Welfare reform – Gov. Sam Brownback, surrounded by a handful of public figures, celebrated the signing of a piece of legislation that further limits poor Kansas families’ access to a federal assistance program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Even though the legislation aligns with the conservative Brownback’s gospel of work for the poor, the change really will do nothing more than add to the already heavy burden of a life in poverty.
Kobach – A competent Kansas secretary of state would quickly obey a federal judge’s order to make sure 18,000 people get registered to vote in all 2016 elections. Unfortunately, Kris Kobach is a bumbling, mean-spirited officeholder who has no intention of properly doing his job.
Unemployment rate – Kansas may have the 13th lowest unemployment rate in the country, but we were ninth at the beginning of Gov. Sam Brownback’s first term. And unlike many other states, in exchange for these underwhelming employment numbers, Kansans got a $228 million budget shortfall.
Elections – Expect intense election battles statewide, with Gov. Sam Brownback-supported forces out to malign opponents with deliberately misleading and false claims, as in recent elections. The more moderate side, fortunately, can counter with the reality of the failed Brownback agenda. Kansans should pay close attention to the debate and become part of an inspired, informed electorate – one empowered to save Kansas from the radical right.
Open records – The Legislature has drawn considerable criticism for some of its actions and inactions during this year’s session, but one bill is deserving of praise. It addresses an important gap in the Kansas Open Records Act involving public officials’ use of personal cellphones or e-mail accounts to discuss public business. Starting July 1, those communications will be subject to public disclosure under the KORA.