Press Advisory: Interfaith Vigil on Family Separation and Immigration to Be Held Monday in Topeka

Lawrence, KS (June 29, 2018) —  Kansas Interfaith Action, a statewide, faith-based issue-advocacy organization, today announced that an Interfaith Vigil on Immigration and Separated Families will be held on Monday, July 2 at 2 pm in the ground floor Visitors' Center of the Kansas State Capitol.

Although Pres. Trump has rescinded the order to separate families presenting themselves for asylum at the border, over 2,000 children remain separated from their families in the US, with the possibility of reuniting them with their families unclear at best. In addition, the ongoing “zero tolerance” policy substitutes another unjust and inhumane (and illegal, according to international law) policy – family detention – for the repudiated family separation policy.

 

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KIFA, Crescent Peace Society Decry Supreme Court "Muslim Ban" Decision

(Overland Park, KS, 6/27/2018) -- Kansas Interfaith Action (“KIFA”) and the Crescent Peace Society (“CPS”) today condemned the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Pres. Trump's so-called “Muslim Ban”, which enjoins immigration and travel to the United States from several Muslim majority nations, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

“The Supreme Court today allowed to stand decisions by Pres. Trump that were motivated by racial and religious animus, with only the thinnest veneer of a national security rationale,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber, KIFA Executive Director. “The Court has permitted the president to turn his own personal prejudices towards Muslims and immigrants into national  policy. It's a dark day.”

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Everybody's Got a Right to Live!

This stage of the Poor People's Campaign concluded on Saturday with a mass rally in Washington, DC. In Kansas over the six weeks of the campaign we had consistent participation of over 100 people each week, with between 11 and 18 civil disobedience arrests each week. (We often had about 10% of the PPC arrests in the entire country here in Kansas.) We were particularly pleased to see a consistent turnout from some of the faith leaders in the state. 

KIFA's board chair, Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, wrote an oped about the Poor People's Campaign for the Capitol-Journal last week. Excerpt: 

Civic engagement is at an all time low and racist voter suppression laws are on the rise because people are afraid to demand what they really need--true living wages, access to affordable, quality health care, quality education for all, and a functioning social safety net of services as well as a criminal justice system that are funded and designed to actually help people, led by people who do not lie or cover up the truth, even when it is painful.

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KIFA Joins National Faith Effort to "Stop Family Separation"

Across the country, people are outraged at the forced separation of families trying to apply for asylum at the US border. People of faith are particularly vocal in opposing this cruel and inhumane policy - as well we should be. Kansas Interfaith Action has joined a coalition of national and state faith organizations with the goal to "Stop Family Separation". The goal of this website, and the campaign it supports, is to give Americans of all faiths concrete opportunities to take action and to advocate for an end to our nation’s inhumane treatment of our vulnerable brothers and sisters.

Please sign on to this important effort here. And if your pastor, minister, priest or rabbi is not talking about this issue in worship this weekend, then it might be time to reconsider your affiliation. 


End of the Legislative Session Report

We had five major legislative focuses this year: KanCare expansion, gunsense legislation, citizen voting rights, distributed generation and energy efficiency, and towards the end, the adoption bill.

First, the good news:

- HB 2042 would have lowered the concealed carry age in Kansas to 18. It went through the whole process and there was a conference committee report but it was never brought to floor of either chamber. Speculation was that leadership didn't think there were the votes to pass it, which is fantastic news.

- HB 2145 passed handily earlier in the session; it prohibits gun possession by convicted domestic abusers and by domestic abusers who are subject to active protection orders and was a major priority of Moms Demand Action – Kansas this year.

- The ill-advised tax cut bill that was proposed in the Senate basically at the last minute didn't pass the House – barely (it failed on a tie vote, which is as close as it can get). You would think Kansas would have learned the lesson of ill-thought-out tax cuts but many of the legislators and well-funded lobbyists who thought Brownback's tax experiment were a good idea are still around.

- And the KanCare 2.0 delay provision was inserted into the budget as an amendment. It requires legislative approval before the governor implements any eligibility changes, such as work requirements. Amazingly, the Trump Administration rejected Kansas' application to put lifetime limits on Medicaid coverage, and you know a policy has to be pretty bad if the Trump Administration says it goes too far.

And that's about it for the good news.

 

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Pictures from KIFA's 2018 Annual Event

On May 9 we held KIFA's 2018 Annual Event. About 120 attended and we raised approximately $4,500 for the organization. A splendid time was had by all! We'll share some pictures here, more can be found on our Facebook page. 

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Veto Session Report and Action Alert

The Kansas legislature's veto session begins tomorrow. They will be in session until May 4, and during that time they will be working on bills that are in various stages of the process. We have positions on the following bills, and encourage our supporters to take the actions indicated in each section:

Guns:
HB 2042 – conceal carry reciprocity and lowering the conceal carry age to 18.

Our watchword for this kind of legislation this session has been “stop the insanity.” This bill would also introduce a lot more guns onto our state college campuses – including into dorms.

Action: This bill is coming out of conference committee and will have to go before both chambers. So please call both your senator and your representative and ask them to vote NO! on HB 2042.

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Announcing Our 2018 KIFA Honorees!

We're pleased to announce KIFA's 2018 Honorees. Awards will be given out at our Annual Dinner on May 9, 2018. 

Faith Into Action Award - Given to a congregation or individual in the KIFA network who have been there consistently throughout the course of the year or a particular campaign

Awarded to the Vitality Committee of First Congregational Church, Manhattan, KS, for their work on racism dialogues in Manhattan, as well as “Stand with Muslim Neighbors” activities and their Underground Railroad Tour.

Beloved Community Award – Given to an organization or individual that has done stellar work in an area in which KIFA is active

Two Awardees: LaTonya Boyd of Moms Demand Action, for her work on gun violence prevention, and her dedication to making a difference on this issue in the aftermath of the tragic loss of her daughter.

Davis Hammet of Loud Light, for his tireless work in the state legislature as well as his voter registration and youth organizing work, and his involvement in Kansas People’s Agenda.

A new award this year:

Justice Hero Award - given to a person who has made a significant, largely unrecognized difference on an important issue

Awarded to Rev. Cynthia Meyer, of the United Church of Christ, for standing up for her personal authenticity and for justice for LGBT people in the United Methodist Church, at great personal cost. 

Legislator of the Year: A legislator who has consistently championed the causes for which KIFA advocates

Awarded to Sen. Barbara Bollier, for her work on Medicaid expansion as well her dedicated efforts on the issue of gun violence.

Please come celebrate these folks with us at our event on May 9! To purchase tickets click here


Taking Inspiration from Dr. King

As you know, today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His legacy has undergone a lot of reinterpretation since he left us, but we believe that his authentic, radical legacy is coming back to the fore. And that's a good thing. 

KIFA adopted our mission statement from what Dr. King called the triple threat of racism, poverty and war, along with the fourth threat of human-caused climate change. It is our strong belief that Dr. King not only had the diagnosis for what ailed - and still ails - this country, but that he had the prescription as well: the application of direct, nonviolent pressure on the levers of power.  

Yesterday, as part of the rally to Expand KanCare in the state capitol, about 25 clergy-members associated with KIFA attempted to see the leadership of our state senate, which is obstructing the bill that would expand Kansas' Medicaid program. We wanted to impress upon them both the moral and the policy imperative of expanding access to healthcare for working poor people. They wouldn't see us, so we sang and spoke our witness at the entrance to the (empty) Senate chamber. We didn't choose to get arrested - this time. But we all felt the power that we had just by gathering together and bearing this witness. And we know we're just getting started. 

 

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KIFA Statement on KCC Nominee

For his first appointment to the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) - Kansas' public utilities regulator - Gov. Colyer has nominated Dwight Keen, who owns a small oil and gas company and is the former chairman of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association (KIOGA). We have two major concerns about this appointment: first, that it is "regulatory capture", where the regulated industry controls the regulator. Mr. Keen has promised to divest himself of his holdings and recuse himself from decisions concerning his company, but there's no way a KCC commissioner could recuse himself from everything having to do with the oil and gas industry - nor is he offering to do so. He's too invested (literally and figuratively) in oil and gas to do what he needs to do fairly and effectively. 

Our second major concern is in the area of climate change. I haven't found any record of statements by Mr. Keen on this specific topic, but it's worth noting that the current president of KIOGA, Ed Cross, is a climate change denier. But Mr. Keen calls himself an "all of the above energy guy," which isn't the way we're going to be able to address the increasing consequences of global climate change - largely caused by the very industry where Mr. Keen has made his living, and which he will now be "regulating."

The KCC has been very reluctant, to the point of obstruction, to use its regulatory authority to encourage development of strategies that would mitigate climate change. In particular, they've allowed utilities to put unfair costs on distributed solar generation, and have done literally nothing about energy efficiency in the state. How putting an oil-and-gas man on the commission will address any of these concerns is beyond us. Therefore, we oppose this nomination. 



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