Legislative Update: Session Ends Behind Closed Doors

The Kansas legislative veto session wrapped up last week, Saturday May 4 in the wee hours of the morning.  Sleep deprivation and lack of time for review or discourse appear to be legislative leadership’s preferred mode of doing business in Topeka.

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ALEC and the 2014 Kansas Legislative Session

We've covered what ALEC is, and how much influence they have in the Kansas Legislature. But what are the effects of that influence? The effects have been striking. This session saw ALEC-modeled legislation that gutted public education, environmental protections, teacher rights, and more.

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How strong is ALEC in the Kansas Legislature?

With the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) promoting extremist, cookie-cutter legislation across the country, much of it making an appearance in the Kansas Legislature, we wondered just how many of our most important state politicians are members of the organization. So, with help from volunteers and interested moderates, we set out to find out.

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What is ALEC? Why should moderates care?

ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it is an extreme anti-government, pro-corporate think tank and policy organization. They are best known as the national organization that provides boilerplate legislation to their members (i.e., state legislators), who then introduce these "model" capitalism-at-all-cost bills at the state level. ALEC can not really be labeled as conservative because their policies are too risky, too radical. 

Why should you be concerned? Because ALEC has deep pockets, an extensive reach and they are changing the rules of the game - in Kansas and across the country. ALEC's mission is about profit. ALEC is not concerned about safety nets nor about investing in the common good.

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Guest Post: "Let it Begin with Me"

This is a guest post by Tim Owens, former Kansas State Senator and Representative, and current MainStream Board member. We occasionally present guest opinions by moderates, regardless of political affiliation.

“Let there be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me…..” the song goes. I think it is time this world and the people in it took a good look at this concept.

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Legislative Update

And the extremism continues... Governor Brownback signed the bundled education bill yesterday.

The Kansas Legislature is in recess now. The legislators who pushed through extreme policy changes during the 2014 regular session may be enjoying the break and cueing up more victory songs for the final days of this legislative session. But the same cannot be said for the Kansans who rallied behind the efforts of civic-minded state legislators who have been fighting for a smarter government and the traditional values embedded in our state constitution.

Up next on April 30 is the supposed Veto Session, a few days designated for the Legislature to react to any action taken by the Governor during the recess. But we expect the extremists to hijack it for more. Should we be prepared for another calculated attack on public education, the court system, quality health care, or our state’s financial viability come April 30?  Very likely. For a glimpse of additional extreme legislation to come, we have provided a view of the recent past and the changing face of Kansas that the MainStream Coalition is working diligently to stop, slow down, and reverse.

Be aware, Kansas budget projections under the Governor’s zero income tax policy go negative as soon as the 2016 fiscal year. The policy changes rolling across Kansas are dramatically different. Understand that these changes do not equate with party affiliation. Do not expect the same investments or protections Kansans have traditionally relied on to be there for you, your parents or your children.

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Legislative Update

Throughout the history of Kansas politics, political theater has always played a role, but the Statehouse debate has not always drawn a wide audience - at least not in recent times. This past weekend changed all that. An engaged audience of Kansans, including MainStream members and hundreds of teachers in Topeka, and a nationwide social media presence, all watched, listened and followed as the weekend's deplorable events unfolded.

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Legislative Update

The end of the session is near and this past week’s political maneuvering created hurried, co-opted legislation. Nearly all committee work wrapped up, leaving the least transparent legislative process to remain. It is our intent to shine a light on the bills being worked and the procedural process used in these final days. We hope you remain engaged in these advocacy efforts and participate in the process of shaping the outcomes.

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Bundling will force legislators to choose bad bills

"Bundling" is the practice of tying unpopular bills to "must pass" measures like budgetary bills, forcing legislators to vote for both if they want either to pass. The GOP promised to stop the practice, but in Kansas, the message seems to have been missed. KS legislative committee chairs are holding hostage key state services in exchange for destructive, ideological policy changes to education and the courts.

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Legislative Update

Week nine in the Kansas legislature wraps up, setting up a very busy week ten.  Five days remain for non-exempt committees such as education to work bills. Expect the expected – political ploys! Stay tuned as these committees push extreme legislation.

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