Local Columns

Opinion: Diminished democracy in Topeka

In democracies, majorities rule, right? The candidate with the most votes wins the election, and a majority vote in the Legislature means that a bill is passed. In Kansas, the math seems remarkably simple. The candidate with the most votes wins, and the way to assure victory is to attract ...

Opinion: How does funding help at-risk kids?

If you think controversy over school funding ended has ended, think again. A dispute currently brewing is about how the new court-awarded funds are being spent by school districts to help at-risk students and how the Kansas Department of Education is managing the districts. The disagreement ...

Opinion: Previewing 2020: beyond Trump

It’s tempting to label elections as “the most important” in decades, our lifetime, etc. Sometimes, as Kansans discovered in 2010, 2016 and 2018, elections do have real consequences. Moreover, nationally, the 2020 prospect of reelecting Donald Trump makes the election important, to say ...

Opinion: Want fewer abortions? Look at facts

Here we go again. The Kansas Legislature is back, and anti-abortion advocates wasted no time initiating an amendment to the state constitution. If approved by two-thirds of both houses, and by voters, it would overturn last year’s decision by the Kansas Supreme Court affirming a woman’s ...

Opinion: Does lipstick on old agenda sell it?

This year will test just how short voter memories are in Kansas. Will Kansans keep rejecting the politics of the Gov. Sam Brownback era? Or, will they buy those politics again, attractively repackaged and reframed? With the Kansas legislative session underway, that test starts now. The ...

Opinion: Legal marijuana and the black market

With Illinois legalizing recreational marijuana, Kansas is increasingly an island of marijuana Puritanism in the Midwest. As more states create legitimate marijuana economies, what do we know about the black market marijuana economy in Kansas? Could legalization tame it? The marijuana economy ...

Opinion: Make 2020 resolutions for lawmakers

Welcome to 2020 and join in offering Kansas lawmakers New Year’s resolutions to guide their work in the upcoming legislative session. Focus on problem solving Many state lawmakers run for office to address issues of concern to voters, such as health care, poverty, criminal justice and gun ...

Opinion: Journalists identify rural areas’ problems

In this holiday season, gifts take center stage for better or worse. We often give and receive gifts that are curious, strange or useless, as well as those we genuinely desire. Sometimes, however, we get a gift that we never anticipated, one that we appreciate in part because it’s a ...

Opinion: Don’t give a bird for a Christmas present

There are only three kinds of birds in the world: little brown birds, big brown birds and medium-size brown birds. So declared a former colleague who studied mammals, most of which are little brown rodents. He’d grouse that the holiday season had become the Adoration of the Aves. It starts ...

Opinion: A political center in gun rights debate

The conventional wisdom says Americans are highly divided over gun rights and gun control. But is it true? Recent data from the 2019 Kansas Speaks poll suggests that there is a political center on this issue after all. Political scientists have argued for years that Americans are not as ...

Opinion: Teachers shouldn’t have to buy supplies

School budgets were tight in the Oklahoma farming community where I grew up, but teachers’ dedication was boundless. Take, for instance, my high school biology teacher, who seemed to live for his students and active learning. To experience dissection, he instructed each of us to bring a frog ...

Opinion: A myth about marijuana and prison

One major myth about prisons is that they are packed with nonviolent offenders whose only crime is marijuana possession. As I have written editorials about Kansas state prisons recently, this has been the top concern of readers contacting me. But this myth is not reality. Criminal justice ...

Opinion: So much for nonpartisan city elections

The century-long tradition of nonpartisan elections in Kansas suffered a setback in Wichita earlier this month. Many partisans were at fault. Take a look at the facts: First, the incumbent Wichita mayor hires the chair of the Sedgwick County Republican Party to aid in his reelection campaign. ...

Opinion: Make the Legislature look like Kansas

To better represent Kansans, we citizens should press for better pay for our lawmakers. This is a simple statement, and such a change would not guarantee better policies, however they are defined. But without question, higher salaries would produce a Legislature that looks a lot more like the ...

Opinion: Democrats’ playbook wins in Wichita

Wichita’s mayoral election is supposed to be nonpartisan, but that virtually disappeared in this year’s campaign. Mayor-elect Brandon Whipple has served since 2012 as a Democratic member of the Kansas House. Before that, he was vice-chair of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party. His ...

Opinion: The nation’s and Kansas’ report cards

The “nation’s report card,” or National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), was released Oct. 30. Results show stagnant progress in what students know and can do on the national level and a disappointing decline in Kansas scores. NAEP is administered every two years and is the ...

Opinion: Activists threaten judicial independence

Two justices of the Kansas Supreme Court recently announced their retirements, and well-established constitutional procedures are now underway to fill those vacancies. In a desperate, preemptive strike anti-abortion activists interjected themselves into the selection process and declared two ...

Opinion: Prison crisis also a mental health crisis

Kansas faces a prison crisis of crowded facilities and escalating costs to taxpayers. Fixing that requires addressing mental health and the grim reality that our approach to the mentally ill is often to imprison them. In fairness, America has evolved on this issue. Historically, states often ...

Opinion: Ranked choice voting makes sense

As the dust settled after the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary election, Secretary of State Kris Kobach defeated incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer by 350 votes, of 128,838 total votes (40.6%). Lagging far behind were moderate Jim Barnett (8.8%), Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer (7.8%) and three ...

Opinion: Public assault on science continues — to our peril

With the deluge of news from the current impeachment turmoil in Washington, one could be excused for missing the continuing assault on science from the administration and its supporters. In August, in explaining his no-exception anti-abortion stance, Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King claimed that ...