Local Columns

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 ...

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, ...