Pilcher-Cook Punished!

Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) lashed out at Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee), removing Pilcher-Cook as chair of the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare and removing her from the committee altogether.

The disagreement was over a floor maneuver in which Pilcher-Cook tried to add an amendment expanding Medicaid to a bill on step-therapy. Her intent was to demonstrate that the Senate was adamantly opposed to any expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The amendment was challenged as not germane to the underlying bill. The rules committee determined that indeed it was not germane and thus it was out of order.

Pilcher-Cook then demanded a roll call vote on a challenge to the ruling of the Chair. This was a classic “postcard” move. If one voted to sustain the Chair, it could be used in election postcards as showing support for “Obamacare.” Wagle was furious that any Senator would try such an obvious trick.

As Senate President, Wagle has the power to appoint and remove committee chairs and assignments. After losing her chairmanship and seat on the committee, Pilcher-Cook lashed out at Wagle implying that she might be a moderate like former Senator Steve Morris. She told the press that Wagle was supporting Hillary Clinton’s position on Medicaid expansion.

So now we see a not-so-subtle shift in the extreme right talking points as we approach the 2016 election. They’ve gotten by for a few cycles by tying moderate Republicans and Democrats to President Obama. Their new Satan will be Hillary Clinton.

Wagle has been as anti-Obamacare as anyone in the Kansas Republican party. This blow-up could be indicative of new splinters within the party. How far to the right must one be to please the extreme end of the party?

House Ed Committee in Long Meeting

The House Education Committee met today beginning at noon and kicked out a few bills.

The first bill was dealing with Ethnic Studies in schools. The bill, brought forth by Rep. John Alcala (D-Topeka) last year. HB 2207 as introduced would have directed the State Board of Education to develop curriculum and materials for local school boards to use if they so choose related to ethnic studies. Ethnic studies was defined as instruction that “includes, but is not limited to, the experiences of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, Native Americans and other racialized peoples.”

When Rep. Becky Hutchins asked if this would allow teaching about Muslims and Sharia Law, the bill was amended to remove “other racialized peoples” and change “but is not limited to” to “and is limited to.” This essentially says that ethnic studies only applies to the five specifically listed groups.

The bill was further amended on a motion of Rep. Jerry Lunn (R-Overland Park) to assure that no materials related to ethnic studies would include “social justice remedies.”

The amended bill was then passed out of committee and will go to the full House for consideration.

The committee also passed out HB 2532, the financial literacy bill without amendment.

Bill Killing Due Process Scheduled for Vote on Thursday

The House Education Committee will work HB 2531, the bill repealing due process protections for instructors at community colleges and technical colleges.

The bill had a hearing last week where instructors from Johnson County Community College and Hutchinson Community College led the opposition. The President of Garden City Community College entered into a heated debate with members of the committee in his support for the bill.

Click here to access the committee roster with links to their email addresses and office phones. Let them know how important due process for teachers and instructors is to academic freedom and student advocacy.