A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
Wrapping Up the 2019 Session
"The majority's decision is so consequential because it fundamentally alters the structure of our government to magnify the power of the state—all while using that power to arbitrarily grant a regulatory reprieve to the judicially privileged act of abortion. In the process, the majority abandons the original public meaning of section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights and paints the interest in unborn life championed by millions of Kansans as rooted in an ugly prejudice. For these reasons, I dissent."
- Justice Caleb Stegall 
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:
  • Kansas economy lagged the nation in 2018. Data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows the Kansas economy grew much slower than the national average in 2018. Kansas’ real (inflation-adjusted) private sector Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.1% compared to 3.0% for the nation. (Source)

  • DOJ lays out case for striking down Obamacare in its entirety. In the filing, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt acknowledged that the administration had previously argued that parts of the law could remain in effect even if the individual mandate were struck down, but he said, the administration had come to believe it could no longer defend that position. He suggested that rewriting the statute by "picking and choosing which provisions to invalidate" would interfere with the role of Congress and the "proper course" for the courts would be to strike down the law in its entirety. (Source)

  • The Kansas Supreme Court Has Declared a “Natural Right” to Abortion. In their decision, six judges examined whether Section 1 of the 1859 Kansas state constitution protects the right to abortion, referred to throughout as a “woman’s right to determine whether to continue her pregnancy.” Section 1 states: “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Declaring abortion to be among Kansans’ “fundamental rights,” the court held that any restriction on abortion is subject to “strict scrutiny,” requiring the law to further a compelling government interest and to be narrowly tailored to that interest. (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.
Dan Hawkins: Kansas justices were wrong in their decision
( Source)

Excerpt: Even worse than this power grab from the Court is how the Court chose to exercise their self-anointed new power. Six justices found that a right to an abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution despite there being no language of the sort and nothing in the historical record indicating this to be the case. In addition, the Court found that very little can be done to infringe upon this newly created “right.” They opened the door to unrestricted late term abortion up to the point of birth.

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:
Abortion Pill Reversal Bill Vetoed; Override Fails by One Vote in House
In April, just prior to the break, 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. 

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 required 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.

Unfortunately, Governor Kelly chose to veto the legislation. On the first day of the Veto Session, the Senate overrode the veto by a vote of 27-13. The House, despite two attempts, fell one vote short, with one Republican joining all the Democrats in sustaining the veto.   
Kansas Supreme Court Issues Extreme Ruling on Abortion; Kansas Truth Caucus Responds
Just prior to the Veto Session, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling in the case involving a challenge to the law the Legislature enacted banning live dismemberment abortion. The case had been before the Supreme Court for two years as the lives of countless unborn children hung in the balance.

Unfortunately, the worst fears of Kansans were realized in the decision. By a 6-1 vote, the Court invented an independent and distinct right to abortion under the Kansas Constitution, which was written in 1859. The consequences of the decision are dire as it threatens to undermine and overturn every pro-life law ever enacted in Kansas, including those which have been upheld by federal courts as it pertains to Roe v. Wade.

Immediately following the decision, the Kansas Truth Caucus issued a strong statement sharply criticizing the ruling and noting the dissent of Justice Caleb Stegall:
Truth Caucus: Shocking Kansas Supreme Court Dismemberment Abortion Ruling Threatens All Pro-Life Laws in Kansas
The Kansas Truth Caucus, an organization of approximately 50 legislators in both the Kansas House and Senate, issued a statement in response to today’s ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that declared an independent right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution, which was enacted in 1859. Because this shocking decision invented an independent right to abortion under the Kansas Constitution, it opens the floodgates for potential litigation on previously enacted laws that have been routinely upheld by federal courts.

“The ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court is extreme and sets in motion a process by which even the most basic protections of the unborn are under threat, even those which have been upheld under Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Ty Masterson, Chairman of the Truth Caucus. “The decision by the Court twists the words of the Kansas Constitution to usurp the rights and liberties of the people of Kansas, whose elected representatives have adopted laws by wide margins to protect both women and their unborn children. We pledge to work to enact a Constitutional Amendment which will allow the people of Kansas to reclaim the Kansas Constitution and restore its fundamental truth as a document that protects the life and liberty of all human beings in Kansas.”

The Kansas Truth Caucus also points to the lengthy dissent of Justice Caleb Stegall, which includes these statements:
"Reading today's majority opinion is a follow-the-white-rabbit experience. One is left feeling like Alice, invited by the Queen to believe "'as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'" Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass 100 (1899). Indeed, the story told by the majority is a strange one. In it, all the luminaries of the western legal tradition— from Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone to Edmund Burke and Thomas Jefferson—would celebrate and enshrine a right to nearly unfettered abortion access. In this imagined world, the Liberty Bell rings every time a baby in utero loses her arm."

"The majority's decision is so consequential because it fundamentally alters the structure of our government to magnify the power of the state—all while using that power to arbitrarily grant a regulatory reprieve to the judicially privileged act of abortion. In the process, the majority abandons the original public meaning of section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights and paints the interest in unborn life championed by millions of Kansans as rooted in an ugly prejudice. For these reasons, I dissent."
A number of informative articles have been written regarding the breadth of the decision and why it must be overturned. Here is a sampling:

The Kansas Truth Caucus stands ready to support a Constitutional Amendment to address this ruling when the Legislature returns in January.
Senate Adopts Masterson Motion to Address Judicial Selection; Wide Margin Demonstrates Need for Interim Committee to Study Issue
The decision by the Kansas Supreme Court highlighted the need to address judicial selection in Kansas, particularly as it relates to the Kansas Supreme Court. This need was also brought to light as a result of the embarrassing debacle concerning the nomination of Judge Jeffry Jack to the Kansas Court of Appeals, which was only prevented due to the requirement of Senate confirmation existing for that court – a requirement that does not exist for the Kansas Supreme Court.

As a result, on the last day of the Veto Session, Senator Ty Masterson made a motion to pull SCR 1610 from committee, a motion that was voted on when the Kansas Legislature returned for Sine Die on May 29 th. The motion reads as follows:
Pursuant to Senate Rule 11, I move to withdraw Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1610 from the Committee on Judiciary and the bill be placed on the calendar under the order of business General Orders.

SCR 1610 is a Constitutional Amendment that reforms our judicial selection system for the Kansas Supreme Court by using a system similar to the federal model. The governors would select Supreme Court nominees of their choice and that nomination would be subject to Senate confirmation.

The purpose of this motion is to allow for a debate and vote on this critical reform on the floor in this legislative session.

The issue of Judicial Selection Reform has been before this body going all the way back to 2005 when Senator Wagle and then Senator, now Attorney General, Schmidt sponsored SJR 1606 which would have made Senate Confirmation part of the Supreme Court selection process.

Over the past 15 years various proposals to reform our flawed lawyer controlled system have been discussed in great detail. The reasons for this motion is that in the last few weeks two separate occurrences have made it clear that Kansas can simply wait no longer to repair its broken Supreme Court selection process:

First, we had the embarrassing spectacle of the nomination of Judge Jack, who would be on the Kansas Court of Appeals if not for the fact we adopted the federal model for that court several years ago. The current governor used a nominating commission to recommend Judge Jack, but it was only the reality of Senate Confirmation that saved the people of Kansas from that deeply flawed nomination.

Second, just last week, the Kansas Supreme Court inserted an un-fettered right to abortion into our 1859 State Constitution. As Justice Stegall noted in his dissent, “For the majority, the settled and carefully calibrated republican structure of our government must give way, at every turn, to [their] favored policy.” This ruling was made possible by a flawed system which is rigged to allow justices with radical judicial philosophies to be appointed to the Supreme Court without the check of Senate confirmation. 

Both of these instances highlight the need to immediately address our defective judicial selection system and let Kansans know where Senators stand. Do we stand for checks and balances, or do we stand for consolidating power in the hands of a few narrow interests? Do we stand for good government, or do we continue to allow a flawed system to perpetuate and produce even more extreme rulings and results?

The nominating commission system is fundamentally flawed in several respects – the absence of Senate confirmation; the fact that the governor is forced to choose one of the three nominees or it goes to the Chief Justice; the fact no justice is ever not retained; and the makeup of the commission itself. While several states use some form of a nominating commission, Kansas is the only state in the nation where lawyers selected by other lawyers are a majority of the commission, thereby always controlling the process.

The beauty of a Constitutional Amendment is that the people will ultimately decide. Do they want the current method, in which there are no checks and balances and lawyers selected by other lawyers control the system; and system that has produced a court of radical justices who hold the values of the people of Kansas in contempt? Or do they want the federal model, which has stood the test of time for the entirety of our nation’s history and has produced a balanced court in which judicial philosophies run the gamut?

The Kansas Senate has debated this issue before; but recent events indicate the time has come to consider the issue again and vote on the matter before we adjourn.

On May 29th, the motion to pull SCR 1610 from committee passed 28-10 - it required just 24. Following the successful motion, recognizing there was not sufficient time to thoroughly vet such an important matter on Sine Die, Masterson elected not to make a subsequent motion to force immediate debate on the bill. Instead, he called for an interim committee to study the issue in depth with the goal of the Legislature voting on a Constitutional Amendment when it returns in January.
Health Care Freedom: Farm Bureau Bill Becomes Law; Offers Actual “Affordable” Health Care
The Kansas Truth Caucus believes in restoring health care freedom, stating 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.  

A recent report in the Washington Post indicates the Farm Bureau expects about 42,000 people to eventually take its coverage. 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.

Governor Kelly opted to allow the bill to become law without her signature, meaning this important reform will be available to Kansans.
Kansas Legislature Passes New Bill To Stop Tax Increase; Governor Kelly Vetoes It Again
As noted in previous Truth Reports, SB 22 – a bill prevent a tax increase on Kansans – was vetoed by the governor and that veto was not overridden by the Legislature.

During the Veto Session, a new bill was passed by both chambers – 27-13 in the Senate and 83-41 in the House – that offered a similar proposal to prevent a tax increase, but with some changes:

  • The bill still allows individual Kansans to itemize on their state tax returns, even if the do not do so on their federal returns.
  • It also prevents a tax increase on businesses as it permits the deduction of global intangible low-taxed income, or GILTI. It means that multinational corporations could bring profits earned overseas back to the state without having them taxed as income. However, the bill contained concessions by businesses from SB 22 in an attempt to win support.
  • Whereas SB 22 had a specific cut in the food sales tax, the new bill ties together the sales tax on food to the internet sales tax. Sales tax on food would decrease or “ratchet down” as additional revenue is collected from internet purchases due to changes made under the law. Kansas has one of the highest sales tax rates on food in the country, at 6.5 percent.

Unfortunately, despite the significant compromise, Governor Kelly again decided that the government should keep the money and vetoed the bill. Legislators in the House fell a few votes short of overriding it on Sine Die, so this means many Kansans now face a tax increase which will hurt both families and the ability of our Kansas companies to create jobs.
Legislators Stand with Retirees, Override Kelly Veto of KPERS Payment
After the budget passed during the Veto Session, Governor Kelly signed the budget itself, but made several line item vetoes, which included a $51 million transfer from the state general fund for the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System; $1.9 million in community mental health funding; $1.2 million that goes to districts for evidence-based or research-based reading programs; $261,000 for Teach for America and $80,000 for Technical Education certification tests. 

On Sine Die, legislators overrode these vetoes by a vote of 27-11 (Senate) and 86-30 (House). In recent years, the Kansas Legislature has made significant steps to stabilize KPERS, as a commitment to retirees in the system. Legislators reaffirmed that by commitment by override the governor's veto of the payment to KPERS.
Principled Focus Review
Each week this session, the Truth Report highlighted one of our Principled Priorities, which were adopted by our membership in January. Below, we review several instances where the Kansas Truth Caucus took specific action in advocacy for these principles.

Principled Priority: 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 principle was highlighted by the adoption of the Resolution Condemning the Reproductive Health Act of New York and the passage of the Abortion Pill Reversal Bill. Unfortunately, the latter was vetoed by the governor and failed one vote short of an override in the Kansas House. The Kansas Truth Caucus stood united in support of these measures.


Principled Priority: Advocating for Limited Government
We strongly support efforts to curb the growth of government, to repeal unnecessary laws and regulations, and in upholding states’ rights via the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. We support the core functions of government, including public safety, law enforcement, a well-maintained infrastructure, and protecting the most vulnerable among us. 

This principle was highlighted by the opposition of the Kansas Truth Caucus to expanding the reach of ObamaCare in Kansas by passing Medicaid Expansion. Were that to occur, it would result in a vast expansion of the size of government in Kansas.


Principled Priority: Insisting on a Quality Education for All Kansas Children
We strongly support a child-focused approach to education policy, rather than a system-based approach. In doing so, we support a quality education for each child that offers families the opportunity to give their children a strong moral foundation, intellectual development, and skill sets that prepare their child for the future. We oppose excessive governmental control over teachers, curriculum, and policy. We support school-based budgeting and accountability measures to ensure oversight and so that underperforming students receive the support they deserve. We support expanding educational freedom and school choice, so families have the first voice in their child’s education that best fit their child’s needs.

The Kansas Truth Caucus stood firm on this principle by passing legislation in the House to direct more funding to the classroom and increase accountability for how education dollars are being spent by local school districts. While some of these provisions did not ultimately make it into law, the Kansas Truth Caucus remains committed to pursuing similar reforms in the future, as well as promoting further educational choices for Kansas kids.


Principled Priority: Lowering the Tax Burden for Families & Businesses
We support policies encouraging families and businesses to locate to and remain in Kansas. Therefore, we oppose efforts to increase taxes on Kansas citizens, and support exploring ways to reduce taxes, so Kansas remains attractive for both families and entrepreneurs. In addition, we support changes to the Kansas tax code that maximize the benefits of the federal tax cuts enacted in 2017. 

The Kansas Truth Caucus stood in strong support of this principle by advocating the decoupling of federal and state tax code, thereby allowing the 2017 Trump tax cuts to benefit its intended recipient - businesses and families. Unfortunately, twice Governor Kelly vetoed bills to prevent a tax increase, choosing to instead to use the money to expand government. The Kansas Truth Caucus remains committed to passing these important reforms.


Principled Priority: Restoring Health Care Freedom
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.

The Kansas Truth Caucus fought for this principle by supporting legislation to allow the Kansas Farm Bureau to offer health plans to its members that do not include the provisions of ObamaCare that drive up its premiums. This will expand health care freedom by providing thousands of Kansans an affordable alternative to cover themselves and their families.


Principled Priority: Championing the People of Kansas
The Kansas Bill of Rights states: “All political power is inherent in the people…” (Kansas Bill of Rights, § 2.) We understand that the ultimate power in government rests with the people via their elected representatives. Therefore, we strongly support checks and balances, the separation of powers and following the Kansas Constitution with the priority of protecting the people’s liberty. We advocate for reforms to our judicial selection process so that judges are more accountable to the people of Kansas.

The Kansas Truth Caucus led the right in support of this principle by promoting the passage of a Constitutional Amendment to change the method of selection for the Kansas Supreme Court to a federal model rather than the current system, which is controlled by lawyers elected by other lawyers. Adoption of reform allowing governors to select nominees of their choice, subject to Senate confirmation, will add a critical check and balance allow the people of Kansas to have input in who is leading the judicial branch.