• In Kansas Statehouse rally, 'people's agenda' demands sweeping government reform

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  • A coalition of social activists filled the Capitol rotunda Tuesday to deliver a "people's agenda" with demands for economic justice, affordable health care, voting rights and other issues.
    Cries of "whose house? Our house" echoed through the Statehouse as Val Baul, a "humanitarian clown" from Overland Park, presided over the 90-minute exhibition, which featured nearly two dozen speakers and a surprise appearance from the governor.
    “We believe the Kansas government must be ethical, accountable and transparent," Baul said. "Political bribery, secret dark money and lobbyist contributions must end. There can no longer be a revolving door between elected public office and corporate special interests.”
    She led the crowd in chants of “escucha, escucha, estamos en la lucha,” which means “listen, listen, we are in the fight."
    Organizers of the third annual rally say they want to engage all Kansans in their quest for progress and equity. The platform seeks responsible gun policy, equitable public education, criminal justice reform, environmental stewardship, religious freedom, gender equality and LGBT rights.
    Lori Lawrence, a Wichita resident who blamed wastewater injection for earthquakes that damaged her home, called on the Legislature to exercise oversight of the Kansas Corporation Commission.
    The governor-appointed regulators who sit on the KCC, she said, all have connections to industry they are supposed to regulate.
    “Our Legislature can force them to do what’s best for the citizens, the people who live in our state, not the people who are trying to drill and charge us for power and run the trucks on our roads," Lawrence said.
    Hannah Allison, a teachers union organizer from Lawrence, called on people to stand up to "the boss," a metaphor she used to describe "the capitalist class," big business CEOs, insurance companies, social conservatives and white vigilantes.
    "The people united will never be defeated," she said.
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