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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)
785 296-7680

Vice Chair - Gene Suellentrop (R - District 91 - Wichita) 
785 296-7681

Steve Brunk (R - District 85 - Wichita)
785 296-7645

Richard Carlson (R - District 61 - St. Mary's)
785 296-4830

Will Carpenter (R - District 75 - El Dorado)
785 296-7673

J.R. Claeys (R - District 69 - Salina)
785 296-7670

Ken Corbet (R - District 54 - Topeka)
785 296-7679

Travis Couture-Lovelady (R - District 110 - Palco)
785 296-4683

Michael Houser (R - District 1 - Columbus)
785 296-7679

Mark Hutton (R - District 105 - Wichita)
785 296-7673

Joshua Powell (R - District 50 - Topeka)
785 296-7674

Allan Rothlisberg (R - District 65 - Grandview Plaza )
785 296-7653

Ron Ryckman (R - District 78 - Olathe)
785 296-6287  

Stan Frownfelter (D - District 37 - Kansas City)
785 296-7648

Louis Ruiz (D - District 31 - Kansas City)
785 296-7122

Annie Tietze (D - District 53 - Topeka)
785 296-7668

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