What a wild session it has been. The legislature came back for its final day Wednesday. Sine die is the last day of official legislative business until next year. This session has had its ups and downs like any session. But for me, it crystalized why we do what we do at Family Policy Alliance®.
It is clear that liberal factions are gunning to take control of Kansas. Along with our allies, we are working to hold back this tide and make sure this doesn’t happen.
The Left has decided they want to fundamentally transform Kansas. They tried to hide Laura Kelly’s radical agenda from average Kansans, they are exploiting moderates in the legislature, and they have controlled Kansas Courts for a while now.
All of this may sound bleak and depressing but there is hope. Kansas isn’t lost and I’ve definitely seen rays of encouragement.
This session was not a great triumphant year where everything good passed, but we did hold back a lot of bad and we have clear marching orders for the coming year. I want to take a moment to look back at what we have faced.
The session started off with a bang when Gov. Kelly reinstated and expanded former Gov. Sebelius’ executive order banning her from discriminating against her own employees. However, what was most important about this executive order is that it quietly opened a door to ignore the Adoption Protection Act. We have been closely watching the Administration to ensure that they do not hamper the implementation of this important law that protects the right of adoption agencies to live out the faith that drives their work.
On a positive note on a similar topic, along with our allies, we were able to stop a bill that would have attacked business owners of faith. This bill is known as a sexual orientation and gender identity law (SOGI). These types of laws have been used as weapons against Christians throughout the country. There is little to no concrete basis for implementing them. These types of laws have ruined the livelihood of many in the wedding industry and business owners who were simply trying to live out their faith in the public square.
On the education front, the Student Educator Religious Freedom bill was introduced by Family Policy Foundation Statesmen Academy Alum Renee Erickson. This bill ensures that students, coaches, teachers, and administrators can live out their faith in schools. Introducing this bill made Kansas the second state in the nation to introduce comprehensive religious protections for coaches, teachers, and students. It was introduced in response to several incidents in recent years in which school officials have been discriminated against because of their faith.
As you probably know there was almost a perfect storm of pro-life activity across the country in the last several months. And per usual, Kansas was not left out of the storm. Kansas was the first state to officially respond after New York passed its horrific law legalizing abortions up to the moment of birth. We are so thankful for our friends Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, Sen. Ty Masterson, Rep. Susan Humphries, and Rep. Renee Erickson who worked on and carried this resolution in both chambers.
The abortion pill reversal bill (APR) was an interesting mixture of wins and losses. While it ultimately failed because of one vote, it did lay a wonderful foundation for pro-life wins in next year’s session. The governor tried to steal our momentum and hope by vetoing APR the same week that the Supreme Court decision was released.
And of course, the moment that redirected many of our efforts over the coming years– the long-awaited release of the Supreme Court ruling on life. In this ruling, the Court created a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution where none ever existed. Quite honestly, it was 200 pages of erroneous legal gymnastics set against a completely inaccurate recounting of Kansas history. The only glimmer of hope was Justice Steagall’s witty and poignant dissent.
The Court declared that strict scrutiny protects the right of abortion in Kansas – this standard is even higher than the protection that abortion receives under the Federal Constitution. Some of the implications of this ruling are fairly apparent but will specifically have to be worked out over time. First, it created a right to abortion even if Roe and Casey (the controlling Supreme Court cases that govern abortion) are overturned. Importantly for the current political discussion in Kansas, the ruling will likely eventually require government mandated funding of abortion through Medicaid. This effect will be magnified by Medicaid Expansion. Finally, the Court’s logic laid the framework for legalization of assisted suicide and public funding of transgender surgery.
The key take-away: we have clear marching orders for next session. This opinion created major problems for the vibrant pro-life movement. We absolutely must fix this problem. We will be working with a coalition to ensure this happens.
Thank you for allowing me to serve alongside you this session, and I look forward to working with you in the coming year.
Standing alongside you,
Director of Advocacy
P.S. I know even now many of you are cleaning up from the recent storms and many of you are still dealing with rising flood waters. Please, know that we are standing alongside you and praying for you.