Sunday, February 8, 2009

Current Branch Legislative & Policy Projects

The following is a short list of the current legislative and policy projects for the Wichita Branch...

Senator Oletha Faust-Goodeau has introduced SB24 which would prohibit insurance companies within the state of Kansas from using customers credit scores in determining or assessing premiums. Senator Goudeau has argued that insurance premiums should be based on the level of risk consumers pose to the insurance company, such as the risk shown by a poor driving record; but not on whether the insured has had financial troubles in the past. The Wichita Branch NAACP fully supports and will offer testimony in support of this Legislation.

Members of the Wichita Branch Political Affairs and Regulatory Review committees have worked to craft language that would address kinship care in CINC cases. During that process, they met with representatives from several State Child Welfare agencies to ensure that the proposed language would be both cost effective and impactful. With the guidance and assistance of Representatives Jason Watkins and Melody McCray-Miller, our proposed language has now worked through the Office of the Reviser of Statutes and should be introduced as a House bill this week. The language would require that whenever a child is removed from the home, active efforts be undertaken to identify and contact all adult relatives and any other adults identified by the parents, and to provide them with:
  1. notice of the child’s removal from parental custody;
  2. an explanation of their options for participating in the care and placement of the child;
  3. requirements that must be met to be a licensed foster family home and additional services and support for children placed in licensed homes; and,
  4. all necessary information for achieving interested party status.
Our local School Board voted to end our Busing for Deseg program last year. In all of our discussions, we have always held that the only way to truly move beyond race in student assignments would be to erase the old school boundary lines which were drawn in a deliberate race-conscious manner, and to draw new boundary lines based upon student locations and building capacities. We will not entertain the notion of 'separate but equal' facilities, and we are clear in our conviction that there is simply no moral argument for salvaging or maintaining the old "negro district". To their credit, USD259 is now assembling a committee that will address the boundary line issue. We plan to work with the district and with this committee to help achieve a positive outcome.

The Kansas State Conference of NAACP Branches has asked that a mural be commissioned within the State Capitol Building that would depict the landmark Brown vs Topeka Board of Education decision. The Wichita Branch will lobby in support of the State Conferences request and we will also ask that the design be revised to include a depiction of the seminal Dockum Drug Store lunch counter sit-in of 1958.

The Kansas Racial Profiling Task Force has developed language that would amend the Kansas Statutes  prohibiting the practice of Racial Profiling. The proposed language would change and dramatically improve the state's definition of Racial Profiling. Currently the state defines Racial Profiling as "the practice of a law enforcement officer or agency relying, as the sole factor, on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or religious dress in selecting which individuals to subject to routine investigatory activities, or in deciding upon the scope and substance of law enforcement activity following the initial routine investigatory activity."
The definition would now change to "unlawfully selecting or subjecting an individual to routine investigatory activities or in deciding upon the scope and substance of law enforcement activity based upon the individual’s race, ethnicity or gender  when, 1) the law enforcement officer does not have a reason to believe the person has committed a violation of traffic laws or ordinances, 2) the law enforcement officer does not have trustworthy information leading a reasonable law enforcement officer to believe the person stopped is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime as provided in KSA 22-2402, 3) the law enforcement officer does not have trustworthy information leading a reasonable law enforcement officer to believe probable cause exists to arrest the person as provided in KSA 22-2401, or 4) the law enforcement officer or agency is not seeking to apprehend a suspect whose race, ethnicity, gender, or religious dress is part of the description of a suspect.  “Racial Profiling” does not include a contact by a law enforcement officer of a person when the contact is only for the purpose of asking the person if they have information regarding the investigation of a complaint, crime or suspicious activity, checking a person’s welfare or as part of community outreach or community policing."  The Wichita Branch will offer testimony in support of this amendment. 

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