KIFA's 2019 Legislative Priorities

Kansas Interfaith Action takes as our starting point the "four evils" of racism/discrimination, poverty and economic injustice, gun violence, and climate disruption. All of our legislative activities fit into one or more of these categories. KIFA has set the following priorities for the 2019 Kansas legislative session: 

Economic Justice

Kansas Interfaith Action believes that everyone has the right to adequate and healthy food, water, housing, and healthcare. Government has a vital role to play in making sure that working people are treated fairly, and that those less fortunate are cared for.

  • Expansion of KanCare would help about 150,000 working Kansans access affordable healthcare. This measure is long overdue and is our highest legislative priority for the 2019 session.
  • Development of a robust economic justice agenda. Welfare reform (the so-called “HOPE Act”) has had significant negative consequences, including contributing to the increased load on the foster care and child welfare system. KIFA believes that an anti-poverty agenda must include supports to help people succeed in their transition from poverty to self-sufficiency. Elements include:
    • Increased minimum wage
    • Paid family leave for all Kansans
    • Addressing the regressive impact of the sales tax on food on poor and working people
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The Election, and What's Next

We were very excited by the results of the gubernatorial election last week. We congratulate Laura Kelly on her convincing victory and look forward to working with her for the betterment of Kansas when she takes office in January. We also particularly want to congratulate KIFA's good friend Sen. Lynn Rogers on his election to Lieutenant Governor.

Since KIFA began in 2016, and even in our work before that, we have always been in the position of playing defense, of trying to stop bad things from happening in the Kansas legislature. We always knew that if this or that anti-immigrant, anti-poor people (though not, of course, anti-poverty), pro-gun etc. policy could get through the legislature, it would be signed into law with no question. We anticipate that Gov. Kelly's veto pen will protect us from a lot of that, and that's a relief. No armed teachers in public schools, for instance.

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A Note About Pittsburgh

First of all I want to thank those of you who have reached out to me by email or message in recent days. I very much appreciate people thinking of me.

While I didn't know anyone at the Tree of Life synagogue, many of my friends and colleagues have spent time in Pittsburgh; all of them knew the synagogue and a couple of them knew people who died on Saturday. The Jewish community is very small, especially at a time like this.

On the one hand, this event is another in a long list of antisemitic incidents throughout history. There is just is something unique and seemingly permanent about Jew-hatred, and we really do need to see antisemitism as an ongoing hatred that sometimes lies dormant but remains just below the surface. The number of antisemitic incidents has increased dramatically in just the past couple of years, and the situation is frightening, given the historical record.

 

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A New (Old) Revival: Rich Shockey

KIFA Board member Rev. Rich Shøckey, an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, has written this piece for a "Naz" blog about how salvation isn't simply a private matter, but is intimately connected to the wider scope of the Kingdom of God. In these days when the public representatives of evangelical Christianity seem to oppose justice, it's a moving and timely message. We share it with you with his permission. 

“What the church needs is revival!”

It’s a mantra oft-repeated by well-meaning evangelicals. I can imagine this very phrase was common among those early Nazarenes who sought a more embodied spirituality than they found in their Methodist churches.

And I agree. We do need revival. But maybe not how you might think.

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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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