Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kansas year end round up

New Year’s Eve is now over and it is a good time to reflect on events of 2013. A lot of news articles were written on our Governor Sam Brownback and his conservative revolution that he likes to brag about. Thankfully there were other events in Kansas this year. How did Kansas do last year? Let’s look:
In December- The Wichita Eagle reported that Kansas infant death rates went up 2.8% that is 254 children in Kansas died before their first birthday. For some groups—African-Americans—rural residents, the rate of infant deaths is even higher. In 2013 the rate went up to 5.8%.
On November 1- The national hackers group Anonymous came to Wichita City Hall for a protest. They came to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. It always good to have more progressive organizations coming to conservative Kansas.
In October- Kansas House Representative Jim Ward wrote to The Wichita Eagle, on the new KanCare program set up by Gov. Brownback. The new program privatized the formerly state run government program Medicaid, into three private companies which now handle medical care for the poor and handicap.
He cited problems on four major areas: slow payments to providers for legitimate medical services; increased paperwork and cost for providers seeking reimbursements; confusing, inconsistent; and inaccurate payments causing reduced level of care for patients.
In September- Meagan May posted a comment criticizing the military and she was fired from her job at Carmike Cinemas. May said fighting a war is not “heroic.” The firing was legal but many people supported her right to free speech and questioned the wisdom of Carmike Cinemas for firing her for a Facebook comment.
In August- Kansas State Senator Susan Wagle defended the special interest group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and her participation in it. Wagle often votes with Gov. Brownback and is considered one of his allies. Wagle was accused of using state funds for registration to ALEC policy conferences, alleging a partisan agenda at taxpayer expense. She has been accused of influence buying through ALEC. ALEC uses closed door tactics to push for pro-business politics.
In July- KanVote tried to bring attention of about 13,000 voters who have been knocked off the voting roles because of Secretary of State of Kansas Secretary of State of Kris Kobach’s New Voter ID Law. KanVote has charged that the new voter laws discriminate against poor and minorities. Kobach has admitted that there were only about 20 cases of voter fraud confirmed in the years before the new law.
In June- Senator Susan Wagle tried to claim that the changes brought to Kansas by her and Gov. Brownback was a model for the rest of the country.
What her and other Kansas Republicans did was too weaken the state’s infrastructure, by cutting all aid programs to poor people at a time when there were (and still are) people looking for work, cutting funding to education and giving lavish tax breaks to businesses at the expense of the other tax payers. She bragged about the Republican “FairTax” model that targets the taxation of consumption (sales) rather than productivity (income).” Many of us do not suggest adopting this “model.”
In May- Several organizations in Wichita took part in a march against Monsanto and their Genetically Modified Organisms (seeds) or GMOs. They joined people in more than 250 cities across the U.S., Activists were concerned that the seeds Monsanto sells to farmers are unsafe and their practices unfair.
In April- South Wind Women’s Center opened in Wichita, offering early term abortions as a part of overall health care for women. Since the murder of Dr. George Tiller, anti-abortion zealots had prevented other people from opening a clinic. The clinic is still opened today.
In March- Gov. Brownback started to attack the teachers unions much as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did. Brownback and his allies pushed for a law that barred unions from using voluntary paycheck deductions for politics. This was clearly a move to keep unions out of politics and deny them the same rights that corporations have.
In February- Gov. Brownback outlined his tax plan. It calls for cuts in the income tax for higher wage earners, extension of a temporary sales tax hike and the elimination of popular mortgage interest and real estate property tax deductions. Critics noticed Brownback is shifting his tax burden from lower income wage earners to higher incomes.
In January- I wrote an article to bring to light that other states were trying to loosen marijuana laws while the laws in Kansas stayed ridiculous and outdated. Over the last few decades, lawmakers got more conservative and, marijuana laws got stricter. It was no surprise that Kansas Republican conservatives killed an attempt to introduce a bill to allow permission for qualified patients to consume marijuana with a physician's order.
We can only hope for changes in our political system and we have a governors races coming up soon. We have an opportunity to dump the destructive regime of Sam Brownback.

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