Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kansas Democratic Party- - Weekly Wrap-up, 25 Jan. 2014

Brownback, Kansas GOP's Priorities On Display

Political theater, distractions dominate Kansas Legislature's first two weeks

By most accounts, Gov. Brownback's 2014 State of the State was devoid of substance. The only real notable moments had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with political theater.

First, the governor not so subtly suggestedlegislators should ignore the Kansas Supreme Court if the Court orders the Kansas Legislature to do its job and fund Kansas schools as required under the Kansas Constitution. Brownback went so far as to suggest that if schools should close because he and legislators fail to fund them that the Kansas Supreme Court would be to blame, saying: "Let us resolve that our schools remain open and are not closed by the courts or anyone else."

Far-right Kansas legislators are lining up behind Brownback, setting up a constitutional conflict that could resonate beyond Kansas' borders. Ignoring a court ruling to provide a suitable education for Kansas students would put Kansas into unchartered territory and risk the future of thousands of Kansas kids.

But this shot at the courts was an expected and gentle opener (remember, far-right Republicans also want to politicize the court because they can't control it).

Brownback followed his salvo across the bow of the Kansas Supreme Court by praising anti-abortion Summer of Mercy protesters and comparing abortion to slavery. These comments provoked immediate negative national attention, with national publications (here, here, here, here, here, and here) repeatedly taking Brownback to task for his extreme and ill-fitting analogy.

Once Brownback wrapped up his State of the State address, it was Kris Kobach's turn to embarrass Kansas.

First, Kobach was slapped down (once again) for his attempts to disenfranchise eligible Kansas voters, this time by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The commission sited the "paucity of evidence" that non-citizen voter fraud exists in its ruling that Kobach could not go forward with his two-tiered voting system - but a lack of evidence has never stopped Kobach before.

Then, Kobach set the stage for more unnecessary litigation by urging the Kansas Legislature to defy the federal government by ignoring their finding that the Lesser Prairie Chicken is a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Kobach's proposed bill goes so far as to make it a felony for federal officials to enforce federal laws concerning the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

But Kobach and Brownback's antics served merely as a prelude for what transpired this week in the Kansas Capitol.

Extremist Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, Shawnee, put Brownback, Kobach, and the decent people of Kansas to shame when she turned our state Capitol into a OB/GYN office and conducted two live sonograms inside the Kansas Capitol.

Photo - Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal

Yes, you read that right - live sonograms in a Senate Committee meeting. Why the need for this circus? To support a bill that outlaws surrogate pregnancies in Kansas. You can now add surrogacy to the list of things people who claim to be small government champions want to prohibit.

So to recap: Kansas Republicans have threatened a constitutional crisis to avoid funding Kansas schools, compared anti-abortion protesters to the abolitionists who founded Kansas, wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars defending unconstitutional voter suppression legislation, suggested picking another fight with the federal government over the Lesser Prairie Chicken, and turned the Kansas Capitol into a public health clinic in an attempt to stop people from having children through surrogacy. And that was just the last ten days.

But while the Kansas GOP was busy pulling political stunts, Kansans were confronted with the harsh reality of Brownback's failed policies. What's that reality look like?

Two major employers announcing plans to leave Kansas, taking with them over 550 jobs.

Brownback proposing a budget with a $457 million deficit caused by his radical tax breaks for billionaires.

States like Utah, that's right UTAH, agreeing to expand Medicaid while Kansans living in poverty continue to go without health care.

By this point, Kansans are accustomed to our far-right public officials embarrassing us with their anti-science, anti-logic policies. But now the extreme policies of Brownback and his fellow zealots are threatening the livelihoods, educations, and very well-being of Kansans. Embarrassed we can handle - but broke, uneducated, and sick is no way to go through life.

Kansas Democrats Lose Two Longtime Activists

This past week saw the passing of two longtime Kansas Democratic Party supporters, Ruth Anna Glanzer Schrum, 90, Manhattan; and Raymond L. Burns, 82, Valley Falls.

Ruth Anna Glanzer Schrum was active in Kansas Democratic politics, chairing the Riley County Democratic Party in the 1980s and 1990s. She ran for elected offices with the Manhattan School Board, Riley County Commission and Kansas State Senate. Ruth also served as a delegate to several national presidential conventions, working on the Rules Committee for the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

Ruth was nominated to the Kansas Board of Regents in 1992 and was appointed to the Kansas University Medical Center Admissions Board by former Gov. Joan Finney. Ruth also served on the Kansas Public Disclosure Commission and the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System Board. The Kansas Democratic Party presented Ruth with the Joan Finney Outstanding Public Service Award in 1997 in recognition of her decades long work for Democrats and the people of Kansas.

Click here to read Ruth Schrum's complete obituary.

Raymond L. Burns served that Kansas Democratic Party as the longtime chair of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and continued his involvement with Democratic politics after moving to Topeka in 2008. Ray was a dedicated activist who was well-known and liked by elected officials at all levels and was a welcome and familiar face at the Kansas Democratic Party headquarters.

Click here to read Raymond Burns complete obituary.

Sorting out the legal issues of the regents’ social media policy

A first look at the governor's budget

Corporate ag shelved for 2014 session

Feds deny Kansas' bid to tighten voter registration

All-day kindergarten plan draws bipartisan skepticism

Transparency proposals mark session’s first week

Number of homeless children in Wichita schools growing

Judge rules that Kansan who provided sperm to lesbian couple owes child support

Survey shows support for renewable energy law

Drought Monitor: 95 percent of Kansas needs moisture

State of the State memo for the 'insiders'

Who will set state's agenda?

Going God and Sam's way

The king of Kansas

Fiscal storm is coming

Budget plans

Registration debacle

Editorial: Defend voting rights

Why education is the big issue in gubernatorial racesAll-day kindergarten in Kansas sets kids up for valuable life lesson: disappointment

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