The governor’s and Democratic legislative push for Medicaid expansion is a front-burner issue. Most Democrats support expanding Medicaid to cover Kansans whose income is at or below 138% of poverty. This option would expand basic healthcare coverage to an estimated 150,000 additional Kansans. However the conservative Republican Senate leadership is offering a compromise that expands Medicaid to include those with income at or below 100% of poverty.

It is possible that after years of trying, some form of federally backed healthcare will be made available to Kansas’ with less income!

Several other ongoing advocacies that may not pass but must be debated include:

To allow ratepayers of the Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) to compare/contrast policies and opinions offered to ratepayers of other Kansas utilities through the Kansas Corporation Commission (kcc.ks.gov);

A bill that puts a cap on the amount a local government entity can increase a utility bill year over year;

Support a uniform compact among the states that changes the way the president is elected to the popular vote instead of the Electoral College;

Making it illegal to retrial an individual awaiting compensation for wrongful incarceration (e.g. the Lamont McIntyre injustice being perpetrated by our state’s Attorney General);

Reducing or eliminating the State’s tax on food; and

Implementing the “Golden Years” Homestead Real Property tax protection, which would keep severe year-over-year tax hikes on the primary residence of long-time homeowners of a certain age.

Another opportunity for bipartisan agreement is criminal justice reform. I am pleased and honored to serve on both the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force (whose first report with bill requests to the Legislature comes out soon) and the Kansas Sentencing Commission; and I’m equally pleased to see ultra-conservatives, moderates and progressives pushing to implement prison bed space-reducing, offender-reforming measures this year.

On equal justice under the law, I have previously introduced and had passed bills that: a) set better benchmarks for “eyewitness” ID standards; b) expunge any records for wrongful arrest; c) require audio video recordings for all felony crime related interrogations; and d) created a task force to implement the ongoing application of “newfound” DNA even to “closed” cases (where someone’s already “convicted” and imprisoned).

I intend to renew and reintroduce measures previously solo filed which have not be passed including:

a) sentencing enhancement of “hate” or other bias-based crimes;

b) easing, if not entirely legalizing, taxing and regulating medical and/or recreational marijuana;

c) easing or eradicating pretrial financial obligations (i.e. no “bail bonds” as a condition of release);

d) exoneration for those previously convicted of a crime incidental to their being a victim of human trafficking and/or undue adult influence);

e) recreating voting registration and access to poll rights;

f) addressing owners of blighted and/or tax-delinquent properties rights with the rights of surrounding property owners to be free from blight without prejudice to either and with limited local government intrusion;

g) clearly defining the three co-equal branches (executive, judicial, and legislative) without one branch co-opting the constitutionally-defined function(s) of another; and

h) further defining and equalizing the practice of civil asset forfeiture (or law enforcement’s current ability to take property from a suspect, PRE-conviction)..

During the 2020 Session, feel free to contact my assistant or me at 785-296-7376 or kay.mercer@senate.ks.gov or david.haley@senate.ks.gov

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