Moving elections – The idea of moving local elections to November is worth considering. Turnout, which is too often dismal in local contests, would grow by leaps and bounds. In off-presidential election years, the growth might not be so great. And there may be problems of adjusting dates when winners take office. But this proposal offers a way to increase voter participation in local elections, and it deserves to be taken seriously.
Winfield Daily Courier
It’s true that local elections attract a dismally small voter turnout, but at least most of the voters who turn out for those elections have some knowledge about the races and the candidates who are running. If those elections are lumped in with state and federal races, it will be even harder than it is now for those candidates to get their message out to voters – unless, of course, party organizations pour large sums of money into those races. Like many other issues being tackled during this legislative session, the timing of local elections might be better left alone.
Common Core – Putting aside all the politics and rhetoric about the so-called Common Core reading and math education standards, lawmakers in Topeka ought to give local school districts in Kansas the opportunity to see what they can do with this new approach. For the same reason they don’t like the notion of Washington telling the states how to teach their kids, local educators are none too happy about the politicians in Topeka telling them to abandon all the work they’ve done to shift to Common Core, which in the opinion of most is a more rigorous and innovative way of teaching.
Comedy central – When Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” features Kansas and Missouri (along with Arizona) on a segment referring to state legislatures as “meth labs of democracy,” you know your capitols have become ridiculous. The blame lies with legislative leaders. They can’t stop individual lawmakers from filing off-the-wall bills, but they can prevent the measures from being heard in committee. They can choose their committee leaders more carefully. And they can be more focused in setting agendas.
Kansas City Star
Open records – The overwhelming majority of bills passing through the halls of the Kansas Legislature are worthy of a big top. From legislation to ban surrogacy to a bill that would allow teachers and caregivers to spank a child up to 10 times hard enough to leave redness and bruising, it appears legislators should go ahead and dress the part by donning clown shoes and big red noses. However, peel back enough layers and eventually Kansans will find bills worthy of support and praise. Key among the precious few worthy bills is House Bill 2555. The legislation would reverse a 35-year-old law that made probable-cause affidavits closed records. We urge legislators to support it.
Amtrak – To maintain the current Southwest Chief route, Amtrak proposed that Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico share costs of the track maintenance and upgrades with Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the track. The plan called for $4 million annually for a decade from each state. It would be a significant yet needed investment. Knowing lawmakers may be reluctant to devote state funds to the venture, another idea would involve localized taxes in cities and communities that benefit from the service.
Garden City Telegram