This week at the Kansas Legislature, the rubber is finally hitting the road, though there's a giant elephant in the room that might derail everything.
Legislators are introducing and debating tax proposals, some designed to double-down on the Brownback tax policies, others designed to rescind those tax cuts that are the direct cause of the problems in Kansas today. In addition, two proposals for school finance plans are being introduced, one which extends the block grants system, the other which returns to a formula that accounts for differences in districts and student populations. But all of these proposals, tax and school finance, are being debated in the shadow of the pending Kansas Supreme Court ruling on school finance. If the court finds that Kansas has underfunded education, they could require as much as $500 million be added to school funding.
So, it's on.
As these debates begin, MainStream will be testifying on three bills this week. We are supporting one of the tax plans, the ideas put together by the Rise Up coalition at a hearing on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we are testifying in support of a bill to expand KanCare to cover 150,000 working Kansas families (including thousands of veterans) who cannot otherwise get health care coverage. We even held a postcard party this past Saturday and sent 160 postcards to Kansas legislators asking them to support KanCare expansion.
- Read our testimony supporting HB 2237 (Rise Up tax plan) here
- Read our testimony supporting HB 2064 (KanCare expansion) here
Also on Tuesday, we are testifying against a bill put up by Secretary of State Kris Kobach to institute a two-tier voting system in Kansas. This plan, if passed, would prevent Kansans from voting in local and state elections if they have not provided proof of citizenship. Instead, they would only receive ballots with Federal races on them (because Federal judges have ruled that Kobach cannot rescind a voter's right to vote in those elections). To be clear, Sec. Kobach believes that voter fraud caused by non-citizens voting is a rampant threat to our democracy. This, despite years of using his unprecedented powers to ferret out and prosecute these offenders, and finding only a handful of cases, and none of those involving non-citizens.
- Read our testimony opposing SB 37 (two-tier voting system) here
- And send an email via the ACLU's alert system!
Last week saw action, too, and MainStream was there, testifying for a permanent exception for college campuses from concealed carry. At the same time, the Senate committee hearing their version of this bill voted to keep it from advancing, dealing a blow to our efforts.
There's a lot going on. You can keep track of these bills and others on our KS Legislative Tracker page.
Remember to do more than vote: listen, learn, engage, and speak out.
Attend hearings in Topeka this week!
Make your voice heard in Topeka!
Tuesday, February 7th
- 9:30 am - Room 142-S - Attend the hearing on Sec. Kobach's two-tier voting scheme, designed as an end run around voting rights defeats he suffered at the hands of Federal judges. He would disenfranchise tens of thousands of Kansans to "prevent" non-existent voter fraud.
Click here to learn more and RSVP (Facebook)
- 3:30 pm - Room 346-S - Attend the hearing on the Rise Up tax plan, designed to start filing in the hole Brownback's policies have dug. It's been too long since Kansans have had a real say in how the state raises and spends tax money. Show them whose House it is.
Wednesday and Thursday, February 8th and 9th
- 12:30 pm - Hearing at 1:30 in Room 112-N - Kansas has been turning down $1.9 million every day, now a total of almost $1.7 billion, that could be used to cover 150,000 working Kansas families and veterans who cannot afford health care. They fall into the coverage gap, make too little to get employer coverage, but too much to qualify for subsidies. We held a Step Up Together post card event this past weekend and sent 160 postcards to Kansas legislators urging them to expand KanCare. We need people there for both the proponent day and the opponent day!
Click to RSVP to join us at the committee meetings!