OK, we saw the first year of Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration, and it was…well…businesslike, if not thrilling.

She’s got almost all of her Cabinet confirmed and made scores of appointments to various state agencies, boards and commissions that most of us never heard of.

Us Statehouse hangers-on are waiting with whatever is one less than baited-breath for her Jan. 15 State of the State Address where she tells the Legislature just what she wants to get done in her second year of office, the year that will bear her stamp—unlike last year’s warm-up stretching.

This year’s legislative session is going to be about the Legislature, or, more precisely, legislators getting re-elected, and challengers to those incumbents finding an issue or two that they can tout as reasons to send the incumbents back home.

Oh, that “good of the people” and “representing my constituents” and those catch-phrases are of course going to be at the top of those campaign brochures but it’s all about getting re-elected. We all know that.

Kelly’s role? Primarily to run the state in a businesslike manner and make her key issues attractive for Democrats and moderate Republicans who might just vote across the party line and remake the governance of the state.

Which comes down to issues that Kansans care about. That’s the real key.

Is it taxes? Nobody likes them, but everyone wants better roads, better schools, health care for the poor, either because it is a moral obligation or to make those poor people less of an inconvenience for those who aren’t. Tough, but that’s some of what taxes pay for.

Ever notice that candidates who just want to concentrate on cutting taxes—again, that’s always good—rarely have a bullet point on their campaign literature that says just what services or programs they will do away with if taxes are reduced? Just wondering…

The major fights this session are already pretty well defined:

Count on expanding Medicaid (or KanCare as we’ve labeled it here in our state): The governor’s for it, the conservatives in the Legislature generally oppose it unless it provides some benefit for the voters who have never had to ask a health-care provider if they can make payments instead of just sending the bill to their insurance company. The conservatives believe people should work somewhere to get that health care and aren’t convinced that the 90 percent federal/10 percent state financing of the program is a good deal.

Last month, the so-called “red flag” issue popped up. That’s convincing a judge to order law enforcement officers to seize the guns of people whose spouses, or others in a relationship with a gun owner, fear represent a danger to them or others. There’s a little-used provision in state law now that allows that judge-approved order to go the police, but already gun fanciers are locked and loaded to make sure that the seizures don’t happen. The governor supports “red flag,” conservative – at this point mostly male – lawmakers are against it.

The Kansas Supreme Court? Issue there goes a couple ways, legislators, mostly the Senate, want to confirm gubernatorial appointments to the state’s highest court, the governor doesn’t. She’ll have made two appointments to the court before lawmakers, if they can gin up a constitutional amendment and get it passed by voters this fall, learn whether they will get to OK future appointments.

A second court issue is whether the Legislature has unlawfully not fully-funded the constitutionally independent branch of government.

Those issues, and probably a few others, may tell us who comes back to the Legislature in 2021…to hear Kelly’s third State of the State address.

— Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

(7) comments

ibtirish

Tax an regulate the few factories left right into Missouri an Oklahoma. That's Leftist business. Have fun catering to out of state flint hills seekers an bicycle rideers cause that's what will be left

ibtirish

Kansas is now a sideshow for bicycle folks coming to festivals an rides, your children can sell drinks an wheat pizza to them an beg for tips or they can move to Tulsa or Springfield mo. Nobody is bringing industry to a Democrat controlled state , never happens

Aim_High

You should see what happens in a Republican controlled state with no taxes...

SnowGypsy

Governor Kelly should be talking bringing in industry so that citizens can earn a living wage and either have their health insurance covered by the company they work for or be able to afford it for themselves. Kansas now holds 5th place in out-migration, so taxing those that work even more to provide for those that don't (Kelly says no work requirements for expanded Medicaid recipients) might just win us 1st place! Well, I guess if one is desperate enough to be in 1st place for just anything................

Also, citizens of neighboring states without Medicaid will have an incentive to relocate to KS bringing in not a first choice in new citizens for the state along with the sexual offenders that move in from other states because KS is more lax.

I don't agree with the "red flag". Seize the person that creates the threat, but don't go around collecting the guns. Kind of funny that they call it "red flag" as that made me think of Hitler's flag - "connect the dots". If the spouse or someone feels like one represents a "threat" (and I was there years ago and it was more than representing a threat).........yeah, just no as that is not enough and often it will give an edge to a violent other side of the equation. And, Kelly owes 1/3 of her campaign funding promises to "Interests" outside the state of Kansas, which is something to think about.

The movement to turn Kansas "blue" will break it if Kelly gets her way. I have no idea what her issue is, but her concerns are not with the taxpayers of Kansas.

J.Lull

Kansas has added lots of jobs since electing Governor Kelly and unemployment has gone down slow and steady. Kansas also won the title for "Americas most improved state for business in 2019". After inheriting a ton of debt from Brownback, Governor Kelly has Kansas' budget back in the black. Kansas' economy was ranked 45th when Kelly took office, and it has since risen by 16. Very impressive for her first year.

And it's not high taxes that make people want to move out of Kansas... the real reason is conservatives. The Brownback tax cuts were catastrophic yet he was re-elected. He would not approve Medicare expansion even though the money is appropriated by the federal government... and there are still people saying the Brownback tax cuts should be re-instated and did not cause the economic problems in Kansas. I don't blame them for not wanting to live anywhere near these idiots.

sarelon

Brownback declared he was going to bring industry into the state by giving away all of the taxes - it didn't work. Kansas being ranked 5th in states people are leaving is not a new phenomenon as we saw similar numbers during most of Brownback's reign as well. Attaching work requirements to Medicare has been blocked by the courts in 3 other states on constitutional grounds.

You think neighboring states without Medicaid will have an incentive to relocate to KS? Both Oklahoma and Missouri (the only 2 neighboring states that have not expanded) have far lower sales tax on things like food which I suspect will incentivize them to stay where they are. What sort of any form of rational logic associates sexual predators with tax rates?

"Red flag" laws are a bit of a slippery slope. They need to be implemented in such a way that there are lots of checks and balances. There are already 17 states with such laws in place and they seem to be working just fine. A 'red flag' is a warning sign and has nothing to do with any nationality. The idea that Kelly owes campaign promises outside the state is just a bit paranoid.

Kelly's issues align quite well with this particular taxpayer. It is long past time we purge Topeka of the extremist right-wing scourge like Wagle and bring back more moderate and realistic leadership like Kelly.

Gary Lukert

Hey! With all the Republicans in this State, we should already be overflowing with industry, all kinds of great jobs. REPUBLICANS RUN KANSAS. IF YOU HAVE any complaints...LOOK IN the mirror. It is REPUBLICANS like yourself that have messed up! Where did your hero Brownback go. He lied from the start and you love it!

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