It looks like the 2020 legislative session took its final bow last week. Legislators came back for two days to discuss a COVID relief bill that is very similar to the bill Governor Kelly vetoed just two weeks ago.

The notable differences were that the bill extends the governor’s powers until September 15th with oversight from the State Finance Council (a committee chaired by the governor), allows counties more latitude in the decisions they make, does not allow the Governor to close businesses unilaterally, protects Kansans from forcibly being involved in contact tracing, and allows some oversight in how the governor can use federal dollars. The legislators I spoke with were not totally satisfied with the bill that passed, but recognized that it was a necessary bill that did allow us to control some of the governor’s actions.

There was a move in the House to insert Medicaid expansion into the COVID-19 Relief bill by Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita). When the amendment was ruled not germane to the bill, Rep. Ward challenged the ruling. Thankfully, his challenge was roundly rejected by a majority of legislators. All but one Republican voted to sustain the decision of the Rules Committee against the amendment.

This session will almost certainly go down in the record books as one of the oddest in Kansas history. It started out with two main topics – Value Them Both and Medicaid expansion. In the end, neither measure was passed, largely because the worst of COVID-19 occurred right when most of the legislative work usually gets done in March.

We are thankful for all those in the House and Senate who fought so hard to pass Value Them Both early in session. We are especially appreciative for the dedicated work of Senators Susan Wagle and Eric Rucker who carried the bill in the Senate and Representatives Susan Humphries, Renee Erickson, and Susan Concannon who carried the bill on the floor in the House. House Speaker Ron Ryckman and House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins were an indispensable part of our work on the bill this year. We look forward to working with them next year to pass Value Them Both, to provide women with basic protections.

We would like to take a moment to honor the work of Senate President Susan Wagle who has been a stalwart defender of life over the last 25 years. Most recently she carried Value Them Both on the Senate floor and was key to the passage of the Amendment in the Senate. We thank her for her commitment to life in Kansas. Even though she will no longer be working with us in the Senate, we look forward to her continued involvement in the movement to protect life.

As an organization, this session is one that did not turn out like we had planned, but we are excited about turning our focus towards elections and next legislative session. Further, we know that this is not the end of the amendment but is only the first round. We look forward to coming back next session with a legislature that is even more committed to life.

We eagerly anticipate continuing to work with you over the next several months to elect men and women who will defend life, the family, and religious freedom.

For Kansas,

Brittany Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy

Just when we all thought legislative session was over, it has reared its head again. Well technically it’s a new session known as a special session. But I’ve jumped to the end of the story.

On May 21st, the legislature returned for a one-day session to conclude the legislative year.  Both chambers went into session at 8 am. We knew that it would be a long day, but because the House is required by their own rules to be done by midnight, we all thought we would be done by then. It turns out we were wrong.

The House wound up suspending their midnight rule and extended their session until 8 AM the next morning. The legislature passed their COVID Relief Bill at 7:54 AM. That’s right, we were in the Capitol for 24 straight hours.

During this all-day session, the legislature worked to pass a bill to place limits on the Governor’s emergency powers and protect the medical and business communities from liability based on actions they have taken to contain the spread of COVID-19. There was also an attempt by Sen. Dinah Sykes to hijack a cable bill and insert Medicaid expansion.

As we have been talking about, without the Value Them Both Amendment, any vote for Medicaid expansion is a vote to allow taxpayer funded abortion. Thankfully, many of our senators stood strong and voted against allowing this bill to be amended. Click here to see how your Senator voted. Ultimately, the amendment failed and showed just how weak the desire for Medicaid expansion is in the Senate.

Then this week, Governor Kelly vetoed the legislature’s relief bill and called the legislature back into a special session next week. She then issued a new emergency declaration, despite many questioning her legal authority to do so. Either way, this new declaration will expire on June 10th.

There is still a lot of discussion about how a special session will play out, and we will update you as we know more.

One thing of note is that every bill that had been working its way through the legislature the last two years is now officially dead. A special session will require every bill to start from scratch – meaning all legislation will have to be reintroduced and go through the committee process.

This means that Medicaid expansion could be brought up again. Please take time today to remind your legislators to vote against taxpayer funded abortion.

As I have said many times over the last several weeks, continue to be in prayer for all those charged with leading during this time. These are important days and will have great consequences for the future of our economy, our legislature, our families, and our state as a whole. Pray that they will lead with wisdom and discernment.

For Kansas,

Brittany Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy

As we get near the potential end of the stay-at-home order in Kansas (though the exact date seems to be up for debate), everyone has a different idea of how we move forward at this point. I won’t claim to know the best answers across the board. What I do know is that we need to move forward in grace and wisdom. One of the verses that has been most meaningful is when Judah cried out to the Lord in 2 Chronicles 2:12 “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Some of you may be feeling this way (I know I’ve at least had moments). This is a season where we are all having to learn to walk and chew gum. We can’t keep the economy almost entirely shut down forever, nor should we rush to open it back up too quickly putting strain on our healthcare workers and vulnerable populations especially.

We need to continue to pray for all of our leaders, yes even the ones we disagree with, and all those on the frontlines. So many people are struggling right now whether physically, financially, emotionally, etc. We need to be reminded daily from where our true source of strength and hope comes by looking up and fixing our eyes on Christ.

Some updates on the religious freedom front:

However, our Governor has not done a very good job of balancing competing interest during this crisis as illustrated by a recent court opinion.  Many thoughtful legal thinkers and others had already concluded Governor Kelly overstepped with her 11th hour executive order effectively forcing the closure of churches in the days before Easter. And now a federal judge has agreed.

Last week two churches, which had implemented fairly strict social distancing and hygiene requirements, sued in federal court claiming that the Governor’s executive order violated their religious freedom rights. Late Saturday night, Tenth Circuit Judge John Broomes agreed.

He rebuked Governor Kelly for blatantly targeting religion in an executive order banning church gatherings of more than 10 people just days before Easter Sunday and he granted a request for a temporary restraining order for the churches. The temporary restraining order prohibits Governor Kelly from enforcing her order against the two churches involved in the lawsuit. It also requires the churches follow very stringent social distancing requirements any time they meet.

But Governor Kelly is not backing down and has continued to threaten churches with criminal penalties. The Governor is targeting church leaders and asking them to sign on to her agenda after the fact. It appears that the Lt. Gov. has even asked some pastors to sign an affidavit which effectively said they were ok with the Governor taking away their church members’ rights.

Throughout this process, Governor Kelly has shown how little respect she has for the religious beliefs of Kansans. In recent weeks she compared religion to KU basketball saying that she has just as much right and authority to restrict both of them. However, legally she doesn’t. As much as we love KU basketball it is a government funded program and not protected by our U.S. Constitution or any state statute.

The freedom of religion is a God given right, protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution and the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. Just this week, on a national conference call with faith leaders, US Attorney Barr noted that government can’t put special burdens on religious communities. There is a pretty high bar for interfering with this right, especially under our state’s law, as Judge Broomes has eloquently pointed out.

There was another hearing on this matter this Thursday and I anticipate that the judge’s decision will be announced very soon.

This is a threat to religious liberty that every Kansan should take seriously. We commend Attorney General Schmidt, legislative leadership, the attorneys on this case, and Judge Broomes for recognizing that the Governor’s order was, and is, targeting all people of faith and must be stopped. The law is pretty clear on this point.

Not everyone reading this letter will agree with the outcome of the Court’s decision and that’s ok. Just like in any other time, we need to be respectful of those who have different opinions and beliefs. That ability to disagree well is a beautiful gift that we have in United States. Use that gift wisely.

Eyes on Him,

Brittany Jones, Esq
Advocacy Director

With the closing of abortion facilities across the country because of COVID-19, Kansas abortion clinics are seeing an increase in out of state traffic. Even as Governor Kelly has issued a statewide stay-at-home order and many are discouraging interstate travel, the abortion clinics around our state have refused to shut down and Governor Kelly has said that the abortion industry is exempt from her order.

Now, the Trust Women clinic in Wichita is advertising its services as a destination abortion clinic.

It is unacceptable that abortions are being allowed to happen in our state as other freedoms are being restricted. Why does the abortion industry get a pass here?

Many governors across the country have already required all medical facilities to cease nonessential operations in order to preserve medical resources and to slow the spread of the virus. And several governors have ensured that this applies to the abortion industry.

Yet, in our state the abortion industry is alive and business is booming.

This must be stopped – let the Governor and other government leaders know that allowing abortions to continue in our state during this time is completely unacceptable. It is important that we preserve scarce medical resources for those whose lives are on the line during this crisis. It only takes a moment to send a quick note from our action center.

For life,

Brittany Jones, Esq
Director of Advocacy

Friends,

Your action is needed TODAY. Even if you have never contacted your elected representative before, we need you to call them. The Kansas House of Representatives failed to pass the Abortion Pill Reversal bill veto override today by ONE vote.

This law would simply ensure that women seeking a chemical abortion have access to information letting them know that it may be possible to reverse a chemical abortion once they have taken the first abortion pill but before they take the second.

Please call your Kansas House of Representatives member today and ask them to reconsider this vote tomorrow morning and to vote to override the Governor’s veto.

You can find your representative’s number in our action center – simply enter your zip code and/or address and click on the Kansas Tab to find the contact information you need.

The Senate’s first course of action today was to override the veto. Now, we need the House to vote again tomorrow to override the governor’s veto so that women have access to information that they can reverse their chemical abortion.

In the fight for life,

Brittany Jones
Director of Advocacy

Dear Friends,

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,

Brittany Jones
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.

Friends,

Your action is needed TODAY. Even if you have never contacted your elected representative before, we need you to call them. The Kansas House of Representatives failed to pass the Abortion Pill Reversal bill veto override today by ONE vote.

This law would simply ensure that women seeking a chemical abortion have access to information letting them know that it may be possible to reverse a chemical abortion once they have taken the first abortion pill but before they take the second.

Please call your Kansas House of Representatives member today and ask them to reconsider this vote tomorrow morning and to vote to override the Governor’s veto.

You can find your representative’s number in our action center – simply enter your zip code and/or address and click on the Kansas Tab to find the contact information you need.

The Senate’s first course of action today was to override the veto. Now, we need the House to vote again tomorrow to override the governor’s veto so that women have access to information that they can reverse their chemical abortion.

In the fight for life,

Brittany Jones
Director of Advocacy

Friends,

Late today, Democrat Governor Laura Kelly vetoed the abortion pill reversal information bill that would ensure that women are given important information before an abortion.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature, but Kelly, an abortion advocate, does not favor full disclosure of vital women’s health information.

The legislation would actually help women who are considering abortion understand all the facts related to their abortion—including that a chemical abortion may be reversible within a certain period of time if a woman changes her mind. With any medical procedure, doctors are required to give patients all sorts of information to ensure that they know the harms and alternatives of the procedure.

Yet, when it comes to abortion, Governor Kelly and activists like Planned Parenthood prefer to keep women in the dark regarding what is about to happen to them or any available alternatives. They will do all that they can to ensure that women aren’t given access to the important information they need in order to make a fully informed decision.

It looks like Governor Kelly believes that a woman should be free to choose an abortion, but not free to change her mind!

We need your help! Please contact your legislators in the Kansas House and Senate and urge them to override Governor Kelly’s veto of this life-saving legislation.

Send your message today! We have made it easy to contact them in our Action Center.

For life,

Brittany Jones
Director of Advocacy

 

Late last week, just as the legislature was concluding business before going into their April recess – the abortion pill reversal bill finally came out of the conference committee and was passed by both the House and the Senate.

The House passed the committee report, 85-35 even with several key conservative members absent. The Senate voted immediately afterwards and passed the report 26-11.

Both the House and the Senate sent a strong message to Governor Kelly that they are pro-life and that women deserve to have this important information. With more than half of the abortions being performed by the abortion pill in Kansas, it is even more vital that women know that it may be possible to reverse their abortion.

We appreciate the efforts of the chairs of the Public Health and Welfare committees in both chambers who made sure that this bill got into a conference committee report.

We are also are extremely grateful to Rep. John Eplee (R-Atchison), who was the main sponsor of the bill, and to Statesmen Academy℠ alum Rep. Emil Bergquist (R-Park City), who carried the bill on the floor in the House.

The House and the Senate have sent their message to the Governor.

Now it is your turn to ask Governor Kelly to sign the Abortion Pill Reversal Act.

During the campaign, Governor Kelly was endorsed by Planned Parenthood and has been a strong proponent of the abortion industry. But we need to let her know that we are a pro-life state and that this bill is about more than just “abortion rights.” This bill is about giving women hope – hope that there are other options besides abortion. In the end, this is a truly “pro-choice” bill – because it ensures that a woman knows of all her options before she takes the abortion pill.

Please take action!

Pressing on towards the finish line,

Brittany Jones, Esq
Director of Advocacy

The 2019 Kansas legislative session is well underway, and Family Policy Alliance of Kansas® is working hard to represent your values at the capitol on a host of key issues related to life, religious freedom, education reform and more. There are good things developing, and I’ll have more to report on a variety of bills and issues.

But the biggest issue so far has been a renewed threat to religious freedom.

First, LGBT activists have twice come to the capitol demanding passage of a bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Kansas’ nondiscrimination statute. This legislation has been introduced in the past in Kansas but has typically died in committee but Governor Kelly’s support of this legislation changes the dynamic in the legislature.  For the good of all families in our state and for protection of our religious liberty, we need this bill to die in committee.

Around the country, SOGI laws have been the impetus for bathroom privacy issues (allowing men into women’s restrooms and locker rooms) and attacks on small business owners (like cake baker Jack Phillips in Colorado and florist Barronelle Stutzman in Washington State.) We need our conservative legislators to stand strong on this issue.

Despite claims to the contrary, the legislation that has been introduced does nothing to protect everyday believers like Jack and Barronelle. If this legislation receives a hearing, it becomes a circus, painting people of faith as out of step with the times and as bigots.

Will you take a moment to send a note to the Republican leadership and the members on that committee, urging them to defeat this bill? We’ve made it simple on our Action Center, as you can reach all of those legislators with just a click.

Thank you for taking action! And please share widely so others can make their voice heard, too!

Standing strong,

Brittany M. Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy