Minority Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Davis
KS Senator Pat Pettey
KS House Rep. Melissa Rooker
The theme of the 2013 legislative session is, without a doubt, control. Specifically, conservatives are seeking control over all facets of Kansas governance and public service, from our schools to our courts, from women’s bodies to primary elections.
Schools and teachers have borne the brunt of legislative efforts to restrict forward progress. Everything from court-ordered mediation on funding to minimizing collective bargaining rights for teachers is on the table at the midpoint of the Session. Not only is school funding in jeopardy because of an unnecessarily lean budget and a proposed constitutional amendment, the Legislature has seen fit to add another burden to schools in the form of a mandatory and religion infused add-on, “Celebrate Freedom Week” and a misguided take-away, prohibiting the use of common core standards.
The situation is no better when it comes to our merit-based and impartial judicial selection process. No less than eight bills are at various stages of debate and approval which would force our selection of Court of Appeals and Supreme Court justices into either a mirror of the federal system or into wholesale direct election. In a move that sidestepped a constitutional amendment, the Legislature passed a measure that would give the Governor appointing, and the Senate approving power over Court of Appeals justices.
Conservative control and curtailing of reproductive rights is hardly a surprise, but new levels of extremity seem to be at play. Some particularly egregious bills include a 70 page anti-abortion omnibus bill and a bill that would protect doctors who lie to patients about their pregnancies. Both of these will be waiting on the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Voting the legislators, who advocate for such laws, out of office in primaries could become much more difficult, thanks to a bill passed by the House which would prohibit party switches between June 1 and mid-September. Other election-related bills pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach include proposals to make all elections partisan (school board, municipal, etc.) and mandating that all elections take place in November.
It’s a difficult legislative environment for champions of moderation, local control, and civic engagement, but the MainStream Coalition continues to be a voice of reason for the Northeast corner of the state and beyond.
This event is co-hosted by Colonial Church.