Good public policy doesn't happen in a vacuum; indeed, it takes many voices to find solutions that will serve the needs of the citizens of Kansas and that is why at all levels of government, we have many different people engaged in public policy decisions (see side bar below). Each one of these layers of government address different problems and have different limitations of their jurisdiction (more on this later).
There is pretty strong consensus about what public policy should "do" for us as citizens. First, public policy should solve a problem, effectively and efficiently. It's not prudent to spend limited resources (time, money, political capital, etc.) on crafting a policy for which no problem exists. Second, public policy shouldn't produce undesirable or unjust outcomes (for the few or the many). Often times, the unintended consequences of a policy aren't truly understood until the policy is enacted. But, our intent should always be to craft policy in a way that teases out these threats before the policy is put into law or goes into effect. Third, public policy should support democratic institutions and processes. This isn't to say that institutions and processes shouldn't be updated or changed, only that our intent should be to strengthen our democracy with our policies, not weaken or dismantle it. And finally, public policy should encourage active and empathic citizenship. In other words, our policies shouldn't make it harder than it needs to be for people to understand the governing systems and rules that shape their participation in shaping those systems and rules.
All of this is simply an attempt to frame how we can understand the policies put forth by our elected leaders. If we have a ready framework, we can systematically and easily decide whether or not a policy being promoted is actually "good" public policy.
Policy decisions are driven by a lot of things, not the least of which are our own beliefs and self-interests. Consequently, underlying all public policy are belief structures that have been created by human beings. One way to understand these structures is to examine the political platforms of our two major political parties. If you haven't reviewed these platforms, it's time you did. They speak volumes about what is important to those who choose to put a "D" or an "R" behind their names.
Kansas Democratic Party Platform
Kansas Republican Party Platform
This is my last newsletter as your State Representative and it has been an honor to serve you in District 28! I have learned so much about our state and our community by being your public servant; I can’t thank you enough for the honor.
If you haven't heard the news yet, Senator Barbara Bollier has taken the step to switch parties and will now caucus with the Democratic Party. Senator Bollier has been a good friend and mentor to me for the past two years and I applaud her courage. I have wrestled with doing the same thing for some time and tomorrow I plan to go to the election office and change my party affiliation, too. I just can't stomach trying to "fit in" any more to a party that grieves me so each and every day. And, it wouldn’t matter one bit how many times I voted with them (90%) or how much I have donated to other Republican candidates (plenty), I still would not be welcome in the party.
I’ve spent the last several weeks finishing up my fall school visits, speaking at cub scout pack meetings, attending local events and taking care of constituent calls (yes, I’m still doing my job as your representative). But, I also managed to take some time off for a long-overdue vacation (the only up-side to losing an election).
Nothing has given me more pleasure over the past two years than to walk into one of our schools for a visit. The energy is palpable, the wonder and excitement are infectious, and the people are truly inspiring. Lakewood Middle School, the home of students from 40 nations, exudes all these characteristics and more. So, spending one more afternoon with Principal Heinauer and Assistant Principal Graber was just delightful. In addition to showing off their new security system, we watched students making films about solving math problems, and listened to a Socratic discussion about the book, “Where the Red Fern Grows.” An amazing student-led discussion!
The school year is well underway and there’s no better time to talk about some of what’s going on in our school district. I’ve spent the past month attending several events that highlight many of the amazing things that are happening in the Blue Valley School District to support our kids.
Probably the biggest and most important initiative that the Blue Valley School District has rolled out in the past year is the one having to do with mental health and well-being. When the Blue Valley School Board and district leaders decided to turn their attention to “educating the whole child” by focusing on social and emotional learning (in addition to academics) they acknowledged that today’s student is living in a very different environment. This environment is more complex than ever before and while academics still need to be at the fore-front of a student’s learning, students cannot reach their full potential without specific social and emotional skills: Self-awareness, self-management, decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness (i.e. empathy of others). As a communication scholar myself, I am thrilled with the direction the district has taken! These core communication competencies are at the root of our daily success, whether it’s at work or play or home.
The dust has begun to settle on last week’s primary election since Governor Jeff Colyer has finally conceded the race to Kris Kobach. It only took a week to get the results figured out and, in the end, the man who gave us one big cluster of an election process and disenfranchised as many people as possible (Mr. Kobach) is now the GOP nominee for Governor. As the Kansas City Star Editorial Board pointed out, “for all Kansans who value their vote, the week-long process has been helpful. It exposed the confusing, conflicting, contradictory standards officials use to tally their choices.” This mess is Mr. Kobach’s mess. Despite this and other differences in their campaign platforms, Governor Colyer says he will “support the Republican nominee.” This is truly “what’s the matter with Kansas,” folks! This is our future – that is, unless WE get vocal and get busy.
So many of you joined me at the watch party on Tuesday night and know the outcome of my race. Many of you have probably heard on the news. It was not a pretty night for moderates across the state of Kansas.
After all the canvasing (over 8,000 doors), Facebook ads, videos, and memes, dozens and dozens of volunteers, and over 200 LOCAL donors, we were not successful in our efforts to keep Kansas on the right path going forward. The barrage of deceitful mailers and outside money proved too strong for a primary where only 30% of registered voters showed up to vote.
Despite my loss on Tuesday night, my life has been enriched tremendously by serving all of YOU and we could not have fought any harder.
I want to thank so many people.
First, thank you to my husband who has supported my efforts all along the way. From the moment I decided to run in 2015, he has been my biggest champion. I’m incredibly lucky to have him as my partner all these many years. We will spend more time together now, doing what we love to do.
I’d also like to thank my parents, sisters, our daughters and son-in-law for understanding the limitations on my time and attention these past two years. My grandkids saw less of me over the past two years and while it was a price I was willing to pay; my loss last night is their gain. I will be with all of them much more often now and happier for it.
Twenty-two moderate Republicans from District 28 stepped up and put their names on the ballot as Precinct Committee Candidates and I cannot thank them enough for putting themselves out there. Precinct committee people are the only party officials elected directly by the voters. All other party officials are elected by the precinct people. Consequently, the precinct people are critical to the overall health of the party. By Kansas statute, precinct people have only one responsibility. That is, should a state representative or senator leave office prior to the end of his or her term, the precinct people with that house or senate district will elect a replacement to complete the unexpired term of the person who left office. That’s a big deal.
These last few days of the campaign have been brutal, especially with all the misleading postcards put out by the big money special interest groups supporting my opponent, making a last-ditch effort to win my seat!!
These outside interest groups don’t live here, work here or raise their families here. They don’t care about our community, they care about padding their pockets and gaining political power.
Don’t be fooled! They will do everything they can to mislead you and trick you into voting for a candidate who will take us right back to the Brownback days.
Joy has blogged extensively about her experience and activities in the legislature and beyond.