The Gut and Go exposed

The Kansas Legislature has reached its spring break, and lawmakers have gone home to visit with their constituents. As moderate Rep Stephanie Clayton tweeted yesterday:

#ksleg House has adopted First Adjournment resolution. You are safe until Wednesday, April 29th, when we begin Veto Session. — Stephanie Clayton (@SSCJoCoKs) April 2, 2015

A respite from the reckless laws, simplistic logic, and disheartening machinations is much appreciated, yes. So much has happened in this short legislative session, and so much of it has made Kansas less safe. We will have a legislative update during the break to wrap up all that has happened.

But for now, we are safe. Safe from any more insulting legislation, like the bill to "protect" campus student organizations from rampant religious discrimination by letting them exclude anyone they like. Safe from poor people, who will now be pushed off welfare a year earlier, thus magically transforming them into not-poor people. And safe from random strangers carrying hidden guns into public spaces. Oh, wait... Brownback signs bill that allows permit-free concealed carry of guns in Kansas.

While we all take a deserved breather, we wanted to bring your attention to a "procedure" used to pass legislation that might not otherwise pass a divided chamber. This is an example of the worst of politics, and it has been used repeatedly by the extremists in the Kansas Legislature to have their way.

This is the "Gut and Go." Gut and go is a legislative trick that allows one chamber to take a bill that has been approved and sent to them by the other chamber, then "gut" it of its previous content, insert completely different legislation instead, approve it, and then send it back to the original chamber for a simple up or down vote with no debate. In other words, if it seems that pesky moderate lawmakers in the House might make trouble, the Senate can "gut and go" some innocuous bill already passed by the House, fill it with controversy, and send it back for a simple vote.

This is exactly what happened during this session with the school funding block grants bill. After barely passing the House, the block grants language in HB 2403 was put into Senate Bill 7, previously a bill providing for "information technology audits." Since the Senate had previously passed "SB 7" on Feb 25, although the content was completely different now, they just had to vote to "concur." Which they did as quickly as they could.

The gut and go allows laws to be passed through a deceitful process of expediency, denying our representatives the opportunity to consider, discuss, and determine how legislation will affect their constituents. It is a subjugation of the democratic process. This is how laws are made under the leadership of Sam Brownback and his allies, and it is something every Kansan needs to know.

Now is the time to get in touch with your Statehouse representatives, to let them know how you feel about what has transpired. You have until April 29 to support the good ones and corner the bad ones. How can you tell the difference? The good ones will listen to you. The bad ones already have lunch dates with lobbyists.

Find out how to contact your legislators at

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