Religious Liberty on Campus and More

Last week there was vigorous debate on the House Floor with regard to religious liberties on college campuses. I voted in favor of the following bill, ensuring religious clubs are treated the same as other student associations. Read about this and other issues below.

Religious Liberty on Campus:

  • SB 175 maintains that religious clubs be treated the same as other student associations and reserves the right to the same benefits, such as access to facilities, campus communications, recognition and registration on campus, and any funding stream that is also available to other student associations.
  • The freedom to practice sincerely held religious beliefs is enshrined in the founding documents of our country, transcending ever changing cultural trends.
  • Clubs on college campuses have a long history of bringing together people of the same sincerely held religious belief. The right of those campus organizations to be treated as any other club needs to be protected from outside discriminatory forces that wish to impose new cultural ideas on religious organizations.
  • This bill is in response to colleges across the country that are forcing campus faith groups to accept members who do not believe in or adhere to the religious values of the organization.

This is a religious liberty bill that protects campus religious groups from discrimination. Clubs should be able to establish and maintain parameters for leadership and membership as directed by their sincerely held religious belief. Doing so should not compromise their recognition from universities, because that would be a violation of the constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion. This bill reinforces Kansas’s protection of the rights of religious groups to gather as their conscience and beliefs dictate.

Target shooting clubs

  • The House passed a bill (HB 2468) that will maintain the ability of BB gun clubs, such as those operated by 4-H chapters, to continue to use tax-payer funded school facilities to practice target shooting after school hours, similar to other clubs or sports teams.
  • Target shooting is a competition sport that should not be treated differently than football or basketball. It is safer than other sports because it is non-contact, and safety precautions are a part of every competition and practice.
  • The bill does not require local school boards to allow BB guns to be kept on campus or stored in lockers. That is a regulation left to the school board.
  • Target shooting clubs help teach gun safety and provide a safe after school activity for students who may not be interested in other sports.

Uniform Nutritional Regulations

  • HB 2595 declares that cities, counties and other political subdivisions cannot adopt their own nutritional labeling or regulations of food products on private businesses within their jurisdiction, such as when NYC Mayor Bloomberg imposed a ban on sugary drinks above a certain size.
  • The bill is intended to prevent intrastate disparities in the guidelines restaurants and other food services are required to meet.
  • The bill does not keep local entities from adopting regulations on their own food service facilities, or prevent them from offering healthy food education.

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • The House gave initial approval to monumental reform of the Kansas juvenile justice system, paving the way for a system focused on hope, rehabilitation, and community based services, rather than incarceration for underage offenders. (SB 367)
  • The bill moves toward rehabilitation that uses a home-based approach of community service and parental participation. Juvenile offenders who may not have family structure to support rehabilitation will be eligible to be classified as a child in need of care (CINC), rather than as an offender, which will help keep them out of juvenile correctional facilities and prevent exposure to negative influences there that may lead to further crime.
  • The goal of the reform is to focus on rehabilitation for youth instead of incarceration, which statistics show can prevent them from reoffending. Incarceration will remain an option for youth who present a danger to society. Rehabilitation instead of incarceration is shown by evidence to be more effective, less costly, and keep youth offenders closer to home.

As always, it’s an honor to serve. Please remember to pray for us as we certainly need wisdom from above in legislating law.

All my best,