Kansas views on sales tax, legal fees, redistricting, school drug test
05/13/2013 12:00 AM
08/08/2014 10:16 AM
Sales tax – The idea of voting to extend the sales tax likely has caused considerable angst on the part of many state representatives in recent weeks, but it is something they should do. The simple truth is all levels of government are responsible for funding some services that cannot be ignored.
Legal fees – If only someone had told Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators that their new gun law would not pass constitutional muster. Oh, wait – someone did. Back in February, when legislators were first talking about their cockamamie gun bill, Assistant Attorney General Charles Klebe wrote this: “To state the obvious, the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution cannot be waived by state law, and any conflict between a valid federal law and a state law will be resolved by the courts in favor of the federal enactment.” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped draft the Kansas law, said, “We are very, very confident of our position. The state of Kansas is not in any way afraid of a legal challenge.” Sure, he’s not afraid. After all, it’s not Kobach’s money being used to pay for his grandstanding (the AG’s office requested an additional $225,000 to cover litigation).
When Gov. Sam Brownback said he intended to create jobs in Kansas, who knew he was talking about lawyers? Derek Schmidt, the Republican attorney general, has asked the Legislature to add $1.2 million to his two-year budget to help defend bad laws that Brownback signed this session. It’s worth noting that the Legislature didn’t pass these expensive laws in response to a groundswell from constituents. The drug-testing bill was pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which works on behalf of corporations, including drug companies. The paycheck deduction bill was supported by the anti-union Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Those groups certainly got their money’s worth from the Legislature. Too bad taxpayers are left holding the bill.
Kansas City Star
Redistricting – Secretary of State Kris Kobach indicated he was considering an appeal of a federal court’s order that Kansas pay $389,000 in attorneys’ fees and expenses in connection with last year’s lawsuit over congressional and legislative redistricting. “This is ridiculous, that these attorneys are being rewarded for piling on this lawsuit,” Kobach told the Associated Press. The truly “ridiculous” aspect of this scenario is the fact that the Kansas redistricting plan was forced into the federal courts because Kansas legislators were hopelessly deadlocked on the issue and couldn’t complete their constitutionally mandated task. One way to make the situation even more “ridiculous” would be to spend even more state money appealing the decision on attorneys’ fees.
Maize drug test – Since 2007, Maize High School has randomly drug tested each month between 35 and 40 students involved in extracurricular activities. That’s more than 2,000 students who were subjected to scrutiny only because they chose to represent their school in sports, debate, musical or dramatic endeavors. In those six years – at a cost of more than $31,000 – four students tested positively. The Maize school board voted last month to discontinue randomly testing students, choosing instead to put the money into focusing on educating its student body on the ills of drug use. Chances are that Maize will get a better return on its investment this way.