Wednesday, July 30, 2014

TYSON: Legislature’s bills become Kansas law

By CARYN TYSON, Kansas State Senator | 4/21/2014

Gov. Sam Brownback recently signed into law several bills worked this session by the Kansas Legislature. Some of those are worth special note.

• KanCare prompt payment — One of the most common complaints we hear about the managed-care system, KanCare, is the slow payment. House Bill 2552 will address that issue by requiring managed-care companies to promptly pay claims. The State Medicaid system is an estimated $3 billion system. The bill passed the Senate 33-7. I voted yes.

Gov. Sam Brownback recently signed into law several bills worked this session by the Kansas Legislature. Some of those are worth special note.

• KanCare prompt payment — One of the most common complaints we hear about the managed-care system, KanCare, is the slow payment. House Bill 2552 will address that issue by requiring managed-care companies to promptly pay claims. The State Medicaid system is an estimated $3 billion system. The bill passed the Senate 33-7. I voted yes.

• Veterans affairs office — Substitute for House Bill 2681 abolishes the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs and creates the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office and a Veterans Claims Assistance Program. This is one of the bills that has four or five bills combined into one, and so I had concern. At first, the American Legion testified against the bill. Before the bill came to the Senate floor, all veterans groups came to agreement and all were supportive of the bill. After our questions were answered and concerns addressed, the bill passed the Senate unanimously.

• Auditor background checks — All employees who work for the company that audits the Kansas Lottery or KPERS now are required to have a background check. Substitute for House Bill 2002 will change that requirement so only the employees who actually are doing the audit are required to have a background check. This legislation will lesson security checks, and with all of the security breaches (for example Target), why would we lower the requirement for background checks? I voted no.

• Court fee increases — While Senate Substitute for House Bill 2338 increases the State General Fund spending on the Kansas courts by $2 million, it also increases court fees, which are estimated to bring in another $8 million. The law will create a $145 required filing fee for appeals to the Court of Appeals or to the Supreme Court and increase most other docket fees to generate the additional $8 million in funding. The bill makes other changes that allow the local courts to manage their budget and have more local control. However, I voted no because the bill requires more taxpayer dollars and large fee increases. The bill passed 26-11.

• Economic damages limit — Senate Bill 311 will raise the upper limit on economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit. From July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2018, it will be $300,000. It then will increase to $325,000 until July 1, 2022, after which the increase will be $350,000. The bill passed the Senate 38-2. I voted yes.

Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, represents Franklin County and the 12th District in the Kansas Senate.

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