Picking judges – Kansas legislators put the “process” of selecting judges for the state’s second highest court almost entirely in the hands of one person: the governor, now Gov. Sam Brownback. Brownback’s office confirmed that it had received “a number of applications” for the newly created 14th position on the Court of Appeals but indicated that neither a list of applicants nor a list of finalists for the job would be released to the public. The only name that apparently will be released is the name of the governor’s choice, which then will be forwarded to the Kansas Senate for almost-certain confirmation. This system is not more democratic, more open or in any way better for the state of Kansas.
Immigration reform – Once, Kansas had influential U.S. senators who were playmakers on the big issues of the day. Today, we have two good men with the instincts for problem-solving, but who have chosen to sit comfortably on the partisan sidelines. The latest example is comprehensive immigration reform. The bill passed the Senate 68-32 with the support of 14 Republican senators. Kansans Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts were not among them. Both Roberts and Moran outlined reasons for their opposition to the immigration reform bill. Too big, too rushed, too hard to implement. Legitimate concerns. But their track record of staying on the partisan sidelines leads us to believe that they are ducking for political cover rather than really trying to make a difference.
Arkansas City Traveler
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While the national Republican Party has recognized that its disenfranchisement of Latino voters might have cost the GOP the presidential election last year, Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran hail from a state where the Hispanic vote isn’t so important. So they opted to side with rabid anti-immigrant Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his faithful, whose only real objection to Hispanic immigrants is racial in nature.
Concealed-carry – While many states moved to tighten gun-control measures after the shooting massacres in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere, Kansas went in a different direction. State law now allows licensed gun owners to bring concealed weapons into many governmental buildings they couldn’t previously. We’ll see if such a law will have any effect on gun-related death rates or if we are indeed safer. For now, with the law in place, confusion runs rampant even with those in charge of securing public buildings.
Hays Daily News
Voting law – By a 7-2 vote, U.S. Supreme Court justices decided that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 overrides an Arizona law that, like the Kansas statute, requires official documents before someone can register to vote. The proof-of-citizenship requirement is already creating havoc at county clerks’ offices around Kansas. The Legislature should scrap the 2011 law, which has shown itself to be morally wrong, unwieldy to enforce and likely unconstitutional.
Kansas City Star
Open meetings – Intervention by Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor and the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board has given officials at the Kansas Corporation Commission reason to rethink their operating procedures and bring them more in line with the Kansas Open Meetings Act. There is more work to be done. Too many public officials at the local and state levels treat the law like a list of guidelines that can be ignored with impunity. It’s time to send a message that compliance is not optional.