Vernal greenery ~ verdant lawns ~ and even vestigial residue of vexing news revealed last week: all together, it made for a long weekend. Add to it the distressing news from Sri Lanka throughout Sunday, and this morning feels like a hard sell to get reanimated and set for a busy week. We have a brief newsletter to get us rolling...
At our holiday tables, discussion circled around the difficult domestic choices Democratic leadership face as the demands for transparency and accountability continue, weighed against the time to draw and make the impeachment case vs. the electoral cycle deadlines and 2020. Irrespective our individual, nuanced parsing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, we all need to keep in mind that our greatest capacity to influence the quality of our communities and lives is not always played out in Washington, or even in Jeff City and Topeka, but right in our HOA's and city halls. This is the most salient point we can make on a day marked for reflection on our environment and the course of our planet Earth.
What we wanted to leave you pondering is Nathanial Rich's new book's (Losing Earth) last paragraph:
“Everything is changing about the natural world and everything must change about the way we conduct our lives. It is easy to complain that the problem is too vast, and each of us is too small. But there is one thing that each of us can do ourselves, in our homes, at our own pace — something easier than taking out the recycling or turning down the thermostat, and something more valuable. We can call the threats to our future what they are. We can call the villains villains, the heroes heroes, the victims victims and ourselves complicit. We can realize that all this talk about the fate of Earth has nothing to do with the planet’s tolerance for higher temperatures and everything to do with our species’ tolerance for self-delusion. And we can understand that when we speak about things like fuel-efficiency standards or gasoline taxes or methane flaring, we are speaking about nothing less than all we love and all we are.”
Our continued hope is that together we can bring us to and sustain us at the issues "tables" and that the quality of the debates and firmness of our resolve will be improved by your contributions. May the season of renewal and rededication bring justice...
Shoulder to shoulder,
In Kansas this past week -
Unfilled judicial vacancy: Gov. Laura Kelly is planning to fill a Kansas Court of Appeals vacancy, in spite of an ongoing dispute over whether or not she still has the authority to make the nomination. Senate President Susan Wagle believes the Governor's clock ran out when she withdrew Labette County District Court Judge Jeffry Jack's nomination. In a similar full-court-press, the Kansas Legislature is proposing to turn the governor's power of appointment authority over to the state’s political parties.
What you can do: It's time to make your voice heard by reaching out to your state legislator to let him or her know you think it's wrong to make laws based on political gain because of electoral ambition instead of crafting the best structure to run a democratic system in Kansas.
Many commentators have said that Governor Kelly made a smart move by letting the controversial Farm Bureau health benefit plan become law without her signature. It's widely understood that, with their exclusions, these skimpy plans will leave Kansas farmers and families unprotected and uncovered when they need help the most. The question some folks are asking is how much help will the governor will get from the Farm Bureau to pass Medicaid expansion when the Senate returns on May 1st?
What you can do: We know we sound like a broken record, but your encouragement of your lawmakers' to vote for expanding Medicaid is the number one priority for this week. Email Senate Majority Leader Denning and copy your senator on the letter to tell them that stabilization of Kansas healthcare and rural economies is important to all Kansans. We need to think about the future.
The twinned goals of former Governor Sam Brownback to eviscerate government by starving it of revenues and privatizing services as much as possible were a disastrous combination for our state. A very clear picture of how this continues to play out in the state's education choices was highlighted in Sunday's New York Times for the country to see.
What you can do: Thank your representative for working to pass adequate, increased funding for Kansas school districts and remind them, at the same time, that properly funded government is an expression of our shared values -- in education as well as healthcare services, transportation, broadband access and so many other areas. Urge them to vote for thoughtful fiscal legislation when they return next week.
There are three distinct pieces of anti-immigrant legislation that are currently moving through the Missouri Legislature. Lifting verbiage straight out of the anti-immigrant playbook, these bills ignore the Constitution and are more about the politics of fear than about keeping our communities safe. Read more on our post here.
What can you do: Ask your legislators for common-sense immigration reform that celebrates all who make Missouri great, not ridiculous fear mongering.
Missouri lawmakers are also considering the most extreme abortion bills in the country. Both House Bill 126 and Senate Bill 279 would ban abortion as early as six weeks — which is before many people even know they are pregnant. The bills also include — among many other medically unnecessary measures — a “trigger ban” that would make abortion a felony if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Missouri is already one of the most restrictive states when it comes to abortion, but extremist politicians remain obsessed. Abortion is a deeply personal decision that a pregnant person makes with their family, their doctor, and their faith — not politicians.
What can you do: Contact your state legislators and tell them to stop this attack on Missourians' access to safe, legal abortion. It's time to #StopThe Bans!
An amendment to House Bill 575 would allow any students or faculty who have a conceal carry permit to carry their gun on college and university campuses in the state. Read more here.
What can you do: Tell your state senators to vote “NO!” on the Guns Everywhere bill.
Did you owe money today? What... already got a refund? Well, no matter whether you're in the red or in the black on Tax Day, the sting of our tax dollars going towards the Trump administration's blatantly self-serving agenda is painful. And on the state level, watching legislation pass that we know will be challenged in court -- with our dollars paying to defend indefensible positions -- is utterly infuriating.
We believe, as you do, that we can be better, and we're focusing on the long-term. Not unlike the basketball player who challenges a call, intuiting that the call won't be overturned but still hoping the ref might think twice before calling a foul again, we're fighting every step of the way... with you! Medicaid expansion in Kansas might, might, just happen! That's in no small part because of the pressure (and support) that we Indivisibles and our allies are putting on a vulnerable Senator, Majority Leader Jim Denning, as well as other Kansas legislative leaders.
Never forget that our representatives work for us, whether they acknowledge that or not. We will continue to shine light on the misuse of our tax dollars and on the messy inner-workings of our legislatures; plenty of those folks enjoy being on our payroll but they're not so happy to be scrutinized in this way. In fact, they're digging in and fighting back but we will have history on our side. Maybe not this session, but someday. As an Indivisible, you can say you played a part in righting the ship.
Shoulder to shoulder,
P.S. We were so pleased to have a small - but high quality - group at our Action Afternoon yesterday. Special thanks to Sheldon Weisgrau from the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas for sharing his knowledge of Medicaid expansion and its impacts on communities. We're already planning for May's Action Afternoon, so watch this space
In Kansas this past week -
In Kansas, only 40% of kids age 3 - 4 attend preschool. The statistic is relevant because 90% of a child’s brain architecture is established before the age of 5. “The status quo cannot propel us forward,” said Gov. Laura Kelly, speaking before the Kansas Children’s Cabinet on Thursday. She urged the KS Legislature to stop draining away millions of dollars in tobacco settlement payments so the Cabinet, headed by Fairway resident & former KS legislator Melissa Rooker, can focus on the potential offered in innovative community programs to improve preparedness of at-risk pre-schoolers.
What you can do: Contact your legislators before May 1st to tell them that you agree with Gov. Kelly and believe that a budget which fully funds K-12 schools, reforms the foster care system and expands Medicaid is more influential the future outcomes for our children and of our state.
Kris Kobach appears to be auditioning for a top job in President Donald Trump’s administration, defending hard-line immigration policies in frequent TV and radio appearances and promoting a three-step plan for solving the border crisis. Kobach’s idea is to deploy judges and a fleet of planes to border towns, along with thousands of mobile home trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ethan Corson, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, said Kobach’s plan sounded cruel and inhumane: “It seems like a plan for more costly, time-consuming litigation [which wouldn't] make us more safe, but would serve [Kobach's] perpetual goal of staying in the news.”
What you can do: Remind your US Senators that working on actual border security and striving for longterm, real immigration solutions is an urgent, humanitarian need. We expect our Midwestern politicians to come ready to roll up their sleeves and work through these gnarly and demanding problems without grandstanding and showboating. Remind them, too, who lost at the polls last November and who won the Kansas gubernatorial race.
Sharice Davids received rare in-depth coverage and fair accolades from McClatchy News’ DC correspondent and former Kansas City Star reporter, Bryan Lowry this week. People outside of the Kansas 3rd Congressional District are finally starting to notice what we have seen from the beginning: Rep. Davids is a thoughtful, considered and meticulous person, whose style reflects well her district’s and who has a longer-than-average attention span for detail and strategic planning. She appeared at the JoCo Democrats’ monthly breakfast to a standing room-only crowd on Saturday morning to talk about easing into the legislative work for the KS-3rd and working hard to reach constituents where they are.
To Expand Medicaid Or Not To Expand Medicaid, That Is The Question! There is a longer story here, and we have written about it in past emails, but this serves as your reminder for the week to CONTACT YOUR SENATOR. Remind her or him of the economic impact that expansion is expected to have on Johnson County alone -- apart and above the positive outcomes from having a healthier population. There will likely be a call to action prior to the resumption of the legislative session May 1st, so watch your inbox or Facebook for details.
And in Missouri -
CALL FOR BIPARTISANSHIP - The GOP strategy is Jefferson City seems to be ignore what the other side has to say, and then, when the deadline is close, and there’s a very real chance Missourians will be hurt by surprise tax bills, rush to offer the same solution that was offered up by democrats months earlier.
What can you do: Ask for bipartisanship from the Missouri GOP legislators (see here). We need to all work together, for the sake of our state. If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea. It’s both irresponsible and arrogant to think that only ideas brought from “your” side are good ones.
INITIATIVE PROCESS - From Missouri Jobs with Justice: For over a century, Missourians of all political stripes have relied on the initiative petition process to make policy changes when legislators refused to act on our priorities. Now, some legislators are threatening to change that.
Two bills, SJR1 and SB5, threaten our rights as citizens to come together and petition one another when legislature fails to act. Without our initiative process we have no recourse to correct the legislature when it makes bad policy, or to make good policy when it fails to act. We cannot afford to lose this vital check on our legislature.
What you can do: Contact your senator to tell them to protect the initiative petition process. http://www.indivisiblekc.com/mo-leg---kc-area.html.
FIRST AMENDMENT THREATS - The Missouri Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee voted “do pass” on Missouri Senate Bill 293, which would criminalize protesting 'critical infrastructure' pipelines and facilities, which raises First Amendment concerns. Anyone found trespassing around those sites with an intent to “inhibit or impede operations” could be subject to a Class A Misdemeanor. Read more: https://www.stltoday.com/business/local/missouri-bill-could-criminalize-protesting-critical-infrastructure-pipelines-and-facilities/article_1e2ca91a-5d5f-5c1b-b6cd-3455d46bf61a.html.
What you can do: Contact your state senators to protect First Amendment rights to protest and reject this bill. Find their contact information at http://www.indivisiblekc.com/mo-leg---kc-area.html.
Last week saw numerous important developments in our community, but for our small team of email news gatherers and writers... Life Just Got In The Way. The news of last week is too important, however, not to try getting this email to you with our Call To Action. Please take a moment to let us know how the email impacts your decision to participate in issues around the metro.
One of the biggest news items of the past week was the 4/2/19 MO elections for school district and municipal races -- all with lasting impact on our kids' education and local leadership. The final KCMO mayor and city council elections are slated for June 18th, with Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas still in the race for Mayor. It's worth noting that only 25% of the city's registered voters exercised their right on April 2nd.
Kansas City, MO voters also turned down the tax plan supporting Pre-K for all. The proposal was imperfect, but the need for universal Pre-K is still here. We believe that the city will move forward with a better plan in the future and we hope area Indivisible members will lend their voices and expertise to that effort.
Kansas and Missouri are now in the frenzied last stages of the regular legislative sessions. We encourage you to continue to make calls and write letters on issues that are important to you. Locally based Fast Democracy can help you track specific bills and issues on both the state and federal level, so that you'll know when bills you love or hate progress towards becoming law.
Looking forward to seeing you out and about.
Shoulder to shoulder,
In Kansas, this is what we mean by "at the 11th hour." With all legal briefs for the Supreme Court due by April 15 and the regular session ending just last Friday, the KS Legislature finally passed a funding bill for public education to satisfy the mandate to adequately fund schools, properly adjusted for inflation. The overall spending blueprint was the bill's main feature, but the final product included policies tied to academic and financial transparency, satisfying House concerns. This is a good thing.
We haven't been spending a great deal of time on the signature federal effort to strengthen voting rights and access - "For The People Act, HR 1" - because we have had our eyes on voting reforms right here in Kansas. Topeka also passed a series of bills to make voting more accessible and to ensure that as many votes are counted as possible: (1) allow voters in a county to cast a ballot at any polling place on Election Day (just like walk-in, advance voting) and (2) require county clerks to contact each advance ballot voter whose signature doesn’t match or is missing and have them affirm their ballot.
What you can do: Take a moment and send a kind thank you to your legislators.
Also in the "good news department" from Friday was a bill relieving tenants of responsibility for rent payments when they've left a property in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking within the preceding year -- so long as they provide notice.
Lastly, in the "keep watching this space, it's still weird" category: the Kansas Senate's top Democrat, Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka, notified colleagues on Friday that he will try to pull the Medicaid expansion bill out of committee and onto the floor for debate on May 1st, when they return from break. He's renewed hope that a modified version of Gov. Kelly's proposal to expand state Medicaid health coverage (to as many as 150,000 more people) might finally pass. But getting moderate Republicans to cross their leadership for that procedural maneuver is going to be a HEAVY lift.
What you can do: Take a moment and write another short note to your legislators about how important Medicaid expansion still is to you and to our Kansas economy. Plan to come to the IKC monthly Afternoon Action on Sunday 4/14/19, at 4 pm at the Plaza Library. You'll hear from an expert and learn all about Medicaid expansion issues (both states) and what the long-term prognosis may be with and without success in this area.
And in Missouri -
Thank you to our many state senators — on both sides of the aisle — who filibustered Missouri Senate Bill 292, which would have expanded charter schools at the expense of Missouri school districts and without voter input. Kansas City area’s own Senator Lauren Arthur and Senator John Rizzo helped in the 11-hour effort, which eventually stopped the bill.
What you can do: Contact Senators Arthur and Rizzo to say thank you. If your senator wasn’t part of the effort, make sure he or she knows that public education and accountability is GOOD for our communities. Here's how to find your area representation..
Missouri Senate Bill 293 would criminalize protesting 'critical infrastructure' pipelines and facilities, which raises First Amendment concerns. Anyone found trespassing around those sites with an intent to “inhibit or impede operations” could be subject to a Class A Misdemeanor. Read more about Criminalizing Protesting here..
What you can do: Contact your state senators to protect First Amendment rights to protest and reject this bill. Here's your MO State Senator's contact information..
Governor Mike Parson’s administration may have broken state law in January when Department of Revenue officials adjusted tax withholding tables. Auditor Nicole Galloway says the adjustments should have occurred only after a public hearing process, which didn’t happen. Read more:
What you can do: Contact Auditor Galloway’s office to tell her thank you for being our state’s watchdog.
From Indivisible National:
Some weeks it feels like there are more calls to action than there are hours in a day, especially amid the mid-session flurry of bills and the budgeting process.
The budgeting process in all three capitals is - again - revealing conservative’s true colors in terms of providing essential safety nets, education, healthcare and ensuring protection of basic civil rights. Progressives in Kansas, Missouri and DC are playing both offense and defense on dozens of bills in all three of the capitals. We have conservatives blatantly obstructing debates, the amendments and isses we have voted for, and progressive agendas.
Still, we aren’t going to back down on important issues. And we’re going to continue to hold our elected representatives publicly accountable, even those who ignore our letters, calls and visits. Indivisible KC has somewhere around 4,000 folks on our email list and followers on social media - including you. If everyone - like you - who cares enough to look at the info we share also takes just one small action a week (a call, a letter) we have tremendous influence.
At a minimum, we hope you turn out to vote. Missouri has school board and municipal elections on Tuesday. Why do local elections matter so much? First, turn-out for local elections is usually very low. Every vote takes on more importance. Secondly, local politics affect so much in terms of our daily quality of life and the opportunities presented to our kids. Finally, these are the offices that launch larger political careers. We need to cultivate progressive representatives from the ground up.
Change takes time and persistence.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and U.S. Representative Sharice Davids both hosted well-attended town-hall meetings last week. Both used the meetings to disucss legislative issues, meet with constiutents, answer questions and hear our concerns. Kelly's meeting was boycotted by Kansas Senator Jim Denning, although the event was held within a mile of his home.
Lawmakers in Kansas have blown several informal deadlines for boosting funding for public schools to satisfy a court mandate because Republicans who control the Legislature are at odds over how to allocate the new dollars and what policy strings should be attached.
What you can do: Contact your state legislators to ask that our state make fiscally responsible, *bipartisan* decisions and not sacrifice our kids education. Find their contact information at http://www.indivisiblekc.com/ks-leg---kc-area.html
And rather than align with the majority of Americans who believe in gun sense legislation, the Kansas
House voted to continue to allow concealed guns on college campuses and lowered the age for conceal and carry permit to age 18.
What you can do: Contact your state legislators and tell them that guns do not belong on college campuses, or in the hands of people too young to drink! Find their contact information at http://www.indivisiblekc.com/ks-leg---kc-area.html
The Kansas House also gave first-round approval Monday to a bill that would require medical facilities and doctors to inform women that some medically induced abortions could be "reversed" if a doctor intervenes - a procedure that is scientifically unproven.
What you can do: Contact your state legislators to ask that legislators stop encroaching on the rights of women. Remember this isn't about babies, it's about controlling women. Find your representatives contact information at http://www.indivisiblekc.com/ks-leg---kc-area.html
And in Missouri -
The Missouri Senate passed a bill this week that would make it harder to impeach our state’s top officials. Interestingly, this bill would have prevented the investigation into former Governor Greitens because those actions happened before he became governor. The bill will now go to the Missouri house. Read more at https://fox2now.com/2019/03/28/after-greitens-missouri-senate-votes-to-limit-impeachment/.
What you can do: Contact your state representative to say “no” on this bill that limits impeachment to “corruption and crime in office” versus *any* actions — past and present. Find your representative’s contact information at http://www.indivisiblekc.com/mo-leg---kc-area.html.
The Missouri House passed its version of the state operating budget on March 28. Unfortunately, state Republicans have not accounted for a significant revenue drop. Revenue growth is down 4.3 percent, and instead of addressing that, state Republicans are instead crossing their fingers that state tax returns cover that shortfall. If our state does not hit its budgeted revenue, it will affect state funding this year *and* next. This was also the first budget process since Republicans took control of the house in 2003 that not a single Democratic amendment was heard in committee or during floor debate. For those of us who elected Democratic representatives, it means those we elected are not even getting a chance to speak for us. Our state works better when we work together. That Missouri GOP isn’t allowing that.
What you can do: Contact your state legislators to ask that our state make fiscally responsible, *bipartisan* decisions and not base budget numbers on unlikely hopes and wishes. Find their contact information at http://www.indivisiblekc.com/mo-leg---kc-area.html.
U.S. Senate Republicans will vote next week to change Senate rules in order to allow Trump nominees to sail through the confirmation process with minimal debate time. The current rule allows for up to 30 hours of debate time. Republicans want to slash that to two. While Republicans claim otherwise, it is not Democrats stalling the process. It is a lack of nominees. Of the current 128 openings in federal district courts, 72 of those positions are vacant because the president has yet to nominate a candidate. Read more: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article228582069.html
What you can do: Contact your U.S. Senator to ask that they keep the current rules. Find your senators’ contact information at http://www.indivisiblekc.com/us-senate---kc-area.html
And a tip of the fin to Greenpeace USA for thier Swamp Thing protest at the confirmation hearing for Trump's pick for Secretary of the Iterior, David Bernhardt.
See what happens when you "drain" the swamp? All the freaky creatures come skittering out from under the rocks.