Loud Light’s weekly Kansas politics recap: lawsuits, constitutional amendments, voter suppression, trans kids, 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 transcription:
Hey, I’m Davis Hammet with Loud Light. Here’s that happened in the 8th week of the 2022 Kansas legislative session
The Kansas Supreme Court in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Stegall rejected A.G. Derek Schmidt’s (R) petition asking the Supreme Court to force a District Judge to throw out the congressional redistricting lawsuits before proceedings even begin. The ruling found Schmidt was wrong as a basic matter of law. The lawsuits against the gerrymandered maps will now proceed in the Wyandotte District Court.
Constitutional Amendments to Overhaul Supreme Court
With only a single day for the public to submit testimony, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on 2 Constitutional Amendments proposed by Sen. Pres. Ty Masterson (R). The amendments would abolish the current nonpartisan qualifications-based selection process for Kansas Supreme Justices & replace it with either partisan judicial elections or direct appointment by the Governor with Senate approval. The amendments are both written to go to a public vote in the low-turnout August election that’s less than 6 months away. Sen. Thompson (R) confirmed that the proposals are in response to far-right anger over the Supreme Court’s 2019 finding that Kansans have a state constitutional right to control their own bodies.
A.G. Agrees Election Law Unconstitutional
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) has agreed in a federal court settlement that part of the election bill he supported & the legislature passed by overriding Gov. Kelly’s (D) veto is in fact unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Several other provisions of the election laws passed last year remain in litigation in both state & federal courts.
New Voter Suppression
Recently, a bipartisan House committee rejected a bill to abolish the 3-day grace period that protected 32,367 Kansans from having their votes thrown out in 2020 due to delayed mail. On Thursday, Sen. Rob Olson (R) took up that same proposal & added more restrictions to it even as his Republican colleagues questioned the wisdom of rushing through the changes with no input from election administrators or the public. Olson added restrictions on drop boxes that mainly impact rural counties & reduced the days to register to vote by moving the deadline from 21 to 24 days before an election. The final package was then inserted into an already passed House bill using the controversial gut-&-go procedure & is headed to the Senate floor.
Transgender Sports Ban
Last year, a bill to prevent transgender children from playing sports failed, but a near-identical bill has a Senate hearing set for Monday. The bill dubbed the “fairness in women’s sports act” aims to discriminately block trans girls from playing sports beginning in elementary school through college & creates all sorts of legal actions for students, parents, schools, & sports clubs to sue each. If passed it would likely prevent Kansas from being able to host NCAA tournaments & would almost certainly be met with lawsuits for violating the U.S. Constitution & federal law.
The past week has been a great indicator that any of the traditional deadlines or norms of the Legislature are mostly irrelevant. We could see anything at any time. Stay tuned, stay engaged, & until next time, thank you so much Kansas!