Mar 11, 2016 by

Due Process Gut and Go Moved to Monday

Yesterday we reported to you that Rep. Ron Highland planned to hold a “hearing” on a bill (SB 136) solely with the intent of gutting it and inserting the contents of HB 2531 stripping community and technical college teachers of their right to due process.

We got notice early this morning that the meeting was cancelled and, in a subsequent message, that the action would be moved to Monday’s committee meeting at 1:30.

We have been told that Chairman Highland came down ill and so cancelled today’s meeting.

This gives education advocates the opportunity to have a talk with their representatives while they are back home for the weekend. And please take the time to send your representative an email message using the link below.

CLICK HERE to Keep the Pressure On! Don’t be silenced!

Celebrate Freedom Week!

A couple of years ago a Kansas legislator heard an anecdote about a high school student who couldn’t recite the preamble to the constitution or maybe he couldn’t identify the primary author of the Declaration Independence and so a bill was passed creating “Celebrate Freedom Week” under which every public school would drop everything for one week and focus exclusively on study of the founding documents of our great participatory democracy.

Well, recently we have seen some interesting examples of legislators who apparently don’t fully understand how a participatory democracy works.

Just three recent examples.

Senator Masterson abruptly cancelled a hearing on a bill he introduced that would transfer education finance from the Department of Education under the State Board of Education to the Department of Administration under Governor Brownback. Citing the large number of emails he received from Kansans and referring to at least some of them as “vile,” he angrily pulled the bill out of discussion.

Senator Julia Lynn announced that a bill would pass her committee before the hearing on the bill was over. She did not let even one opponent of the bill speak before declaring that it would pass. Why should people who have a viewpoint different from Lynn’s have the opportunity to be heard?

Representative Highland mysteriously put a bill up for a hearing that had already been passed. Why have a hearing on a bill that is current law? Well, one reason is to catch the folks you don’t want to hear from off guard. Bring in the bill, carve out its contents and replace it with something you want but will generate strong opposition. It’s called a “gut and go” and it’s a shifty maneuver that has been frequently used. And it usually keeps the public away from the meeting in which it is done – no one there to witness the action, no one there to weigh in with the committee.

So you see, some Kansas elected officials have a personal agenda and things like “constituents” just get in the way. They don’t want you to know what’s happening. In the Highland case mentioned above, it took heavy questioning from a member of the minority party to get Highland to admit his intentions in public.

As Brownback and his ideological soulmates in the Kansas legislature have tightened their grip on government, the people have been getting less say in what happens. Dramatic policy changes are enacted via gut and go with no public notice. They are passed as floor amendments to other bills without ever getting a hearing. And there are controversial deals being made out of the public eye.

Participatory democracy would just get in the way of ideology.

Next week is a critical week in the 2016 legislative session. Things are wrapping up and the ideologues are teeing up their anti-education, anti-union, and anti-government bills for quick action.

This would be a great time to host a “Celebrate Freedom Week” for the Kansas Legislature!

Most school districts are on spring break next week. Why not help celebrate freedom by coming to the Statehouse in Topeka and giving the Senate and House a lesson in participatory democracy?

If you’re a teacher or parent of a student, wear your school colors! Bring your children – what a great lesson it would be in civics and democracy!

On Monday, parents from all across Kansas will converge on the capitol in support of efforts by Game On for Kansas Schools to raise awareness of the crisis in our public schools and to demand that legislators step up and support public education. They’ll be joined by members of Kansas NEA, the Kansas PTA, Kansas Families for Education, and others to make their voices heard. Won’t you join them?

KNEA President Mark Farr will be in the capitol every morning at 10:00 am just inside the security entrance on 8th Street to greet you and welcome you to Topeka. Other KNEA activists will be with him.

So let’s stand up for Kansas next week. Let’s stand up in support of Kansas schools and children. Stand in support of safe roads and highways. Stand in support of our seniors and those with disabilities. Stand in support public safety. Stand in support of our communities and our shared Kansas values.

Be a participant in our democracy.