Local Columns

Opinion: School funding battle may continue

Last week more than 100 people watched Gov. Laura Kelly sign a K-12 school finance bill that will increase school funding by approximately $90 million dollars in each of the next four years. Some Republicans joined Democrats to vote for the bill and Kelly called the support an example of ...

Opinion: Rural voters key to Medicaid expansion

The key to passing Medicaid expansion may not necessarily be our polarized Legislature but voters themselves, especially in small town and rural Kansas. But how much do average Kansans honestly care about expansion, and how much do they prioritize what their communities might gain from it? ...

Opinion: Stop partisan obstruction on health

Recently a coalition of Democrats and centrist Republicans steamrolled House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, the Kansas Legislature’s chief obstructionist to extending health care coverage to 130,000 low-income Kansans. For the first 43 days of the current legislative session Hawkins, ...

Opinion: March Madness comes to Statehouse

This past Wednesday started off pretty much like any other mid-March weekday, as I perused Twitter and Facebook, did some editing and planned where I’d watch the Jayhawks play their first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. But then on my Twitter feed came a flurry of tweets: A coalition of ...

Opinion: This Sunshine Week, take a stand for transparency

It’s been a grueling winter. We’ve had record snowfalls in parts of Kansas, and cabin fever has taken its toll on all of us. The time has come for a hearty dose of sunshine. There could be no better time to be observing National Sunshine Week, a time for citizens and elected officials ...

Opinion: The Legislature is ready for its close-up

Someone recently asked me this: The Kansas Legislature is a part-time body that only meets for a few months. It must pass a budget. It must fix school funding before a court-imposed deadline. A Democrat is governor, but conservative Republicans run the Legislature. So, why didn’t lawmakers ...

Opinion: The Koch behind our anti-tax history

Tax-cutting fever is alive and well in Kansas politics, and no single person deserves more credit than Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, the dynamic global conglomerate headquartered in Wichita. This fervor was recently orchestrated by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, as business lobbyists ...

Opinion: Legislating: a marathon, not a sprint

The Kansas Legislature opened its 2019 session on Janu. 14. It will most likely close up shop sometime in May. Gov. Laura Kelly came into office with a well-defined agenda, and lots of optimistic Democrats foresaw school funding increases and Medicaid expansion moving through the legislative ...

Opinion: Democrats have unfinished business

Democrats have found a new base: professional, suburban women. However, they had better not forget their working-class roots. Here in Kansas, Democrats won big last year with Gov. Laura Kelly and Congresswoman Sharice Davids. Paul Davis nearly defeated Steve Watkins to flip the 2nd District ...

Opinion: Second thoughts about charter schools

Everyone loved Ralphie. He seemed the perfect dog for my son’s family — just the right size and age. He was good-natured, house-trained and playful. He went home with the family the day they first saw him at the rescue center. Out for a walk a week later, Ralphie pulled off his leash and ...

Opinion: Kansas lawmakers must listen to voters

Kansans chose divided government in 2018, electing a Democratic governor and a conservative-tilting Republican Legislature. The facts: 57 percent of Kansas voters did not support Kris Kobach. And many Republicans in the Legislature, including some noted conservatives, represent districts where ...

Opinion: Windfall politics, past and present

As the governor, a skilled legislative veteran, prepared to deliver Kansas’ State of the State address, the multiple demands for state funding loomed large. The Supreme Court had mandated substantial additional monies for a critical state function. The highway fund was scraping bottom, ...

Opinion: Anticipating change with Gov. Kelly

After a whirlwind transition, Gov.-elect Laura Kelly will be sworn in as the 48th governor of Kansas this coming Monday, and Kansans will have their first glimpse of how she grasps the key levers of governance. Having assisted former Gov. Mike Hayden in his transition of 1986-87, I experienced ...

Opinion: Jenkins becomes part of the problem

Well, that sure did not take long. Outgoing Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins is becoming a lobbyist. Via Twitter, she recently announced the formation of a new venture, LJ Strategies, LLC, already registered to lobby in the state of Kansas. Ethics laws prohibit ex-members of Congress from ...

Opinion: Teach for America could help Kansas

The Kansas teacher shortage reflects a national trend. When classes started this fall Kansas was 612 teachers short, up 19 percent from last year. Some positions still remain open. Furthermore, the cost of recruiting high-quality teachers has risen and become controversial. A recent furor ...

Opinion: State’s marijuana policy stuck in 1927

Kansas needs a rational, adult conversation about marijuana. State marijuana laws are changing nationally, even in solidly conservative states. Public opinion on marijuana is changing, even in Kansas. But the mindset of Kansas policymakers is stuck in 1927, when the state outlawed ...

Opinion: Thank these exceptional lawmakers

Democracy can be a thankless venture. When eligible citizens place their name on a ballot and ask neighbors for their vote, they invite scrutiny and accept the verdict at the ballot box. In advance of the upcoming legislative session, please join me in publicly thanking a small group of ...

Opinion: Kansas’ back and forth governorship

“Take me back, take me way, way, way back …” — Van Morrison, “On Hyndford Street” January 1949. Republican Frank Carlson is sworn in as governor for a second two-year term, a seemingly ordinary event, given the GOP’s general dominance of Kansas politics. Who could have ...