The major part of legislative session wrapped up at 2:15 AM Saturday morning. Despite the best laid plans, legislative session is always a bit unpredictable. Given the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and a host of other complicating factors, this session redefined unpredictability.
But that is not to say unpredictability is always bad. This was arguably our most successful session to date despite the underlying chaos. When session started, we didn’t know how long we would be able to stay in session or how long it would take to get our premier legislation, Value Them Both, passed in both chambers. We tried to realistically set expectations while also aggressively fighting for families. Because of how quickly Value Them Both passed, we were able to affect policy on almost every one of our core topics.
VALUE THEM BOTH
With the help of 114 pro-life legislators (86 in the House and 28 in the Senate), we were able to pass Value Them Both in record time on January 28th. This huge accomplishment, first, required outstanding election results for pro-life candidates, and, secondly, leadership in the House and Senate who were committed to ensuring the amendment passed quickly. We once again thank Ty Masterson, Ron Ryckman, Rick Wilborn, Dan Hawkins, and Blaine Finch for their leadership on Value Them Both. And finally, we can never thank our brave advocates enough – Molly Baumgardner, Tory Arnberger, Renee Erickson, Susan Humphries, Kellie Warren, Barb Wasinger – as well as many others.
As we prepare for an election in August of 2022, we would love to speak at your church or your civic group about the impact of Value Them Both and how we protect our pro-life laws. Likewise, we would want to train you to speak about these issues in your area. Respond to this email and let us know you are interested in becoming an advocate for Value Them Both!
As soon as Value Them Both passed, we began to address the other seven objectives on our to-do list. And I am excited to report that we made major progress in every area we engaged!
Our second biggest objective was to protect women’s sports through the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. Though we failed to override the Governor’s veto by one vote in the Senate, we made significant strides in highlighting the conversation in the legislature and beyond. Be on the lookout for ways you can engage in standing up for our girls on a local level as we mobilize a strategy to continue the conversation and continue to advocate for fairness.
FALLOUT FROM 2020
After 2020, election integrity and controlling the power of tyrannical governors became the topic of national conversation. And that same conversation was reflected in Kansas. Through two elections bills, we were able to close several loopholes that could have exposed our elections to misuse. These safeguards will be especially helpful as we prepare for Value Them Both to pass on a statewide ballot. We were also able to ensure that our God-given religious freedom will be protected when a state of emergency is declared.
STOP BILLS THAT PUT FAMILIES AT RISK
While the new version of the “medical” marijuana bill was a more conservative bill than the one previously discussed, the bill that was rammed through committee and debated on the House floor last week was anything but conservative or strictly medical. This discussion is always complicated, rife with legal concerns, and real human concerns about the effect on families and society. Thankfully, the bill that the House debated did not move in the Senate. Several conservative legislators pointed out the plethora of potential harms to pregnant women, children, and society in general that we have seen in other states with liberal marijuana policies.
Also, a bill that would have further opened the door for the gambling industry to prey on families was stopped earlier in session. We recognize that the conversations around these issues are complicated in our society and the lines are not firmly drawn with well-intentioned individuals on both sides, but we will continue to dialogue with legislators and encourage legislators to put the good of Kansas families over profit.
School choice is the reason I did not get more than a few hours of sleep any night last week. While we are disappointed that a bill that included Education Savings Accounts did not make it to the Governor’s desk, we are thankful that a debate on the topic happened in both chambers. It also has garnered significant public discussion. I talk to families all across the state who are trying to discern the best way to fulfill their responsibility to educate their children in a way that glorifies God. It is my goal to equip you with as many options as I can.
One huge school choice win is the expansion of the low-income tax credit. Passing an education budget with policy requirements was one of the final things the legislature did late Friday night. The key thing for school choice advocates was the removal of restrictions for kids who can receive a scholarship from scholarship granting organizations. The new program will accept kids from any school (previously it was just an arbitrary list of the lowest performing schools) and secondly extended opportunity to kids who are a part of the reduced lunch program whereas they previously had to be part of the free lunch program. It encourages Kansans to use their resources to benefit kids in our state who would not have had any school choice opportunities without this program. This program now truly reflects that kids deserve options and opportunities no matter where they live or how much their parents make.
It is my absolute honor to represent you and your family at the Capitol each day. My goal every morning is to first bring Christ glory and secondly to represent you well. While we will still return to the Capitol for the official last day of session, known as sine die, we are turning now towards influencing local policies, educating families on how they can be involved, and working with policy makers beyond session to advance the family and honor God!
Brittany Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy