For the last few hours, I've been occupied as we discuss with members of the state legislature the impact of Kansas HB-2453. Though several diaries have been written about this (I put up one yesterday, Hunter had a solid one today) what has been hard to know for a while is how this bill was shaping up in the senate.
Tonight, I want to give you a hands on update, and URGE Kansas residents to take IMMEDIATE action. I rarely say information is important, but if you know people in Kansas, PLEASE spread the word herein.
Tonight, Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita announce to her peers and press that in it's current form, she doesn't think this bill will pass.
TOPEKA — A controversial bill that critics say would sanction discrimination of gays and lesbians is unlikely to pass the Kansas Senate in its current form, President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said in a statement Thursday.Let there be no mistake, the state house is buzzing tonight, absolutely buzzing. Phones are ringing and representatives who have flown under the radar for years are taking a beating over the phones and in the press.
House Bill 2453, which supporters say protects religious freedom, passed the House by a vote of 72-49 on Wednesday. Since then, phones at the Capitol have been ringing constantly, with callers urging senators to stop the bill and criticizing representatives for passing the measure. Opponents say the measure legalizes discrimination by government employees.
“After an initial review, I’ve grown concerned about the practical impact of the bill,” Wagle said in an e-mailed statement. The bill would allow public and private employees alike to refuse service based on religious views of marriage.
“A strong majority of my members support laws that define traditional marriage, protect religious institutions, and protect individuals from being forced to violate their personal moral values,” Wagle said. “However, my members also don’t condone discrimination.
I have to commend Senate and House Democrats - people who I left a bit for dead yesterday who have turned this into a PR Waterloo for Republicans. Governor Nominee Paul Davis, as well as Senate Democrats have worked to help encourage their bases as well as supplied aids and resources to get their constituents on the phone calling, writing, emailing their senators to highlight this bill - as just one of many - from an out of control legislation.
That said, we must remember This Bill is NOT NOT NOT dead. After an early count with Senate Democrats, there is still a thought that as it sits, it would/could still pass - the reason why there is a 'growing concern' as Wagle points out is because they are facing serious pressure from their constituents to not sign onto this bill.
But those who are on the side of justice are not the only ones calling their representatives. Phone calls into Senate members are full of near threats urging them to 'vote yes' or face loss of contributions, primary challenges, etc. As one Senate Aid told me today: "We are Damned if you Do, Damned if you Don't".
If you are in Kansas, now is the time to ramp up the pressure. Make your voice heard. If this bill is sunk in the Kansas Senate, Kansas House members will have to explain another outrageous vote that failed, and Senate members will have to explain to their far right constituents why they wouldn't sign on.
NOW is the time to make your voice heard, to help get people registered to vote, to plan for the fall.
This is a horrific piece of legislation that brings up all the fear and hatred that some of the Republican base has. And when confronted with the truth of what some members of their party represent, many moderate Republicans are waking up and realizing they cannot be part of this - House Members told me openly that in many more urban districts, their constituents have voiced direct displeasure.
I say: CRANK IT UP.
Let them feel the pressure of those who send them into office. Let this piece of legislation be their Waterloo. Damned if they do, Damned if they don't. They made this bed. Let them feel what it's like to have continuous pressure by hopping into it.
If you need help finding your representative, click here: http://openkansas.org/
To anyone who knows anyone in Kansas, PLEASE spread this message. There are senators who will be there late tonight and all of tomorrow. A call, a message, an email help drive this home.
7:38 PM PT: These are the members on the committee who are handling this legislation:
Sen. Jeff King Phone: 785-296-7361 Email:Jeff.King@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Greg Smith Phone: 785-296-7367 Email:Greg.Smith@senate.ks.gov
Ranking Minority Member
Sen. David Haley Phone: 785-296-7376 Email:David.Haley@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Terry Bruce Phone: 785-296-2497 Email:Terry.Bruce@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Forrest Knox Phone: 785-296-7678 Email:Forrest.Knox@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Garrett Love Phone: 785-296-7359 Email:Garrett.Love@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Julia Lynn Phone: 785-296-7382 Email:Julia.Lynn@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Carolyn McGinn Phone: 785-296-7377 Email:Carolyn.McGinn@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Mike Petersen Phone: 785-296-7355 Email:Mike.Petersen@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Pat Pettey Phone: 785-296-7375 Email:Pat.Pettey@senate.ks.gov
Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook Phone: 785-296-7362 Email:Mary.PilcherCook@senate.ks.gov