Politics is definitely a full-contact sport. But times are changing - from the focus citizens are asking representatives to keep on issues to how we talk about priorities and shared values.
There is no question that citizen participation in processes makes that happen -- and sustaining our individual interest is paramount to seeing success continue from electoral season to legislative season and back to electoral season again.
We are re-vamping our online tools on our website (coming later this summer!) to help you keep up interest and engagement, no matter your starting point! Whether a novice or a veteran, there is need for your curiosity and/or expertise.
Thank you for starting with your subscription to this email and, as always, we look forward to seeing you out and about,
Shoulder to Shoulder,
In Kansas news -
We're not going to sugar coat the pitiful end to the 2019 KS legislative session, but we want to offer the sliver of good news that did emerge from Topeka last week. While the Kansas Senate voted to override SB67 (an unethical bill mandating doctors tell patients about an unscientific and risky methodology to reverse medical abortions), the Kansas House was unable to musterthe necessary votes to override Governor Kelly's veto.
We urge you to write to your KS Representative and Senator. Let them know how you value their support of women, if they did, and how disappointed you are that they did not, if they didn't.
It should unequivocally be a communal goal that we reduce the number of abortions through better access to health care. This would certainly include information about family planning and sex education -- to say nothing of all the other policies that are proven to reduce unwanted pregnancies and all of which can be provided without curtailing women's reproductive rights.
Speaking of access to health care -- the main agenda item for the session, other than finally getting the education budget written and passed, was to expand Medicaid in Kansas. 36 other states - red/purple/blue - have managed to provide more access to health care to their poorest citizens without blowing up their budgets.
KS GOP "leaders" who resisted the push said they would allow it next year, but only after they are convinced KS can afford the cost and if the coverage would only go to people without private coverage and who are willing to work. But moderate-Republicans who had initially worked to link the annual budget to the vote for expansion saw their spines melt in the heat of pressure: former speaker, Rep. Don Hineman (R-Dighton) who has supported Medicaid expansion in theory, said moderate Republicans feared retaliation from leadership if they continued to stonewall the budget: “Any additional progress would have been very, very difficult and with an increasing amount of risk involved."
We infer from all this that no one sent out the memo to the KS Legislature what the real-world risk of living without health care actually is. Senators Wagle (running for US Senator Pat Roberts' seat) and Denning (aspiring to succeed Wagle as Senate President) must not read widely, travel the lengths and breadth of the state or talk to their own constituents regularly enough. Our state's budgets were decimated under the previous two administrations and Governor Kelly had made it clear that the Legislature had no business wading into consequential tax reform before developing a comprehensive strategy for Kansas. Posturing for election campaign PR is a terrible rationale for being in Topeka.
A Kansas Legislative Wrap for those wanting more is available here.
In Missouri -
The Missouri House passed a partial repeal of Clean Missouri this past week, which Missouri voters passed overwhelmingly last fall. What this legislation will do is put a watered-down version of the ethics reform in front of voters, versus what we’ve already passed. Most importantly, they want to change how Clean Missouri cleaned up partisan gerrymandering. This bill will now go before the Senate.
Many Indivisibles gave blood, sweat and time to help pass Clean Missouri. We'll do it again ... but we can also demand that your Senators to respect their voters and protect Clean Missouri. http://www.indivisiblekc.com/mo-leg---kc-area.html.
Indivisible Kansas City straddles the state line and works in both capitals. Whether Kansas or Missouri, we struggle with similar issues and ideological chasms, as you know. The same NRA-funded & empowered legislators continually bring up bills diminishing local control and weaken community responses to gun violence. Both states are watching rural hospitals fail, communities falter, and vulnerable residents die even as the Medicaid expansion option sits at their voting fingertips.
But this week we discerned a huge schism between the two states, as we read with surprise and, honestly, relief the thoughtful, well-reasoned, and ageless affirmation by the Kansas Supreme Court of humankind's natural, inalienable rights. The justices have been quickly criticized on the right for taking nearly three years to write their opinion, from which only one of them dissented (pp.115 - 199).
But the Court affirmed that the people have rights that preexisted the formation of the Kansas government. It also reaffirmed the Founding Fathers' claim to the right of personal autonomy, including the ability to control one's own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. "This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life—decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy. Although not absolute, this right is fundamental."
There were rumblings already over the weekend of a new, pitched abortion battle being set. We encourage you, nevertheless, to find time to review the opinions, all eminently readable. We believe that most will draw the same overwhelming conclusion as the Court's majority.
In Kansas news -
1~ Representative Cindy Holscher, D-Olathe, preempted her own announcement on Wednesday by jumping into the District 8 Senate race against Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning a day early. Holscher has been a fierce champion for Medicaid expansion, often articulating the need for medical care for tens of thousands of Kansans while criticizing Senator Denning for refusing to move expansion bills before the chamber.
What you can do: Support Cindy Holscher in her Senate bid to oust the recalcitrant, self-interested Jim Denning. District 8 deserves representation that actually listens to residents and works for all Kansans.
2~ Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill a week ago that would have required doctors to inform patients that the abortion pill is reversible — a highly controversial claim by anti-abortioniststhat Democrats and abortion rights advocates have criticized for being scientifically unproven.
What you can do: The Republican-held legislature could override Kelly’s veto with a two-thirds majority of each chamber (they only would need one more vote in the Senate). Reach out to your Senator today or Tuesday and tell him or her that you believe forcing physicians to violate their Hippocratic oath is unethical and immoral.
3~ To Expand Medicaid Or Not To Expand Medicaid, That Remains The Question! The uncertainty in
this matter remains, even as thousands of our fellow Kansans remain imperiled by the Senate's inaction.
What you can do: CONTACT YOUR SENATOR before Wednesday! 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.
Kansas Interfaith Action, JoCo MoveOn and IndivisibleKC organized a protest Friday afternoon outside of Senator Denning's business Discover Vision on Roe Boulevard in Leawood in an effort to pressure Denning to at least move the legislation to the floor on Wednesday for a full debate in the Senate.
4~ Kansas fined their prisons’ private health care contractor, Corizon, about $7.4 million for failure to provide adequate health care and for falling short on staffing — especially psychiatrists. Records reviewed by the Kansas City Star were available only because Kansas, unlike most states, has an independent third party watching over its inmate health care contractor. Every month, as part of the state’s contract with Corizon, a team of experts at the University of Kansas Medical Center reviews a sample of health care records at Kansas’ prisons.
What you can do: Let your representative know that you're very concerned about whether Kansas' $70 million-a-year contract is being well spent and whether we are getting our money’s worth from this arrangement... any questions of morality aside!!!
Over in Missouri -
Things aren’t looking so hot in the Missouri legislature right now. It is an all-out assault on voter-approved initiatives, including the right to petition to get the initiatives on the ballot in the first place!
This week, the Missouri House gave initial approval to rescind the redistricting process that voters approved with Clean Missouri. Instead, the GOP supermajority want to go back to a bipartisan panel, which is what Missouri used before and voters clearly said wasn’t as fair a process as it sounded.
Less than an hour later, the House passed a bill that would institute a filing fee for all initiative petitions, meaning anyone who wanted to change something in Missouri would need to pay in addition to collecting signatures. Read more here.
What can you do: Demand that your legislators to respect their constituents and protect Clean Missouri and our petition process.
More revealing news also emerged this week about the failings of our current lobbyist-friendly culture in Jefferson City after one lobbyist's son was accused and subsequently expelled from Washington University in St. Louis last year through the school’s Title IX process, leading him to launch a campaign to change the law for every campus in the state. Now is probably not the time for fewer ethics reforms, is it?