Kansas views on voting law, special session, gambling fund, rain
08/09/2013 6:14 PM
08/08/2014 10:18 AM
Voting law – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has come up with yet another strategy in his ongoing effort to circumvent the spirit, if not the precise legal provisions, of federal voting laws. His latest plan – creating a dual registration system in which some voters would be eligible to vote in federal, but not state, elections – is the worst idea yet. Kobach may be intrigued by the legal challenge of having Kansas set a new precedent on voter registration. Kansans, on the other hand, probably are more interested in promoting voter participation in the democratic process than in serving as a guinea pig for Kobach’s legal experiments.
Thanks to Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s zealous concerns about the integrity of Kansas elections, first-time voter registrants must show proof of their U.S. citizenship. The collateral damage, however, is that about 14,000 Kansas residents so far have landed on a suspension list because they haven’t shown adequate proof of their citizenship – some of whom have previously been registered to vote, and some of whom have voted in previous elections. There is little doubt that the cure for voter fraud is much worse and more damaging than the disease.
Special session – Gov. Sam Brownback issued a proclamation ordering legislators back to Topeka on Sept. 3. The 22nd special session in state history is dedicated to rewriting the so-called Hard 50 criminal sentencing law. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that only juries can impose such sentences, not judges by themselves. We appreciate Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s concerns for public safety, but couldn’t defendants in affected cases simply have jury trials? That way the public is protected – and doesn’t have to pony up $35,000 to $40,000 per day for the special session. The emergency nature of the situation doesn’t come close to the conditions that prompted the first 21 sessions.
Hays Daily News
Gambling fund – State officials shouldn’t have any trouble finding productive ways to spend the $1.2 million the Legislature has provided for the current fiscal year to locate and help Kansans addicted to gambling. The funding allocation is about $400,000 more than has been dedicated to the cause in earlier years, but the total still is a fraction of the amount collected each year from state casinos to combat gambling problems. The majority of the funds generated by a 2 percent surcharge on net gaming revenues at the casinos is diverted annually by the state to other programs. Right or wrong, the state decided years ago to get into the gambling business. Now, it’s incumbent upon the state to deal with the social costs associated with that decision.
Rain – As inconvenient as it may have been for some, recent rain has been cause for celebration. With this part of Kansas battling extreme drought – and crops dying in the fields – every drop of precipitation is needed. Of course, the recent rain wasn’t a drought-buster. Even recent gully-washers of a rain weren’t enough to turn the tide on drought unwilling to loosen its grip on southwest Kansas. But every bit of moisture can make a difference in an area that will take it in any way, shape or form.
Garden City Telegram