Update on the Gun Bills

It's been a little while since we've written an update, so we wanted to bring you up to date on the gun bills we've been tracking. There are two: HB 2145, which would limit the ability of domestic abuse violators to access firearms, and HB 2042, reciprocity of conceal carry permits across state lines.

HB 2145 has been the highest priority of gunsense groups such as Mom's Demand Action in this session. It passed out of the House unanimously and without amendments (“clean”, in the jargon). The Senate committee put a couple of amendments on it, but not enough to sink it. The Senate passed it with the amendments and the House voted not to concur – that is, not to accept the Senate's amended version. So now it goes to conference committee, which will meet next week.

HB 2042 passed out of the House with two amendments: one that would lower the conceal carry age in Kansas to 18, and another that would require anyone, of any age, wishing to conceal carry on state campuses to have training and a permit. The Senate committee stripped both of these amendments out of their version.

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Pictures from Recent Events

Muslim Advocacy Day: 


Top L: Participants with Rep. Pam Curtis (KCK) 
Top R: The "lobby team" held meetings with House and Senate leadership throughout the day 
Bottom L: A group of participants ready to advocate! 
Bottom R: Sen. Barbara Bollier (Mission) recognized us (quite movingly!) from the Senate floor 

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March for Our Lives Events in Kansas

We are greatly heartened by the activism of the young survivors of the Parkland massacre and the energizing effect it is having on "gunsense" efforts throughout the country -- although of course angered and saddened by the fact that it takes endless numbers of these (preventable!) tragedies to get the needle moving on this issue at all. 

On this coming Saturday, March 24, many "March for Our Lives" events will be held throughout the country, including a big one in Washington, DC, and several here in Kansas. We want to make sure you're aware of these. 

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Legislative Update 3 - Clean Energy

A couple of hearings coming up in Senate Utilities:

SB 347 will establish goals for energy efficiency in Kansas. It's been an endless source of frustration for climate activists that Kansas still does not have meaningful energy efficiency policies. The state consistently ranks in the very bottom of state rankings in energy efficiency. We have often said, “the cheapest watt and the cleanest watt is the watt you don't use” and this bill is our latest attempt to get this idea put into legislation.

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Legislative Update 2 - Guns

Yesterday in the House there were 2 bills related to guns:

The first, HB 2042, was yet another gun-law-loosening bill, this one instituting so-called concealed carry reciprocity between states, meaning that if someone has a carry permit in another state they are allowed to carry in Kansas. This was basically a tactic to get the carry age in Kansas lowered to 18, because the next step from allowing 18 year olds from other states to carry in Kansas was: if they can do it there why can't they do it here?

There were a couple of interesting amendments. Rep. Ballard proposed an amendment rolling back concealed carry on college and university campuses. This was the discussion we wanted last year. The amendment failed, unfortunately.

Rep. Aurand, who is pretty conservative, then proposed an amendment to require concealed-carry permitting for anyone, of any age, carrying on a college campus. The amendment passed fairly handily, meaning there were some legislators who voted for this one who had opposed the Ballard amendment.

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Legislative Update 2/2/18 - Medicaid

1) KanCare 2.0

KanCare is the “not ready for prime time” reboot of the Kansas' privatized Medicaid program. It includes work requirements and lifetime limits on coverage, both of which KIFA strongly opposes. It also doesn't address some of the significant problems with the already-existing KanCare program. I refer you to last week's email for a fuller explanation.

Then-Gov. Brownback's administration applied to federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for approval of the new plan. We submitted comments opposing the application. Brownback then released a press statement saying that Kansas was postponing the implementation of KanCare 2.0. However, the application is still on the CMS website, so exactly what it is they're withdrawing or postponing isn't clear.

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KIFA's 2018 Legislative Priorities

Kansas Interfaith Action has published its legislative priorities for the 2018 Kansas legislative session. For a PDF version of the document click here.

KIFA is a statewide, multi-faith issue-advocacy organization that “puts faith into action” by educating, engaging and advocating on behalf of people of faith and the public regarding critical social, economic, and climate justice issues. KIFA members are shaped by the values of our diverse faiths, which connect us to an age-old concern for justice, peace, and human dignity. Rooted in faith, we join hands across difference to work for moral public policy in Kansas.

We take as our starting point the “four evils” of racism / discrimination, economic injustice, violence, and climate disruption. All the items on our legislative agenda is in one of these four categories. For more detail please visit kansasinterfaithaction.org/about.

Click through to see the full list.


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MLK Commemoration in Topeka

Rabbi Moti Rieber, Director of Kansas Interfaith Action, was the featured speaker at the 25th annual “Whose Dream Is It?” Community Celebration of the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday evening, January 15, at First Christian Church in Topeka. The event, sponsored by the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, is part of Topeka's week-long Living the Dream program to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of Dr. King. 

"It's important to remember what Dr. King stood for," said Rabbi Rieber, "but even more, to take inspiration from him to stand up to the challenges that we face now, when racism, poverty, violence and climate disruption are greater problems than ever."

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Interfaith Invocation at the State Capitol

Kansas Interfaith Action held its second annual Interfaith Invocation for the Legislative Session on Wednesday morning, January 10, 2018 in the State Capitol. This event sets an intention for the session that just began, reminding our legislators of that holding their office is a sacred trust, and that in their deliberations they should remember the teachings of our various faith traditions, particularly to care for those less fortunate. 

We were pleased and honored to have the following clergy participate in the event:

Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka 
Imam Omar Hazim, Islamic Center of Topeka 
Rev. Jeff Prothro, DeSoto United Methodist Church 
Rev. Rich Shockey, Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City 
Rabbi Moti Rieber, Kansas Interfaith Action 

About 20 legislators, representing both parties, attended the event. 

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Your Support Makes Our Work Possible

A couple of weeks ago when I wrote our yearly appeal letter I said, “About the best that can be said about our federal government is that it's non-functional.” Unfortunately it's become less so since then. The passage of the reverse-Robin-Hood “tax reform” bill, coupled with yesterday's Supreme Court decision allowing the “Muslim ban” to stay in effect while going through the courts, and the Administration's decision to significantly roll back preserved status for two national parks in Utah, show that however dysfunctional or threatened the federal government is, it can still do significant damage – and it will.

Every one of the actions of this government (not just the president, but Congress as well) has been immoral and contrary to the teachings of our faith traditions, which instruct us to care for the poor and disregarded, to love and protect the stranger, and to care for God's creation.  

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