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?
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.
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,