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).