Loud Light Kansas Politics Recap: anti-drag, funding private schools, pregnancy centers, flat tax, and more

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The Pitch has partnered with a local political awareness organization called Loud Light. Their goal is to engage and empower individuals from underrepresented populations to build community power. And impact decision-makers. Each week of the year that the Kansas statehouse is in session, they release a short video recapping what the legislature is up to.

Knowing the nitty-gritty of what’s happening with your representatives is the only way to stay involved with the way local government affects your life. You can donate to support Loud Light’s work by clicking here.

Here is this week’s video and transcription:

Here’s what happened in the 4th week of the 2023 Kansas legislative session.

Funding Private Schools (HB2218)
K-12 Budget Chair Rep. Kristey Williams (R) will hold a hearing on her newest proposal to divert tax dollars away from public schools. The “sunflower education equity act” would give tax dollars to completely unregulated home schools and not require any education outcomes from them. This comes as an Ohio scandal is unfolding involving thousands of homeschools teaching Nazi and white supremacy curriculum. Under William’s proposal the state would be unable to consider the contents of material meaning if passed the state may find itself using tax dollars to pay for white supremacy and antisemitic indoctrination.

Anti-drag (SB149)
A bill aimed at criminalizing drag performances in front of anyone under 18 was introduced by Sen. Mike Thompson (R) this week. The bill broadly defines drag as wearing clothing traditionally worn by members of the opposite sex opening up the potential for a woman wearing pants to be charged as a criminal drag performer.

Kansas approved a new economic expansion deal for local Wichita computer chip manufacturer Integra Technologies to build a major semiconductor manufacturing plant. The deal was made through legislation known as APEX, which passed last year to convince Panasonic to build their new battery plant in Kansas. Under the legislation, the state can use tax breaks and refunds to negotiate incentives to lure businesses in. For Integra, the deal would provide $300 million in incentives in exchange for a $1.8 billion investment creating 2000 jobs.The deal is reliant on pending federal funding. Not much else is known due to nondisclosure agreements signed by all those involved.

Pregnancy Center Tax Credits (HB2135 & SB96)
Few locations in Kansas provide abortion, but over 50 known as “crisis pregnancy centers” work to prevent it. A hearing was held on a bill to create a state funded 70% refund for donations to the largely unregulated religious based facilities. The bill requires any center receiving the funds to commit to discouraging abortion no matter the medical circumstances.

Flat tax (SB61 & HB2061)
The Kansas Chamber is championing a 5% flat tax rate for individuals and corporations. The proposal is near identical in impact to the former Tax Experiment initiated under Brownback reducing state revenue by roughly $1.5 billion per year and mostly benefiting the wealthiest Kansans.

Coming up
There’s lots of hearings on bills this coming week, including allowing parents to control what teachers put in the classroom and various tax cuts. On Monday Kansas Interfaith Action will hold an advocacy day in the Statehouse.

Stay tuned, stay engaged, and until next time, thank you so much Kansas!

Categories: Politics