Education Movement Ahead?

Topeka CapitolLast week in Kansas politics had a few bright moments, but mostly it was still setup for the biggest issues still to come. While progress was made on stopping the Convention of the States, and Kris Kobach's defense of his citizenship requirement for voter registration faltered, we got muddled direction on gun safety from legislative leaders, and still no news on education finance, the deadline for which looms closer and closer.

The Good

Ultra conservative Kansas Senators led the charge to open up the United States Constitution to extremist policies last week, with Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) carrying SCR 1611, adding Kansas' vote to the call to hold a Convention of the States. We've noted this effort before, and called on supporters to oppose it. Last week, just before the vote, MainStream released a statement to all legislators indicating that support of this measure, and others (attempts to amend the Kansas Constitution on education and reproductive rights) would result in MainStream finding it virtually impossible to support those legislators in the future. Here's the statement.

It was a good moment when the Senate could barely muster 22 votes in favor of the Constitutional Convention, of the 27 needed. Still, those 22 are on notice.

And on Tuesday, at the Federal Courthouse in Wyandotte County, Secretary of State Kris Kobach opened his defense of the proof of citizenship requirement for Kansas voter registration. It hasn't gone well, with, among other things, the judge having to instruct Kobach and his team about how trials are conducted and evidence introduced.


In the wake of the Parkland shootings on Valentine's Day, legislative leadership pulled all the gun related bills to take some time to present what they called a comprehensive view of gun safety efforts. In the meantime, HB 2145, the bill to prevent domestic violence abusers from owning guns has seen some action. Originating from the House as a simple bill, the Senate committee added unrelated amendments to clarify that the simple act of owning a throwing star would not be illegal (?) and adding a provision that silencers would not count as weapons (but only if made in Kansas). It awaits action in the Senate.

Last week, leadership finally announced their comprehensive plan, to require the State Board of Education to make schools safer, including measures like secure entrances, cameras, and links to police departments. To fund this, across all schools in Kansas, they offered $5 million. Nowhere in their plan is there mention of measures to reduce the incidence of gun violence in schools or communities. There was no mention of funding to increase mental health services in schools. Just more locked doors. We think there is more that can be done, including prohibiting the purchase or possession of assault weapons by the public.

On Wednesday, legislators will get a chance to hear from Kansas students directly, as they gather in Topeka to protest gun violence. You can join us there, Wednesday, March 15, at 10 am.

Still No Education Plan

The Legislature will hear from their $285,000 expert on Thursday, on just how much she believes it will cost to educate Kansas children adequately. In her last appearance, Dr. Lori Taylor spent much of her time defending the results of a similar study she performed in Texas, where judges eventually called her conclusions questionable. There, advocates and experts were calling for hundreds of millions of dollars in funding increases, and her report suggested not even $1 million was needed.

Tune in on Thursday (here is a link to the Legislature's live audio page) and see what you think.

Who Needs Deadlines?

The Kansas Legislature has listed April 6 as it's last day of session. They plan to return April 26th for the veto session, if needed. The deadline from the Kansas Supreme Court for a new school finance plan is April 30. Many legislators are already saying that they don't expect to be done in early April.

We'd like to point out that there have been several weeks where little has been done in the Legislature, especially on education finance. That lack of direction falls on Leadership, and Kansans should be tired of always having last minute, late-night, and extended sessions to make law.

Be sure to contact your legislators, and let them know how you feel.

Thank you for all that you do. Change begins with you.

It starts here. Do more than vote.

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