Category Archives: Kansas

Newly Created Position: Kansas Regulatory Ombudsman For Businesses

Governor Jeff Colyer announces the hiring of new Regulatory Ombudsman for Kansas Businesses

Topeka – Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D., today announced the hiring of Tom Arpke to fill the role of Regulatory Ombudsman at the Kansas Department of Commerce. Tom will help businesses looking to expand or start operating in Kansas to navigate the regulatory process and resolve questions or concerns.

“Kansas needs to be attracting more businesses and taking excellent care of the businesses that are already here,” said Gov. Jeff Colyer, “As I have traveled the state listening to business owners, they have told me they need a more direct line of communication when they have questions or concerns about regulations and other aspects of running a business in Kansas. This new position will ease that burden for business and Tom is just the man for the job.”

As Regulatory Ombudsman, Arpke will work as a liaison between the state and new and existing businesses evaluating all sides of an issue and helping identify options and strategies for resolution.  He will also be able to escalate issues when necessary directly to the Governor and his Chief Operations Officer.

“I am grateful to Governor Colyer for the opportunity to serve in this new role for our state,” said Arpke, “As a business owner myself, I am looking forward to being able to assist new businesses as they look to open their doors in Kansas, as well as helping existing businesses find simple solutions to their concerns so they can spend more time focused on growing their business.”

Arpke received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Microbiology from Florida State University. He has been actively serving the state of Kansas for the past six years, first as a Kansas State Representative from 2011-2013, followed by four years as a Kansas State Senator from 2013-2017. Since 2008 he has also been the owner of Arpke Inc. performing plant audits for environmental compliance and safety.

Businesses needing to contact the Ombudsman may use the following contact information. Phone: (833)765-2002, Email Address: reg.ombudsman@ks.gov.

Dept. of Revenue: $1.2 billion More For Kansas

 

 

TOPEKA—Fiscal year-end tax receipts came in $1.21 billion above last year, and $317.81 million over fiscal year predictions, according to the latest revenue report released Monday.

 

Year-end tax receipts were bolstered by a more than 20 percent increase in June collections, with $133.02 million over last year, which was $143.79 million more than expected for the month.

 

“With tax receipts coming in above expectations every month during the last year, there’s optimism that this trend will continue,” Secretary Sam Williams said. “The increase in sales tax collections indicate more retail spending precipitated by wage gains from the federal tax cuts passed into law six months ago.”

 

Fiscal year retail sales tax collections took in $55.82 million more than last year. For the month, sales tax collections came in $6.98 million more than last June, which was $10.76 million more than expectations for the month.

 

Individual income tax continues to demonstrate strong performance above expectations, with fiscal year collections at $229.42 million more than predicted for the year, and $1.07 billion above last year. Individual income tax collections for the month came in $114.03 million more than last June’s receipts.

Rescuing The Vulnerable From a Vehicle

On a 90-degree day, the interior of a parked car can soar to over 115 degrees within 15 minutes, according to a press release from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Cracking a window has been proven to not help

As of July 1 people who see people or animals who have been left locked unattended in parked cars and try to rescue them, will be given protection from lawsuits.

“If someone see’s a child or animal in a locked vehicle, and that person believes that they are in danger, they can break a window to help that animal or child without fear of being liable for the damages or for being prosecuted,” Kansas Senator Richard Hilderbrand told FortScott.Biz.

The law was signed by the governor in April and became effective, Sunday, July 1.

House Bill 2516 provides immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle for a person who enters the vehicle, by force or otherwise, to remove a vulnerable person or domestic animal if they are in imminent danger.

The following is a press release from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment:

On average, 37 children and over three dozen animals die in a hot car each year in the United States. Hot car-related injuries and deaths are 100 percent predictable and 100 percent preventable.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) of Kansas, KidsAndCars.org and Safe Kids Kansas (sponsored in part by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment) joined together on Monday, June 25, to discuss the new law that goes into Sunday, July 1. It passed during the 2018 Legislative session. The Hot Cars Law gives good Samaritans in Kansas the legal right (under certain conditions) to break a window to help a vulnerable person or animal trapped inside a hot car.

On a 90-degree day, the interior of a parked car can soar to over 115 degrees within 15 minutes. Cracking a window has been proven to not help.

Experts say the most dangerous mistake a parent or animal owner can make is to assume leaving a child or animal alone in a parked car is a safe option, even for just a few minutes.

Already this year, there have been 18 confirmed child deaths in hot cars. A child’s body can overheat three to five times faster than an adult’s, and since animals cannot sweat the way we do, they are unable to regulate their internal body temperature as effectively.

An animal or child can sustain brain damage, organ damage or failure and death from a vehicular heatstroke within minutes of being trapped.

The new law will empower the Kansas community to act fast and safely to help rescue a vulnerable person or animal trapped in a hot car.

Before you can exercise your right to intervene, the following must be checked:

  • Is the car locked?
  • Is the person or animal suffering in imminent danger?
  • Have you notified local law enforcement?
  • Are you using reasonable force to break entry?
  • Can you remain with the person or animal until law enforcement arrives?
  • Is the animal in question domestic? This law does not apply to livestock animals.

Kansas joins 21 other states who protect good Samaritans from legal retribution for assisting people or animals in imminent danger when trapped in a hot car.

For further information, please contact KidsAndCars.org: Amber Rollins, 913-732-2792, Amber@KidsandCars.org; or HSLF of Kansas: Miranda Pratt, 417-294-4048, Miranda@hslfkansas.org.

 

Excessive Heat Warning Issued Across Kansas, Use Caution

Triple-digit temperatures present health concerns for vulnerable populations

 

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) advises people to use caution during the extreme heat that is anticipated to last for several days.

“The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention,” said KDHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg Lakin. “Staying cool and making simple changes in fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.”

According to the National Weather Service, heath indices are forecasted to be from 100 to 109 degrees in many parts of Kansas through Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year.

People who face the highest risk of heat-related illness include infants and young children up to four years of age, adults over age 65, people who have chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease or obesity), those taking certain medications and people who work or exercise in extreme heat.

The CDC has some tips for preventing heat-related illness, including:

Stay Cool: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a good way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.

Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully: Try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.

Pace Yourself: Cut down on exercise during the heat. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint.

Wear Sunscreen: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.

Do Not Leave Children in Cars: Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of getting heat stroke or dying.

Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks—these cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.

Keep Your Pets Hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets and leave the water in a shady area.

Know the Signs: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

Use a Buddy System: When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.

For more information on dealing with extreme summer hear, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat

Public Chance to Give Input on Westar Rate Raise June 28

What:                  Kansas Corporation Commission Public Hearing on Westar’s rate change request

When:                 Thursday, June 28, 2018
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. CDT

Where:               Wichita State University
Lowe Auditorium, Hughes Metropolitan Complex
                              5015 E. 29th St. N.
Wichita, Kansas
This public hearing will provide Wichita area residents with the opportunity to speak directly to Commissioners and share their thoughts regarding the proposed rate change. A complete copy of
Westar Energy’s Application and supporting testimony is available on the Commission’s website.

 

The Commission will accept public comments through 5 p.m. CDT, July 18, 2018. In addition to attending the hearing, there are three convenient ways to submit a comment:

1) Go to the KCC website (www.kcc.ks.gov) and click on the “Your Opinion Matters” link to

submit a comment.

2) Send a written letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and

Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. Be sure to

reference Docket No. 18-WSEE-328-RTS.

3) Call the Commission’s Public Affairs office at 1-800-662-0027 or 785-271-3140.

Eureka Tornado Damage Update

EUREKA EMERGENCY RESPONSE UPDATE

The State Emergency Operations Center continues to coordinate response to Eureka after an E-3 tornado struck the city on June 26. Recovery operations will cease from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. to ensure the safety of those working in the area.  Security will remain on-site overnight.

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and the adjutant general, and Kansas Department of Transportation’s Secretary Richard Carlson and Deputy Secretary Bryon Harden traveled to Eureka earlier today to tour the damage. They were joined this evening by Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer and visited with local authorities on the response and recovery efforts.

Volunteers will begin citywide cleanup in all areas on Thursday, June 28 at 7 a.m. Volunteers should check in at the Matt Samuels Community Building before starting cleanup.

Westar Energy is reporting 2,800 customers still without power and they are actively working to restore power to all customers.  Westar reports that in storms, sometimes the hardware that houses the electric meter and the wires that feed electricity into a home or business can become detached. This is the square metal box and connecting pole on the side of the house or building. If the hardware is damaged, Westar cannot reconnect the service line between the house and the power grid because it’s not safe. The homeowner is responsible for hiring an electrician to make these repairs before power can be restored to the residence.

The American Red Cross shelter remains open at the Methodist Church, 521 N. Main Street, and is also serving as a cooling station for residents.  The Red Cross and Operation BBQ are providing mobile canteen operations on site.  The American Red Cross is also providing cooling tents for volunteers on-site.

The Kansas Task Force provided search and rescue capabilities overnight and demobilized at 11 a.m. on June 27.

Mutual aid has been provided by Butler, Coffey and Lyon Counties.

Butler County Community Emergency Response Team will be coordinating a Volunteer Reception Center.

Verizon Wireless has deployed their COLT (Cell On Light Trucks) which will be operational on Thursday.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management deployed the following assets to Eureka:

–       GIS Response Vehicle

–       Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Support Team

–       Advance Incident Management Team (IMT), followed by a full Incident Management Team

–       KDEM Response Liaison and Regional Coordinator to support incident command and county emergency management

–       Communications on Wheels

–       Resource Accountability Tracking Team

–       Public Assistance Support for damage assessment and debris management

The SEOC will scale back activation overnight to a staff duty officer and will resume full activation at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

U.S. Hwy. 54 Closed Near Eureka Because of Tornado Damage

EMERGENCY RESPONSE UNDERWAY IN EUREKA

Search and rescue efforts continue in Eureka and local officials are conducting damage assessments following tornado damage last evening.

Westar crews have arrived in Eureka and will be cutting power while working towards restoration.  They are working diligently to restore power.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has closed Highway 54 from mile marker 287 to mile marker 266 and will be manning the detour.

Two KDEM Public Assistance representatives and one Kansas Department of Health and Environment representative arrived in Eureka to start debris damage assessment.

Search and Rescue teams are on-site and are assisting local authorities.

The American Red Cross is asking anyone affected by the tornado to register at their Safe and Well website at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.  The Safe and Well website can also be used to check on family members in the affected area.

A tornado struck the community of Eureka in Greenwood County at approximately 7:31 p.m., June 26.  Search and rescue efforts are underway and local officials are conducting damage assessments.

Gov. Jeff Colyer declared a State of Disaster Emergency proclamation at 8:33 p.m. Greenwood County declared a state of local disaster. The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka was activated to coordinate the response of state agencies. Personnel from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management are in contact with Greenwood County emergency management officials to respond to requests for assistance.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for displaced residents at the Methodist Church, 521 N. Main Street in Eureka.

The Kansas Highway Patrol was on the scene and providing security and manning roadblocks.

Last night there were are approximately 5,700 Westar Energy customers that are without power.

State agencies that are represented in the State Emergency Operations Center include the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, the Kansas National Guard, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Fire Marshal and Department of Children and Family Services

.The Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM), a division of The Adjutant General’s Department, is asking all concerned citizens wishing to assist with rescue and recovery efforts in Eureka to please stay home until asked.

 

 

Supreme Court Rules on Free Speech and Abortion

Governor Jeff Colyer Issues Statement in Response to Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on Free Speech and Abortion

“I was both thankful and encouraged to see today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court in favor of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, which struck down an unconscionable law that had forced pro-life pregnancy centers to assist in the promotion of abortion. This ruling serves as an important reaffirmation of religious freedom, and I am hopeful that the court will continue to rule in favor of freedom of conscience and uphold the 1st Amendment.”

 

Medicaid Program Awards Health Care Organizations

State of Kansas Awards Medicaid Contracts to Three Managed Care Companies

Aetna welcomed as new KanCare MCO, Sunflower and United continue service

 

TOPEKA –  Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Jeff Andersen and State Medicaid Director Jon Hamdorf are pleased to announce the selection of three managed care organizations (MCOs) that will serve the Kansas Medicaid program, known as KanCare. The contracts include one new organization and two current KanCare companies.

 

The companies include:

  • Sunflower State Health Plan, Inc.
  • United Healthcare, Midwest Inc.
  • Aetna Better Health of Kansas, Inc.

 

The MCOs were selected from a pool of six candidates, which submitted bids during a Request for Proposal (RFP) process that concluded yesterday, June 21, when the winning bidders signed their contracts with the State of Kansas, through the Kansas Department of Administration.

 

“We appreciate the tremendous feedback we have received every step of the way as the contract language was developed,” Secretary Andersen said. “We took into consideration the concerns we received from KanCare consumers, advocacy groups, legislators and other stakeholders. We strive to provide Kansans with a cost-effective and dependable Medicaid program that serves their needs, and the new contracts will further that objective.”

 

Some of the key improvements in the new contracts include:

  • Greater oversight and accountability
  • Improved response to consumer needs
  • Enhanced care coordination
  • Supported employment pilot for persons with disabilities and behavioral health needs
  • New value-added benefits

Adult dental services will continue.

 

A multi-step process preceded the 17-member review committee’s evaluation of the six RFP bids. Committee members consisted of KDHE and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) staff members with experience and knowledge working with the Kansas Medicaid system. The evaluations considered cost and technical capabilities to perform the work outlined. A recommendation was then made to Secretary Andersen, who approved and then forwarded the recommendation to the procurement negotiating committee (PNC) and the Department of Administration for review and approval. Based on that process, the PNC then awarded the contracts.

 

“KanCare has proven an effective and efficient delivery model for Medicaid in Kansas,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “We have achieved cost savings, but more importantly, we’ve seen greater preventative care access to improve health outcomes for Kansans.”

 

Consumers currently enrolled in Amerigroup will have the opportunity to select a new MCO during the open enrollment period, beginning in October. Amerigroup will continue to serve as a KanCare MCO through the duration of the existing contract, which is set to expire on Dec. 31.

 

“These new KanCare contracts will provide Medicaid waiver consumers with enhanced, comprehensive care and services,” said KDADS Secretary Tim Keck. “We are looking forward to offering them improved care coordination and more work opportunities that will encourage them to grow and thrive while living in their home communities.”

 

For more information about KanCare, visit www.kancare.ks.gov. For evaluation results and the finalized contracts, visit http://admin.ks.gov/offices/procurement-and-contracts/kancare-award. Consumers who have questions about this change can call 785-766-9012.

Flags Half-Staff For Fallen Deputies

Governor Colyer Orders Flags to be Flown at Half-staff in Honor of Fallen Deputies

Topeka – In accordance with Executive Order 10-12, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff state-wide from sun-up until sun-down on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in honor of Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Deputies Theresa “TK” King and Patrick Rohrer who were killed in the line of duty last week.

“These two brave individuals lost their lives protecting the public and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude for their selfless service,” said the Governor. “We pray for their loved ones, as well as all law enforcement officers as we mourn this senseless tragedy.”

A joint funeral will be held for King and Rohrer at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on Thursday.

To receive email alerts when the Governor orders flags to half-staff, please visit https://governor.kansas.gov/newsroom/kansas-flag-honors/ to subscribe.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Summit

Dr. Diane DeBacker to join gathering of State and Federal STEM Education Leaders at the White House

 

TOPEKA – Dr. Diane DeBacker, Executive Director of Business and Education Innovation at the Kansas Department of Commerce, will attend the first-of-its-kind State-Federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Summit hosted by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on June 25-26, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

“Education in Kansas, from pre-K through careers, is undergoing significant changes,” said Dr. DeBacker. “The White House STEM Summit will allow the Kansas team to discuss and strategize how we can best incorporate STEM education into the changes.”

According to the OSTP, the State-Federal STEM Education Summit will convene a diverse group of State STEM leaders, including officials from governors’ offices, K-20 educators, workforce and industry representatives, State policy experts, and non-government organization executives. These attendees will participate in the development of a new Federal 5-Year STEM Education Strategic Plan in compliance with America COMPETES Act of 2010.

“This event is the first time an administration has asked for this level of State input when developing a Federal STEM education strategy,” said Jeff Weld, senior policy advisor and assistant director for STEM education at OSTP. “Top-down approaches to STEM education can often yield wonderful ideas, but it’s at the State and community level where the momentum happens. State leaders know best what kinds of programs will work in their communities, and where they need the power of the Federal government to help drive success in this field. STEM education is critical to preparing our students for the jobs of the future. We must do everything we can to ensure that Federal, State, local, and tribal governments, communities, educators, and private industry partners are united for the long-term success of our Nation.”

Alongside OSTP in planning and carrying out this Summit are the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Smithsonian Institution. STEM leaders from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and tribes, will attend the Summit to illuminate and advance State-Federal STEM alignment.

In 1976, Congress established OSTP to provide the President and others within the Executive Office of the President with advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy, national security, homeland security, health, foreign relations, the environment, and the technological recovery and use of resources, among other topics.  OSTP also leads interagency science and technology policy coordination efforts, assists the Office of Management and Budget with an annual review and analysis of Federal research and development in budgets, and serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans, and programs of the Federal Government.

Dr. DeBacker, a former State of Kansas Education Commissioner, was appointed to her position in 2017 by Governor Sam Brownback and continues to serve under the leadership of Governor Jeff Colyer, MD.  The purpose of the Executive Director of Business and Education Innovation role is to help bridge the gap between the workforce needs of Kansas industry and the way students are educated in the state.  Dr. DeBacker also serves as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Education Council, a group of 30+ educators, business leaders, and students.

Having worked in the education field since graduating from Emporia State University in 1982 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education, Dr. DeBacker obtained her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Washburn University in 1987 and Doctorate of Educational Administration and Leadership from Kansas State University in 2002. During her 35 years of experience in the education field, Dr. DeBacker has served in a variety of roles across the education spectrum including as an adjunct professor, principal, associate superintendent, elected local board of education member, education advisor to the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates, in addition to her service for four years as the Commissioner of Education for the State of Kansas.