Voter rolls – Six months into implementation of the state’s new – and possibly unconstitutional – voter-registration law requiring citizens to produce proof of citizenship, more than 11,000 Kansans are in a status called “suspense,” meaning they have tried to register but haven’t been cleared. That’s about 1 in 3 of the total number of Kansans who have taken steps to obtain their voter registration. Most of the applications in limbo came from citizens who applied to register to vote at the state’s Division of Vehicles as they were renewing their driver’s licenses. Fortunately, there have been no major elections in Kansas since the stringent proof-of-citizenship requirements took effect. Thank heavens lawmakers didn’t fall for Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s glib promises that the state could be ready to enact the new requirements before the 2012 presidential election. But what has happened is bad enough. American citizens in good standing shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or be placed in “suspense” to obtain their voter registration.
Kansas City Star
When Kansas legislators were considering a law that would require new Kansas voters to document their citizenship, Secretary of State Kris Kobach assured them that a new computer system being installed by the Division of Vehicles could seamlessly provide citizenship information to county election officials across the state. Over Kobach’s objections, lawmakers even delayed the start of the proof-of-citizenship requirement for six months to ensure the computer system would be working properly. Unfortunately, an additional six months – even an additional year – was not sufficient to solve this problem. And thousands of potential Kansas voters are paying the price.
KCC – The Kansas Corporation Commission is seeking an outside counsel to evaluate the agency’s compliance with the Kansas Open Meetings Act. That the KCC has problems in that area became obvious once the public learned the three-member commission recently approved a rate increase of more than 100 percent for a small water utility north of Salina, Howison Heights Inc., without benefit of a public meeting on the issue. If KCC officials could remember they are supposed to be conducting the public’s business in public view, they wouldn’t need a consultant, or an attorney to defend them in court.
Head Start – The Kansas Children’s Service League announced that it would end its Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Stafford, Pratt and Kingman counties at the end of July, due to funding cuts resulting from the federal government’s budget sequestration. While policy wonks, pundits and politicians rehash the merits or drawbacks of reduced federal spending on health and education programs, for many local families the rhetoric becomes a very real and long-lasting truth: Their children will enter school unprepared and continue to fall behind their more affluent peers throughout their school years. In the end, that fact costs the American taxpayer more than a small investment on the front end to ensure that children are given the tools to learn, grow and prosper.