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.
Brittany Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy
What a privilege it was to join with several partner organizations for “Pastor’s Day at the Capitol” this week in Topeka. More than 50 pastors from across Kansas were introduced in the House and Senate, met with lawmakers, and – most importantly – prayed together for these leaders and our state.
A huge thank you to the many members of the legislature who participated, Governor Brownback, and Secretary of State Kobach.
The event this year occurred the same week that the nation celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. As I walked the halls of the Capitol with the church leaders in attendance I couldn’t help but think of these words from King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail:
“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
“Things are different now. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s often vocal sanction of things as they are.
“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.“
These prophetic words about the church in America from 1963 are worth considering today. We still struggle to be “thermostats” and not merely “thermometers?” But, our event at the Capitol was a healthy reminder that all is not lost. There are many who remember the “authentic ring” of the early church and seek to bring the Gospel to bear on the issues of our time. I thank God for them.
Is your pastor a thermostat? Connect us with your pastor by emailing Robyn Essex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President and Executive Director
Gov. Sam Brownback shares his support for the work of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas.