Views From Kansas: How about some decorum?
Recent reports of distasteful behavior among politicians serving in the Kansas Senate are not overly surprising. This is an election year, though not among those serving four-year Senate terms. Tensions are beginning to flare as the legislative session drags on and a deadline nears for fixing K-12 school finance.
References to the demented experiments conducted at concentration camps by infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele have been introduced by one senator, Steve Fitzgerald of Leavenworth, to describe research of aborted fetuses. Apparently, the senator did not have a better approach for his adopted proposal to ban state-sponsored medical research on the tissue of aborted fetuses.
Fitzgerald happens to be campaigning as a Republican for the open congressional seat in the 2nd District. His commentary enabled him to gain a bit more name recognition, though he conceded his reference to the Holocaust was “perhaps inflammatory rather than helpful.”
Voters can decide if Fitzgerald’s approach on the issue, and others, is appropriate. Nonetheless, decorum in the Kansas Senate is desirable, if not expected. Elected officials, after all, are designated by voters to comprehend issues and do so with a clear head in order to process the broad range of proposals considered by lawmakers.
Disagreement will always exist. Indeed, the inability to compromise has become a more persistent problem at all levels of government. Working through such conflict, however, requires that elected officials maintain poise and composure. Attempts to speak over each other, speak out of turn and speak with hurtful personal attacks undermine the legislative process.
Get it together, senators. The upcoming election, which includes six senators running for Congress or statewide offices, can wait. Now is the time for the Legislature to do its work, which includes a substantive measure on school finance that is constitutionally acceptable.
— Originally published in the Topeka Capital-Journal