Special session – The push for a special session began when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this year that juries, not judges, must decide if circumstances in a criminal case should trigger mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Though we agree the Hard 50 sentence should remain an option, we don’t think waiting until the regular session in January would have jeopardized public safety. Juries and judges still have the option of sentencing a defendant to a life term, with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.
Kansas City Star
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, sees conspiracy lurking in the shadows behind Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to call the Legislature back into session on Sept. 3. Saying that the real goal of the special session was to gain quick confirmation of the governor’s nominee for a new position on the Kansas Court of Appeals smacks of a conspiracy theory. Such theories are often weak, as is Hensley’s.
Kansas Chamber – The Kansas Chamber of Commerce is the single best example of lobbying run amok. Instead of an organization hoping to bend a lawmaker’s ear and provide useful information about policy decisions, the chamber holds the power, influence and money effectively to blackmail legislators who don’t march in lockstep with the chamber’s positions. Today’s Kansas Chamber is less about business development and more about making an investment – using its influence, money and near-constant lobbying – that will pay a dividend by turning elected leaders into good followers.
Dole – A scant two months ago, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole expressed concern the national Republican Party had swung so far to the right that he would be unelectable. Dole said other party icons such as Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon wouldn’t make it either. Not with bipartisanship being a dirty word and conservatives pushing moderates out office. But now Dole has done a 180 right here in the Sunflower State and signed on with Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2014 re-election campaign. Brownback represents the very problem Dole was complaining about two months ago. The governor is a dogmatic conservative with no room for compromise. We only can conclude Dole is the one who’s been compromised, as Kansas residents will be if they follow their icon’s lead.
Hays Daily News
Children’s fund – There are any number of Kansas legislators who preach fiscal responsibility, but how responsible is it to keep raiding a fund set aside for underprivileged children’s early education? Lawmakers for years have been taking tobacco settlement money that was supposed to go into an endowment fund and using it for other purposes. By now, $140 million should have gone into the endowment.
Clinton resort – Maybe Clinton Lake near Lawrence isn’t the hottest potential development property on the horizon. Only one firm responded to the Kansas Department of Administration after the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism issued a request for proposals for a conference center and hotel intended to make the lake a regional destination. Good luck with that, apparently.