With the Kansas Legislature still on break (they return May 1) the state house news may be slow, but outside of Topeka, there are plenty of opportunities to stay connected and get involved.
Schools are ramping up for exams, or down towards summer vacation. That summer vacation is looming large, and you're making plans, or wishing you were making plans. The yard is calling to you, with promises of hard work and oak mites. The weather is finally in that nice stretch between cold and hot. Why should you be paying attention to Kansas politics? Even the legislators are on break!
One, their job is not done. They have no budget for next year. They have no school finance plan, as is required by the Kansas Supreme Court by July 1. They have no revenue reform on the table, a necessary step to dig out of Brownback's revenue crater, and to pay for the aforementioned budget and school finance. Healthcare expansion is still on the table. Gun sense is still ready for action. The same issues that drove you to forums and workshops, to meet your legislators and march for women's rights, those same issues are still unresolved.
In fact, on issues as thorny as these, it is often the procedure of the extremists in the Legislature to draw it out, to test the endurance of Kansas voters. The school finance block grant scheme, now ruled unconstitutional, was the result of a late session dates and late night votes. Already, the Brownback allies in the Legislature have warned that May 1 will be the beginning of "weekends and late nights." What has leadership done with the first 75 days of session? They have no right to complain now that it is time to "buckle down."
Don't fall for it. Don't let them turn you off.
What can you do?
Keep paying attention. The best legislators are working during their break. The best ones are connecting with constituents, making sure they understand what their voters want, and that their voters understand the issues. They are connecting with each other, working on legislation to be introduced or pushed forward when they return. You can meet them at our events (like Wednesday's event with Sen. Skubal and Rep. Kessinger in Leawood, KS). You can get in touch with a phone call or an email (look them up with our tool at ksleglookup.org). You can plan to attend our forum on school finance to listen, ask questions, and learn what you can do to support public schools in Kansas.
How can you get involved?
We have several workshops coming up in the next few weeks. This week, you can learn how to testify in public hearings, be it at the state level or before your local city councils or school boards. And if you are ready to run, you can attend our workshop on campaign strategy, social media, fundraising and messaging in May.
Now is the time to get involved with your elected legislators, with your city or school board. Now is the time to be thinking about elections in 2017, and the incredible opportunities in the 2018 election, when all state Representatives, the Governor's seat, and other statewide offices will be up for a vote.
Whatever you decide to do, remember to do more than vote. Get informed. Get involved. Make a difference.