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?