Archive for Monday, March 20, 2006

Immigrant tuition, judges, guns move to front burner

March 20, 2006


— Forget health care, the economy and school finance.

Those issues may take a back seat to immigration, judges and guns during this year's election season.

In recent weeks, the Kansas Legislature has defeated two measures aimed at ending a tuition break for immigrants and reining in the Kansas Supreme Court.

Supporters of those failed measures forecast voter retribution.

Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, who is running for governor, said of the fallen Supreme Court measure, "I predict there will be a backlash on those elected representatives who stand on the sidelines and allow this court to usurp their authority."

Barnett voted for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required Senate confirmation of state Supreme Court justices, who are currently nominated by a special commission, appointed by the governor and face retention elections every six years.

There were 22 votes in the Senate for the proposal and 17 against, but that fell five votes short of the two-thirds, or 27-vote, majority required to advance constitutional amendments.

Earlier, the House defeated a proposal to repeal a 2004 law that grants undocumented students the lower resident tuition rates at public universities.

Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, the House sponsor of the repeal, predicted the issue would become a campaign issue.

"I got my record votes, and the postcards will go out," she said.

Defending votes

Those opposed to the measures said they expected their votes to be used against them, but that if given the opportunity to explain their positions, most people agreed with them.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, voted against the proposed constitutional amendment requiring Senate confirmation of Supreme Court justices.

He said the proposal would have inserted politics into the process of selecting justices. "It could easily degenerate into the kind of partisan fight we see in the United States Senate," Morris said.

House Democratic Leader Dennis McKinney, of Greensburg, voted against the repeal of the tuition break for immigrants.

"There will be some efforts to focus on hot-button issues," McKinney said.

But, he said, the announcement by several religious groups in favor of the immigrant tuition break will help voters understand the issue better.

"There is a difference between immigration policy and how we treat our neighbors who happen to be immigrants," he said.

The law allows some undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition if they attended a Kansas high school for at least three years and graduated or earned a General Educational Development certificate in Kansas.

Last fall, 221 students enrolled under the law, most of them at community colleges, according to the Kansas Board of Regents.

Supporters of the tuition break say it is key to allowing children of undocumented immigrants get a degree. A full-time undergraduate from Kansas pays $2,412 per semester at Kansas University for in-state tuition, compared with $6,638 for out-of-state residents.

Gun veto?

On the issue of guns, the Legislature has placed on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' desk a bill that would allow Kansans to carry concealed guns.

Sebelius vetoed similar legislation in 2004 and is expected to do so again. So the question is whether the measure will have the necessary support to override a veto, which would take a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate.

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty said the so-called hot-button issues could be a factor in the Republican Party primary in August.

"In a Republican primary, you can make an issue out of the Kansas Supreme Court," Beatty said, because the voters in that primary are driven more by specific issues.

In the general election, candidates must appeal to a wider group of voters or they will be defeated, he said.

A good example of that, Beatty said, was the 2004 campaign of Kris Kobach to represent the third congressional district, which includes East Lawrence.

Kobach won the GOP primary by vowing to crack down on illegal immigration and fight abortion and gay rights.

But in the general election, he fell to U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Democrat, by approximately 10 percentage points.


Todd 12 years ago

Well, it's about time issues I care about got attention. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. I'm pro concealed carry and pro in-state tuition to children who graduate KS high schools even if their parents are criminals or democrats/republicans ;)

Todd 12 years ago

Where do you draw the line? Grandchildren of illegals? Great-grandchildren? Drop the labels and address behaviors. These young adults didn't choose to come to Kansas as kids, their parents did. Now they just want to goto college.

If you don't want to give them in-state tuition then fine but deporting them isn't right. And it's not what is best for the state nor will it ever actually happen. I for one don't want state money used to deport decent people. That money/time/effort could be better used doing things that will actually improve the quality of life in KS.

Jamesaust 12 years ago

Wow. You've got to admire right-wing talk radio.

After years of demonizing unnaturalized aliens and foreignors in general, international trade, judges, lawyers, doctors, teachers, scientists, Hollywood, gays, and talking up rebellion, sedition, tax protests, jury nullification, succession, government by "special" grand jury, and even outright terrorism some folks in Hicksville, Kansas, have fallen into a state of perpetual outrage. Imagine!

One certain test for whether elected officials are doing their job is how interesting the 'issues of the day' are. Governing - done properly - is a very dull business. Its all about sewer systems, tax revenue structures, and whether convicted murderers get 15 or 16 years in prison. When it becomes 'flashy' - especially in the months before election day - you can be certain that elected officials don't want the public to review carefully how competently their representatives address matters that actually matter.

dozer 12 years ago

Marion - why punish the child for the actions of the parent. Do you think the child had the choice to come to Kansas? They are trying to better themselves with an education, and hopefully make them productive members of Kansas' society.

fletch 12 years ago

The provision that all the opponents of immmigrant tuition seem to always leave out is that the child has to already be in the process of fully immigrating into the US (something that is extremely difficult if you're under 18).

These kids were dragged into the country by their parents when they were young. They had no choice in the matter. No that they're turning 18, they are taking the mature way out of the situtation by applying for citizenship and attending college. I'd rather they be doing that than picking lettuce for 50 years. I'm not ready to blame the children from the sins of the parents.

So let's just call this what it is: conservatives going after minorities. Once again they've found a group of people who look and talk differently from them who can't stand up for themselves. They're an easy target, and i hope somebody calls them out on it during the election.

us_army_infantry_soldier 12 years ago

lol this is a debate thats gone on for years... Pro concealed weapon. Against Illegal Aliens. However... as much as I hate people coming into the US against the law I do not think that the children are to suffer. It is our job as US citizens to protect our borders and fight for more harsh penalties for illegal aliens.

gop4life 12 years ago

It's about time! I'm tired of the rich, whiny schools always demanding more money for less results. I'm sick of government thinking it can do a better job with health care than my doctor and I can. And the best thing the government can do for the economy is to get their noses out of it, specifically by lowering taxes and putting government agencies on a diet.

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

The Kansas legislature is nothing if not predictable. Theirs is the legislation of retribution and redress. Instead of dealing with the real issues that face this state, the Kansas legislature heads off in exactly the opposite direction to appease the christian right, to fix things that are not broken, and to redress their own right-wing grievances with the nature of government itself.

This is sloppy liberal governance at its worst.

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

Careful there, gop4life. How many degrees of separation are you and your job away from a government gravy train?

Putting a government agency "on a diet" might just put you on a diet.

fletch 12 years ago

parkay: they have to be in the process of immigrating. They'll be American citizens, equal to you and I, and have a college degree, which quite frankly is a much better situation for everybody involved.

As for the fun concept of deporting all illegal aliens, that's just laughable. First off, let's think of logistics. There are an estiamted 8-11 million illegal aliens in America right now (that number comes from John McCain's research staff). That's rougly the size of the population of Ohio. How exactly are we going to go about rounding up that many people, transporting them across the border, and making sure they stay there? Our National Gaurd is a bit preoccupied in Iraq. Police forces across the US are already strained and desperate for recruits. Where eactly is the manpower for this forced removal? And what happens to Mexico when we give them back 11 million people. After their economy crashes, how exactly are they going to pay back their loans to us?

So let's see. First we're going to have to increase federal spending to pay for the round-up posse, identify all the aliens, lock 'em up, feed them, and transport them. Then we've got to spend more trying to prevent them from coming back across the border, because 11 million people at the border can get a bit crowded. Then we've got to strain the budget even farther because of Mexico's loans defaulting. Hmmm. Doesn't look good for the small-government, wise-budgeting Republican platform.

Now if we were to ignore all of those problems, let's see how this affects everybody else. Well a large section of those illegal aliens were working as farm laborers for below minimum wage. So farms are going to have to hire new hands at minimum wage, which is going to cost mroe for the same amount of manhours. That cost gets passed on to us, so I hope you enjoy your grocery bill going up. Luckily, we all know that farming is a lucrative business with financial stability. Oh wait, no it's not. Say goodbye to all those small farms barely holding on. So now we've got more people unemployed. But luckily all those immigrants left their jobs, so all those farmers can fill other wonderful jobs like being janitors and food servcie employees at KFC. Certainly a better living than plowing the fields.

America needs illegal immigrants. We always have. We always will. The entire basis of American business is that there is a poor underclass to do grunt work nobody else will touch. First it was slaves. Then it was the Irish. Then it was the Chinese. Now it's the Hispanics. Welcome to the Melting Pot called America. It's not lilly white, and it hasn't been in 200 years.

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago


You said " First off, let's think of logistics. There are an estiamted 8-11 million illegal aliens in America right now (that number comes from John McCain's research staff). That's rougly the size of the population of Ohio. How exactly are we going to go about rounding up that many people, transporting them across the border, and making sure they stay there?"

Easy. First, we will label all illegal immigrants with an "I" that they must wear on their garment. Next, we will load them onto trains heading south. Along the way we will build camps where they can be held and concentrated...

Oh, wait. Crap!

KsTwister 12 years ago

The first line of this article creates the serious question most Americans need to ask.What IS your government leaders really doing with their time? "Forget health care, the economy and school finance." There are enough days in a year to devote time to all the issues----if you can get the leaders in the chair----and have them make an informed decision and vote. I would rather be Swiss,they make aliens live and work ten years for citizenship. I see people arriving here at age 60 and drawing Social Security at 65 without ever holding a job.Put that blame on our leaders,any idiot could think out a better plan than what we deal with. Children born in the USA (regardless)deserve first chances. Seeing as they will be the ones supporting illegals they should have that right.

fletch 12 years ago

Pilgrim: "That bleeding heart has cut off the oxygen supply to your brain. What part of the word "illegal" do you not understand?"

I understand it perfectly. Speeding is illegal, too. Yet we do it. So is jaywalking on Mass St. I'm not aruing about whether they are illegal immigrants or not. I'm asking what the solution is. My point being that if they're in the process off becoming a legal citizen and want to get a colege education, then it's a better solution that most others.

The only counter solution I ever hear is "deport them all." Okay, I've laid out the numerous problems associated with that. So let's hear what the magical deportation solution is. I'm a moderate against government waste, so I don't want to spend billions of dollars rounding them up, driving them south, and having them show up again in a week. I'd rather that money go to schools or small business loans or somethine else that's usseful. I dunno, maybe I'm crazy.

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