Kansas black leaders agree on legislative, election agenda at statewide conference

Nov 21, 2015 – 5:12pm

Peter Hancock

Topeka ? Almost 75 black colored community leaders from throughout Kansas collected at a historic black church in Topeka on Saturday to consider their first-ever statewide legislative agenda, calling for expanding Medicaid, repealing restrictive voting rules, reforming criminal sentencing, and placing more limitations on payday lenders, among other measures.

Members of the Kansas Ebony Leadership Council — who originated in Kansas City, Wichita, Salina, Junction City and many other communities in Kansas — said their objective is always to influence legislation into the session that is upcoming of Kansas Legislature. Nevertheless they additionally stated they intend to forward carry the agenda to the 2016 elections.

“I see it being a motivator to have individuals out to vote,” said Bonita Gooch, KBLC president and publisher for the Community Voice, A african-american magazine in Wichita. They effect you, you’re more prone to vote.“If you recognize just what the problems are, and how”

People of the Kansas Black Leadership Council vote in Topeka to consider their first statewide legislative agenda calling for expanding Medicaid, repealing restrictive voting regulations, unlawful justice reform and a number of other measures.

Saturday’s meeting represented the time that is first delegates have actually come together to look at a unified, statewide governmental agenda for an upcoming legislative session together with elections to adhere to.

In addition arrived in the heels of increasing political activism among black colored pupils at Kansas University along with other university campuses, plus the nationwide “Black life Matter” movement, an answer in towns and cities for the country towards the fatalities of unarmed black colored residents as a result of cops.

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“I genuinely believe that things are brewing, in addition they just are not addressed,” said Melody McCray-Miller, a previous legislator whom has become a vice chairwoman regarding the Kansas Democratic Party. “I genuinely believe that using the Black Lives thing motion, it’s empowered, especially more youthful African-Americans, more youthful individuals period. As it’s not merely a thing that is black. I am talking about, it is over the continuum of races.”

The meeting happened during the historic St. John AME Church near downtown Topeka, that was integrated 1864 and has now for ages been a center of governmental and social activity within Topeka’s community that is black.

“It is an extraordinary, historic time,” stated Pamela Myrtis Mason, the newly set up pastor associated with church. “As one of many presenters that are last, dealing with the real history for the African Methodist Episcopal Church, things began of this type during the church. Therefore we’re thankful to be around in order to host (the big event).”

The issues agreed upon included although the final wording of the platform was still being worked out after Saturday’s meeting

Expansion associated with Kansas Medicaid system, or KanCare, since allowed underneath the federal low-cost Care Act, to protect more low-income, working grownups.

Restrictions on pay day loan businesses, including restricting interest levels to 35 per cent per year, mirroring both federal and state legislation because it pertains to people in the military.

Raising the state’s minimum wage up to $15 one hour on the next years that are few.

Repealing new voting laws and regulations that need voters to exhibit evidence of U.S. citizenship so that you can register and all sorts of voters to show photo ID during the polls.

Repealing the death penalty in Kansas.

Expanding the usage human body cameras among police along with other police force officials.

developing development that is economic to spur company development and task creation in low-income, inner-city communities.

And justice that is criminal, including reduced sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and eliminating the necessity to publish bail for many unlawful defendants.

KBLC leaders said the agenda reflects conditions that are very important towards the black colored community in Kansas. Nonetheless they acknowledged the dilemmas will also be crucial that you many white Kansans. As well as in a state that is conservative Kansas, they conceded, they have to create coalitions with Republicans so that you can pass some of them.

Nonetheless they additionally noted that help has already been building among Republicans for some for the dilemmas in the agenda.

The Kansas Federation of College Republicans, for instance, recently adopted a resolution repeal that is supporting of death penalty. And Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, told the team which he thinks in cases where a bill to enhance Medicaid were put on the ground for the Kansas House for an up-or-down vote, it can pass with 65 to 70 votes when you look at the 125-member chamber.

Significantly missing from the convention, however, was just about anyone, white or black, underneath the chronilogical age of 40. KBLC leaders acknowledged that mobilizing young voters happens to be a challenge throughout the governmental range in modern times. Nevertheless they want to push their agenda out to young voters, through social networking as well as other platforms.

“They’re there. They’re simply not right right here,” McCray-Miller stated.

“It’s all about making the difficulties strongly related them,” Gooch stated. “And whenever we can link the difficulties in their mind, and why it is essential, i do believe we could pull them down. And that is likely to be a challenge, but we don’t think it is going to be that big of the challenge, predicated on this agenda.”