Legistlative Update for February 25, 2024


In a surprising development, the Kansas House failed to override Governor Kelly’s veto of a Republican-led tax reform plan.  84 votes are needed to override a veto.  The final tally in the House on HB 2284 was Yea: 81 Nay: 42. A Senate override vote has not been scheduled. The KCC does not hold a position on this issue, other than support for the continued reduction and eventual elimination of the state’s sales tax on groceries, which is included in both current plans. The path forward now is unclear.  We’ll keep you posted. 


The Kansas Catholic Conference testified in support of a proposal by State Senator Kristen O’Shea that would establish a nursery for expectant and incarcerated mothers, as well as their infants and young children.  A hearing on SB 489 Nursery for Incarcerated Women in Kansas took place on Monday, February 19th.  No action has been taken on the proposal since the hearing and concerns were raised about the $3.7+ million price tag. The bill has been “blessed,” which means it may still be considered by the Legislature. The Missouri State Legislature passed a similar initiative which is just getting started. Missouri Womens Prison Nursery Program 


The cost of adopting a child can typically reach $35,000 or more. There is an effort in the Legislature designed to help ease this financial burden and help welcome more babies into the world.  

On Tuesday, February 20th, the Kansas House Tax Committee heard details about establishing an adoption savings account, HB 2757 Adoption Savings Account   The Kansas Catholic Conference offered our supportive testimony. 

State Senator Chase Blasi–an adoptive parent–and State Representative Susan Estes were among those who also testified in favor of this measure. A couple who had adopted three children also spoke in support, along with many others from the financial services community who see the positives of this legislation.  

The fate of this bill is unknown, but we’ll keep you updated.  Here is a link where you can watch this important hearing unfold, starting at about 30:45:

Adoption Savings Account Hearing 


This headline is an old joke, but a good one. From the outside looking in, it may seem that the Kansas legislative process (or that in other states or even in the Nation’s Capitol) is simply organized chaos, or worse. But such is the price of free and open debate in a representative government.  Is it perfect? No.  But as the above joke goes, it is still the best in the world.  

How a bill becomes law is much the same in Topeka as it is in Washington, D.C.  Remember Schoolhouse Rock?  Just a Bill on Capitol Hill 

This past Wednesday and Thursday, your elected officials in Topeka were “on the floor” for the entire day as they considered, debated, sometimes amended and voted on dozens of bills. Most measures were unremarkable and routine.  Many were not. We continue our report and analysis of legislation of interest to the Kansas Catholic Conference.



The Chaplain Father Kapaun Memorial bill “Direct(s) the Capitol Preservation Committee to approve plans for a memorial honoring Emil Joseph Kapaun.”  SB 431 passed the Senate 40-0.  This measure is now going to the House Committee on Veterans and Military for a hearing that may happen this coming week.  Stay tuned!  


SB 458 is important legislation supported by the Kansas Catholic Conference. Asset Forfeiture Reform in Kansas is an issue of justice and fairness. Kansas law enforcement agencies currently have broad powers to seize property they believe has been used in the commission of a crime. But very often, cash, cars and other property are seized even if there is not a conviction or a charge filed. SB 458, we believe, strikes a healthy balance between allowing law enforcement the tools they need to enforce laws while protecting citizens, particularly low-income people and/or those suspected of being involved in relatively minor crimes. SB 458 passed the Senate on a 36-2 vote. Asset Forfeiture reform also passed the House, HB 2606 Yea: 119 Nay: 0, but the bills are slightly different and a Conference Committee, with representatives from each chamber, will need to negotiate and sort out differences before each chamber votes again on a revised measure. We are optimistic this legislation will pass and be signed into law. 


During the COVID-19 pandemic, non-public schools were eligible for grants from the federal government designed to help with a wide range of needs.  Many Catholic schools in Kansas utilized at least some of those dollars to begin or to upgrade mental health services for students, particularly those from low-income families. These federal grants are coming to an end, but the need for services remains. 

One of the legislative priorities of the Kansas Catholic Conference is legislation designed to provide for and allow mental health services for all Kansas children, including those who may not attend a public school (who are already getting services). One of the solutions we have been working on is HB 2669 MHIT legislation. “MHIT” stands for “Mental Health Intervention Team.” Championed by State Representative Brenda Landwehr of Wichita, the MHIT bill passed the House this past week, 101-18, and now goes to the Senate where passage is not guaranteed. We’ll keep an eye on this legislation. If passed, it will help provide mental health services for children from low-income families who may attend Kansas Catholic schools. 


Hypoxia was recently used for the first time in the United States for the execution of an inmate in Alabama.  A bill that would allow the use of hypoxia for executing death row inmates in Kansas was recently heard in the House Judiciary Committee, but no action was taken. The Kansas Catholic Conference opposes the measure on the grounds that death by hypoxia is cruel and unusual punishment.  We also oppose the death penalty, though this bill is not specifically a debate about the death penalty. HB 2782 Hypoxia legislation We will continue to follow this issue. 



The issue of performing surgery on children or other “treatments” for the purposes of “changing gender” or “transitioning” is perhaps one of the most volatile issues facing elected officials in Kansas and around the country. Typically, the secular news media uses terms like “gender-affirming care” to describe these hideous procedures and treatments.  

Catholic teaching and thinking on this issue paints us as uncaring of authentic problems related to sexual confusion issues like gender dysphoria. Nothing could be further from the truth. We do not “hate,” we love.  

Here is a statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on this question.  Catholic Bishops Statement on Gender Transitioning 

On Thursday, this question takes center stage during a hearing on a bill that, if passed, would prohibit such procedures on Kansas children. You can read the bill here: HB 2791 Forbidding Gender Transition on Children   

Here is the “Short Title,” published on the Kansas Legislative web site. 

“Enacting the forbidding abuse child transitions act, restricting use of state funds to promote gender transitioning, prohibiting healthcare professionals from treating children whose gender identity is inconsistent with the child’s sex, authorizing a civil cause of action against healthcare professionals for providing such treatments, authorizing professional discipline against a physician who performs such treatment, prohibiting professional liability insurance from covering damages for healthcare providers that provide gender transition treatment to children and adding violation of the act to the definition of unprofessional conduct for physicians and nurses.”

Please pray for the conferees who will be coming to the State Capitol. They will be under pressure from most members of the news media as well as the “gay lobby” and others, who will be doing all they can to confuse legislators and the public. We seek to protect our children! 

The hearing is set for Thursday, February 29 at 1:30 p.m. in the House Health and Human Services Committee.  You can watch the hearing live on You Tube at this link: Kansas Statehouse YouTube access 


The Kansas legislature (like all state legislatures) has very specific rules on filing bills, hearing bills, “working” bills (debate and votes in committee) and passing legislation.  The clock starts ticking on bills at the start of the legislative session.  This past Friday, February 23, was “Turnaround Day.” This means that unless a bill is introduced in an “exempt” committee, or it is “blessed” by the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate, (a power they alone are given), bills “die” and must be resubmitted the next legislative session.  

Here is a partial list of “blessed bills” that the Kansas Catholic Conference will be following that could be debated and become law in the weeks ahead.

 Blessed House bills

  • HB 2792: Prohibiting gender transition surgery on minors, authorizing professional discipline against a physician who performs such surgeries and adopting a standard of care for gender transition care services. 
  • HB 2723: Creates a $40 million grant program for local governments to build homeless shelters.
  • HB 2738: Revises the formula for calculating special education funding.
  • HB 2506: Authorizes students enrolled in virtual schools to participate in activities that are regulated by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
  • HB 2489: Limits the legislative option to purchase school district buildings to buildings that were formerly used as schools.
  • HB 2793: Says health care provider shall not perform a health care service on a minor without the consent of the parent.
  • HR 6039: Affirms the commitment to freedom of expression with integrity.
  • HB 2521: Requires the state board of education to authorize teaching licenses for individuals who complete an alternative teacher certification program.
  • HB 2731: Requires the state board of education to submit annual reports to the Legislature on certain statistics of students who take the statewide assessments.
  • HB 2749: Requires medical care facilities to report the reasons for each abortion performed to the Secretary of Health and Environment.
  • HB 2676: Creates the crime of encouraging suicide.
  • HB 2627: Organizes requirements for public assistance program sections within the statute.

Blessed Senate bills

  • SB 489: Directs the Department of Corrections to establish a correctional center nursery for incarcerated expectant mothers.
  • SB 390: Enacts the conscientious right to refuse act, to prohibit discrimination against individuals who refuse medical care.
  • SB 469: Establishes the Sunflower Education Equity Program, which would recognize the rights of parents to choose the educational environment that best serves their children. The program would provide education savings accounts for less affluent students. Each student would get up to 95% of the base aid that would have been allocated for them to attend a public school. The expenses are restricted to 15 categories including tuition, curriculum materials, uniforms, tutoring and computer equipment, among other things.
  • SB 407: Requires the state board of education to authorize teaching licenses for individuals who complete an alternative teacher certification program.