Loud Light Kansas Politics Recap: Election bills, anti-trans bills, abortion, and more
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:
I’m Davis Hammet with Loud Light! Here’s what happened in turnaround week where legislators worked late into the night passing controversial bills as we hit the middle of the 2023 Kansas legislative session.
Election Bills (SB209, SB208, SB210, HB2056)
Several election bills restricting voting were passed including a bill to completely ban ballot drop boxes and bills to force counties to throw away ballots that were mailed back and postmarked before election day, but arrive at the election office a day or so later due to slow mail. While a Republican majority supported the restrictions, the bills do not have supermajority support to overcome a potential Governor’s veto. Additionally, a bill to force all local elections to be partisan failed on the Senate floor.
Private Schools (SB83)
The Senate passed a bill that would significantly increase the number of students eligible for an experimental Brownback era voucher program for low-income students to attend unregulated private schools. Eligibility would expand from a single parent with one child making under $36,000 to such a parent making as much as $79,000.
Anti-Trans Bills (SB233, SB180, HB2238)
In the Senate, a bill passed that would block the government from recognizing that transgender Kansans exist, and another bill to take away the medical license of any doctor that provides gender affirming healthcare such as hormone treatment. The House passed a bill banning transgender girls from sports beginning in elementary school, and during debate the carrier of the bill confirmed if enacted into law it could result in ç being subjected to genital inspections to play public school sports.
Tax Bills (SB 169, SB33, SB248)
The Senate passed several tax cuts including lowering the top income tax rate and making all retirement income accounts tax free. While there are several other tax cut and tax credit proposals moving through the legislature, these two proposals alone would cost the state over one billion dollars per year and would primarily benefit the wealthiest Kansans.
Public Health (SB6)
The Senate passed a bill that would severely restrict both state and local health officials from addressing infectious disease outbreaks. It would remove most power from health officials, stop schools from reporting disease outbreaks, and even remove the Health Secretary’s ability to designate that a new disease is contagious instead leaving that up to the legislature.
The Senate passed a bill to add what supporters called clarifying language to an existing law that bans medicinal abortion prescriptions via telemedicine. The existing law was already found to be unconstitutional in a case the Kansas Supreme Court will hear in March and in August Kansans overwhelmingly voted to block the legislature from restricting abortion access.
The Legislature is off Monday and Tuesday for what should be a relatively calm next week. Wednesday and Thursday the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee will hold an information briefing on marijuana legalization. Please consider donating at loudlight.org/donate. Stay tuned, stay engaged, and until next time, thank you so much Kansas!