A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
Week Six -- February 25, 2019
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or
driving them out of it."
-- Benjamin Franklin

The Facts of the Matter is a feature in The Truth Report each week, highlighting important information, some of which is not always reported or emphasized in the mainstream press:

  • State researchers have found that Gov. Kelly's budget puts Kansans on a course for a $1.3 billion tax increase in the next four years. Though the state’s books balance this year under Governor Laura Kelly’s budget, that doesn’t hold true in the out years, according to an economist from the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute. (Source)

  • Electricity rates rose the most in Kansas. Kansas residents faced the largest percentage increase in electricity rates last summer, according to a (Source)
  • US Supreme Court Is Hinting Public School Coaches Won't Have To Leave Religion On The Sidelines. An analysis from Joshua Dunn, a professor of political science at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, looked at the doors Alito (writing on behalf of himself and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh) opened in his statement. One is past political and court activity that is placing a greater burden on the government to show a compelling interest in restricting religious expression. (Source). 

News & Views is a weekly collection of relevant news items and editorials regarding what's going on in Topeka and around the State of Kansas.
There’s no widespread public demand for Medicaid expansion
by Michael Austin
( Source)
Key Excerpt:
A commonly used statistic by many is that 77 percent of low-income Kansans favor Medicaid expansion. Proponents argue because of overwhelming public demand the government needs to expand Medicaid coverage. However, there is no wide-reaching public demand for Medicaid expansion. In fact, a recent poll showed that 54 percent of Kansas voters do not want Medicaid expanded, preferring other ways to make health care more affordable. The poll was conducted by SurveyUSA, who received an “A” grade from FiveThirtyEight and is used by several media outlets. They also found an additional 22 percent of Kansas voters want expansion paid for by reducing spending in other areas. Gov. Laura Kelly wishes to push forward with Medicaid expansion, with no long-term pay-fors, even though most Kansas voters don’t want that.
Transparency Center: Follow the Kansas Legislature
You can view video streaming of both chambers via the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, many committees are now audio streamed. Finally, the Kansas Legislature website remains a great resource. Here are the relevant links:

YouTube Streaming:

House Passes SB 9 117-0; Governor Kelly Digs In 
Following up on the 40-0 vote by the Kansas Senate, the Kansas House sent Governor Kelly a strong message on Friday by adopting SB 9 by a unanimous vote of 117-0. SB 9, which the Kansas Truth Caucus got behind early ( read our statement here ), makes up for a missed payment to KPERS by sending $115 million to the school group in KPERS.

Last week, the Kansas House also rejected the governor’s reamoritzation plan 87-36. Governor Kelly, despite the fact no members of her own party stood with her on SB 9 and the fact she lost four Democrats on the cornerstone of her budget, appeared to dig in against meeting our obligations to seniors by issuing a rather combative statement after the vote

Rhetoric aside, the governor’s plans for KPERS were fiscally irresponsible and would have eliminated the significant progress lawmakers have made towards restoring health to the retirement system.
House Delivers Resounding Defeat of KPERS Reamortization Proposal
A few weeks ago, many were surprised when Governor Laura Kelly announced that reamoritizing KPERS was a cornerstone of her budget and her agenda for the state of Kansas. This was particularly stunning in light of the fact that Senator Laura Kelly had vigorously opposed a similar plan when it was proposed by Governor Brownback.

Kelly’s short-term KPERS budget gain would save $143.0 million but would end up costing the state $7.0 billion.

This is why the KPERS Board described the idea as “terrible’ and “unwise.”

This week, the Kansas House echoed those sentiments in rejecting the plan on a lopsided vote of 87-36. Passing a budget is the foremost task of any legislative session and so it was important that the governor’s proposal be given its day to consider. During the consideration of the bill, rather than keeping her proposal clean, Democrats tried to pass a number of amendments, which were rejected.

Ultimately, every single Republican present voted against it, as did four Democrats.
Education Committee Hears HB 2288; Religious Freedom for Students & Teachers
This week, the House Education Committee held a hearing on HB 2288, the bill introduced by Rep. Renee Erickson and others to clarify the right to free exercise of religion for both students and teachers. Rep. Erickson and Brittany Jones with the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas testified in support of the bill, which could get passed out of the committee this week. During the hearing, several left-wing representatives appeared hostile to the notion religious liberty extended to teachers and other staff.

You can read more about the bill via the release from the FPA of Kansas by clicking here The Topeka Capital-Journal covered it in this story .
Hope Scholarships: Giving Victims of Bullying New Opportunities
Students trapped in troubled situations – whether it is in underperforming or failings schools or in environments where they are getting bullied – deserve better options. Forcing students to remain in failing schools is wrong.

This is why the Hope Scholarship Bill, HB 2150, is so important. Sponsored by Reps. Susan Humphries and Renee Erickson, it would establish the Kansas Hope Scholarship Act to be administered by the State Treasurer.  The scholarship could be used for another public school or applied toward tuition, fees, textbooks and materials at a private school. Transportation funds would also be provided to the student.
Any student would be eligible to participate in this program if the student has reported an incident of bullying. After an investigation of the bullying, the district would be required to notify the parent of the student who reported the incident that the student is eligible for the Kansas Hope Scholarship Program and provide a written description of the program.

HB 2150 provides a reasonable and compassionate solution to students facing bullying. You can read more about the bill by clicking here . You can read an article about the bill by clicking here .  
Health Care Freedom: Senate Passes SB 32
While Governor Kelly and her allies in the Legislature continue to work to expand the reach of ObamaCare in Kansas, Republicans are working towards adopting options which alleviate the problems caused by the disastrous health care law. One of those options is SB 32, which allows the Kansas Farm Bureau to establish a health care benefit that offers coverage specifically for Farm Bureau members in Kansas. Senate Bill 32 aims to reduce the number of uninsured Kansans by creating competition and free-market options for health care, which is of significant concern to agricultural producers in Kansas. SB 32 passed the Senate 28-11.
Principled Focus: Upholding the Sanctity of Life
Each week, the Truth Report will highlight one of our Principled Priorities, which were recently adopted by our membership.

The Kansas Truth Caucus Principled Priorities state:

Upholding the Sanctity of Life
We strongly support all the pro-life laws enacted in Kansas, including the 2015 ban on live dismemberment abortions. Furthermore, we believe no right to abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution.

This session, the Kansas Truth Caucus is upholding this principle by shepherding SCR 1606, which condemns the ghastly New York Reproductive Health Act. We also stand ready to respond to an eventual ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court and will support other efforts to implement common-sense pro-life protections in Kansas.
Liberal Legislation Watch: Local Government Committee Advances Bill Eliminating Protections for Political Speech
The most basic constitutional right is the Freedom of Speech. The most critical aspect of Freedom of Speech is political speech, which is expressed in various forms, including the display of political yard signs during election cycles. Several years ago, the Kansas Legislature acted to prohibit local restrictions on those regulations within 45 days of an election – a reasonable time period. 

Unfortunately, seven members of the House Local Government Committee decided to forward a measure to repeal that bill, allowing local governments to again limit political speech. Aside from the basic violation of political speech, the previous law on political signs allowed for a wide variation in what local jurisdictions could do, creating confusion for the voter. 

Hats off to Rep. Charlotte Esau, who opposes the bill and said in this article in the Sunflower State Journal, “I have had many constituents are who are concerned that we if revert back to what we had before, that their ability to express their free speech – whether it’s political or something else – is restricted by their city more than they would like,” Esau said. “I wanted to be the voice for the people.”