Kansas Mental
Health Coalition

Kansas Mental Health Coalition

An Organization Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Kansans with Mental Illness

________________________________________________________________________

The Kansas Mental Health Coalition is comprised primarily of statewide organizations representing consumers of mental health services, families of consumers, community service providers and dedicated individuals as well as community mental health centers, hospitals, nurses, physicians, psychologists and social workers.

We all share a common goal: improving the lives of Kansans with mental illness.

 

Testimony to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee

SCR 1622

March 9, 2010

 

The Kansas Mental Health Coalition is an Organization Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Kansans with Mental Illnesses and Severe Emotional Disorders.  KMHC is a coalition of consumer and family advocacy groups, provider associations, direct services providers, pharmaceutical companies and others, all of whom share this common mission.  Within the format of monthly roundtable meetings, participants forge a consensus agenda which provides the basis for legislative advocacy efforts each year.  This design enables many groups otherwise unable to participate in the policy making process to have a voice in public policy matters that directly affect the lives of their constituencies.  The result of this consensus building is greater success for our common goals.  Our current membership includes over 40 organizations which get together once a month to discuss issues of common concern and develop consensus.

The Kansas Mental Health Coalition supports amending the Kansas Constitution to remove language discriminating against Kansans with mental illness.

 

Article V of the Kansas Constitution dealing with “suffrage” contains section 2 under the heading “disqualification to vote:” which currently reads as follows:

The legislature may, by law, exclude persons from voting because of mental illness or commitment to a jail or penal institution. No person convicted of a felony under the laws of any state or of the United States, unless pardoned or restored to his civil rights, shall be qualified to vote.

 

Although the Kansas Legislature has not exercised this authority – the option is discriminatory and unacceptable.  An examination of the statutes indicates there is only statute related to this provision – which allows courts to remove a person from the voter registration list.  No amendments to the statutes would be necessary.

 

Up until 1974, the Kansas Constitution prevented “persons under guardianship,” those who are “not competent,” or those who were “insane” from either voting or holding elected office.  In 1974 the Constitution was amended.  It was amended to change the total prohibition from voting to a provision where the Legislature “may” take away the right to vote.  It was further amended to remove references to persons under guardianship and those “not competent.” 

 

Kansans with mental illness were left on the list of persons for whom the Legislature can deny the right to vote.  

Voting is the most fundamental of all rights.  The Kansas Legislature should not have the power to take away the right to vote based on disability.  It is wrong to target a class of people in the Constitution, like people with mental illness, and to give the legislature permission to discriminate. 

 

For More Information, Contact:                                               Kansas Mental Health Coalition

                                                                                              c/o Amy A. Campbell, Lobbyist

                                                                                                                P.O. Box 4103, Topeka, KS 66604

                                                                          785-969-1617;  fx: 785-271-8143; campbell525@sbcglobal.net

                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                             c/o Roy W. Menninger, MD, President

                                                                                            85 SW Pepper Tree Lane, Topeka, KS 66611-2072

                                                                                  785-266-6100, fx: 785-266-9004, roymenn@sbcglobal.net


(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4103, Topeka, KS  66604-0103         785-969-1617

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software