Topeka If it doesn’t have something to do with the economy or state finances, Gov.-elect Sam Brownback doesn’t want anything to do with it.
At least that was the impression the Republican gave during a 20-minute interview Tuesday with the Lawrence Journal-World.
In 2007, Brownback, a U.S. senator, ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for president on a record of outspoken opposition to gay marriage, abortion rights and stem cell research.
But asked about several issues that have been pushed hard in the past by his allies in the Legislature but that remain bottled up, Brownback brushed past the questions.
Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, has fought for years to repeal a law that allows some undocumented students in Kansas to pay the lower in-state tuition when attending higher education institutions.
Asked what he thought of that, Brownback said, “Not an area that I’m going to be pushing.”
Republican Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach has also called for repeal of that law.
Kinzer, who serves on Brownback’s transition team, has also sought to repeal the domestic partnership registry in Lawrence.
Asked about that proposal, Brownback said, “Not familiar with it.”
And when asked if he would sign into law a bill allowing concealed carry of guns on college campuses, which was approved in the House last year, Brownback stated: “I’m focused on growth. The first session, we need to grow the economy and get our budget balanced without a tax increase. That’s the primary focus.”
Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, said he’s not surprised by Brownback’s responses.
“What I think he is saying is, ‘if we get deep into those type of things, it clouds the air for these other initiatives that I want to propose,’” Beatty said.
Most political observers expect Brownback to receive from the Legislature and sign into law more restrictions on abortion, but Beatty said Brownback may also be signaling to legislators not to overreach.
But legislators are “free agents,” Beatty said and the question remains what would Brownback do when certain measures land on his desk.
“The indications so far is that he (Brownback) is serious about the economic and long-term issues of Kansas,” Beatty said. “The big question mark is his relationship with social conservatives in the Legislature.”