Local Columns

Opinion: Empty building, empty government

It just stands there, all 13 floors, abandoned and alone. Once the hub of Kansas’ administrative activity, the Robert B. Docking State Office Building is empty and orphaned, its previously vibrant departments now slimmed down and parceled out to rented space and other cities. In the late ...

Opinion: Is the 3rd District in Kansas anymore?

What lessons does the success of Congresswoman Sharice Davids hold for the rest of Kansas? Davids became Kansas’ only Democrat in Congress after defeating incumbent Kevin Yoder by nearly 10 points in 2018. Democrats had taken notice after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton narrowly won ...

Opinion: Helping school redesign to succeed

Kansas Can, launched by the Kansas State Board of Education, is a visionary project to create more effective pre-K-12 learning. Begun in 2017 with seven schools, today Kansas Can has grown to include 66 of the 286 districts in Kansas. Aiming at statewide, overall school redesign, the board ...

Opinion: Incarceration rates a call for reform

As policymakers manage the daily reality of Kansas’ prison crisis, let’s understand the core issue and its implications. Kansas has a growing prison population but lags other states on criminal justice reforms that could curb that growth, ease managing prisons and reduce budget strain from ...

Opinion: About that ‘I’m not a scientist, but I think …’

The administration continued its assault on the U.S. environment on Aug. 12 when it watered down the regulations on protecting endangered and threatened species. Its actions are a thumb-your-nose response at the United Nations report in May that warned of a million species of plants and animals ...

Opinion: Lawmakers must speak out on Trump

Former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill famously said “All politics is local.” He was referring specifically to congressional races, where responding to local issues from a national perspective — farm subsidy payments, Social Security checks, small business loans, etc. — was ...

Opinion: Anxiety is a public health problem

I can perceive the increasing anxiety among my students. Today, they come to the office not only to discuss courses, internships and post-graduation plans, but also to apologize for missed classes and changing behavior due to new doses of medication, personal and family drama, and other ...

Opinion: New K-12 initiative holds promise

Last week 3,100 offenders were released from federal prison as a result of bipartisan criminal justice reform that will reduce prison populations, provide social services and cut federal incarceration costs. This restructure, years in coming, was helped by an effort from industrialist and ...

Opinion: Reform how vacancies are filled

The news that a Kansas legislator is resigning midterm for health reasons presents a good opportunity to think about the process that Kansas uses to fill legislative vacancies. This is probably not an enthralling topic to most, but it matters because that process is a rotten anachronism that ...

Opinion: End GOP experiments with poor

Most Kansans are aware of former Gov. Sam Brownback’s failed tax experiment, but fewer know of his equally flawed experimentation with the lives of Kansas children and families in poverty. Beginning in 2011, Brownback initiated restrictions on federal aid through “temporary assistance ...

Opinion: Will Kansas have a real Senate race?

Pop quiz: 1. Who was the last elected Republican incumbent senator to lose in the general election? 2. Who was the last elected Senate incumbent of either party to lose in the general election? 3. Since 1969, how many open U. S. Senate seats has Kansas had? 4. When was the last senator ...

Opinion: Moran is right about Saudi Arabia

Apparently Sen. Jerry Moran is the only Kansas Republican willing to stand up to Saudi Arabia. Recently, Moran joined six other Senate Republicans in backing a resolution against President Donald Trump’s use of emergency powers to sell arms to the Saudis. Afterward, Moran stated his ...

Opinion: Kansas teachers deserve a pay raise

Only a few months ago the court battle over school funding was a central issue of legislative concern and media reports. Now triumphant, school districts are deciding ways to implement the approximately $500 million of new funding that will flow to schools over five years with an additional $90 ...

Opinion: No easy fix to Kansas prison problem

Sometimes I wonder how long we will be talking about fixing the problems that former Gov. Sam Brownback left Kansas. Our latest Brownback heartburn is prisons. The news that Kansas officials are considering sending inmates to a private prison in Arizona has generated understandable ...

Opinion: Bipartisan lawmakers mend state finance

Kansas voters who threw far-right Republicans out of office in 2016 and elected Laura Kelly as governor in 2018 should be pleased that state finance is on the mend after facing bankruptcy three short years ago. In assessing the condition of state finance at the close of the 2019 legislative ...

Opinion: Kelly’s 1st quarter comes to an end

With last Wednesday’s sine die end to the 2019 legislative session, we can make an early assessment of Kansas politics, the Legislature and especially Gov. Laura Kelly. If a governor’s term consists of four legislative sessions, this is roughly the end of the first quarter. We can’t ...

Opinion: Reducing abortions the right way

While Georgia, Alabama and Missouri just passed strict abortion bans, the Kansas Supreme Court has taken a completely different tack. In Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt, the court ruled that the Kansas Constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion, except in cases of a narrowly ...

Opinion: Figuring out online learning issues

Using technology in student learning is a new and huge responsibility for teachers and administrators. Mainly popular with university students, there appears to be no stopping online growth. This past year more than 2.5 million U.S. students were enrolled exclusively in online courses. Now ...

Opinion: On abortion, Kansans defy stereotypes

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled recently that the state constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. Conservative politicians in Topeka may back putting a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot to counter that ruling. If a lengthy abortion campaign is looming, then let’s start ...

Opinion: Stand down on school finance litigation

The Kansas Supreme Court cannot be accused of ducking tough issues. Last week the court ruled that the Bill of Rights in the Kansas Constitution protects Kansans’ “right of personal autonomy,” including a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. Then, on Monday, the Court hears the ...