At a picnic Saturday afternoon sponsored by the Sedgwick County Republican Party, Secretary of State Kris Kobach gave a sort of “state of the Republican Party” speech.
Looking back over the past 10 years, he focused on developments on six key issues: guns, abortion, elections, illegal immigration, taxation and spending, and courts.
Here’s what he said about those six issues.
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In 2005, Kansas law did not accommodate concealed carry, Kobach said.
In 2015, Kansas is one of four states that have both constitutional carry and the Firearms Freedom Act on the books, he said.
Constitutional carry enables Kansans to bear a concealed weapon without training or a permit.
The latter says that federal legislation does not apply to Kansas-made guns and ammunition that never leaves the state, legislation that created some friction between Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 2013.
“Some people say, ‘Well, those Republicans, they got more power and they shifted the state. They made Kansas more conservative.’ No, we didn’t make Kansas more conservative. We made Kansas government reflect the will of the people of Kansas,” Kobach said to cheering and applause at the picnic Saturday.
“Kansas is No. 1 when it comes to supporting our right to keep and bear arms, so did we change Kansas? No. We changed the government from one that was out of step with Kansans to one that was in step with Kansans,” he said.
Kobach said that in 2005, Kansas ranked near the bottom of the nation in the number of late-term abortions performed.
“We went from being bottom of the barrel to being, by most estimates, in the top 10 in the country in protecting the unborn,” Kobach said.
“We could be even higher if we didn’t have certain judges trying to strike down anything they can.”
Kobach has made major changes to the state’s election system since he took office in 2010.
Most notably, perhaps, he made it a state law in 2011 to require proof-of-citizenship documentation when people register to vote.
In June, Brownback granted Kobach power to prosecute election fraud cases.
“We went from being a state that was in the bottom half, having no significant protections, to, there’s no question, we’re No. 1,” Kobach said. “Other states are copying us.”
“We are the only state in the five-state area that has done nothing, absolutely nothing to discourage illegal immigration,” Kobach said, noting it was an area he felt the party had fallen short on.
Kobach’s main qualm was a push by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2004 to grant immigrants in the U.S. illegally in-state tuition rates at Kansas universities and community colleges.
“Kansas now spends millions of dollars every year subsidizing in-state tuition for illegal aliens,” he said.
A bill that would repeal the immigrant tuition policy was tabled in the Kansas House of Representatives this year.
“That should have been a slam dunk,” Kobach said.
Taxation and spending
Kobach said the state has gone “two steps forward and one step back” in the past 10 years when it comes to taxes.
“We made a huge step with the governor’s tax cut that took us down to 4 percent on income tax,” he said. “Then this past cycle, sales taxes went up, I think, in a disturbingly high fashion.”
He said the state “must continue the march to zero on income taxes if we’re going to have this high sales tax.”
“It’s a long road ahead on that march,” he said.
Kobach said the way Kansas selects judges for its Supreme Court lacks accountability.
“There’s no accountability at all,” he said. “The California Supreme Court is arguably one of the most left-wing supreme courts in America. The Kansas Supreme Court is every bit as bad, and you can quote me on that.”
Kobach said “we need to have a court that’s not activist in striking things down.”
“Judges actively place themselves in a legislative posture and change the law. That’s what the Kansas Supreme Court does.
“We have made huge progress (on the first three topics), and we are sort of stalled, spinning our wheels on the other three,” Kobach said.
Local politicians, such as Sedgwick County Commissioners Richard Ranzau, Karl Peterjohn and Jim Howell, attended the picnic, as did various state representatives and Congressman Mike Pompeo, who gave a brief speech before Kobach spoke.