July 20, 2024

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Expanding Medicaid: the Sequel?

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Medicaid expansion advocates say they will make another attempt at expanding the program.

Public radio reports, “Advocates of expanding Medicaid eligibility are planning a second attempt to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of an expansion bill when lawmakers return in May to wrap up the 2017 session.”

The story sounds as if House members will simply call for another vote to override Brownback’s veto. That’s not possible under Kansas law, according to attorney and former Speaker of the Kansas House Mike O’Neal.

Former Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal

“Having looked into the question of a potential revote on the Medicaid expansion override attempt, it is my opinion that such a revote is not authorized,” O’Neal, a Hutchison Republican, says.

Kansas law required lawmakers to to reconsider the vetoed proposal within 30 days. The veto notice appeared in the House Journal on March 30, and the House failed to override the veto the same day.

“So for starters, any hypothetical right to reconsideration of a failed override attempt must take place within that 30-day window,” O’Neal explains. “Otherwise the time could be extended indefinitely by successive attempts at an override.”

Changing that rule would require an amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The clock runs out on the 30 days on April 30, and the House isn’t scheduled to meet again until May 1.

House members have the option to reconsider votes, but those attempts must be made the same day the vote is taken or the subsequent day of the initial override attempt.

“That time has expired, and the message of the House has already been read in the Senate,” O’Neal explains.

Proponents could argue that a simple majority can suspend House rules to allow a different deadline.

“However, such a move would still be subject to the constitutional and statutory provisions noted above, including the 30-day deadline to reconsider the Governor’s actions,” O’Neal says.

Though overriding the existing veto is impossible, Medicaid expansion proponents could introduce a new bill to expand Medicaid. Such an attempt would be subject to deadlines and Speaker discretion regarding assignment and consideration, O’Neal says.

“If that avenue is pursued and, assuming hypothetically, a bill passes and is sent to the Governor, the Legislature would have to stay in session long enough to reconsider the veto and not adjourn sine die,” O’Neal says. “Or two-thirds of the House could vote to call a special session for the purpose of reconsideration of the Governor’s veto.”

O’Neal says it’s hard to envision a scenario where two-thirds of the Senate would agree to that.

“Time will run out before any such attempt can be made,” O’Neal says.

‘Gut and Go’

Lawmakers may also attempt a legislative maneuver known as a ‘gut-and-go.’ In this scenario, House legislators could take a bill approved and sent them by the Senate, strip it of its original proposal and replace it with different language expanding Medicaid. The gutted legislation would be sent back to the Senate for an up-or-down vote without debate. Brownback could veto the new legislation, and the clock begins again.



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