State & National Concerns
The Kansas Legislature is moving toward a month-long recess so they have been very busy working on bills the past two weeks. Several bills await either Final Action or are on General Orders.
SB 8 creates the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications.
SB 61 placing more punitive restrictions on human trafficking.
SB 92 requires law enforcement to report the presence of pornographic materials (passed Senate 36-2).
SB 104 creates the Kansas Children’s Internet Protection Act.
HB 2037 (passed the House Education Committee unanimously) permits religious/other displays on public property.
HB 2253 prohibits funding for abortion services, amends late-term abortion and adds to the woman’s-right-to-know by adding information regarding the risk of abortion and certain cancers.
HCR 5002 is a constitutional amendment that allows the governor to appoint court of appeals judges, supreme court judges with Senate confirmation.
Action: Be sure to call your representatives and urge them to support these bills.
HB 2019, a bill concerning the Court of Appeals appointments by the Governor with confirmation by the Senate is awaiting a signature from the governor (recently passed the Senate by a vote of 28-12).
HB 2252 which amends the statute of limitations for rape and other sexually violent crimes is pending enrollment having passed the Senate 40-0.
The Grand Jury Improvements Act (HB 2182) passed the House by a vote of 100-24. It will go to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it may or may not be heard. The purpose of this bill is to enhance the current grand jury process in Kansas, one of six states that allow the citizens to call for a grand jury investigation. Action: A polite request to Committee Chair Sen. Jeff King and Sen. Greg Smith would be helpful to move this bill along. Click on each name for contact information.
The Community Defense Act (HB 2054) generated over 1000 e-mails to the committees hearing the bill. It recently failed to get out of committee (House Federal & State Affairs) after an amendment was introduced that stripped the bill of all of its strength. Action: E-mail committee members for reconsideration of this bill that would protect ordinary citizens from the effects of sexually-oriented businesses. Click here for committee member names and contact information.
HB 2289: Common Core Education Standards: A discussion on the bill that would essentially de-fund Common Core Standards in Kansas took place this week. A controversy has been raging over whether Kansas should adopt what is considered by many to be “national standards/curriculum.” Standards are the “skeleton” of the educational process, with curriculum written to flesh out the standards, so in effect the standards dictate the curriculum. The standards are tied to a “financial carrot” dangled before the states from the stimulus money. In return for the federal dollars, states agreed to adopt their standards in line with standards generated by a not-for-profit quasi governmental agency ostensibly to meet international benchmarks in education in exchange for money. The Common Core Standards have already been put in place by the Kansas State Board of Education in math and in English in spite of many qualified and credentialed educator’s protests that they do not do what they claim to do for excellence in education. Even though states were asked to give input, the standards were developed in Washington, D.C., rather than in the state where parents have the ability to hold educators accountable. The Kansas State Board of Education recently reminded the Legislature they were in charge of standards; however, this bill lets the State Board know that it is the Legislature that holds the purse strings. Click here to view testimony submitted to the Kansas House Education Committee March 9,2013 by CWA of Kansas. Action: There was a hearing on Friday, March 22nd. The committee voted not to advance the bill. Be sure to continue to contact the committee members and politely ask them to reconsider. Click here for their names and contact information. Also contact your legislators and senators about this bill that would stop Common Core Standards.
HB 2253: This bill is on Final Action in the House after a lengthy and emotional debate. The bill would revise the general and late-term abortion statutes, the Woman’s Right-to-Know Act and the state tax statutes. In addition the bill would add a new statutory provision that would declare that the life of each human being begins at fertilization. It would prohibit the use of public funding, tax credits, tax preferences, and state-provided public health care services from being used in any manner to facilitate abortions or in facilities where abortions are performed. The bill also prohibits any school district, its employees, agents and education service providers from offering abortion services. It defines the terms “medical emergency” and “bodily function” which apply as exceptions. It establishes new language for the signs to be posted in a facility in which abortions are performed. The bill would not prohibit an abortion upon a woman whose life would be jeopardized without the procedure. An amendment to remove language in the Woman’s Right-To-Know literature stating a possible risk between abortion and breast cancer failed 50-71.
SB 61(Sex Trafficking): This bill is on General Orders in the House after passing the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. The bill passed the Senate earlier in the session. This bill amends several statutes concerning the issue of human trafficking either for labor or for sex. The crime of “commercial sexual exploitation of a child’ would be created with a severity level 55, person felony and carry a fine of not less than $2,500 nor more than $5,000, unless the person prior to the commission of the crime has been convicted of a previous violation. It provides for a secure facility for those children who have been trafficked paid for by the fines of those who are involved with the exploitation of the child. There are numerous other provisions within the bill but the bottom line is it gives “teeth” to law enforcement and provides some help for the victims while reducing the “customers” by giving law enforcement more tools to convict.
Budget: The House continues to debate about how to solve America’s current debt crisis. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has introduced a plan, while not perfect, that will balance the budget in 10 years as well as cap spending at 19.1 percent of gross domestic product. Our nation’s debt of over $16 trillion will affect our children’s future. To put it in perspective one trillion dollars would pay every man woman and child in the United States $3,195. Or, if you were a typical household making $50,000 a year it would take you 20 million years to pay it off.
The Senate continues to work on the Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operational past March. If something is not passed by March 27 the government will shut down. Apparently one of the hold-ups is amendments/provisions that reduce the impact of the sequester, giving more flexibility to agencies to adjust and restructure funding for programs, projects and accounts and replace the automatic spending cuts under the 2011 debt deal. Both houses will recess for two weeks starting March 27 raising the specter of another cloture vote to move the process along. For the first time in four years, the Senate has actually passed a budget. Click here to read more.
SKILLS Act: (Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills): Last week the House passed the SKILLS Act by a vote of 215-202. This bill ensures that out-of-work Americans get the needed training to get jobs. It provides flexibility to determine needs at the local level, while consolidating training programs under the Workforce Investment Act in order to eliminate duplicative programs.
Pastor Saeed Abedini: In addition the House held a hearing regarding Pastor Saeed Abedini who is imprisoned in Iran for being a Christian. His wife Naghmeh Abedini spoke to members on his behalf, urging them to demand that our government speak out for his release. In addition to praying for this brave pastor who is currently suffering from internal bleeding you can click here to sign a petition for his release. Then, you can call the Secretary of State at 202-647-5291 and demand that he speak out for the release of Pastor Saeed.
Final Action: Continue to pray for our senators and representatives that they would seek and listen to God’s wisdom as they strive to direct our nation in these dark days.
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