The chattering class has spent the past 72 hours dissecting the intent, content and portent in Special Counsel's Robert Mueller's Report now that he's finished. We will not add to that here, except to remind ourselves that, at some point, Trump will exit the political stage, leaving the moral bankruptcy and material corruption he’s brought to politics for us to clean up.
That begs more thinking... Who among us is having those conversations of consequence? Who’s popping up to run for office with the vision/language to confront all the fears Trump has amplified in public life? Who has the breadth of background or is pragmatic enough to get us righted in conflicted issues like voting rights, health care, immigration, mass incarceration, or campaign finance?
These are the conversation topics that we’ll need to engage politicians on, challenging them to strengthen our stressed democracy. David Remnick in the New Yorker on Sunday asked, “Who has the political acumen to argue for policies adequate to resolve our crises and, at the same time, to win back the millions of voters who cast a ballot for Barack Obama and then shifted to Trump?“
We will be called on again this week to engage our elected officials in Washington, Jeff City and Topeka as they push legislation, some with potential for great harm and others promising to ameliorate our lives. Let's be honest! We too fell into the lure of expecting Mueller to paint a clear path for the country. It’s time to remind ourselves: it is we whom we have been awaiting and it is now that we must act.
Kansas -- There is no doubt that this week is the most consequential of the session. Last week's House vote for Medicaid set up great expectations about health care access and expansion in Kansas. We need to pressure our Senators starting today to do the same.
As we have explained before, Kansas is part of the last 14 states not to have expanded Medicaid. We've struggled with privatization of service under KanCare. Approximately 150,000 Kansans fall in a gap where they make too much to get health insurance coverage on Medicaid but cannot afford premiums and deductibles on their salaries. 40,000 children also go without access to medical support in Kansas. You have no doubt heard about our rural hospitals closing or facing closure, due in large part to their delivery of uncompensated care to indigent patients. Still, you probably want to know what it means for you? Know that expanding Medicaid helps keep exchange premiums lower for everyone, as lower-income enrollees tend to more complicated, untreated (expensive) medical problems. Covering them in KanCare spreads the risk pool across the rest of the ACA market.
Statehouse "leadership" also made a lot of bad decisions about steering the legislative session -- that are coming to a head this week. By not holding hearings on issues of major consequence - which voters clearly expressed desire to see worked - committee work did not happen. Action, if any at all, must occur on the floor of each chamber. In this way, these four or five people hoped to control every move in each chamber and limit the effectiveness of Governor Kelly's new administration.
This statement from JoElla Hoye, with Kansas Mom’s Demand Action on HB2326 explains how ultra-conservatives are trying to pass a new, lower-age, concealed carry reciprocity bill. This bill would allow people with concealed carry permits from other states, who may have even weaker gun laws than Kansas, to legally carry in our state. Because we allow guns on our college campuses, this means 18-year-old freshmen could legally conceal carry to class and possess guns in dorms.
Not all gun legislation raised last week would be harmful to our safety. Another bill to help protect families roiled by domestic abuse, HB2406, did get introduced in committee and bears watching this week.
Governor Laura Kelly and Representative Sharice Davids both fulfilled campaign promises to be in more direct conversation with their constituents and held Town Halls in Johnson County this week. Read more about that here and here.
And in Missouri -
Local elections are Tuesday, April 2nd! The turnout is expected to be low, so your vote will be especially powerful!
In KCMO, we'll be narrowing down the candidates for Mayor to the top two in the mayoral primary. The candidate field is large and there are several good candidates, so this is a tough one. Check out The Pitch's "One true guide to the 2019 Kansas City mayoral primary" for a detailed and amusing assessment of the candidates.
There are a couple of bad eggs in the mix, so read carefully and choose your vote well. You can also check out Facebook live chats with the candidates focusing on issues affecting Black Women (and by extension, all of us) courtesy of Shirley's Kitchen Cabinet.
Kansas Citians will also be voting on city council. You can learn about some of the candidates in these articles by Northeast News and KCPT's Flatland.
April 2nd will be a big election for education issues all over the metro. Many school districts are electing new members to their boards, and there school funding questions in the Raytown, Center, and Grain Valley school districts. Kansas Citians will vote on a Pre-K measure supported by the mayor but opposed by school districts. (We hope, whatever the outcome of this election, that our next Mayor puts significant effort toward working with public schools to expand equitable access to quality Pre-K).
For your complete ballot and to double check your registration and polling place, visit the Missouri Secretary of State website (use this if you are in Platte or Clay County), or your local election board website:
Kansas City Election Board
Jackson County Election Board (outside KC border)
Cass County Election Board
The past week brought some interesting debate outside anticipation of the Mueller Report. The Washington Post offered two perspectives on a major demand in the public sphere for removing the Electoral College from our elections process. Liberals have been ramping up their criticism of the electoral college, and most Republicans have been ramping up their defense. Marc Thiessen says the Democrats are “pursuing a tyranny of the majority.” But conservative columnist Henry Olsen says conservatives should abandon this antidemocratic system before it’s too late.
Boeing was “go, go, go” to beat a competitor, Airbus, with its 737 Max 8 jet. To seal the deal with American Airlines, Boeing needed to update its 737 workhorse within six years; the pace of the work on the 737 Max was frenetic, according to NYTimes reporting over the weekend.
The Islamic State’s last territory in Syria fell to U.S.-backed forces and the loss of Baghuz, the last remnant of the biggest territory the Islamic State controlled, was definitely a blow. But the terrorist group remains a serious, violent threat, commanding thousands of followers from Afghanistan to the Philippines. Don't lose sight of this story or our ongoing war in Yemen.
In Mozambique and nearby countries, a cyclone devastated the territory, with already minimal infrastructure. More than 1.5 million people are affected, with close to 1,000 killed and the death toll is rising. The International Rescue Committee has medical staff and supplies at a mobile clinic in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, and is waiting to gain access to other areas. They are providing food, too. Longer term, IRC’s focus is on water, sanitation and health, as well as economic recovery.
Which brings us back home to the Mighty Mo... major flooding may impact 13 million people this spring right here in the MidWest. Nebraska, NW Missouri and NE Kansas are already dealing with record-breaking floods, with the potential for an "unprecedented” increase this spring (quote from Edward Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center).
It was a busy and somewhat fraught week in Kansas as the Republicans dug in their heels, passing SB 22 by 24-16, on a motion to concur with changes made by the House. This meant that a $500 million corporate tax giveaway bill, representing an unsustainable return to the failed tax policies of Sam Brownback, is headed to Gov. Laura Kelly. She is expected to veto the legislation.
Here’s what you can do: Contact your state legislators (Senate and House) and tell them what you think about the bill and how they voted. They need to know you are paying attention!
At the time the Senate was cutting taxes, it was passing a bill to add more money to schools to comply with a Supreme Court order to adequately fund education. The bill, approved on a 32-8 vote, had broad support from Republicans and Democrats; it now moves to the House.
Here’s what you can do: Again, it's important your House member knows how you feel about education funding and ending the lawsuit. Reach out this week.
All 40 members of the Kansas Senate unanimously voted for legislation to help targets of domestic violence to avoid homelessness. The coalition was led by JoCo Democrat, Senator Dinah Sykes, who said, "Safe housing is an important step toward leaving an unsafe situation. The least we can do is make sure these victims are not discriminated against in housing when they do try and escape danger and abuse.”
Here's what you can do: A comparable version of the bill was introduced during February in the House but hasn’t been scheduled for a committee hearing. Let your Representative know that this kind of bi-partisan legislative work is the norm you expect from them while they're in Topeka working on your behalf!
And in Missouri -
Missouri House Bill 258 would lift restrictions on a conceal carry law that prohibits weapons in private businesses and public institutions such as universities or polling places. Businesses currently must give customers permission to carry concealed weapons. Under the proposed measure, weapons would automatically be allowed in businesses unless owners chose to ban them, meaning they could show up in churches, bars and day cares.
Here’s what you can do: Contact your state representative to say “no” on this guns everywhere bill. You can also read more about Missouri Moms Demand Action’s efforts to pass House Bill 960 and how you can help keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders here.
New week, same undermining of voters. Conservatives are AGAIN attempting to undermine the will of 62.3 percent of Missouri voters by attacking Raise Up Missouri. Missourians voted for a raise for all minimum wage workers, but legislators are attempting to take that away from servers, delivery drivers, other tipped workers and now, with House Bill 763, private school employees.
Over unanimous Democratic opposition, the Missouri House of Representatives granted preliminary approval on March 13 to exempt private schools from the voter-approved minimum wage increases, including the new $8.60 minimum wage that went into effect in January. The bill requires a second vote to advance to the Senate.
What you can do: Learn more on all of these attacks on Proposition B at saveourraise.org, and add your voice to the call to protect our raise by asking your MO representative to vote NO on HB 763 and your MO senator to vote NO on SB 10, another attack on the minimum-wage increase.
The past seven days have been a particularly heavy and difficult news week.
It was a fun gathering on Sunday ~ our first 2019 Action Afternoon ~ at the KCMO Central Library! We had a good time getting to know more people who are in this fight, shared excellent conversation and re-energized ourselves while hearing from our allies and partners at Moms Demand Action and writing letters to elected officials in both Topeka and Jefferson City. If you couldn't make this one, we'll be continuing to get together on the 2nd Sunday of each month. Hope to see you soon!
Also this week, we celebrated International Women's Day. We'd like to salute YOU -- whether you're a woman who's been in this fight for a long time, a newly activated woman, or someone who supports the women in your life -- THANK YOU. And keep it up.
In Kansas, the House passed SB22, sending it to conference. This bill is an agglomeration of tax cut provisions, affecting everything from sales tax on food to the repatriation of foreign income. With the Kansas economy already in triage, the measure seems highly irresponsible (See 11 Q&A about SB22 from the Kansas Center for Economic Growth). Many believe this is a poke to spar with Governor Kelly later in the spring as budget battles heat up. See how your Representative voted here, then contact them to THANK them for their NO vote, or hold them accountable for their YES vote.
The plot further thickened on school funding (Wichita Eagle). The plaintiffs in the years-long school funding suit have said that there was a mistake in the funding amount proposed in Governor Kelly's budget. The Kansas Department of Education says there was no mistake. The difference could mean ongoing time in court, even with additional funding for inflation.
Meantime, Medicaid expansion has yet to come to the floor for debate.
What you can do: We MUST put pressure on Legislative leadership to take action. Contact the following people via phone or email and demand action on any of these three issues... or another of your own concern:
And in Missouri -
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently concluded his investigation of Attorney General turned Senator Josh Hawley, determining that Hawley did not break the law when he hired an out-of-state PR firm to run the Attorney General’s office for him because the PR professionals were hired “to advance his priorities as attorney general and there was no evidence showing the consultants were used to promote him as a candidate.” (KC Star)
Unsurprisingly, questions remain about the integrity of the investigation: The Star reported this week that Ashcroft included John Sauer, Hawley’s former first assistant in the A.G.’s office and a major donor to Hawley’s campaigns, on the investigation, allowing him to sit in on interviews, and notifying him in advance which A.G. staff would be questioned.
Ashcroft also allowed the PR consultants to answer his questions in writing rather than in person. “Mary Graw Leary, professor of law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a former assistant U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts, … questioned Sauer’s participation in the interview process, saying ‘it would not make sense to have a loyalist to the subject of the investigation present for the interviews.’” We agree.
What you can do: Contact Secretary of State Ashcroft and tell him to reopen the investigation, this time with no Hawley insiders.
Phone: (573) 751-4936
This week, the House passed HR.1, the For the People Act, which we've discussed before. It's a sweeping package of pro-democratic, pro-voting, and anti-corruption measures. Our area representatives voted on party lines, so please remember to contact your Democratic representative and thank them for their vote supporting putting power back in the people's hands... and tell your Republican representative you're disappointed in their vote to maintain the anti-democratic status quo.
March is here, blown in like a lion on an icy downdraft, calling us to stay focused. Both Kansas and Missouri are at or close to their mid-points in the legislative session, and the US House of Representatives is finally flexing muscle re: Trump ~ family, cronies, business, et.al.
Proactively, the Congress is also poised to take up HR 1-- the For the People Act this Wednesday. It is all about voting rights ~ making it easier, not harder, to vote. The For The People Act requires independent redistricting commissions, ends voter roll purges based on failure to vote, and restores the Voting Rights Act. It also includes strong provisions for improving transparency in campaign finance and strengthening government ethics enforcement, because the will of the people should be represented by their elected officials and not the interests of powerful corporations and wealthy donors.
IKC is planning a series of Action Afternoons the 2nd Sunday of each month, starting this Sunday, March 10, 2019 (see below for full details). These will be fun events that we hope will help you slough off your fear or timidity and ramp up your enthusiasm. We are excited for your participation... to have you share and learn with us. Feet on the ground, shoulder to shoulder, building a more equal and just future.
Last week saw the passage of HR 8 - the Federal background check bill for firearms. The victory is real but there’s been concerns raised about GOP use of arcane legislative rules to split the Democrats and dilute the majority's strength. Read about that here. This week the House is expected to vote on the For the People Act (HR 1) -- the most comprehensive set of pro-democracy reforms we’ve seen in decades to expand voting rights, end gerrymandering, and put everyday Americans (not big donors) in charge of our politics. House Republicans appear to be readying to water down this important bill, exploiting the same trick that they used on the gun safety bill. Read about HR1 and what you can do here.
The Green New Deal was just one news story churning in the media this week, but it's indicative that who wins an election is often less important than who sets the agenda. The left is shaping the Democratic Party’s identity in significant ways ~ arguing that economic inequality renders America’s constitutional liberties hollow, unafraid to look abroad for alternatives to our political and economic models and willingly challenging entrenched norms so America can become a more equal country. Read this fascinating take on "Will the Left Go Too Far?" in this month's Atlantic magazine.
After years of debate, United Methodist Church leaders voted this week to reaffirm the denomination’s opposition to same-sex marriages and openly gay clergy. The vote came at a time when many United Methodists in the U.S. have become more accepting toward homosexuality, and it could cause more liberal-leaning congregations to leave the denomination. The largest United Methodist congregation in the country, Church of the Resurrection, is right here in the metro.
A quick note: Up until recently, Indivisible KC has been powered by a small group of volunteers. We have kept our expenditures to a minimum. Our volunteers have donated all supplies and covered a wide array of costs (purchasing the website, emails, room rentals and printed materials) ourselves. We now have a way to raise money for Indivisible KC. Please consider a small, recurring contribution if you value this email, our educational efforts or the various co-sponsored events we work hard to bring to you.
Have you read up on the new plan by and for Indivisibles? Read here about the new offensive strategy for Democrats in 2019-2020.
Shoulder to shoulder,