Opinion: Does legislation reflect Kansas?

February 19, 2014


After the past few weeks of legislative activity I find myself absolutely confused and appalled by what has been going on in Topeka. So much so that I am almost at the point of wondering whether we are witnessing the utter breakdown of our representative form of government. I cannot help but ask whether some of the bills introduced and the statements made by some legislators are actually what their constituents want.

Has our state become so intolerant that we now want to allow overt discrimination against people who are different from us? Have we actually reached a point when we believe bizarre Internet stories of children’s minds being drained by nefarious machines operated by school officials? Have we become so intolerant and hardened to human suffering that we no longer consider those who are different from us to be human beings?

I love Kansas. I came here 20 years ago because I believed in what Kansas stood for. Kansas is the state that valued tolerance and hated slavery so much that it endured attack after attack from pro-slavery forces coming across the border from Missouri. The “border wars” were not about basketball; they were about human dignity and an abhorrence of treating human beings as being less than human.

I embraced the Kansas populist tradition, the tradition that held that big business would not be permitted to manipulate and oppress ordinary citizens in the name of profits. I loved the independent tradition of Kansans, men like William Allen White, Alf Landon, and Dwight Eisenhower. I am not a liberal. I am a libertarian. I believe that government should not interfere in people’s lives beyond the minimum necessary for good government. That does not mean that I believe that government should condone and enforce bigotry and ignorance. But it seems that there are members of our Legislature who think that they have a mandate to support bigotry and impose their values on the whole population however immoral they may be.

The Legislature’s attempt to legalize bigotry against gay Kansans is both wrong and reprehensible. The Legislature’s efforts to force unhappy people to stay married is horribly wrong. Gays are human. Unhappy people make bad spouses and worse parents.

The Legislature’s efforts to continue to favor large corporations at the expense of the common people goes against everything that Kansas and Kansans have stood for since our state was founded. Where is compassion? Where is charity? Where is the Christian obligation to care for our brothers and sisters? How can the Legislature continue on the path it is on in the face of protests not only by ordinary citizens but by our clergy? The madness must stop. Those who hold high office must accept their responsibilities. If they do not, our state, its people and its future are in grave peril.

— Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the Kansas Unviersity School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


Mropus Wan 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I'm always tickled to death hearing Distinguished Law Professors and self-proclaimed Libertarians, a.k.a. Conservatives and Republicans, gasp in horror at the mess they created in voting for these people in our state government. It's truly both baffling and disgusting to see such cognitive dissonance on display.

I'd say you reap what you sow, but unfortunately we're all reaping what you sowed onto us all.

Thanks a gob, but please stop wiping your hands clean of this mess you helped create, Professor.


Munchma Quchi 1 month, 3 weeks ago

What makes you think that the current legislation doesn't reflect Kansas? The legislation is proposed by our elected officials, who, unless I missed something, were legitimately voted into office. Also, to the best of my knowledge, these same elected officials are doing EXACTLY what they said they would do once they got there. There were no lies, no misdirections, no deceptions... they said they were going to do these things, now they're doing them. Now, I'm relatively new to this state, but it seems to me that, given the circumstances, the hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia oozing out of the Kansas state legislature and govenor is the democratic expression of the will of the people of Kansas. If it isn't, why did they vote that way?


Larry Sturm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

No it does not our republican legislators take their orders direct from ALEC and the Koch brothers. BROWNBACK AND THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS ARE BAD FOR KANSAS.


Phillip Chappuie 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The people of this state have been hijacked and most of them don't even realize it. I like the above term "corporatocracy". I comes to us disguised as theocracy so it is swallowed easier. Moderate reason is what made our State a good place to live. I can only hope the glittering gold soon tarnishes and an electorate can wake up and fix this.


Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Imagine if the Koch brothers controlled congress and all state legislatures. USA would be exactly like Russia,China,Iraq and Nazi Germany. After all the Koch brothers are John Birchers.

The country will be controlled by ALEC legislation written up in secret meetings.

The Koch brothers have spent $8.2 million alone thus far on their conservative North Carolina Senate Race.


William Enick 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Stop wondering. It's been a corporatocracy nation wide for quite a while now. Profits before the needs of the people and the planet is the Law. Democracy has been financially captured and rendered obsolete under the direction of the 1% who now write most of the legislation (which of course is d-regulatory) .This is old news. Capitalism as a way of organizing society has been undermined. Another Great Depression will be most difficult to avoid, with many well known economists estimating one in the next four years (2018). The signal to look for? When QE hits 100 billion a month.


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