A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
Week Twelve -- April 10, 2019
Elections should be held on April 16th- the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.
- Thomas Sowell
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:
  • Abortion Pill Reversal Has High Success Rate. The study examined 261 successful mifepristone reversals and showed the success rates were 68% with the high-dose oral progesterone protocol and 64% with the injected progesterone protocol; both were significantly better rates than the 25% survival rate if no treatment is offered. There was no increased risk of birth defects or preterm births. (Source)

  • Trump Economy Continues to Roll. The U.S. created 196,000 new jobs last month after a swoon in February, an encouraging gain that hints growth in the economy is ready for a revival. (Source)

  • Tax Incentive Effectiveness Questioned. Legislators want to create a database of incentives in the state in order to better track them and ensure firms getting the money follow through on promised job growth. A key issue that an incentives database would tackle is a legislative post audit that would garner data to allow people to decide if an incentive is really working. (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.
It’s time for accountability and real education solutions in Kansas
( Source )
This column is co-authored by Kansas state Sens. Ty Masterson, Mary Pilcher-Cook and Larry Alley and state Reps. Francis Awerkamp, Emil Bergquist and Jene Vickrey. It dealt with the original SB 16, the education policy bill which passed the Kansas House on March 26 th .

Change is never easy, but we are called upon to lead, not continue more of the same.
Recently, a critical piece of legislation — SB 16 — passed the Kansas House by just one vote. Despite the demagoguery by those interested in preserving the status quo of perpetual lawsuits caused by the lack of achievement in our schools, SB 16 is a critical step towards attempting to help schools direct money towards increased student achievement. The legislation increases transparency and accountability for how your tax dollars are spent on education through accountability reports, annual audits of various aspects of the school finance system, and requirements that local superintendents certify that sufficient dollars are allocated towards classroom instruction. Student achievement happens at a local level — school boards and administrations must show that their first priority is student learning.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here .

Truth Report Archive
Check out past Truth Reports in the Truth Report Archive by clicking here.
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:

Spending: Ever curious about how your tax dollars are spent, particularly on items like government salaries? Then look no further than KS OpenGov, a large database of hundreds of reports at the state, city, and school district level. 

Get there by clicking here:
History Repeats Itself as Legislature Capitulates to Court
Spring is here – and as regular as the weather warming, flowers blooming, and baseball beginning, the Kansas Legislature has yet again decided to throw hundreds of millions more at K-12 education. With no assurances or provisions that it will go to classrooms or improve the performance of Kansas children, the Kansas House and Senate both approved an amended version of H Sub for 16, a bill combining modest policy with massive expenditures on K-12 education, backed by Governor Kelly, who signed the legislation on Saturday.

The outcome – spending $90 million more annually on K-12 education - is end result of the Kansas Supreme Court holding the Gannon case for almost a decade, and the decision of the Kansas Legislature not to stand up to the court or come up with a different method of approaching K-12 education, but allocating yet even more money to the very school finance formula that is at the heart of the issue. 

During floor debates in both chambers, principled conservative legislators gave profound warnings about long-term consequences of committing Kansas to spend such a large amount of money again. It is important to remember that last year, the Kansas legislature spent $525 million on K-12 education, which followed a similar decision the year before that, and the year before that. Yet we’re back at the same point again.

As Senator Ty Masterson said in the Senate debate, “The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” 

Rep. Renee Erickson said, “We know the money won’t go to help students learn and teachers teach. It will go to feed an insatiable educational bureaucracy and lawyers who have taken millions in funds appropriated for classrooms to enrich themselves. Bottom line: it won’t help students and teachers; it won’t end the Gannon lawsuit; it will hurt other necessary services such as foster care, DCF, transportation, etc. 

Rep. Kristey Williams said, “Ensuring schools spend their money first on teachers and classrooms to raise student achievement should be priority No. 1. Beautiful facilities and extracurricular activities should be secondary to the needs of students the Supreme Court says we are failing.”

Much of the impetus behind passage of the bill seems to be a hope that it will end the lawsuit. That narrative was shredded when immediately after the vote, the schools suing the taxpayers said that the bill was not adequate.

It is now up to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to defend the State of Kansas before the Kansas Supreme Court. 

Choosing Life: Abortion Pill Reversal Bill Approved
Late on Friday afternoon, the Kansas House overwhelmingly approved the conference committee report (CCR) concerning abortion pill reversals by a vote of 85-35, which it had previously approved the week before. The Senate immediately followed, passing the CCR 26-11, sending it to the governor.  The first time the bill came through the House, Rep. Emil Bergquist carried the bill and Rep. Eplee carried it the second time. In the Senate, Gene Suellentrop carried the measure.

Abortion by pill is a multi-step process requiring pills to be taken over the period of a few days. After the first pill is taken, there is still a possibility of preventing the abortion by taking a different medication to reverse the effects of the first abortion pill. This is a medically-proven technique that has been successfully used for many years. HB 2274 simply requires notification of the possibility of reversal to anyone having an abortion by pill. The treatment used in the APR protocol involves use of a high dose of Progesterone. This is something the woman naturally produces during a normal pregnancy.
Senate Approves Controversial Nominee with Ties to Tiller
Despite the negative recommendation of the Senate Commerce Committee, the full Senate confirmed the nomination of David Toland to be Secretary of Commerce.

While governors certainly deserve general deference regarding appointments to their cabinets, we have a confirmation process for a reason. In this case, t he Kansas Department of Commerce is our leading economic development agency, tasked with empowering individuals, businesses, and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Ideally, the leader of this agency should be an individual who can unify our state's various economic stakeholders towards a common goal of economic growth for all Kansans. A number of legitimate concerns were raised about Toland that indicated he would be a divisive figure and not be able to lead the Department of Commerce in an effective manner.

During the confirmation process, concerns were raised regarding Toland's previous business dealings, his poor record of economic growth where he operated an "economic development" business, an increase in government jobs while jobs in the private industry declined, and past public statements and social media posts against the Kansas Legislature. It was then was discovered that Mr. Toland's business had ties to the Dr. George Tiller Fund.  Tiller was a notorious abortion provider who both performed late-term abortions and taught other providers how to do them. The Tiller Fund is designed to carry on "Tiller's Legacy," and his legacy is one of unrestricted, late-term abortion.

It is hard to imagine a nominee with such a controversial past being effective. However, the Senate confirmed him by a vote of 23-14.

Health Care Freedom: Farm Bureau Bill Approved Offering Actual “Affordable” Health Care
The Kansas Truth Caucus believes in restoring health care freedom, starting in our principles,

We strongly support the federal repeal of ObamaCare and oppose efforts to expand its reach in Kansas. We strongly support measures to repeal burdensome mandates and regulations, so premiums can be lowered, and Kansans can retain more control of their own health care. We support initiatives to expand health insurance options for Kansans and believe that innovation, not government, offers the solutions for better health care now and in the future.”

Ever since the passage of ObamaCare, which dramatically increases the cost of private insurance and thus access to health care, Americans have been searching for affordable alternatives to have their health care needs met. Through the passage of HB 2209, the Kansas House and Senate has done just that. The bill allows the Kansas Farm Bureau to offer health coverage to members that wouldn’t be required to meet the burdensome mandates of ObamaCare, thus providing thousands of Kansans an affordable alternative rather than expensive insurance that is the hallmark of the federal health care law.   

This report in the Washington Post indicates the Farm Bureau expects about 42,000 people eventually to take its coverage if the law is enacted into law. The beneficiaries would be individuals who find ObamaCare impossible to afford. The same article says that the number of individual plans offered in Kansas has plummeted in recent years, currently sitting at just 23. It was 42 in 2016, according to the Kansas Insurance Department.

The bill was approved with veto-proof majorities and now heads to Governor Kelly.
Lowering Utility Rates: SB 69 On Governor’s Desk
Late last month, the Kansas House and Senate both adopted SB 69, which directs the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC) to authorize a study of retail rates of Kansas electric public utilities. High utility rates are a significant burden on Kansans and the Kansas Truth Caucus supports measures to examine ways to relieve that burden. The bill is now on the governor’s desk, who is expected to sign it. It will provide significant transparency into the reasons for the high utility rates and what can be done to lower them.

The legislation, championed by Truth Caucus Chair Ty Masterson, specifies the purpose of the study is to provide information that may assist future legislative and regulatory efforts in developing electric policy that includes regionally competitive rates and reliable electric service. The utilities subject to the study include electric public utilities; electric cooperative public utilities exempt from Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) jurisdiction; and the three largest municipally owned or operated electric utilities by customer count.

There are many aspects to utility rates in Kansas, included which is the fact Kansans, via their utility bills, pay a “secret tax” help the utility companies to pay their taxes. The problem is that due to business losses, the utility companies don’t owe a tax – yet they include it in their utility bills. While SB 69 does not address that issue specifically, it is part of the overall equation when it comes to utility rates and could perhaps be addressed in the future.

SB 69 is a helpful and important step towards finding a solution that brings together all parties and most importantly, reduces utility rates on Kansans.
Principled Focus: Encouraging Transparency and Open Government
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:

Encouraging Transparency and Open Government
We support efforts to shine the light of day on the governmental process. We believe the public has a right to know how their elected officials are voting, the bills they are introducing, and their actions in committee and on the floor of each chamber. Additionally, we will support policies that promote accountability at all levels and branches of government.

This principle was highlighted this week with the passage of HB 2223, which would establish systematic and comprehensive review and analysis of economic development incentive programs in the state. Championed by Senators Julia Lynn and Mary Pilcher Cook, the bill was adopted without opposition in the Senate.
These reviews would examine the history and goals of such programs, their effectiveness, their comparison to other such programs, whether the state can afford such program, the impact they have on our economy and businesses, and other provisions aimed at examining the effectiveness and cost of economic development incentives. 
Additionally, the bill would establish a comprehensive database for disclosing information on these same programs, which would include income ta credits and property tax incentives granted by localities. 

The passage of the bill is a victory for transparency and good government, as it examines the use and effectiveness of widely-used economic development incentives, many which pick between winners and losers and are of questionable benefit to the taxpayers.