Kansas Chamber – Local chambers of commerce understand the importance of investment in education, infrastructure and a social safety net. They recognize that it is difficult to promote and develop local business interests with bad roads, a poorly educated workforce and impoverished communities. Local chambers and leaders also recognize that local businesses and residents must pick up the slack where the state fails. That’s why the message from local chambers is radically different from the agenda pushed by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. The organization simply doesn’t represent the needs or desires of local businesses across Kansas. Instead, it works to secure benefits for the largest companies in, and out, of the state.
Voting law – In their zeal to address the almost-nonexistent problem of voter fraud, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the Legislature created a bizarre limbo for about 19,000 state residents who signed up to vote. Kobach’s proposed “fixes” complicate the situation. His worst idea is a two-tiered system, with Kansans who haven’t cleared up their registration status voting for candidates in federal races but not in state or local races. The misnamed “Secure and Fair Elections Act” should be removed to avoid an election debacle.
Kansas City Star
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Immigration – In 2004, the Legislature rightly decided any student who graduated from a Kansas high school and had lived in the state for at least three years qualified for in-state tuition, so long as they worked toward citizenship. Instead of revisiting the in-state tuition law, lawmakers in the state should strive to better understand economic realities and labor challenges for agriculture and other employers in western Kansas.
Garden City Telegram
Common Core – In contrast to the No Child Left Behind Act, Common Core standards do not encourage teachers to teach to tests. Rather, they encourage teachers to teach concepts and awareness that can help students succeed in life and compete globally. Yes, the substance of Common Core standards is still vague and ill understood. But those standards appear to give educators the best chance they have had in years to prepare our nation’s students for the future.
Winfield Daily Courier
Aquifer – With another year gone by, measurements need not even be taken to know the Ogallala Aquifer dropped another 2 to 4 feet. Every year the underground water source, one of the largest aquifers on the planet, naturally recharges itself at a rate of less than 1/2-inch per year – while irrigators deplete it by 48 to 96 times that amount. It is a well-known and -documented tragedy taking place with no relief in sight. The Kansas Department of Agriculture needs to craft severe penalties for irrigators who pump beyond their annual allotment, which the Legislature needs to approve. Mitigating the damage already caused to the aquifer should be a top priority.
Hays Daily News
Athletic spending – The new Rock Chalk Park complex; constant upgrading of Allen Fieldhouse; a planned major renovation, including lowering the football field, in Memorial Stadium; larger and larger coaches’ salaries; and, now, the possibility of a new athletic dorm all apparently are geared to enhance KU’s ability to attract more star athletes. What’s next? Are similar efforts being made to attract academic stars? Is it an athletic tail or an academic tail that is wagging the Kansas University Jayhawk?