Local Columns

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 ...

Opinion: ‘Politics and Poker’ right here in Kansas

Politics and poker, politics and poker Shuffle up the cards and find the joker Neither game’s for children; either game is rough Decisions, decisions, like Who to pick, how to play, what to bet, when to call a bluff. — From “Fiorello!” Sixty years ago, “Fiorello!” — the ...

Opinion: Young ‘nones’ may hold political key

The connection between faith and politics is unavoidable. From the freethinking Deists that made up a good portion of our nation’s Constitutional Founders, to America’s periodic evangelical revivals, to the roles of Judaism, Catholicism and other faiths among the waves of immigrants that ...

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 ...