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Archive for Sunday, February 16, 2014

Editorial: Legislative focus

Some of the issues drawing attention in the Kansas Legislature would be better left alone.

February 16, 2014

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Having passed two-year budgets last year for most state-funded entities, Kansas legislators now seem to have some extra time on their hands — time to pursue questionable legislative action on a number of issues.

A lot of the news coming out of Topeka in recent weeks seems to involve legislation that either changes things that don’t need to be changed or reaches into areas legislators would be better of leaving alone.

Notable in the unneeded changes category was the bill, discussed in this space last week, that would eliminate “incompatibility” as a grounds for divorce and replace it with a list of specific offenses, including abuse of a spouse or child, a criminal conviction for adultery or a felony conviction. The law not only would force many couples into a finger-pointing situation but creates legal obstacles that could make it difficult for people to dissolve an abusive marriage without their spouse’s cooperation.

In some cases, legislators are seeking to head off actions that haven’t even occurred yet. That is the case with the bill presented as a “religious freedom” measure, but which critics see as paving the way for legal discrimination against same-sex couples. Advocates of the bill — which, among other things, would allow businesses to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings — say it is needed as a preemptive action in case the state’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage is overturned. The bill has passed the House but may be stymied in the Senate.

Legislators also are considering questionable preemptive legislation that would make it illegal for federal wildlife officials to enforce endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken in the state. The chicken hasn’t even been classified as endangered, but just in case...

A Kansas House committee — based on objections that seem more political than scientific — also is taking time to work on a resolution that urges Congress to resist any plan President Obama poses for addressing man-made climate change. Did Congress ask for the state’s opinion?

Apparently not content to work in their own governmental sphere, legislators also are getting into the business of other governmental entities. They are looking at measures that would nullify the public school standards set by the Kansas State Board of Education and considering requiring local units of government to compile reports on how many tax dollars they spend on lobbying efforts. Legislators also are reaching into the judicial branch by trying to set time limits for courts’ consideration of cases.

It’s notable, that many of these measures include fiscal notes on how much the state might be required to spend to defend the state against expected legal challenges to the new laws.

To be sure, legislators are handling some important issues: a new budget for the Department of Corrections was approved by the House last week, and funding for a new education building at the Kansas University School of Medicine drew some needed committee support. Legislators would better serve the state by focusing on those kinds of issues rather than on issues more designed to stir up controversy and legal battles.

Comments

Ken Lassman 2 months ago

You know, as I read this editorial description of our legislature, some psychological disorders come to mind--so with due apologies up front for real folks and their circles of support that really have to deal with mental illness issues, here's what comes to mind about our state legislative behavior. I'm just trying to narrow down the key descriptors and diagnosis and could use some help:

Delusions of grandeur? Perhaps, especially considering that several of these issues seem to be a response to auditory hallucinations, i.e. to voices nobody else can hear.

Inferiority complex? Maybe....especially since paranoid schizophrenics have been noted to build delusions as a response to their underlying feelings of inferiority, so that would fit nicely with the delusions of grandeur descriptor.

But does that really qualify for a paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis? That seems a bit over the top, at least at this point, even though you could make a case for " Difficulties in working and long-term memory, attention, and executive functioning."

Borderline personality disorder? Seems closer to me as they may display only brief outward displays of psychotic behavior but in general "engage in idealization and devaluation of others, alternating between high positive regard and great disappointment," according to Marsha Linehan in her journal article: "Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder."

What do you think? Is that it or is there a more precise set of descriptors and diagnoses that describes the collective personality of the state legislature this year?

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Sylvie Rueff 2 months ago

Apparently, the current legislature has a problem understanding how to wisely legislate as a body. The system and the structure of the legislature is designed to: think, research, question, ponder, discuss, craft, read, refine, reread, debate, re-craft, restudy, redefine, refine, read again, debate again, and, maybe - vote, to create laws. The current legislature seems to adopt bills proposed by half-wits who have no standing in Kansas, and, willy-nilly go off half-cocked to vote them through. Time to elect people who are able and who want to do the real work to evolve an essential, effective, modern system of statutes necessary for a successful future in Kansas. (If only we could impeach legislators for their failure to even read.)

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Richard Heckler 2 months ago

The state of Kansas can begin by eliminating the ALEC party from our state legislature this November. 33 years of ALEC subverting the GOP has proved to be nothing but a financial disaster for states and the nation. The New World Order Global Economy isn't working in Kansas with 20 million less USA jobs as a poor result.

What’s The Matter With Kansas Schools http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/opinion/whats-the-matter-with-kansas-schools.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=3

ALEC Right Wing Party is posing as the republican party which is fraudulent representation of the GOP. Rather than serve the public interest, ALEC champions the agenda of corporations which are willing to pay for access to legislators and the opportunity to write their very own legislation behind closed secret doors.

ALEC helps surrogates and lobbyists for corporations to draft and promote bills which:

• gut environmental laws

• create a regressive tax system

• eliminate workers’ rights = lower wages

• undermine universal and affordable health care

• privatize public education

• chip away at voting rights.

http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures#Voter

United States of ALEC http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/10/242334/john-birch-society-celebrates-koch/

ALEC has placed Kansas in the negative spotlight throughout the nation. Believe it!

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Larry Sturm 2 months ago

We have the biggest bunch of bigot's in the Kansas government that we have ever had. BROWNBACK AND THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS BAD FOR KANSAS.

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Paul R Getto 2 months ago

Legislators would better serve the state by focusing on those kinds of issues rather than on issues more designed to stir up controversy and legal battles.

True Dat, but what will they do for fun? Tossing red meat to their dwindling fan base is how they keep the pot stirred. Sadly, it is an expensive and foolish stew they are brewing.

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