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Dear Friend,

On the Home Front
The Kansas Legislature has officially wrapped up the Regular Session and for most of us that means heading home to catch up with “real” jobs, reacquaint ourselves with family, and hold constituent meetings. We return to Topeka on May 1 for the veto session. It’s nice to see the water levels down at home, and out of the danger zone, though that is subject to change if we have heavy rains. 
 
Under the Dome
It was nice of US Senator Jerry Moran to visit for my birthday. Ok, he really came to see the flooding and visit our hospital, AND it happened to be my birthday.
  
 

Representative John Eplee

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Contact Doc Eplee
At the Capitol:
300 SW 10th St., 512-N
Topeka, KS 66612
785-296-8621
john.eplee@house.ks.gov

At home in Atchison:
163 Deer Run
Atchison, KS 66002
913-367-2382
Thanks to students from Atchison Middle School for visiting me at the Capitol, I was able introduce them to Governor Kelly: (L-R) Alexander Lee, Boston Bruce, Elinor Steinbach, Frances Knudsen, Christine Parks, and their teacher, Tohnya Aversman. I delivered two of these kiddos!


On Tuesday, 4/9, I was able to witness an important signing of HB 2188, that combines the governance and tax authority of the White Clay Watershed Board with the City of Atchison. This important bill will allow the City of Atchison to officially take over repairs, maintenance, and monitoring of the very important flood control dams originally built in the early 60s. Since the construction of this network of dams the city has never flooded (since the flood of 1959), not even this Spring! Along with Sen. Dennis Pyle and city officials, we were joined by Trey Cocking, League of Municipalities, who was invaluable to getting this bill through the Legislature and to Governor Kelly’s desk. Thanks Trey!!
On Thursday evening, 4/11, I was able to catch the preparation performance of the A-High Choir at our Church. This outstanding group of young voices is tops in the state led by Sam Dollins, their instructor in the blue shirt. He does such a great job with our students. They are preparing to go to State Competition. Two of the songs they presented were “In the Beginning was the Word” and “My home will be in Heaven”. I am so honored to serve on the school board that oversees these great student performers.  
On April 6th in the evening I was thrilled to receive the Silver Beaver Award at the Pony Express Council Annual Award Ceremony in St Joe, Missouri. This is the highest award a Council can bestow on its volunteers. I was very humbled to be a recipient this year. Rick Berger (right), gave a wonderful introduction of my family and me at the event. Joining Deborah and I on the stage was my son Michael, an Eagle Scout, who traveled all the way from Ft Collins, Colorado.
At the Atchison Legislative Coffee on April 6th, I was very happy to be joined by Congressman Steve Watkins and State Senator Dennis Pyle. Steve updated us on the status of the Wall and his commitment to the President Trump Policies. Senator Pyle and I got into an impromptu debate about KanCare Expansion in Kansas. Of course I am committed to trying to pass this with a Republican version that is fiscally responsible and yet providing needed care to poor Kansans that cannot afford healthcare.  Stay tuned........
On Friday evening, 4/12, Debbie and I joined some friends for the Annual Benedictine School Fish Fry——a long standing tradition in our community. We beat the crowd and got some great baked and fried fish (recipe secrets for BC). They served hundreds of folks Friday evening.  
Floor Action - Floor CalendarFloor Livestream
After bills are debated and passed by each chamber, they are sent to conference committees. We spent the last week or so debating conference committee reports. 
 
School Finance FINALLY!
Last fall, education stakeholder groups began working on legislation to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court’s order to include more funding to account for inflation. House Substitute for SB 16 became the final legislation that passed and will provide the following per pupil amounts. For reference, these numbers only bring us up to 2010 funding levels!
 
The bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion on March 14 with 19 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and 1 Independent in support (31-8).
 
The House delayed debating the bill in a failed attempt to offer our own funding legislation in HB 2395. This bill included way too much policy that would have made our school funding position unconstitutional (again), and that was unacceptable to the House majority. Then, on Wednesday, two days before 1st adjournment and knowing that HB 2395 would not pass, House leadership introduced a whole new concept on K-12 inflationary funding called the “Kids First Plan”. There was no written bill and no time to analyze its impact on K-12 funding. It was too late to properly evaluate and assimilate its impact when compared with the bill passed by the Senate. It was unfortunate, because it was significantly less money for the inflationary piece—but appeared to be a very late long shot. So, this too was rejected by the House.
 
Finally, the Conference Committee of the Senate and House (6 members) came up with a reasonable compromise that incorporates the governor’s monetary position on K-12, and some accounting and policy changes that will give the legislature more oversight into how these new funds are spent. It wasn’t pretty, but it got done. All in all, it was a good compromise and I voted YES (76-47).  
 
This should remedy the court and be constitutional for the first time in almost a decade since the Gannon lawsuit originated in 2010! If this does NOT happen I feel certain we will take up a constitutional amendment to remove the "suitable funding" language to prevent future lawsuits. I have very mixed feelings about the process of changing the constitution should that be attempted. 
 
House Substitute for SB 16 was passed as above by both chambers, was sent to the Governor’s desk, and was signed on day 1 with the intent of letting Attorney General Schmidt prepare his arguments for the court and resolve Gannon once and for all—hopefully. 
 
Transportation Highlights
A few recommendations from the Transportation Vision Task Force completed the bill process and are headed for the governor’s desk: 
  • Senate Substitute HB 2214 institutes fees for hybrid ($50) and electric vehicles ($100) beginning January 1 of next year to offset road use for those paying less in gas taxes. It passed the House 80-41, and the Senate 36-2. I voted YES.  
  • Senate Substitute HB 2007 will allow localities to build toll roads to add capacity to existing highway projects. For example, adding express lanes to Highway 69 in Johnson County and K-10 Highway between Johnson and Douglas Counties. It passed the House 90-33, and the Senate 39-1, I voted YES. 
Health Care
HB 2084: The House agreed to changes made in the Senate to the Next Generation 911 (NG911) bill, which will help improve 911 coverage throughout the state. It passed the House 87-35, I voted YES. 
 
SB 15 includes three key provisions to improve access to health care across Kansas: 
  1. Kansas will recognize licenses from other states in the areas of social work, addiction counselors, marriage and family therapists, and Master’s and Doctor’s level psychologists
  2. Increasing requirements for those who own nursing homes to include a “financial background check” to ensure the entity has the capital to launch the business, a list of other similar facilities with which they have been involved and improving guidelines around the receivership process. 
  3. Naturopathic doctors will now be allowed to order radiologic testing like mammograms, x-rays, MRIs, etc.
It passed the House 122-1, and the Senate 38-0. I voted YES.
 
HB 2209 allows associations to form health care plans for their members which are exempt from some requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The compromise also included the somewhat controversial Farm Bureau benefit plan, which will allow Kansas Farm Bureau the ability to offer health coverage to its members. It passed the House 84-39, and the Senate 28-12, I voted YES.
 
Miscellaneous
Sub SB 130 combines a number of election-related bills to improve the vote-counting process. The bill will:
  1. Allow voters to vote at any polling location in the county, subject to the county election official’s discretion. 
  2. Require election offices to contact voters whose advance ballot signature is missing or does not match that on file and allow the voter to correct it before the final votes are tallied.
It passed the Senate 38-1 and the House 119-3, I voted YES.
It is an honor and a pleasure representing you at the Capitol. Please feel free to share my legislative newsletter with your friends and family and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments. 

Representative John Eplee, MD
Kansas House District 63
Serving Atchison and Doniphan counties
Paid for by Kansans for Eplee, Patsy A. Porter, CPA, Treasurer
Copyright © 2019, All rights reserved.


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Paid for by Kansans for Eplee, Patsy Porter, Treasurer · 163 Deer Run · Atchison, Ks 66002 · USA

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