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Bill to be heard restricting union activities in political campaigns

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A bill that would prevent unions from using funds collected by payroll deduction in political activities will be considered today.

The Kansas National Education Association calls House Bill 2023 "the first official salvo in a possible war on teachers."

A hearing on the measure is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. before the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee. The hearing will be held in room 346-South in the Statehouse.

The KNEA says that the bill would prevent the association from spending money on elections for school bonds, school board, the Legislature, governor or to urge association members to vote for pro-public education candidates.

Here is a link to the bill http://bit.ly/VrwFLV

Comments

Brad Greenwood 1 year, 10 months ago

So this bill will essentially end the teachers right to lobby for the educational interests of our children. Hmmm... So, where are the bills that restrict corporations and the Chamber of Commerce from lobbying for their own personal special interests?
Yeah... I didn't think so.

KSManimal 1 year, 10 months ago

No, no, no.....this is about PROTECTING teachers from the evil union that will take their money from them and spend it against their own interests. Just like the "stockholder protection act", that forbids publically-owned corporations from spending money on political activities without the consent of each and every stockholder. Wait,,,,,what? Oh, nevermind.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

It just says they can't use payroll deductions for campaign lobbying. That should reduce union dues and help out Americans that are working to feed families and really aren't interested in politics.

Katara 1 year, 10 months ago

You already can get a refund of monies spent for political activities.

werekoala 1 year, 10 months ago

Translation: I don't care about the facts, or human rights, as long as my side wins.

Katara 1 year, 10 months ago

You get a refund if you are in a state that union dues are mandatory. In the case of KS (a right to work state), monies spent on political activities are voluntarily deducted from teachers' paychecks. This means that those who don't wish to contribute to the political activities don't have to.

This is entirely consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling in Communications Workers of America v. Beck.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

As long as the political portion is opt-in and kept private, it's their money they can throw it in the street or support a democrat and that will be fine.

Having to ask for a refund or opt out of a deduction for politically earmarked money should be illegal.

The SCOTUS has the last word, but they do sometimes change their minds.

"werekoala"

You aren't going to submit a bill for your translation service are you? I can tell you right now, I'm not going to pay you.

jafs 1 year, 10 months ago

Then you'd oppose this bill, since that's the situation in KS, and they're trying to make it illegal for unions here to use that money in that way, right?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 10 months ago

Where are the bills that protect the children, their parents, and the taxpayer from the educational system itself and the teachers unions?

Orwell 1 year, 10 months ago

They're filed next to the bills that protect you from being attacked by leprechauns, unicorns and yetis.

KSManimal 1 year, 10 months ago

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

There is a little detail that will, eventually, trump HB 2023 - and the sponsors of the bill know it. (Sponsors who have, btw, chosen NOT to sign their names to it, but instead credit it to the committee..... gee, I wonder why?).

However, they don't care that it will be shot down as unconstitutional; just so long as it muzzles the opposition long enough for them to rid the KS constitution of that pesky public education stuff.

question4u 1 year, 10 months ago

President Eisenhower, who famously stated that "only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions," is rolling in his grave, wishing that he had chosen a different state for his library and eternal resting place.

On the other hand, he knew from firsthand experience during WWII that reactionaries may triumph for a time but that their own extremism brings about their demise. Maybe he'll just wait things out until the return of the Kansas that he once knew and respected.

Hardhawk1 1 year, 10 months ago

I'm confused. It appears that this bill prohibits a payroll deduction for contributions to the KNEA PAC, not dues to the organization itself. The member can still send in a check or set up an auto debit from the member's personal checking account. How does that stifle the member's ability to be political? Seems to me that all this regulates is how the money is sent to the KNEA PAC, not stopping it from being sent. Even if it did apply to KNEA dues, once again, all it seems to do is stop wage withholding to do that. The member can still mail a check or set up the auto debit. How does that stifle KNEA membership? Seems really like a convenience issue only rather than a "war on teachers". If I am missing something, I am all ears.

KSManimal 1 year, 10 months ago

The current law prohibits using dues dollars for direct contributions to or campaigning for any candidate.

HB 2023 expands the definition of "political activity" (= can't use dues dollars for) to include such nebulous things as "promoting ideology....". Because the staff of KNEA (or any union) are paid with dues dollars....and their newsletters, email, internet, etc., etc.,..are financed with dues dollars.... HB 2023 basically muzzles any and all communication with members, legislators, candidates, and the public which might be construed as "promoting ideology."

For example, the KNEA president could not write a commentary - not even to members only - that spoke of equitable funding for schools, curriculum content, achievement standards, grade retention, state assessments, worker's rights, class size issues,....or you name it.

Locally, the Lawrence Education Association president (being paid, in part, with dues dollars) would be prohibited from stating a position on the upcoming bond issue.

There is really NOTHING that a public sector union could speak to that couldn't be construed as "promoting ideology." Included in that would be taking any position regarding a proposed constitutional amendment about school finance.

Keep in mind this isn't just about teachers. The law muzzles ALL public-sector unions; including police, fire, & medical folks.

William Weissbeck 1 year, 10 months ago

Two points - ever try to collect the beer money from your bowling team? There is always the hold out. But if you contract with the bowling alley that the team member can't be served until he pays, the bowling alley has to obligation to enforce that. Same with an employer - the MAJORITY of the unions members have contracted to authorize the employer to withhold dues FROM ALL MEMBERS from their payroll. Given the modern automation of payroll procedures, this is no greater burden to an employer. By law they must withhold for child support, for wage garnishments, for wage assignments on consumer finance contracts, for health insurance and for many other voluntary and involuntary deductions.

Hardhawk1 1 year, 10 months ago

Thanks for the clarification wwww. I am not sure I agree with the first response to my post, as all the members of these unions could still voluntarily pay into the PAC that can legally be political. Guess I need to read the bill again!

KSManimal 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes, the PAC can still be political. However..... to quote the bill:

"It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to ........spend any of its income,... to engage in political activities as defined in paragraph (2). (2) For the purposes of this section, "political activities" means any activity ..... or causes of.... ideological nature........promoting the endorsement, nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for public office of the state or of a county, municipality or school district, or the passage or defeat of any public question."

Now, what...legally....does "ideological nature" mean? Keep in mind that the employee organization staff are paid from dues dollars. This bill severly limits what those folks can say and do.

Could KNEA staff or leadership speak up for adequate and equitable school funding? Sounds ideological to me. What about class size? Again, ideological. How about the teaching of science in science class? Or sex ed? What could they say that WOULDN'T be of an "ideological nature"?

Currently, the PAC $ is for the purpose of direct support of candidates for office; and still could be under this bill. But if NONE of the organization's income can be used in any of the above ways.....who will do the PAC work?

Or, if the KNEA president wanted to write an editorial about school finance or the impending referendum on the KS constitution re - school finance - tough luck. This bill would make that illegal, since the president is paid from dues dollars.

There is simply no rational explanation for this bill. It is a transparent effort to silence the opposition to the anti-school agenda.

Hardhawk1 1 year, 10 months ago

Wow, after reading the KCCI comment on this bill, I better understand it. Incredible how brazen some folks are getting!

tomatogrower 1 year, 10 months ago

Because the payroll deduction is so much simpler, some members might decide to drop it, especially if they are still with a bank that won't let them deduct like that. Most school districts have never had any problems with these payroll deductions. It doesn't cost anyone anything, because they set up a whole bunch of deductions, like health insurance, flex saving plans, etc. Of course, getting rid of insurance and flex savings plans is probably next on the agenda for the conservatives.

cowboy 1 year, 10 months ago

A continuation of the Brownback purge of all dissent or contrary opinion.

headdoctor 1 year, 10 months ago

Another grand waist of time. Making a law when there is already a law against such things. Same old Republican crap just a different day.

William Weissbeck 1 year, 10 months ago

The same move was done in Indiana. The GOP has come to realize that the main, only, primary funding source for Democratic Party candidates at the state level was the teachers' union. Eliminate that source and the state Democratic Party has no campaign funds. It's not like we want only independently wealthy or those financed only by business interests.

bd 1 year, 10 months ago

Not all teachers are democrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

chootspa 1 year, 10 months ago

Not all teachers are members of the union. Not all the union-endorsed candidates are democrats. What's your point?

tomatogrower 1 year, 10 months ago

Not all teachers who are members of the KNEA pay into the PAC either. They can opt out of it.

John Sickels 1 year, 10 months ago

So where is the bill to restrict corporate money and lobbying?

Can we pass a bill to shut Dave Trabert up?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

This is truly not the business of Gov Brownback. What happened to freedom of speech Gov Brownback? Instead of freedom of speech we get big government intervention.

There is a gathering at the ECM building on Campus to address the furthering of unlimited corporate funds in elections. This meeting begins at 6:30 PM January 28th.

Move To Amend the Constitution https://movetoamend.org

Speakers are scheduled.

I prefer to have all corporate donations banned from political elections because of massive corruption which disables congress from making the best decisions for the USA.

It also increases my cost of living across the board.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

It's a major step toward busting the unions and reducing wages.

Reducing wages across the board for a ton people is the agenda. Republicans are against anybody making good wages because lower wages increase profits.

The other agenda item behind this move is privatization of your public school system.

Vouchers were promoted in the 1990s as a way to help poor black children escape failing schools. But that rhetoric has disappeared in Milwaukee. Voucher supporters have expanded vouchers to middle-income families and have made clear they want to make vouchers available to all, including millionaires. Vouchers for poor children was just a first step.

For more than twenty years, I have listened to the voucher movement’s seductive rhetoric of “choice” and “parent power.” If I didn’t know better, I might proclaim, “Sign me up today!” Milwaukee, however, has more than two decades of reality-based vouchers. The lesson from this heartland city?

Vouchers are a vehicle to funnel tax dollars into private schools. Using the false promise of “choice,” they are an unabashed abandonment of public education and of our hopes for a vibrant democracy.

Barbara Miner has been a reporter, writer, and editor for almost forty years, writing for publications ranging from the New York Times to the Milwaukee Journal. The former managing editor of Rethinking Schools, she has co-edited numerous books on education, including Selling out Our Schools: Vouchers, Markets, and the Future of Public Education. Her book Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City will be published New Press in January 2013.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/13-0

Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

In recent months, ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in drafting specific bills.

That attack workers’ rights.

That roll back environmental regulations.

That sponsors privatization of public education funded with our tax dollars.

That deregulate major industries.

Encourages passing voter ID laws.

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/secretive_corporate_legislative_group_alec_holds

onemansopinion 1 year, 10 months ago

Does this have anything to do with the Governor's stated top priority of creating more jobs (which, by the way, I believe he is behind on, since he needs a LOT more job creation to offset the giveaway to his backers)?

SnakeFist 1 year, 10 months ago

As I understand it, the bill would prevent unions from using dues collected via payroll deduction for political activities. It doesn't prevent unions from collecting money from members in other ways and spending that money on political activities.

The easiest solution is to move away from payroll deductions which are facilitated by the public employer, and move toward automatic electronic payment, thereby eliminating the public employer (and therefore the state's ability to interfere) from the equation.

If Kansas were not a right-to-work state (i.e., if employees were forced to join unions), I could understand this law, but I don't see the point given that membership is, in fact, voluntary.

Larry Sturm 1 year, 10 months ago

Get the corporations out of politics too if it is good for the goose it is good for the gander.

Mike Ford 1 year, 10 months ago

nothing like clowns who proclaim freedom as a platform trying to take it away for others. not hypocritical at all.

Hoots 1 year, 10 months ago

If teachers want to be part of the legal protection plan they have to pay up. I was a member of a different group for many years and had to pay my dues to get certain perks. Finally I just said screw it because I didn't like what they did with my money in terms of agenda. These groups never allow you to opt out of paying for lobbying efforts you may find offensive. Not everything the NEA does is good. I wish we could get rid of all this purchased influence, A bribe is a bribe no matter what you call it. What a corrupt system.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 10 months ago

Very well put. When lobbyists want something, they write the proposed legislation for the paid off elected official. That official then takes it to the floor, calls in some favors, adds a bunch of pork, and the lobbyists get what they want. All of them do this whether it is a non profit or huge mega corporation. The longer a politician is there the worse they get. Look at the salary, who in their right mind would want to work for that.

Until this influnce is done away with, it will only get worse.

Katara 1 year, 10 months ago

If the "group" you are referring to is a union, you are entitled to a refund of monies spent on political activities if union dues are mandatory. If you are in a right to work state, you are not paying them unless you requested to do so.

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