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: