion in Kansas. The Kansas
Supreme Court in April held that Kansans’ decisions to have an abortion are strictly a personal
right, not subject to legislative regulations or prohibition…unless Kansans vote to put that
regulatory authority in the hands of 63 House and 21 Senate members, plus the governor, of

Legislators who oppose abortion want voters to hand them that regulatory authority at a likely
August statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would do just that. Let the Legislature
decide what restrictions to put on abortion, or possibly just outlaw it save for pregnancies which
are the result of (provable, and when and where?) rape or incest, or which threaten the health of
the mother.

Yes, those legislators who believe in hands-off governments, unless the issue is budgets, or fence
law, or naming of bridges, want to offer anti-abortion voters the chance to hand them the
authority to pare away that Supreme Court defined individual constitutional right. It’s one of
those times—especially for conservative legislators—when they tend to look away from their
“small government,” “reduce regulation,” “personal freedom” mantras.

And that’s the big legislative fight this year that is likely to cast a shadow over nearly everything
else that happens under the Dome.

But, that’s just the kickoff.

Hearings open later this week on the Gov. Laura Kelly-sought expansion of Medicaid (or
KanCare, in the argot of Kansas) to provide 90 percent federal/10 percent Kansas-financed
health care for the state’s poor, which sounds like a pretty good idea, save for the specter of
offering that health care to Kansans who are fit but just don’t have jobs and aren’t in a state-
supervised program that will help them find jobs so they can pay for their own health care.

The issue there is, of course, those jobless “able-bodied” folks who would get the coverage,
while if they just got good enough jobs, they could buy their own health insurance.

Behind that issue is the (begrudging?) cooperation between Kelly and Senate Majority Leader
Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, to agree on the Medicaid bill, which most Republican legislative
leaders don’t care for.

Budget talks haven’t started yet, and that’s the under-the-cover battle of what gets spent where;
Kelly wants to spend on expanded social services and ease off seizing money from the Kansas
Department of Transportation so it can get back to building roads. Oh, and she wants to combine
the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department for Aging and
Disabilities Services into one Kansas Department of Human Services. The agencies do much of
the same work, and it sounds like one of those executive orders that lawmakers might just let
happen, but conservative legislators are seeing about $25 million in Juvenile Justice funds
proposed to be moved under the consolidation cover and are unsure about that.

What’s left? Nearly everything that might be persuasive on a campaign brochure ranging from
income and property taxes to lawmakers’ attempts to dissect Kelly’s proposed refundable income
tax credit for the sales tax some poor folks might have spent on groceries.

Practically? We’re watching the ingredients of the 2020 legislative cake…just wondering how
they’re going to be stirred and baked.