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Friday, February 26, 2021

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Welcome to the KDP Weekly Newsletter – the Kansas Democratic Party’s update of the biggest things going on in the state party and the state government. What are we focused on this week? Washington Days 2021, The Equality Act, Reproductive rights, Social Media Updates, KDP Swag and more!

Interested in helping the Party get out our messaging to encourage Kansans to vote blue? Sign up for our new Letter to the Editor program here!

WASHINGTON DAYS 2021!

What’s happening?

We’re going digital! The KDP is excited to announce Washington Days will occur virtually on February 27, 2021! Join us from the comfort of your own home for an exciting day of events! We’re thrilled to share our fantastic line-up of speakers for #WD2021, which includes Governor Laura Kelly (KS), Lieutenant Governor David Toland (KS), Senator Bob Casey (PA), Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), Kansas Treasurer Lynn Rogers, Governor Jared Polis (CO), Congresswoman Sharice Davids (KS-03), Senator Cory Booker (NJ), and former Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Julián Castro. This is an exciting line-up you don’t want to miss! 

To learn more about Washington Day 2021, purchase your tickets and stay up to date on featured speakers, please visit our website: www.kansasdems.org/WD2021!

KDP PRESS RELEASES

KDP UPCOMING TRAININGS

KANSAS REPUBLICANS SEEK POWER TO VETO REGULATIONS ISSUED BY STATE AGENCIES

What’s happening?

(Kansas City Star) – Kansas GOP officials, seeking more power over what one dubbed “a fourth branch of government,” are calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow them to veto regulations issued by state agencies. The legislative veto was proposed Tuesday by senior lawmakers and Attorney General Derek Schmidt. It would allow the legislature to review and eliminate regulations put forth by executive agencies such as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Labor.

Lawmakers passed a legislative veto measure in 1984, but the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that it violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers. The U.S. Supreme Court made a similar determination on the federal level in 1983.Schmidt said Tuesday, that several states with similar rulings had since adopted constitutional amendments providing for the veto. Senior GOP legislators said Kansas needed one.

“Unfortunately over time a fourth branch of government has arose and that’s government bureaucracy,” said Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican. “What the attorney general’s bringing forward today is something that restores the checks and balances and allows the people of Kansas to have a say in how to regulate.

KANSAS REPUBLICANS CONTINUE ATTEMPT TO STRIP GOVERNOR KELLY’S EMERGENCY POWERS

What’s happening?

(Kansas City Star) – Kansas Republicans are renewing efforts to curtail Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s authority during the pandemic and in future crises with legislation that would require all executive orders during states of emergency to be reviewed by the Attorney General and approved by a panel of lawmakers.

The measures, under consideration by judiciary committees in the House and Senate, would also enable individuals who feel they have been harmed by emergency executive actions to challenge them in court.

The House version applies to all emergency declarations. The Senate version carves out rules for public health related emergencies.

In a statement Wednesday, Kelly said she agreed that an amended emergency management law was needed, but cautioned against hampering the state’s ability to respond.

“There is a good reason that you ask for an emergency declaration and that is because you had an emergency,” Kelly said. “Generally emergencies require rapid response to the issues presented.”

KANSAS SENATE BILL WOULD PREVENT EMPLOYERS FROM REQUIRING THEIR EMPLOYEES TO RECEIVE COVID-19 VACCINE

What’s happening?

(Topeka Capital Journal) – Lawmakers are considering a move to bar employers from mandating vaccinations, an effort that experts believe has its roots in the anti-vaccine movement and comes as millions of Americans are getting inoculated against COVID-19.

Nursing home facilities in other states have required employees to get the vaccine because of their work with high-risk individuals, although there are no confirmed reports of workplaces taking that step in Kansas. But vaccine requirements are usually most prevalent for other diseases, such as influenza or hepatitis. Restaurants will often require shots to keep diners safe and hospitals and day care facilities will do the same, especially if a worker is interacting with immunocompromised individuals.

But Sen. Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson, who authored Senate Bill 213, has framed it as a way of preserving the decision-making process for individual employees. Opposing him is an alliance of business groups and public health entities that argue the proposal would be detrimental to both the health and welfare of Kansans and the bottom line for businesses that may need to protect their employees and customers.

At least 23 states have considered similar requirements, according to a report from the Pew Trusts, although none have advanced in the legislative process and experts believe Kansas would be the first state to impose such a requirement if they were to approve the bill.

KANSAS GOP PLAN TO BLOCK COVID UNEMPLOYMENT AID SPARKS BACKLASH

What’s happening?

(AP News) – Republican legislators and a powerful business group are pushing a proposal to make it harder for unemployed Kansas workers to get extended benefits, arguing that extra weeks of aid are available even when thousands of jobs remain unfilled.

But the proposal before the GOP-controlled Legislature has sparked a backlash amid the economic uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, and Democrats see it as hurting struggling workers at exactly the wrong time. A key Republican lawmaker conceded Friday that it will be difficult to include the measure in broader legislation designed to overhaul the state’s troubled unemployment system.

A 2013 state law, enacted under then-Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, ended a policy of providing up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits to jobless workers and instead tied eligibility for more than 16 weeks of benefits to the unemployment rate. Separate but identical bills before the House and Senate commerce committees require a higher unemployment rate for the extended benefits to kick in.

IF KANSAS OUTLAWS ABORTION, PREGNANT FAMILIES BECOME STRIPPED OF CHOICES

What’s happening?

(Kansas City Star) – “As a high-risk obstetrician, my heart fell when I learned late last month that the Legislature voted to place a flawed and dangerous constitutional amendment that could remove Kansans’ right to abortion on the 2022 primary ballot.”

“As the battle over abortion in Kansas inevitably heats up in the months to come, please remember that for every family brave enough to share a personal story, there are many more stories that go untold. Each of these families deserves privacy and respect.

We cannot begin to know all that goes into each and every person’s decision about their lives. We can’t put these families into a one-size-fits-all box or a one-size-fits-all piece of legislation.

When the time comes, remember these patients and the stories they have courageously chosen to share. Abortion was an incredibly personal decision for them, and should be treated as such.”

Mae Winchester is an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Kansas City, Kansas, and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit network of doctors across the country working to improve access to comprehensive reproductive health care.

HOW DID KANSAS AND MISSOURI VOTE ON THE EQUALITY ACT?

What’s happening?

(Kansas City Star) – LGBTQ Kansans and Missourians would receive new federal protections under legislation that passed the U.S. House Thursday. The Equality Act, which passed by a vote of 224 to 206, would amend federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations and the use of federal funds. The Supreme Court last year ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity was illegal under federal law, but that ruling didn’t extend to housing or public accommodations.

Kansas and Missouri are among the 27 states that do not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for housing. Rep. Sharice Davids, a Kansas Democrat, said this puts her and other LGBTQ Kansans at risk of discrimination, including evictions and denial of service based on their orientation or identity.

“Because while I can be the representative for Kansas’ Third District in the US Congress, I can also be turned away for housing or healthcare in the state that I represent. It’s unacceptable for anyone to have to deal with that discrimination,” said Davids, one of 11 openly LGBTQ members of Congress.

“For far too long, the federal government has enabled individual states to treat our LGBTQ friends as second-class citizens without the protections the vast majority of Americans have never thought twice about,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat who represents Kansas City.

Only three Republicans in the House voted for the bill, which faces strong opposition from religious conservatives. No Republicans from Kansas or Missouri backed the bill, while the region’s Democrats were uniform in their support.

ROGER MARSHALL MEANS A MORE TRUMP-LIKE U.S. SENATOR FOR KANSAS THAN PAT ROBERTS

What’s happening?

(KMUW) – Roger Marshall’s unflinching support of former President Donald Trump helped him vault over a crowded field of Republican hopefuls in the race to succeed longtime Kansas U.S. Senator Pat Roberts. Roberts, like his successor, backed Trump and his administration almost without fail. But the now-former senator forged a career in a different era of partisanship that allowed more room for the occasional partnership with Democrats in the interest of lawmaking.

Marshall’s critics predict his Trump-first sensibility won’t leave as much room for compromise, or help him get things done in a Congress now controlled by Democrats. Marshall’s backing of Trump’s baseless claims of massive voter fraud and his votes against certifying Joe Biden’s win in the Electoral College put him out of step with most senators — Democrats and Republicans.

His actions also put him in sharp contrast to Roberts, a 40-year veteran of the House and Senate whose sense of humor and low-key style allowed him some victories on legislation even if he never rose to the ranks of congressional leadership.

KANSAS REPUBLICANS SPENT A DECADE ATTACKING SOCIAL ASSISTANCE; NOW BAFFLED AT RESULTS

What’s happening?

(Daily Kos) – Republican governors waged a decade-long attack on social services provided to families and those who are needy. The Republican playbook remained the same: setting up guidelines requiring that recipients return to work in set timeframes, that work requirements be built into the programs, and that they heckled those who didn’t agree.

In Kansas we can see the results: Grift is at record levels in Republican businesses. Meanwhile, the Republicans were so concerned about how these funds could be misused that they pushed through legislation about how and where the money could be spent—like on cruise ships and casinos. When Republican states focused on how to make sure people couldn’t get access to social services, they set themselves up for an outright disaster. When COVID-19 hit, states under Republican leadership that focused on these issues were completely unprepared to reverse course on their strategy and get assistance to the people. Now the results are devastating. The Republican response, in essence, is: ‘Let’s put forward more ideas about making it difficult for families in need to get help.’

Former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback reduced the time that you could be on unemployment in the state in 2013, from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. Worse, if you fail to report 1099 or part-time income, even accidentally, you may find yourself banned from receiving any unemployment under any circumstances for five years. So Kansans struggling under COVID-19? Tough. If you’re under that penalty, go suffer. And if you take on some work that you aren’t turning in while you wait for any help, then boo to you, too.

WHEN WILL THE US REACH HERD IMMUNITY? 

What’s happening?

(CNN) – Herd immunity threshold is likely months away. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 83 million people in the United States had Covid-19 by the end of 2020, putting the nation about a third of the way to herd immunity, the point at which enough people are protected against a disease so that it cannot spread through the population. If the pace of vaccinations continues at the current rate, the country could approach herd immunity through a combination of natural immunity and vaccination around June.

More than 66 million shots have been administered, according to the latest federal data, with nearly 8% of the US population fully vaccinated. Promises from manufacturers indicate that the US should have enough vaccine supply to cover everyone by June. More than a quarter of the population may already have natural immunity after previous infection — and that number may be much higher than official counts show.

However, some new variants threaten progress, potentially lessening protection offered by vaccines and skirting some degree of natural immunity. Vaccine hesitancy may also create some limitations. There is no way to achieve total certainty as to when, but herd immunity is on the horizon.

THE WASHINGTON DAYS SCHEDULE IS HERE!

10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.

Washington Days Morning Program, featuring KDP Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), Lieutenant Governor David Toland, Senator Bob Casey (PA) and Governor Laura Kelly

11:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.

Executive Committee Meeting

3:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.

State Committee Meeting

7:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.

Washington Days Evening Program, featuring Kansas Treasurer Lynn Rogers, Governor Jared Polis (CO), Congresswoman Sharice Davids, Senator Cory Booker (NJ) and former Secretary of Housing and Uban Development Julián Castro.

What’s happening?

Make sure to follow Kansas Dems on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to keep up with the latest party news, events, and updates!

ICYMI: Here are some of our top posts from this week.

What’s happening?

Be sure to shop KDP Merch at the Kansas Dems Online Store. Make your voice heard by picking up our new shirt from the KDP Store. And remember each purchase includes a donation to the party to help elect Democrats across the state.

Onward,

KDP Team

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