Opinion Columns & Blogs

Delegation group should be community-focused

To its credit, the south-central Kansas legislative delegation has tried to focus on geography, not ideology or partisanship. Area lawmakers – Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative – recognized the need to work together on common goals and priorities of the region. As a result, they have been remarkably successful in recent years at passing legislation and securing funding for important local issues and initiatives, such as the National Center for Aviation Training and the Affordable Airfares program. So is was disappointing and worrisome when Republican lawmakers changed the rules last week and ended the long-standing practice of alternating the chairmanship of the delegation between Republicans and Democrats. Though the GOP lawmakers argued that the change would give more of them a chance to serve a term as chairman (because they so outnumber the Democrats), the move suggested a possible shift in attitude away from the bipartisan, community focus that had been the group’s strength. Also troubling at the delegation meeting last week was how incoming freshman Rep. John Whitmer, R-Wichita, badgered and twice interrupted Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer as he was trying to speak. – Phillip Brownlee