Governor Kelly prepares for 2020 legislative session with Medicaid expansion

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The 2020 Kansas legislative session begins on Monday, January 13. Governor Laura Kelly spoke about what people can expect this year.

Many hot-button topics are anticipated to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session. Governor Kelly said one of the first items to be tackled will be Medicaid expansion.

“I want to get Medicaid expansion done and implemented so that those 150,000 Kansans that we’ve been talking about for years will have access to affordable healthcare and will also bolster our rural communities and hospitals,” said Kelly.

The Governor said that expansion will also provide better mental health and substance abuse services as well. She said this would help to combat the meth and opioid issues in Kansas.

Past attempts to expand Medicaid have failed with lawmakers citing the costs as being too high and the bill not ready for Governor Kelly’s signature. Multiple interim meetings have since taken place with the Governor’s Council on Medicaid expansion meeting for the final time before the session on December 11. The council plans to make recommendations sometime this month.

If expansion is passed early this year, the new Medicaid could be rolled out as soon as January of 2021.

Kelly is also looking to pass the legalization of medical marijuana this year.

“I’m fully aware of the desire that people have for the legalization of medical marijuana,” said Kelly. “I support it and I hope the legislature deals with it.”

Governor Kelly said she has heard from many people and families that rely on medical marijuana. She added that some people go to extreme measure like moving out of the state in order to get a medical marijuana prescription. Kelly said she hopes the legalization will change that.

Opponents have argued that legalization will lead to an increase in criminal activity and could even be a gateway to other drugs.

The Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs made two recommendations to the legislature regarding medical marijuana legalization. The first would make Kansas a safe harbor for visitors from other states where medical marijuana is legal. The second would move forward the process to legalize medical marijuana in Kansas. It’s now up to lawmakers to propose bills for legalization.

Gun control is another issue that Governor Kelly feels needs to be addressed. She said she supports so-called red flag laws, that make it easier to take guns away from people who are deemed to be a risk to themselves or those around them. Kelly added that while she is a supporter of the second amendment, she believes changes need to be made.

“Guns have really become a public health issue,” said Kelly. “I think there’s some common-sense gun policy that we could put into place that would make Kansas a safer place.”

Kelly also referenced the importance of removing guns in situations of domestic violence.

Kansas does not currently have any ‘red flag’ laws in place, however, lawmakers introduced anti-red flag measures in December that would prevent the government from interfering with people’s guns. Gun rights advocates say that red flag laws impede their second amendment rights.

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