The Pitch partnered with a local political outreach organization called Loud Light. Their goal is to engage and empower people from underrepresented populations to build community power. And influence decision makers. Every week of the year that the Kansas Statehouse is in session, they release a short video summarizing what the legislature is doing.
Knowing the nitty-gritty of what’s going on with your representatives is the only way to stay involved in how local government impacts your life. You can donate to support the work of Loud Light by clicking here.
Here is this week’s video and transcript:
I’m Davis Hammet with Loud Light! Here’s what happened in week 6 of the 2023 Kansas legislative session!
Survey on meat packaging
A federal labor investigation found that 26 children had been illegally hired to work at Cargill’s Dodge City meatpacking plant. Kansas children as young as 13 worked night shifts using dangerous chemicals to clean dangerous equipment such as backsaws and log splitters. The company was fined the maximum amount which is only $15,000 per exploited child.
Eddie the Eagle (SB116 & HB2304)
The Senate passed a bill mandating that if an elementary school teaches gun safety it must use the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program. Eddie Eagle was created in 1988 by an NRA lobbyist who pushed it as an alternative to bills that held adults accountable for failing to safe guns. The program designed to shift responsibility for gun deaths of children from negligent adults to children is not based on evidence and has never been shown to be effective. The House hears an identical bill on Tuesday.
Hate Week (HB2238, SB233, HB2376, SB180)
The House and Senate held hearings on an onslaught of proposals targeting LGBTQ Kansans, especially transgender children, in what some lawmakers have dubbed “hate week.” The bills include banning trans girls from playing sports, canceling any acknowledgment of the existence of transgender individuals, prohibiting local governments from enforcing non-discrimination ordinances, and revoking the licenses of physicians who provide health care in favor of the genre. This comes as the American Medical Association recognized “an epidemic of violence against the transgender community,” and the number of transgender Americans killed each year doubled from 2017 to 2021.
WaterfallR (Hb 2279) (HB 2302)
The Ogallala Aquifer is the nation’s largest underground source of fresh water and much of Kansas depends on it, but due to over-appropriation of water rights and agricultural consumption it is drying up. A House committee approved two bills in response to the water crisis, requiring groundwater management districts to report information annually and work with local stakeholders to create local conservation action plans, and a draft law to devote approximately $45 million annually for 5 years to invest in local water infrastructure projects. The bills have bipartisan support and are directed to the House.
Parental Rights Amendment (HB2271)
A bill that allows parents to enroll their children in the school district where they work became controversial when it was amended to require school districts to establish an online portal with detailed curriculum information, including books, surveys and essays. Democratic Rep. Winn expressed concern that the amendment was unrelated and the public had no opportunity to comment, but Republican President Williams replied “that’s the process” and the new bill passed the commission on party lines.
The committees will continue to meet in the first half of next week and then Wednesday both the House and Senate will be in the floor every day trying to pass the bills before Friday’s shift deadline, when most of the bills that don’t have been passed in neither the House nor the Senate will be dead for the year. Wednesday is a medical marijuana advocacy day at the Statehouse.
Stay tuned, stay engaged and until next time, thank you so much Kansas!