Under the Dome - January 22, 2013
Legislature seeks legislation to silence teachers
We've been expecting something and here it comes - the first official salvo in a possible war on teachers.
Section one of House Bill 2023 says that no money collected from teachers by payroll deduction could be used for any political purpose. It then broadly defines political activities such that almost anything the association does could be political. It would prohibit spending any money on any kind of election - for school bonds, for school board, for the legislature or Governor. It would prohibit the association from urging members to vote for pro-public education candidates or from contributing to a committee that works in elections or on legislative activities.
Essentially, HB 2023 and its companion bill in the Senate - SB 31 - are designed to make sure that teachers have no voice at all in electoral or legislative politics. At the same time it allows corporations to collect and spend as much money as they want in any political effort they choose to pursue.
But to really understand this piece of legislation, one need look at the "enactment clause." This is the last section of the bill that tells when it becomes law. There are two common ways to do this - by publication in the statute book or upon publication in the register. If the enactment clause is by the register then the law takes effect about one to two weeks after signed by the Governor.
In this case, since the bill is on an apparent fast track for passage, it could become law well in advance of an April election on a constitutional amendment to eliminate suitable funding for schools in the Kansas constitution. Proponents of the bill know full well that KNEA will put up a campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment designed to eliminate the Legislature's constitutional obligation to fund schools.
Tomorrow at 1:30 pm the House Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development Committee will hold hearings on a bill (HB 2023) that would restrict the fundamental constitutional rights of teachers and other public employees from engaging in political speech. Likewise important, the bill would prohibit voluntary automatic deductions for the purpose of engaging in a free democracy.
If this bill passes, you will be prohibited from discussing any political or electoral issue through your association. You will be prohibited from advocating for bond elections that provide better facilities for your students. You will be prohibited from fighting against constitutional amendments that strip a requirement for suitable education funding from constitution. You will be stripped of your fundamental right to free speech while those who seek to dismantle and privatize our education system can fund their campaigns at will.
You saw what was done to our colleagues in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana. Those same issues and tactics are now being imported to Kansas.
This legislation is will be heard tomorrow in committee! Act now and contact your state representative. Tell them to protect the voice of Kansas' teachers and vote NO on HB 2023!
The following legislators are on the committee and need to hear from you. Call and e-mail them and remind them that in America, government is not in the business of silencing dissent! Tell them you know how best to spend your own paycheck!
Chairman - Marvin Kleeb (R - District 48 - Overland Park)
Vice Chair - Gene Suellentrop (R - District 91 - Wichita)
Steve Brunk (R - District 85 - Wichita)
Richard Carlson (R - District 61 - St. Mary's)
Will Carpenter (R - District 75 - El Dorado)
J.R. Claeys (R - District 69 - Salina)
Ken Corbet (R - District 54 - Topeka)
Travis Couture-Lovelady (R - District 110 - Palco)
Michael Houser (R - District 1 - Columbus)
Mark Hutton (R - District 105 - Wichita)
Joshua Powell (R - District 50 - Topeka)
Allan Rothlisberg (R - District 65 - Grandview Plaza )
Ron Ryckman (R - District 78 - Olathe)
Stan Frownfelter (D - District 37 - Kansas City)
Louis Ruiz (D - District 31 - Kansas City)
Annie Tietze (D - District 53 - Topeka)