Loud Light’s weekly Kansas politics recap: medical marijuana, conspiracy theory, food tax, budget, 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 what happened in the 10th week of the 2022 Kansas legislative session.

Medical Marijuana
A Senate committee held a 3 day hearing on a bill to legalize medical marijuana. The proposed bill comes with heavy restrictions on what conditions are eligible & wouldn’t allow smokable marijuana. The bill also includes huge fees that some advocates say would block farmers from growing & leave the business to major corporations. Chairman Olson (R) said he expects some form of the bill to become law this year.

Election Conspiracy Theory

The Senate Federal & State Affairs Committee held an informational briefing titled “election security,” but refused to disclose who would be presenting in advance. The presenter was Maria Zack a former Georgia Republican operative who’s now a QAnon-inspired conspiracy theorist pushing “Italygate” which claims Italian satellites were used to steal U.S. elections. Zack is the 2nd widely debunked conspiracy theorist that Chairman Olson (R) has invited to present to the committee which has advanced a variety of voter restrictions based on fringe conspiracy theories.

State Senate Redistricting
The Senate rapidly passed a redistricting map to redraw the 40 state senate districts based on the new Census. The process received some bipartisan condemnation for being secretive & hearings being held before detailed data was available. The map entitled “Liberty 3” would slice the City of Topeka into 4 districts that snake out into surrounding rural counties making it possible for no senator to come from the 3rd largest county in the state. The map appears to solidify Republican super-majority control which is at odds with the people of Kansas who are more evenly divided about political party preference. The state House map is still being drafted after several amendments to the map on Friday.

Food Sales Tax
Despite early bipartisan rallying to immediately abolish the food tax, it looks increasingly likely that Kansans will keep paying one of the highest taxes on groceries in the nation as Republican legislators have focused on other industry-specific tax cuts & alternatives like slightly reducing the food tax instead of abolishing it.

State Budget
The Senate passed a first draft of the state budget which severely departs from Gov. Kelly’s (D) proposed budget. The Senate budget keeps the full tax on groceries, removes the $250 tax rebate for all Kansans, & doesn’t offset higher education funding which effectively means it increases college tuition on students. The final budget will be negotiated in late April when legislators have a clearer picture of the state’s finances.

Coming Up
For the most part, there will be no more committee meetings this year & this coming week the House & Senate will be on the floor trying to pass dozens & dozens of bills. On Monday the Senate will debate controversial bills including banning transgender children from sports & a bill to essentially remove immunization requirements from schools. Thanks for commenting, sharing, & donating. Stay tuned, stay engaged, & until next time, thank you so much Kansas!

Categories: Politics