Pandemic policy defined the 2021 legislative session and it does likewise on the 2021 Kansas Freedom Index. While we maintained our desire to not score the same policy issue multiple times, so many of the votes taken this year reflect the policy reaction to the pandemic itself. From the final version of reforms to the Kansas Emergency Management Act (SB 40) and to pandemic business compensation (SB 273) to the multiple education proposals (too numerous to list) the pandemic was ever-present in the mind of legislators.
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The 2021 Kansas Freedom Index highlights many of the votes from the 2021 legislative session and how those votes bear on educational and economic freedom. This guide is a one-stop-shop for the impact that legislative votes have on your ability to run your business, live your life, and raise your family as you see fit. It is the product of nonpartisan analysis, study, and research and is not intended to directly or indirectly endorse or oppose any candidate for public office.
A 50% score on the Freedom Index represents someone as “neutral” on freedom. A 100% score, achieved for the first-time last year but not in 2021, would represent complete support of freedom. A score below 50% would indicate that a legislator voted against freedom more often than not.
The overall range in 2021 went from 97% to 20%. Republicans scored between 97% and 43% whereas Democrats ranged from 47% to 20%. This reaffirms what we’ve learned in past sessions – political affiliation has little to do with actual voting record. What is said on the chamber floor, in a campaign leaflet, or on the stump may not be how someone votes when their option is YEA, NAY, or PRESENT.
The KFI seeks to illuminate that very policy impact. The horserace is often the focus of political news coverage but too little focus is on actual policy outcomes. Rhetorical flourishes abound in politics but what do these bills really mean for families living and working in Kansas?
What’s more, we aim to shine a light on what is going on close to home. DC politics dominate our understanding of “news.” This is an unfortunate reality that despite the democratization of information, we’ve seen DC swamp local news coverage. The KFI, plus The Sentinel, and other KPI publications, aim to rectify this trend. Traditional media newsrooms are under new pressures but we cannot allow coverage of state and local issues to lessen. It is very likely that the votes taken in Topeka will have more direct impact on the lives of Kansans than nearly anything that emanates from the White House or Congress.
It is our sincere hope that the Kansas Freedom Index provides the opportunity for discussion and analysis on the policy issues facing our state. It is not intended to help or hurt the electoral prospects of any candidate but is the result of non-partisan analysis for consideration by an informed public.