COVID cases spiking, jeopardizing a return to “normal”

As Kansas faces a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order requiring the wearing of masks in public. The use of masks has been shown to lower the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

During the special session of the legislature in early June, however, Republican leadership demanded the State Finance Council (SFC) – dominated by Republican legislative leaders – be permitted to veto any executive order related to the pandemic and gave each county permission to refuse to implement any COVID-related executive order. The SFC chose not to take action on the mask order, letting it stand. Unfortunately, at least 80 counties have decided not to adopt or enforce the order. Since the virus steadfastly refuses to respect county lines, this action dramatically reduces the ability of the state to get control over the spread of the disease.

At this time, Kansas COVID-19 cases are rising faster than most other states and Kansas has been called out by three other states who will now require visitors from our state to quarantine for 14 days. The failure to contain the spread of the virus makes everything far more difficult for Kansas. Getting the economy back on track and Kansans back to work will require a concerted effort to stop the spread of the disease so that schools can open and parents can return to their jobs. It is unconscionable that so many still refuse to be part of the solution. If you live in a county that is not mandating masks – contact your county commissioners and ask them to require masks. Find your commissioners here:

Kelly enacts foster child report card through an executive order

At the end of the regular legislative session, a number of education proposals were bundled together and passed by both chambers. The Governor vetoed the education bill because it included several items that would cost the state millions of dollars just as COVID-19 was shutting down the economy. We knew at that time that there would be a significant hit to the state budget as businesses were impacted by the pandemic and Governor Kelly felt it was important to not commit to more spending while facing a dramatic reduction in revenue.

The bill also contained a provision that would have created a “foster child report card” to allow the state to monitor and track the performance of foster children attending public and accredited private schools in Kansas. Foster children’s school performance has not be tracked as a group and many felt that it was important to the state to ensure these children were on track to meet standards and graduate from high school prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education. Sadly, the report card went down with the rest of the bill.

Governor Kelly, however, supported the idea and has now issued an executive order that will establish the very report card called for in the legislation. You can read the executive order by clicking here.

A look at Kansas House and Senate endorsements in the August 4 primary election

This year there are 40 contested Republican primaries and 14 contested Democratic primaries for the state legislature. KNEA, through the Kansas NEA Political Action Committee (KPAC), has made recommendations in many of those races and we are always interested in looking at what other organizations are doing.

In addition to KNEA, candidate recommendations or endorsements have be issued by the National Rifle Association, The Kansas Farm Bureau, The Kansas Livestock Association, Kansans for Life, and The Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Kansas NEA invites all candidates to interview with a local team of KNEA members if they chose to pursue a recommendation from KPAC unless the race includes a “friendly incumbent.” Friendly incumbents are those sitting legislators running for re-election who have supported KNEA positions with their votes in the House or Senate and have not voted in conflict with any of KNEA’s core values. Click here to read our legislative priorities for the 2019/2020 legislative sessions and our core values.

Not all candidates choose to interview. We find that while Democrats and moderate Republicans are usually anxious to be considered for recommendation, conservative Republicans generally refuse to participate or simply ignore the invitation from the educator-members of KNEA and KPAC.

This year KPAC has made recommendations in 21 of the 40 contested Republican primaries and in 13 of the 14 contested Democratic primaries. We believe it is critically important we provide information to our Republican and Democratic members when they have a clear choice in a primary election. We seek to support the election of pro-public education candidates regardless of party. You can read our list of recommended candidates by clicking here.

While KNEA / KPAC made recommendations in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, we also looked at those other organizations to see if they appear to be looking for candidates of both parties. For these organizations, partisanship is thriving.

  • The National Rifle Association recommended no Democrats in their primaries while recommending Republicans in 33 of 40 races.
  • The Kansas Farm Bureau recommended no Democrats in their primaries while recommending Republicans in 31 of 40 races.
  • The Kansas Livestock Association made a recommendation in one of the 14 Democratic primaries and 26 of the 40 Republican primaries.
  • -The Kansas Chamber of Commerce recommended no Democrats in their primaries while recommending Republicans in 33 of 40 races.
  • Kansans for Life recommended no Democrats in their primaries while recommending Republicans in 33 of 40 races.