A Wichita Republican has introduced legislation that would allow local governments to issue their own restrictions and regulations of abortion — even though state constitution guarantees a right to abortion and bars most restrictions on the procedure.
Sen. Chase Blasi, a first year senator who was Senate President Ty Masterson’s chief of staff until last year, introduced the bill in the Senate Federal and State affairs committee Thursday.
The bill is one of the first abortion bills filed since Kansans overwhelmingly voted in August to retain a state-level right to an abortion in the state’s constitution.
A 2019 ruling in the Hodes case from the Kansas Supreme Court says that a woman’s right to an abortion can only be restricted in extremely rare circumstances under the highest judicial bar of strict scrutiny.
Blasi’s bill does not change that but it does seek to repeal an existing state law that bars local governments from regulating abortion. Blasi said he had not discussed possible restrictions with local officials in Wichita, and acknowledged that any restrictions would likely face a legal challenge.
“I’m hearing a lot from my constituents who believe we should continue to do more to help the unborn,” Blasi said. “Ultimately the question becomes what is allowed under the Hodes decision.”
“The Supreme Court should give more clarity because it’s so vague. It’s hard to understand exactly what is allowed or not allowed under Hodes. So absolutely, if local governments in conversations with constituents decide to adopt new policies and if they go through the court system the courts will have to decide.”
Sen. Cindy Holscher, an Overland Park Democrat, said legislation like Blasi’s ignores voters’ message in August to leave abortion rights alone.
“As many of us suspected, this issue will keep coming back and keep coming back,” Holscher said. “General citizens feel like, okay, that issue’s been settled.”
Blasi said he was also working on legislation aimed at expanding adoption options in Kansas.
While Blasi said he had not discussed his proposal with leadership, Republican and anti-abortion leaders in Kansas have discussed an interest in providing additional funding for anti-abortion pregnancy centers as well as seeking clarity from the Kansas Supreme Court on what abortion restrictions are and are not permissible.
Litigation over local policies would provide an avenue for that without dragging the state back into court.
In a statement Anamare Rebori-Simmons, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, called the bill a blatant disregard of the will of the people.
“Abortion rights won in a landslide, including in the home county of the bill’s sponsor. Politicians serve as the voice of the people in the legislature, and Republican lawmakers should know better than to silence those they represent,” Rebori-Simmons said.
Friday, January 20, 2023
House Republicans from swing districts are flatly rejecting the White House’s position that there be no negotiations with Congress over raising the national debt ceiling, insisting that they won’t bend to the Democrats’ take-it-or-leave-it approach to avoid the first-ever debt default with no conditions attached.
The Republicans, many of whom hail from districts that President Joe Biden won or narrowly lost and are seen as the most likely to break ranks with their party’s leadership, said they are not willing to back a “clean” debt ceiling increase, insisting there must be some fiscal agreement first. That view is in line with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who is calling for negotiations with the White House before a possible default occurs later this year.
But the White House and Senate Democratic leaders, wary of the ferocious fiscal fights with the House GOP that dogged then-President Barack Obama, see little upside in giving in to any of the GOP demands to impose spending cuts on domestic programs, believing instead that McCarthy and Republicans will cave facing the prospect of a looming default and with no viable legislative alternative.
The White House is badly miscalculating, Republicans say.
“I don’t think that a clean debt ceiling is in order, and I certainly don’t think that a default is in order,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a moderate whose Pennsylvania district Biden carried, told CNN, indicating he planned to engage in bipartisan talks next week over a compromise proposal when lawmakers return to Washington.
The early back-and-forth underscores how Washington is heading into a period of deep uncertainty with global ramifications – with a newly empowered House GOP majority eager to use its leverage in the debt limit fight to enact priorities that otherwise would be ignored by the Democrats running the Senate and the White House. Some congressional sources in both parties believe that McCarthy may ultimately be jammed by the Senate and forced to vote on a bipartisan compromise crafted in that chamber, though that scenario would take weeks if not months to play out.
o work around McCarthy, Democrats would need to win over some potential GOP swing votes to sign on to a “discharge petition,” which could force a House floor vote if six Republicans signed on to the effort with the 212 Democrats currently in the chamber.
Republicans insist there’s little chance of that tactic succeeding at the moment – especially if it’s to force a vote on a clean debt ceiling increase with no other conditions or concessions.
“I’m not in favor of Biden’s no-negotiating strategy, and I’m not inclined to help,” said Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican whose Nebraska district Biden carried, indicating Republicans campaigned against government spending and inflation. “The GOP can’t demand the moon, and Biden can’t refuse to negotiate. There needs to be give-and-take on both sides.”
Bacon said there needs to be “good faith” talks with the White House and some “commitment for fiscal restraint” before he would even consider signing onto a discharge petition.
The problem is there is no Republican "good faith" effort. It's trillions in cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, schools, roads, bridges, food stamps, health care, you name it, House Republicans are going to get rid of it.
The second Biden gives in to these terrorists, America will collapse. Luckily, the White House and Democrats have a couple months to go around and say "Look, these guys are going to crash the economy, cost us millions, maybe tens of million of jobs, wipe out benefit programs that you've earned and paid for, and for what?"
We'll see where we go on this, but we're at the point where both parties believe they have already won the argument, and that's just not true.
The Supreme Court on Thursday announced that it has been unable to identify the person who leaked an unpublished draft of an opinion indicating the court was poised to roll back abortion rights.
In an unsigned statement, the court said that all leads had been followed up and forensic analysis performed, but "the team has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence."
But the attached report suggested the court was not watertight, with some employees admitting they had talked to spouses about the draft opinion and how the justices had voted.
Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley, who is in charge of the investigation, said that 97 court employees were interviewed and all denied being the leaker. She said it was unlikely the court's information technology systems were compromised.
The report indicated that the justices were not scrutinized as part of the investigation.
"No one confessed to publicly disclosing the document and none of the available forensic and other evidence provided a basis for identifying any individual as the source of the document," Curley wrote.