Legislation is the key

The 2019 Kansas Legislative Session has been open for two weeks. Already, the Kansas Senate has introduced 48 new bills. The Kansas House has introduced 89. Many are procedural, some are common sense, some affect a small portion of Kansas law, others are simply declarations. And some are major, important bills that affect every Kansan. Already we've seen bills introduced for the state's budget, for changes to the tax code, for education financing, and more. But, and we cannot overstate this, the very conservative leadership in the Legislature has already introduced bills at odds with the stated goals of the Governor, and this impasse will likely lead to little getting accomplished until the very end of the session. Again.

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It all starts with the budget

Everything the Kansas state government does begins with the budget. Gov. Kelly knows this, and submitted her budget weeks earlier than her predecessors, so that the Legislature could begin working, rather than grandstanding. But that did not prevent her opposition from crying foul. The Kansas Legislative Session has only just begun, and already there are roadblocks to progress. Let us guide you through the politics.

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Your 2019 Kansas Legislature

Today is the official first day of the 2019 Kansas Legislative Session. Over the next few months, a lot of legislation will pass through the Statehouse in Topeka. Most of it will be mundane, some of it will be ceremonial. But some of it will touch the lives of every Kansan, for better or worse.

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Good Things

This is a letter from Ed Peterson, MainStream's new Board President. See a list of the 2019 Board of Directors here.

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You make our work possible

On behalf of our staff and board, I want to wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.

Thanks to you, 2018 was a banner year for MainStream.

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Dignity is a mainstream value

MainStream's founding issue is the separation of church and state, and as part of that, demanding respect for the rights, freedoms, and beliefs of all individuals. Freedom is not, as some extremists would have you think, the right to do what you will, where you will. Rather, freedom is the right to not be subjected to the morality and beliefs of others. It is why we have always stood for civil rights and against discrimination in any form. It is why we are excited to see and support the wave of LGBTQ+ non-discrimination ordinances (NDOs) being proposed and passed in northeast Kansas these last few months. But it is not enough.

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Leadership needed

Many political and advocacy groups are spending these months between the election and the start of the Kansas legislative session (January 14, 2019!) working on their plans for next year, and 2020 after. We are doing our own work, and have attended meetings, spoken with like organizations, and begun to work with partners on plans. One certainty keeps coming up, time after time. All Kansans will have a champion in Laura Kelly as Governor, but there is a distinct need for leadership in the Legislature to understand that they, too, represent all Kansans.

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Governing is what is next

Throughout the election just past, while we worked to engage voters in all levels of the ballot, we maintained that the single most important election on it was for Governor of Kansas. Not just because the election of Kris Kobach would mean a return to the policies of Sam Brownback, and worse. But because the position of Governor has the power to promote and stall legislation. Depending on the results the Kansas legislative races, that person would either have to act as a firewall against further extremist policies, or be able to support legislative measures we have been backing for years. As it turns out, Governor-Elect Laura Kelly will get to be a little of both, perhaps a more difficult job, but one she is well suited for.

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What’s the moderate with Kansas?

At the MainStream Coalition, we often talk about being moderate when it comes to politics, about getting the moderate vote out, or about moderating extremism. Understandably, a lot of people think "moderate" is a political position. But it's not. Rather, it's an approach to politics. It's the counter to extremism, but doesn't mean one thing or another about your political views. There can be conservative moderates, and progressive moderates, and centrist moderates. And we need more, of all of them, speaking out.

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Thanks

With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, we are reminded to thank all of you, who took a stand and did more than just vote this election. Without your work, the results of this election might have been much different. Thank you.

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