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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Gannon Explained

On Friday, March 7, the Supreme Court of Kansas returned a ruling on Luke Gannon v. State of Kansas, the school finance ruling we've been waiting on all session. At stake was the funding of public schools in Kansas. The decision handed down was variously described as "nuanced," and "complicated," and if you've read all 110 pages, you probably agree. To make matters worse, parties from both sides crowed about this being a great decision for, variously, education, students, and the State.

So, what really happened? What does the decision really say?

Well, you know, it's nuanced. And complicated.

Here are the basics.

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ACTION ALERT! Education under assault

ACTION ALERT: Two Bills/One Phone Call to Senate Ways and Means Committee.

  • Call Dee Heideman, Committee Assistant at
  • 785-296-3775 and ask that your voice be shared with the committee chair:
  • Oppose SB305 and
  • Support SB277
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Legislative Update

Week seven in the Kansas legislature marks the end of – turnaround week – round one of a process that essentially determines which bills will be considered for the remainder of the session. Among the bills that did not survive this 2014 session are the: anti-fluoridated water HB2372, surrogacy ban SB302, ban on city provision of broadband SB304, and ban on the incompatibility divorce clause HB2604. 

Your calls, emails and activity on social media HAVE made a difference – if not eliminating problematic bills, at least softening or slowing some down.

Unfortunately, some productive bills and amendments did not make it out of committee, but we applaud those legislative efforts, such as the bills Requiring Court of Appeals Applicant Information Made Public (SB252) and the Kansas Protection against Voter Suppression (SB253/HB2428). 

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Legislative Update

Week five in the Kansas legislature closes the door for individual representatives to introduce bills in all but about a dozen committees. This lessens the opportunity for an individual’s extreme personal agenda but allows for the continued flow of irresponsible legislation through select committees. This Legislative Update begins with a brief overview of current happenings.

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