Kansas Lawmakers Just Dared Sam Brownback to Veto Medicaid Expansion

by Alan Pyke – Bill heads to right-wing governor’s desk with wide bipartisan majorities — but not veto-proof ones. A bill to expand Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare passed the Kansas Senate on Tuesday morning, setting up a showdown with arch-conservative Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Brownback is philosophically opposed to the expansion, which in-state analysts estimate would cover 150,000 currently uninsured people. But with the state’s budget in disastrous shape because of his “real, live experiment” with right-wing tax policy over the past several years, Republican allies have already begun to break stride with the governor. Brownback has 10 days to decide what to do. His administration this week reiterated opposition to expanding the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare. But the governor himself has stayed mu, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas head David Jordan told ThinkProgress. “His staff put out oppositional statements yesterday, but he wouldn’t answer the question himself as to what...

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Kansas Republicans’ War on Voters Takes a Hit

by Walter Einenkel – Oh, Kansas. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Governor Sam Brownback’s plan to disenfranchise anybody who isn’t old and white from voting in the state of Kansas took a step back yesterday, when a judge ruled that Kansas cannot require people to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote at DMVs. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirements likely violate a provision in the National Voter Registration Act that requires only “minimal information” to determine a voter’s eligibility. She ordered Kansas to register thousands of voters whose paperwork is on hold because they did not comply with the requirement. But she put her preliminary injunction on hold until May 31 to give the state a chance to appeal. The state immediately said it would appeal. Unless a higher court halts Robinson’s order before the end of the month, it would take...

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For Those Who Had Any Doubts, Kansas Has Officially Gone Insane

by Dartagnan – For those who had any remaining doubts, Kansas has officially gone insane, with its Republican dominated legislature now trying to pass a law effectively nullifying the state’s Judiciary system: A committee in the GOP-controlled Senate plans to vote Tuesday on a bill that would make “attempting to usurp the power” of the Legislature or the executive branch grounds for impeachment. Impeachment has “been a little-used tool” to challenge judges who strike down new legislation, said Republican Sen. Dennis Pyle, a sponsor of the measure. “Maybe it needs to be oiled up a little bit or sharpened a little bit.” Senate Bill 439 is currently set for debate before the state’s GOP-stacked Judiciary Committee. If it is approved and signed by Governor Brownback, it will permit impeachment of any Judge who acts contrary to the wishes of the legislature. In other words, any Judge who strikes down or modifies any law  the legislature...

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Kansas Abandons Withdrawal Limits For Welfare Cards That Would Have Hit The Poorest With Fees

by ALAN PYKE – Kansan politicians tried to force public administrators to make life harder for poor people on welfare, passing a controversial law earlier this year to limit the amount of money public assistance benefits cards can withdraw from ATM machines at any one time to $25. But the public servants are fighting back, announcing Tuesday that they would rescind the law. The move by Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) staff comes after federal officials advised DCF that the withdrawal limit appeared to violate some tenets of the federal law that funds the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In a release Tuesday, DCF head Phyllis Gilmore welcomed that advice and chastised lawmakers for ignoring her prior criticism of the withdrawal limits. “This agency did not propose the $25 cash assistance withdrawal limit,” Gilmore said. “This was an amendment offered during legislative debate. At the time...

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AP Reporter Teaches Kansas Politicians Something About Transparency

By Chris Reeves, Daily Kos– Too many of us who blog or write for online forums don’t appreciate enough the hard work that great journalists who work the trenches every day really do for those who hope for transparency. John Hanna, an AP Reporter in Topeka is one of those people in Kansas I have always respected. Now, while reporters may view some of the outsiders as those kookie gadflies, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have sincere admiration for the truly difficult work that they do every day.John Hanna has covered fleets of major issues in Kansas, and he has been at the heart of numerous scoops and great reporting.  On June 8th in the State house, though, Hanna didn’t just break a story – he taught legislators a little bit about what transparency truly means. Ron Fournier from the National Journal covers it fantastically here: http://www.nationaljournal.com/… In the middle...

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Ob-Gyns Face Down Radical Anti-Choice Law in Kansas Court

Father-daughter doctors say law ‘prohibits them from providing a safe, effective, and medically-proven method of abortion’ By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams – Led by a father-daughter team of board-certified ob-gyns, reproductive rights advocates in Kansas are fighting back against “yet another in a relentless barrage of attacks to block women’s access to constitutionally protected abortion services.” Represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, doctors Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser filed suit on Monday in state court, challenging a Kansas law that bans the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester. The law, signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in April, takes effect on July 1 and bans the dilation and evacuation (known as D and E) procedure — thus effectively banning abortion as early as 14 weeks post-fertilization. Its language is based on legislation drafted by the radically anti-choice National Right to Life Committee. The...

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Andrew Cuomo Reverses Email Purge Policy

By Justin Elliott, ProPublica – The emails of New York officials will no longer be automatically deleted after 90 days, aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week in response to political pressure over the purge policy. It’s been a slow burn leading to the policy shift. The purge policy was first reported by the Albany Times Union back in mid–2013, but didn’t stir much protest until more recently, following coverage by ProPublica and Capital New York. At a public meeting Friday, aides to the governor said they had reviewed the policies of other states and, going forward, any email deletion would be manual. That means more communications should be retained and be accessible in response to public records requests or in the case of investigations of wrongdoing. Good government groups welcomed the move, writing in an letter open that it “shows the power the governor has to lead by example...

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Koch Brothers Claim Another State in War on Renewables

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Throughout the last two decades state after state has passed renewable energy standards, often with big bipartisan majorities, as investment in technologies like wind and solar held great promise for economic growth and job creation in addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change and decreasing air pollution. But in the last few years, pressed by fossil fuel businesses such as Koch Industries and advocacy groups funded by the Koch brothers, including Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), bills have been introduced in state after state to repeal these standards. And in a few states, such as Ohio and West Virginia, they’ve succeeded. Now Kansas is following in their footsteps. The legislature voted to repeal its mandatory renewable portfolio standard (RPS), passed in 2009, and replace it with a voluntary standard. It passed overwhelming, 105-16 in the Kansas House and 35-3 in...

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Kansas GOP Attempt To Set $25 ATM Limit For Poor Backfires; May Cost State $100 Million

By JAMESON PARKER, Addicting Info – The state of Kansas is once again facing an astounding loss of money thanks to its Republican leadership. Having already endured a billion dollar boondoggle at the hands of Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his delusional plan to slash taxes to the point that the state couldn’t even afford to keep schools open for the entire school year, the state may now have to brace for a loss of another $100 million due to a first-of-its-kind plan to screw the poor so severe that it’s actually breaking federal law. Brownback and his enablers in the state legislature have a contempt for the poor that borders on fanaticism. In Brownback’s zeal to jump on the bandwagon of Republican states across the country which have gone after welfare recipients with a series of demeaning and nonsensical food stamp restriction laws, Kansas Republicans passed a law that would prevent welfare recipients from withdrawing...

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Head of Kansas GOP Calls Waitress Who Returned Brownback’s Tip ‘Arrogantly Stupid’ and ‘Ignorant’

By Dartagnan, Daily Kos – If there’s one good thing about social media, it’s illuminating how much hatred there is in the Republican Party for ordinary Americans, particularly those who question or challenge Republican policies. You may have already heard the story about Chloe Hough, the Topeka, Kansas waitress who, on her last day on the job, had the “pleasure” of waiting on her state’s Republican Governor Sam Brownback at Boss Hawg’s restaurant. In late March, Brownback signed a new school financing law that replaces the complex school funding formula with flexible block grants for the next two years. The bill reduces funding that districts had expected for the current school year. Before Hough took the tab to the governor — which rang in at $52.16 — she put an X in the line where he would leave a tip. And to the left of that she wrote, “Tip the schools.”...

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Kansas Server Tells Gov. Brownback Just Where To Stick His Tip… Public Schools

By DYLAN HOCK, Addicting Info – Okay, it’s your last day waiting tables at Boss Hawg’s Barbeque in Topeka, Kansas, after having turned in your resignation, and who sits down in your section, last table of the night, but the very governor you’ve been cursing for the last four years, Sam Brownback and family – what do you do? Well, after a bit of thought and some help from friends on social media, 22-year-old Chloe Hough knew just what to do. She refused Brownback’s tip. She went one better than that, too. Hough dropped the mic when she also scratched out the tip line on the bill and wrote next to it, instead: “Tip the schools.” She then posted the image to Facebook with the status: “MIC DROP” You can see a close-up of the tip Chloe left for Brownback, below: KSNT News reports Hough stating: “It was my last shift at the restaurant, as I had quit, so...

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In Bizarre Stunt, Governor Pretends To Sign Extreme Abortion Ban For Group Of Teenagers

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – Three weeks ago, Kansas became the first state in the country to ban a specific type of second-trimester abortion procedure, after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a so-called “dismemberment” ban in a closed-door ceremony. But Brownback isn’t stopping there. According to a photo tweeted out by Brownback’s office, the governor was flanked by large photos of fetuses as he approved Senate Bill 95 at the beginning of April. A few days later, Oklahoma followed in Kansas’ footsteps and approved an identical measure. Perhaps seeking to solidify Kansas’ status as the first state to venture into this area, Brownback is now taking it a step further. On Tuesday, the governor traveled to four different cities across Kansas to reenact the signing of SB 95 in public ceremonies that teenagers could attend. The events took place at a Catholic church education building and three Catholic high schools. “I am profoundly...

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Staggering Rise in Fracking Earthquakes Triggers Kansas to Take Action

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – It seems unlikely that Kansas, known as one of the most conservative states in the U.S. and home to fossil fuel barons the Koch Brothers, would take action against the oil and gas industries. But in the face of a new wave of earthquakes attributed to the underground injection of fracking wastewater, its industry regulating body, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), ordered a reduction of wastewater injection in two counties abutting Oklahoma, finding that increased earthquake activity correlated with increasing volumes of injected fracking water. “Because individual earthquakes cannot be linked to individual injection wells, this order reduces injection volumes in areas experiencing increased seismic activity,” said its official report. It added, “The commission finds increased seismic activity constitutes an immediate danger to the public health, safety and welfare. The commission finds damage may result if immediate action is not taken.” The commission’s report pointed to...

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Kansas To Impose Unprecedented Restriction On Welfare Recipients

by BRYCE COVERT – The Kansas legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) desk that limits welfare recipients to withdrawing just $25 a day from their benefits and enacts a range of other restrictions. If Brownback signs the law, recipients of the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program would only be able to withdraw $25 a day with their benefits cards from ATMs, which act like debt cards. No other states or the federal government currently limit withdrawals. While one of the backers of the bill asserted that recipients could take out more at a bank counter, the cards can’t be used at counters and many poor people lack access to bank accounts given the need to maintain balances and pay fees. Seventeen million Americans are unbanked, going without formal financial products. Meanwhile, during debate over the bill state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D) pointed out that...

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New Kansas Law Allows Concealed Guns Without Training Or Permits

by KAY STEIGER – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill into law on Thursday that allows Kansas residents over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons without any permit or training requirements, “as long as that individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under either federal or state law.” “Responsible gun ownership – for protection and sport – is a right inherent in our Constitution. It is a right that Kansans hold dear and have repeatedly and overwhelmingly reaffirmed a commitment to protecting,” said in a statement on Facebook posted alongside a photo of him signing the bill. Everytown for Gun Safety expressed their disapproval on Facebook as well. “This bill will let people carry hidden, loaded guns in public with no training whatsoever, and with no permit required,” the statement read. “It’s irresponsible legislation that puts all Kansans in danger.” The legislation passed with overwhelming support in...

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The Next Anti-Abortion Strategy Lurking Around The Corner

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – In what could represent their next major effort to dismantle the protections under Roe v. Wade, abortion opponents are laying the groundwork for a new attack on reproductive rights that borrows a page out of their old playbook. Several pieces of similar legislation emerging on a state level could be the beginning of a national trend. The measures are cloaked in emotional language about “fetal dismemberment” that’s reminiscent of the pro-life community’s successful push to enact the country’s first national abortion ban. The first bill to use “dismemberment” language was introduced in South Dakota last year. Seeking to “prohibit the dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children,” the measure was just a few paragraphs long and didn’t make it out of committee. But that didn’t deter anti-abortion activists. This year, at the beginning of the 2015 session, identical bills entitled the “Unborn Child Protection From...

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Kansas GOP Governor Says He Needs To Slash School Funding After His Tax Cuts Bankrupts Treasury

by JAMESON PARKER – Just a few years ago, Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback wanted to show the world how great trickle-down economics could be, and now that his experiment blew up in his face, he admits he may need to start slashing funding for education to make up for it. But don’t worry, education wasn’t his first choice, he already plundered pensions and infrastructure. Someone really needs to get around to explaining to Republican politicians that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. As if we needed further proof (and we really, really didn’t), tax slashing “superstar” Sam Brownback has boldly led his state’s economy into the gutter at a time when the American economy as a whole is starting to warm up. It has gotten so bad that Brownback almost lost his reelection bid, despite running in conservative Kansas in the midst of a Republican midterm landslide. Dodging that embarrassment, Brownback now faces...

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This Poll Should Scare the Hell Out of Kansas Conservatives

by Jen Hayden – A new poll from Gallup this morning has some troubling news for ultra-conservative Kansas Republicans: The GOP remains dominant in Kansas, but the percentage of people in that state who identify with the Republican Party is at its lowest in five years, a new poll finds.Fewer than half of Kansans, 47 percent, identify as or lean Republican, compared with 52 percent last year, according to data published by Gallup on Friday. Frankly, this poll reaffirms trends we’ve seen in the state: 100+ Kansas Republicans split from the GOP to endorse Paul Davis for governor, former Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker refusing to film an ad for Pat Roberts (R-VA), and the fact that recent polls show Kansas Republicans could go 0-for-3 in the races for governor, U.S. Senate and secretary of state. Of course, we reached this point after Governor Sam Brownback turned Kansas into a “conservative...

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Re-election Campaign for Pat Roberts Running on Twine and Duct Tape in Kansas

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos– Leroy Towns, the now former campaign manager for the Pat Roberts’ re-election campaign, made a critical error in early September when he said Pat Roberts would be taking some time off to head home to Virginia to get some rest for a few days. That sparked a firestorm. Kansans were rightly upset to confirm that the man who’d been representing Kansas since 1980 didn’t even consider Kansas his home and Towns was promptly relieved of duty. And with poll after poll showing Roberts trailing Independent Greg Orman, Washington, DC, Republicans sent in veteran losing Republican campaign manager Corry Bliss. When Bliss arrived in Kansas, he found a campaign that was in complete shambles: When Roberts’ new team took over his foundering campaign three weeks ago, they discovered an operation that hadn’t ordered any yard signs and a headquarters that didn’t have a computer printer or its own...

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Sex Toy Sale Makes Dorothy Think It’s Not Her Kansas Anymore

“From the Desk of NickiLeaks” Dorothy had left home, feeling like a house had dropped on her. In this case, a whore house. No thanks to Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republicans cutting Kansas’ tax base by so much that the state was, for all intents and purposes, bankrupt. And Dorothy didn’t know what to make of it, what to make of the fact that the Republicans had screwed up the state’s economy so incredibly that, to raise money, Kansas was selling off fuzzy handcuffs and other sex toys seized from Larry Minkoff, the owner of Bang sex stores who owes the state $163,983 – or, in other words, the same amount of money the Kansas legislature decided not to tax one white millionaire. Well, to avoid the truth, Kansas gave the toys back to Minkoff and then ordered him to auction the toys off and give them the money that they...

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