Utility rates – If you’re a resident or small business owner in Kansas, you should be alarmed by the disdain with which you’re viewed by the state’s utilities. During a time when much of the state’s residents and businesses are struggling to stay afloat, utilities such as Kansas Gas Service and Westar Energy view you as an endless supply of cash they can use to ensure guaranteed payouts for executives and shareholders. Furthermore, Kansans simply should not stand for the notion that energy companies have a state-guaranteed right to baseline revenue. The utility companies are counting on the historically utility-friendly Kansas Corporation Commission to help them extort money from consumers to keep profits at optimum levels – regardless of how much product they actually sell.
Campaign attacks – The mailers that went out against a number of the state legislative candidates were pretty slimy, to put a positive spin on them, but the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity set themselves apart in their attacks on Salina GOP Sen. Pete Brungardt, one of those targeted and removed in the Brownback bloodbath on Republican moderates. After seeing the kind of whoppers the Kansas Chamber and the other PACs were willing to spew to get their way, if we were a legislator in Topeka, we’d have to ask ourselves: If they’re willing to lie like this, how can I ever trust anything these groups say?
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In the run-up to the election, a far-right faction of the Republican Party led by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, wealthy Koch brothers and Gov. Sam Brownback unleashed a flurry of negative ads intended to take down anyone who would dare challenge their agenda, Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, included. Sadly, many voters fell for such outlandish claims as the absurd notion that moderate state senators somehow supported so-called “Obamacare.” Now, with Senate moderates pushed aside and both legislative chambers controlled by ultraconservative Republicans, we’re left to brace for renewed attacks on education, social services and other programs.
Garden City Telegram
Kobach – Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in Philadelphia last week defending the immigration laws he helped write for Hazleton, Pa., before a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Working on immigration law across the country is something Kobach says he does in his spare time. Perhaps he took a vacation day on Wednesday, but Kobach’s decision to continue to work for paying clients in other states still is troubling. No matter where Kobach is or what he’s doing, he still represents the people of Kansas. The people of Kansas elected him to serve as their secretary of state. That’s a full-time job that should have his full-time attention.
Casino smoking – Smoking and gambling go together. At least that’s the claim made by casino operators in the Kansas City area, where people are allowed to light up on the gambling floors. But something else goes together with smoking: cancer and other costly health-related problems suffered by employees and casino customers. Today, more states such as Illinois and Colorado are banning the harmful habit throughout their casinos. Kansas and Missouri officials also ought to be working toward providing smoke-free environments in all gambling facilities.
Kansas City Star
Tech ed – A law championed by Gov. Sam Brownback and passed by the 2012 Legislature is designed to make that easier while giving high school students an opportunity to graduate with skills desired by employees. The program will allow all high school students to take technical courses at community colleges and technical schools at no cost to themselves. Matching employers with job openings and people with needed skills sounds like a wise use of the state’s money.