KIFA Expresses "Grave Disappointment" At End of 2019 Legislative Session

Calls Refusal to Expand Medicaid "Moral Failure" 

Lawrence, KS (May 6, 2019) — Kansas Interfaith Action expresses its grave disappointment that Medicaid Expansion was not taken up by the Senate and did not pass in the 2019 legislative session.

 “Medicaid Expansion was our highest priority in the session, a clear moral imperative, and its failure to pass is not just a disappointment, it’s a injustice,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director of KIFA. “The failure to hold hearings, the refusal to allow a vote in the Senate, are nothing less than moral failures, and the blame for them rests solely at the feet of leadership in the House and Senate.”


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KIFA Annual Event 2019


For more information and to purchase tickets click the graphic. 

Being Muslim in This Country

Our dear friend (and former KIPL board member) Ahsan Latif wrote this beautiful piece in response to events over the weekend, but really in response to the past 18 years. We repost it with his permission. We encourage you to read it, really take it in, and join with us in building a future where people are accepted and valued and celebrated for who they are and the beauty they bring to the world.

Being Muslim in this country is meeting someone new and having to drop clues that you aren’t a terrorist until they eventually see you as an American, then repeating that interaction for the rest of your life. 

Being Muslim in this country is going to a Catholic school where entire classes are built around learning, discussing and eventually shrugging off the problematic verses in the Bible. But you are individually asked to stand at the front of your social studies class and answer for the “faults” of the Quran in questions from your indignant classmates. 

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Legislative Update 4/8/19

After several long days last week, the legislature adjourned on Friday. They are off until the 2-1/2-week veto session at the beginning of May. So it’s a good time for another update on the issues KIFA has been working on.  

Medicaid Expansion. As you know, this cleared the House, only to meet continued stonewalling by Senate leadership. Gov. Kelly and Senate President Wagle held dueling press conferences, and three K-State students unfurled banners calling out obstructionist Senate and House leadership by name, in a nonviolent direct action that we applaud. If obstruction continues we expect there to be more actions like this. As the banners made clear, people’s lives are at stake.

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KIFA Establishes Partnership with ELCA

Lawrence, KS (March 19, 2019) — Kansas Interfaith Action (KIFA) today announced an affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), by action taken by the Central States Synod Council on March 16, 2019, to endorse KIFA as a state public policy office (SPPO) of the ELCA.

ELCA Advocacy has 16 SPPOs in more than 16 states throughout the country, focused on developing and advocating for legislative priorities on the state level. Some are Lutheran offices, and some are ecumenical or interfaith organizations already doing the work in those states. This is the case with KIFA.

“We are very excited about our partnership with ELCA,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director of KIFA. “ELCA is doing important advocacy work throughout the country, providing an important moral voice grounded in deep commitment to faith, and we are pleased to be part of it. This partnership will make KIFA part of a network of advocates throughout the country. We also believe that this will help strengthen our outreach to Lutherans throughout Kansas, as well as to other denominations.”

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KIFA Day 2019

Last Thursday upwards of 20 clergy and other people of faith held our first-ever KIFA Advocacy Day. We went to the Capitol to bring moral witness on important issues facing Kansas, including Medicaid Expansion (as clear a moral imperative as there is in state policy right now); fair and sustainable taxation; addressing gun violence; and supporting clean energy. We spoke with leadership, committee chairs, and the governor. We spoke on behalf of people of faith, and on behalf of those who don't have the connections or the time to speak for themselves.

For more pictures click through. 

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Legislative Update 2 - 3/11/19

-- Last week the House passed SB22, which would give tax cuts of somewhere between $140 and $190 million mostly to corporations and the wealthiest Kansans. Details on the bill here. Leadership sweetened the deal in the House by adding a percentage point drop in the food sales tax, and that enticed enough Moderate Republicans to pass the bill. However, the vote was 3 short of a veto-proof majority.

This bill is a bad idea because giving tax cuts to corporations and rich people when the state can’t afford social workers or prison guards is a bad idea.

The bill goes back to the Senate where they will either concur (accept the House version) or go to a conference committee. We’re fairly certain Gov. Kelly will veto whatever comes out; without an override, legislative leadership may have no choice but to dismount their high horses and try to negotiate a deal with the governor, which they should have been doing all along.

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Legislative Update 3/4/19

“Turnaround” is the date by which a bill has to pass one chamber to remain on the docket for the rest of the session. Exceptions to this are myriad, but suffice it to say that Turnaround, which was last Thursday, is when things in the legislature get a little more focused. I want to give you an update on where things are with various bills or issues that we’re following. Today is Medicaid expansion; other issues will follow in a subsequent letter.  

The other thing that needs to be said by way of introduction is that even for someone used to the slow pace of the Kansas legislature, this year has been particularly glacial. Legislative leadership seems more interested in preening and challenging the governor than they are in actually legislating. You almost wouldn’t know that the Kansas government is in an advanced state of disrepair by the way legislative leadership is behaving.

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KIFA Board Chair Gives Senate Invocation

Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, chair of the board of Kansas Interfaith Action and minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, gave the opening invocation at the session of the Kansas Senate on Thursday, February 7, 2019. Here are her words:

Spirit of Life and Love, God of many names and no name at all; Here in this, the People’s House, Be with this body of leaders as they endeavor to serve communities across our state; Guide each heart and mind in making decisions that create sustainable communities with access to the resources of life and liberty for all;

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KIFA In the News

KIFA Executive Director Rabbi Moti Rieber and board member Rev. Rachael Pryor, were among the clergy participating in an Interfaith Service prior to the inauguration of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday, January 14. The theme of the event was "unity," as this article from WIBW-TV relates. 

On the same day, Rabbi Rieber was interviewed by Nick Gosnell of WIBW radio about KIFA's 2019 legislative priorities. A write-up of the interview appears here. 

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