Posts tagged with Kansas Legislature
Conservatives are in the driver’s seat in the Kansas Legislature; professors ask where they will take the state
Topeka — A group of political science professors on Thursday said conservative Republicans led by Gov. Sam Brownback are in the driver's seat in Kansas and now the question is where will they take the state.
"The governor is going to be able to push through his legislative agenda in a very meaningful way," said Joe Aistrup of Kansas State University. "We are going to see a very strong pendulum swing to the right," Aistrup told about 75 people who gathered for a post-election discussion at Washburn University.
Conservative Republicans knocked off eight moderate Republican incumbents in the state Senate in August and will be in charge of that chamber when the legislative session starts in January. In the 125-member House, Republicans, most of them conservatives, hold a 92-33 edge over Democrats. More than 50 members of the House will be new legislators.
Aistrup said conservatives have made moderate Republicans in Kansas "almost extinct." Moderates, he said, are retired, beaten or converted, and he said that the Democratic Party probably won't be viable in Kansas for decades.
Michael Smith, of Emporia State University, said now that conservatives have taken over state government and hold all six congressional positions, they must show what their small government philosophy will look like.
Smith said to make significant budget cuts on the federal and state level will require cuts to health care and education and it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to that.
Ed Flentje, of Wichita State University, said the number of state governments in control of the Republican party has grown from nine in 2008 to 24 in 2012. In fact, he said only 11 states have divided party control.
"At the state level, red states got redder and blue states got bluer," Flentje said.
Burdett Loomis, of Kansas University, said Kansas has become a more conservative state while the United States "is trending blue." He said Republican governors face a dilemma. "They've got to deal with the federal government. They can choose to cooperate, work with it, or not cooperate and play it on a pure political basis," which could hurt the states, he said.
Loomis said one of the bills that he expects will pass next year in the Kansas Legislature and be signed into law by Brownback would allow a religious defense to discriminate against gays.
"That kind of legislation will slide through the Legislature," he said. Last session, the House approved the bill, but Senate leaders, who have since been defeated in the GOP primary, wouldn't consider the bill. Several Lawrence officials fought against the measure, saying it would have nullified a city of Lawrence anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation.
Bob Beatty and Mark Peterson, both of Washburn University, and Gwen Mellinger of Baker University also spoke at the event.
Group says a number of Kansas Republicans support legislation authorizing the arrest of federal officials who implement Obamacare
Twenty Republicans who are either already serving in the Kansas Legislature, or will be sworn into office in January, say they would support legislation to "nullify" the Affordable Care Act and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement it, according to a survey compiled by a group called Campaign for Liberty.
The question from Campaign for Liberty, which was founded by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was "Will you support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?"
I started calling some of those who answered `Yes' to that question, and the first one I reached was state Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby.
Howell said he is an ardent opponent of the federal Affordable Care Act and would do everything legislatively possible to prevent its implementation but he said he disagreed with the part of the question that dealt with authorizing state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials to implement the law.
"That is not worded well," Howell said. He said during the course of the campaign, he did not remember responding to that particular survey.
State Rep.-elect Allan Rothlisberg, R-Junction City, also said he was vehemently opposed to the ACA, but the part of the question dealing with arresting federal officials was not something he would support. "Not arrest them but we are just not going to assist them," he said.
After all that, little change in the Kansas Legislature; Obama takes Douglas County; Schlingensiepen does well in Lawrence, Topeka; and Obamacare decision awaits Brownback
Some of the faces in the Kansas Legislature will change, but after all the campaigning, outside money, and unprecedented redistricting, last night's election kept Republican-Democratic margins the same as before: the House at 92-33 Republican and the Senate 32-8 Republican.
It's possible those numbers could change slightly after recounts.
Several longtime House members were defeated including Democrats Eber Phelps from Hays, Bill Feuerborn from Garnett, Geraldine Flaharty from Wichita, and Republicans Mike Burgess from Topeka and Brenda Landwehr from Wichita.
State Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, lost in his attempt to gain a Senate seat, and two Wyandotte County senators fell, Democrat Kelly Kultala and Republican Chris Steineger.
And while the Republican/Democratic numbers hold steady, conservative Republicans own a majority of the GOP caucus in the Senate after a slew of moderate Republicans were swept out in the August primary.
In the presidential race, Kansas went solidly for Republican Mitt Romney with only Douglas and Wyandotte counties giving majorities to President Barack Obama.
In the 2nd Congressional District race, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, won a third term against Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen 57 percent to 39 percent. But if the district comprised only its two largest counties — Shawnee and Douglas — Schlingensiepen would have won.
Schlingensiepen outpaced Jenkins in Douglas County 56 percent to 40 percent, and Shawnee County, 49 percent to 47 percent.
But the counties surrounding Douglas County went bigtime for Jenkins, as did the counties in southeast Kansas.
Now that the election is over, a major question for Gov. Sam Brownback is how Kansas will respond to a Nov. 16 deadline under the Affordable Care Act to decide whether the state will partner in running a health insurance exchange or leave it to the feds. Asked this morning, the governor's office said they would get an answer on that soon.
UPDATE: Governor's office didn't provide a statement by end of day, but Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who has wanted the state to do its own exchange, issued this comment: “We will be reaching out to the governor to discuss choices about an exchange—whether it could go forward as a state/federal partnership or whether it could be a federal exchange. We look forward to having that discussion soon, since the deadline for the decision is set for Nov. 16.”