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Legislative Update Week 8

Supreme Court Delivers Gannon Decision

On Friday, March 7, 2014, the Supreme Court released its long anticipated ruling in Gannon v. State.  The Supreme Court’s decision emphasized that both equity of funding and the resulting outcomes of that funding are important in determining the adequacy of state education funding.  The Court also identified two areas in regard to equity where, under the current funding formula, the Court contends that the Legislature has fallen short on its considerations. 

The most significant decision by the Supreme Court, though, is the Court’s rejection of the district court’s ruling that “suitability” of education under the state constitution is determined by a dollar amount.  The Supreme Court sent the case back to the district court to review state funding based on the outcomes produced. 

The Supreme Court’s ruling focuses on the adequacy and equity of school finance that is provided by the state of Kansas.  As to the adequacy part of the ruling, the Supreme Court noted that a number of state courts have adopted the adequacy rationale from a 1989 court case in Kentucky, Rose v. Council for Better Education, Inc.  The Rose opinion requires an efficient system of education to have as its goal to provide each and every child with at least seven capacities.

The Court did not express an opinion on whether the panel needs to reopen the record to make its adequacy determination, although they did state that funds from all available resources, including grants and federal assistance, should be considered.  The Court did contend that regardless of the source or amount of funding, “total spending is not the touchstone of adequacy.”

Regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling about equity, the court articulated the following test:  “School districts must have reasonably equal access to substantially similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort.”  The case is being remanded to the panel to enforce the Court’s rulings, and the court included in its opinion options that the legislature must address these by July 1, 2014.

House Republicans had a meeting with Attorney General, Derek Schmidt on Monday, March 10, 2014.  He briefed us on the intricacies of the ruling and pointed out that in contrast to the Montoy decision in 2005, the Supreme Court did not administer a dollar amount, stating their decision is based on adequacy and equity of Kansas schools.  House Speaker, Ray Merrick, stated that he has advised the Appropriations Committee to work solely on this matter and bring it to a vote before our first adjournment on April 4, 2014.

Autism Bill Has a Hearing

For many years now, there has been a push by some in the Kansas Legislature to include insurance coverage for the treatment of autism.  During this legislative session, there is a bill, House Bill 2744, currently in committee that would require large employer non-grandfathered group health plans to add coverage for the treatment of autism for children under the age of eighteen.  Other healthcare plans would be required to add the coverage beginning in 2016.  This bill would expand the definition of eligible providers to include intensive individual service providers.  Coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy would be limited to children less than eighteen years and to 520 hours each calendar year.  All other covered services for autism care would have to be treated in the same manner as other medical services covered under the plan, although there would be no coverage for inpatient services.

This Autism bill would also require the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board to license Applied Behavioral Analysis providers and they would also be required to generate rules and regulations necessary to implement and administer the act.

The House Insurance committee heard testimony on House Bill 2744 on Monday, March 10, 2014.  During the committee, some of the advocates for the inclusion of autism expressed that the bill, in its current form, does not address all the concerns with autism.  They find the bill as a compromise bill to appease the insurance industry and is unacceptable due to coverage caps and provider licensing requirements.  We will need to see if this bill progresses out of committee. 

Lakeside Government Class, Shadows & Contact Information

On Friday, March 7, I was invited to speak to the senior government class students at Lakeside High School in Downs, Kansas.  Over 20 students from Cory Beougher’s class asked many questions regarding policy and the Kansas Legislature.  After class, Mike Schrant took me on a tour of the studio facility at Lakeside High.

This week, I had two legislative shadows scheduled.  On Wednesday, March 12, Kyle Fleming, Mankato, participated as a shadow and on Thursday, March 13, Bridget Beran, Claflin, currently studying at KSU, was at the capitol as a legislative shadow.

 If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672 or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov.  It is an honor to serve the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas. Once again, do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate the perspectives from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas.


Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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