KIFA's policies are shaped by the values of our diverse faiths, which connect us to the scriptural concerns for justice, peace, and human dignity. Rooted in faith, we join hands across difference to work for moral and effective public policy in Kansas.
Here are KIFA's priorities for the 2017 legislative session:
Racism / Discrimination – Kansas Interfaith Action believes that every individual has the right to equal protection under the law, and not to be targeted or vilified for their identity. Therefore
- We oppose any legislation that would target specific sectors in our communities, such as Muslim Kansans or individuals in the transgender community.
- We support bringing in (appropriately vetted) refugees from areas affected by war or climate disruption.
- The Juvenile Justice Reform bill from last year must be protected and implemented as quickly as possible.
- We call for increased use of restorative justice rather than incarceration for nonviolent property crimes, and for increased mental health and drug treatment services for those whose crimes result from those issues.
Economic Justice – Kansas has taken significant steps backward in its care for working people and the less fortunate over the past several years. We are concerned about how the Kansas' ongoing budget has been addressed by pushing costs on to lower-income and working people. In particular:
- The so-called “HOPE Act” pushes people off of public assistance, usually into low-paying jobs, without the support of job training or child care. We call for its repeal.
- Changes in the tax code have redistributed wealth upward – from those who can least afford it to the most affluent members of our society. We call for the re-institution of the medical expense tax deduction; for the continuation of the Earned Income Tax Credit; and for a return to the “three-legged” tax structure of prior years, where people who had more, paid more to support the institutions of society. Perhaps legislation to raise revenue can include some of these important measures to alleviate the burden that has been placed on working and poor Kansans.
- We also strongly oppose any efforts to securitize the tobacco settlement, which would endanger the Children's Initiative Fund.
- Kansas' social safety net is a tattered remnant of its former self. The unfunding of state mental health services is one example, as are the continued cuts to public higher education. We not only want to protect what's left, but to strengthen it again. In particular, we are part of the coalition that is calling for the expansion of KanCare, which will help about 150,000 working Kansans access affordable healthcare.
- The best way to get people out of poverty is to raise the minimum wage. We call for an increase of the minimum wage to $15 by 2020.
Violence – Our highest priority in the 2017 legislative session is the prevention of the introduction of concealed carry on public colleges and university campuses, scheduled for July 1, 2017. The entirety of the university community – students; faculty, staff and administrators; parents and grandparents; law enforcement officials; and faith leaders all favor extension of the exemption – virtually unanimously oppose “campus carry.” We call for the permanent delay of the expiration of the exemption that colleges and universities currently enjoy on the concealed carry laws.
Climate disruption – The fight between the state and the federal government about climate regulation has been counterproductive. And in any case, the new administration in Washington is likely to try to delay federal climate regulations. Therefore, it is up to the states to develop policies that will address the moral and physical crisis of climate change.
Climate impacts on Kansas include extreme weather events, food security, fresh water availability, and challenges to the agriculture sector. We call on the state of Kansas to develop a Climate Action Plan that will
- Innovate vigorously in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy so as to lower Kansas' overall carbon footprint; and
- Take steps to build resilience in Kansas to the effects of climate change, including fully funding the state water plan; supporting the use of more Kansas farm acreage for production of food for consumption, rather than for commodities.
- We also call for a bill that would allow congregations and other small and medium-sized nonprofits to enter third party power agreements to install distributed renewable energy on their spaces.