A Weekly Rundown of Important Activity in Topeka, from a Principled Perspective
"The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence
than an armed man."
- Thomas Jefferson,  Commonplace Book  (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776
The Facts of the Matter will be a feature in The Truth Report each week, highlighting important information, some of which is not always reported or emphasized in the mainstream press:
  • Schmidt Wants Review of Unauthorized School Finance Spending. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has called for a review to find out whether millions of dollars in unauthorized school spending in Kansas was an isolated departure from the law or a more widespread problem. (Source)

  • Kansas Economy Expanding Relative to Our Neighbors. In a state-by-state glance at the Midwest economy, the Institute for Supply Management released its state by state results for January with an index ranging between 0 and 100. Growth neutral is 50, and a figure greater than 50 indicates an expanding economy over the next three to six months. For Kansas, the overall index was at 59.6 for Kansas last month. All other states in the region were lower. Details can be found here.

  • Economy to grow at 5.4% rate in first quarter, Atlanta Fed tracker shows. GDP is expected to surge 5.4 percent to start 2018, the central bank branch estimated in its latest rolling look at how the economy is progressing. (Source)
News & Views is a weekly collection of relevant news items and editorials regarding what's going on in Topeka and around the State of Kansas.
Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning: KSDE ignores legislative approval

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning wrote an editorial regarding the LPA Audit which found that KSDE implemented a change to the K-12 transportation formula without legislative authorization. Here is a key excerpt:

During Friday’s meeting, KSDE completely ignored the audit’s damning findings. Not only did the board not discuss corrective action needed by the audit findings, it plans to openly continue spending the unauthorized money even though it has been informed by LPA it is not legal.

Several board of education members, including board chairman Jim Porter, of Fredonia, and Ken Willard, of Hutchinson, have said the burden of responsibility for examining school funding distribution “lies with the Legislature.” In other words, they are saying the Legislature should have self-identified if the amounts are correct or not, even though these dollar amounts are presented directly to the Legislature by the Kansas Department of Education.

However, LPA auditors only recently uncovered the unauthorized $45 million payments, which were intentionally embedded in the spreadsheet KSDE uses to calculate transportation state aid. Senate Leadership and the A.G.’s office recommended KSDE perform a forensic audit on the entire formula to verify that nothing like the LPA’s findings are occurring elsewhere in the formula.
Rep. Kristey Williams Two Part Column on School Finance

Part 1:  Click Here to Read
Part 2:   Click Here to Read

Rep. Kristey Williams wrote a two-part column for The Butler County Times-Gazette examining school finance issues, including the Gannon case currently being debated in the Kansas Legislature. Here are a couple key excerpts:

From Part 1:
The Gannon v. State of Kansas is the name of the court case that school districts use to sue you, the Kansas taxpayer, the past 9 years. 

The Kansas Constitution (Article 6, Section 6) states that the Legislature shall ‘make suitable provision for finance of educational interests of the State.’ The Constitutional wording ‘suitable provision’ in question was first added to our Constitution in 1966. 

Now we get to the gritty details, and vocabulary lesson, that only a lawyer could love (and profit from). Here is the key word in question: SUITABLE. The word ‘suitable’ has been defined by the Supreme Court to mean both ‘equitable and adequate.’ The definition and measurement for reaching what is ‘equitable and adequate’ has changed for the past decade. In essence, the Legislature has been given an impossible task in which the goalpost of ‘equitable and adequacy’ continually move with each ruling.

53 years since the word ‘suitable’ was added to our State Constitution, we find ourselves in litigation brought on by self-serving lawyers who have taken more than $6 million from Kansas taxpayers to line their own pockets.

From Part 2:  
Let’s go back to the four schools that were part of the original lawsuit. These schools are NOT currently using their maximum taxing authority. If these four districts needed more funds for teacher raises or classroom enhancements, the money is already available today – without any more lawsuit wins or increased State funding. These four schools would need only to increase their local property tax rates to the statutory maximum levels and be subject to a 30-day protest petition.

These districts are suing YOU instead. In essence, by not maximizing their local funding authority, their actions indicate they would prefer for YOU, everyone else in the State, to pay MORE for their schools rather than ask their local voters/patrons. 
Transparency Center: Follow the Kansas Legislature
Both the House and Senate have taken historic steps towards the promotion of open government. For the first time, you can view video streaming of both chambers via the Kansas Legislature YouTube page. In addition, many committees are now audio streamed. Finally, the Kansas Legislature website remains a great resource. Here are the relevant links:

YouTube Streaming:

On Wednesday, January 31 st at 3:00 p.m., Kansans gathered at the State Capitol Rotunda to witness the inauguration of Dr. Jeff Colyer as the 47 th Governor of Kansas. He followed with a speech outlining his general direction, and will follow up with an address to a joint session of the legislature next week. 

On Friday, Colyer made an announcement regarding his cabinet and administration, including a new Budget Director and Commerce Secretary.  You can read more about the changes by clicking here.
On Thursday, February 1, the Kansas House debated HB 2042, an important bill to increase firearms reciprocity with other states. Among the provisions, it would require the State of Kansas to recognize all valid concealed carry licenses and permits issued by other states to non-Kansas residents; it would specify that such recognition of licenses would entitle the license holder to carry only concealed handguns, and license holders would be required to act in accordance with Kansas laws while in the state, and would state the recognition of out-of-state concealed carry licenses would not be construed as a prohibition on the permit-less, concealed, or open carrying of loaded or unloaded firearms in the state.
During the debate, several amendments were offered. Key among them were:

  • An important amendment was offered by Rep. Landwehr to extend conceal carry protection to all legal adults 18 and over. Rep. Landwehr noted that those in that age range currently serve our nation in the military and should not be restricted from obtaining a concealed carry permit. The Landwehr amendment passed on a vote of 82-42. The Kansas Truth Caucus was united in support of this amendment, which was adopted.

  • Rep. Barbara Ballard pushed for an amendment to essentially repeal campus carry in its entirety.  The Kansas Truth Caucus was united against this attempt to weaken 2nd Amendment rights. Thankfully, this amendment was soundly defeated.

  • Rep. Clay Aurand carried an amendment that prohibits individuals from carrying a firearm on campus without first obtaining a concealed carry permit. The overwhelming majority of Truth Caucus members voted against this amendment. Unfortunately, this amendment made it onto the bill.
The Kansas State Rifle Association explains the nature of the issue by clicking here .
This morning, HB 2042 passed the House 76-44 on Final Action. In the Final Action vote, there were 2nd Amendment supporters on both sides of the vote. 
Some voted No, feeling the Aurand amendment made it impossible to support the final bill.
Many 2nd Amendment supporters voted Yes to move the positive aspects of the bill forward with the preeminent goal of removing the Aurand amendment. These representatives issued this statement to explain their vote:
"We vote yes on H.B. 2042. It is a critical bill for fixing the reciprocity issue and the amendment to finally allow 18-year-old adults to defend themselves is of upmost importance. Therefore, even with the conflicting amendment that was added, we stand in favor of the bill to move it along in the process and ensure the reciprocity issue is fixed this year before anyone is negatively impacted. We will work diligently with our Senate colleagues to remove the amendment and improve the legislation before its final passage."

As noted, now this bill will move to the Senate, where it will likely be referred to the Federal & State Affairs Committee. We will keep you apprised of its progress, including changes to the bill. The Kansas Truth Caucus remains committed to upholding the right to bear arms and not rolling back 2 nd Amendment protections already granted under Kansas law.
Pro-dependency advocates miss the mark in attacking Kansas welfare reform

Jonathan Ingram is vice president of research at the Foundation for Government Accountability, wrote a detailed column in The Hill regarding welfare reform in Kansas, defending Kansas welfare reform. 

As he says in the piece, “ The Kansas results show a clear trend: higher earnings and less dependency after leaving welfare. In fact, higher earnings more than offset lost welfare benefits, leaving these families financially better off.
Last year, the Kansas Legislature, with help of a veto by Governor Brownback, prevented an expansion of ObamaCare into Kansas. There is some talk about a renewed attempt to expand Medicaid in Kansas. Here are a couple items of note relative to that debate:


This piece from FGA addresses the topic, outlining several findings about how efforts to extend ObamaCare’s reach thorugh Medicaid expansion is bankrupting taxpayers throughout the country. Among the most pointed statistics:

  • States that expanded ObamaCare have signed up more than twice as many able-bodied adults as promised.
  • ObamaCare expansion per-person costs have exceeded original estimates by 76 percent.

Has Medicaid Made the Opioid Epidemic Worse?
The states leading the pack in overdoses all expanded the program.

Congressional Committee Report: 
( Click Here to Read - Opens Up a PDF)

From the Executive Summary from the Congressional Committee Report:
The dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths throughout America has appropriately been labeled a national health care crisis. In 2016, the nearly 64,000 drug overdose deaths outnumbered every other cause of accidental fatalities.1 As a result, Americans have been paying much attention to what caused this epidemic and what can be done to end it. Less attention is paid to the possibility that federal programs—namely, Medicaid—have contributed to the epidemic.
Every week, the Truth Report will have a “Wallet Watch”, where we examine efforts to remove money from the wallets of hard-working Kansans.  
This week’s Wallet Watch starts with a more positive tone! Thanks to the federal tax cuts enacted late last year, most Americans are receiving a boost in pay this week . While those on the left deridingly refer to returning taxpayer money as “crumbs,” Americans seem happy with the returns – and this is on top of more companies adding jobs and helping workers as a result of the tax cuts.

Here in Kansas, the impact of the tax cuts has unfortunately been offset by last year’s retroactive tax increase on Kansas families and businesses. As a result, members of the Kansas Truth Caucus will be working to maximize the impact of the federal tax cuts here in Kansas.