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This Week at the Capitol with Rep. Shannon Francis

Joe Denoyer - February 18, 2024 8:07 pm

This week in Topeka Brady Kappelmann stopped by to visit on the needs at Kansas State University. Brady serves as Speaker Pro Tem of the Student Senate. It’s always great to see our youth succeed. They are a testament to our community.

Marshall Lewis, Executive Director of Southwest Guidance Center, and I visited about their transition to the new funding model. Lots of great opportunities but also some challenges. I always enjoy visiting Marshall and appreciate his commonsense approach.

On Monday, Speaker Hawkins signed the Texas Resolution passed in the House last week. This Resolution affirms the Kansas House’s support for Texas and its right to defend its southern border. It will now be sent to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to show that Kansas stands with Texas.

On Wednesday I shared with the Legislature our win in the International Pancake Day Race. Congratulations on your win Pamela Bolivar! The Pancake Race gets almost as much attention as a K-State – KU Game at the Capitol. It is one of the events that puts Liberal on the map. Thank you to the Pancake Day Committee and all the volunteers that work year around for this day.

On Thursday I spoke to the Kansas County Treasurers Association. I always enjoy talking with this group about what we have going on in the session and what to expect in the next couple of months. Our County Treasurers and their staff serve on the frontlines representing state and local government. We discussed some of the pending legislation affecting their office, counties, and the state as a whole. I appreciate their willingness to serve and for visiting the statehouse and staying engaged at the state level.

On Friday I spoke to the Kansas Legislative Platform Group, a group of Western Kansas County Commissioners. We discussed the status of the Republican tax cut plan, the state budget, and a number of bills in the Transportation Committee. We also discussed possible solutions for the shortage of CDL drivers in our county Road and Bridge Departments.

At the Capitol

House Republicans introduced a package of solutions this past week to address healthcare challenges in Kansas, particularly in rural Kansas. Some of the root problems affecting our healthcare system are low reimbursement rates and provider shortages for all Kansans, particularly Medicaid recipients and their providers. Adding more people to an already broken system solves nothing and only makes problems worse. The House Social Services Budget Committee will be considering the following:

Increasing Medicaid Reimbursement Rates for Providers

• Increases access, enables better care, and expands the provider workforce.
• A history of low Medicaid reimbursement rates restricts access to care by limiting how many patients a practice can accept. It also requires hospitals to make up the money they lose on Medicaid patients elsewhere – often resulting in higher costs and more limited resources.
• By increasing provider reimbursement rates, we can make a direct investment in expanding access to better care while also addressing the lack of providers in more rural areas.
• This increase ensures our doctors are fairly compensated and directly benefits both healthcare providers and patients by ensuring better access to quality healthcare services.

Increasing Medicaid Reimbursement Rates for Hospitals

This proposal would raise outpatient reimbursement rates by 30% with a portion of the dollars earmarked toward saving rural hospitals. This substantial increase is a lifeline for our hospitals. By targeting the funding where it’s needed most and enhancing the financial stability of these institutions, we can ensure they can continue to provide essential services to our communities.

The first new law of the 2024 session expands a tax credit for businesses that hire Kansans with a disability. This legislation will help both the disability community and Kansas businesses. By incentivizing businesses that purchase products from companies with integrated workforces, we are creating more jobs for Kansans with disabilities. This bill also helps those that make below minimum wage to get a pay increase.

Age Verification Bill

In an effort to protect our children from harmful content on the internet, SB 394 introduces critical measures to shield minors from accessing pornographic material online. This legislation mandates commercial websites, where such content constitutes 25% or more of their viewed material, to verify that users are at least 18 years old. The bill prioritizes child safety by establishing a framework where adult content providers are held accountable for protecting children. Furthermore, it empowers parents and guardians, reinforcing their right to control their children’s internet exposure. SB 394 will create a safer digital environment for our most vulnerable. It passed the Senate 40-0, and will next be considered through the House committee process.

 

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