What to expect this session
Just a week from now, 165 Kansans will be savoring lunches, dinners and drinks bought by someone else -- and trying to figure out how to make themselves irreplaceable to their legislative constituents, their campaign contributors and enough voters that they get to come back in 2015.
The 2014 Kansas legislative session starts Monday. There's plenty to do, but the key this election-year session for statewide elected officials and members of the Kansas House is to get re-elected. Keep the state operating, of course, but primarily, get re-elected.
So, don't look for massive changes in the face of the state or significant new initiatives by the Legislature on behalf of -- how do we say this politically correctly? -- Kansans who either don't vote in primary elections or from the standpoint of legislators vote wrong.
There is really just one issue that might confront the Legislature with dramatic effect -- a decision by the Kansas Supreme Court on financing of K-12 public education that could trigger more than $400 million in additional spending for schools. That's the biggie out there, and lawmakers likely will get the decision early in the legislative session.
That's the decision which could range from a scolding of lawmakers for cutting taxes instead of making suitable provision for finance of public education to a demand by the court lawmakers actually appropriate the money to better provide for the cost of public education.
It comes down to that.
And the Legislature's reaction likely is to range from just grumbling about separation of powers and ponying up the money the court demands (don't bet on that) or rejecting the decision and turning the education of children into an "us vs. those folks in black robes."
Besides education funding, things get, well, scattered.
There's how much information you have to provide to vote to where else people can carry concealed weapons to those electric cigarettes and where they can be smoked.
And, of course, talk about examining, but probably not doing anything memorable about, tax rates for businesses and individuals because lawmakers typically are not interested in election year tax changes that don't show up on your paycheck before you vote.
Booze in grocery stores? That might heat up, and there always are the puppy mill regulations and abortion prohibition expansion measures good for quotes in newspaper stories.
But earthshaking? Nope. Look for this to be a relatively low-key session -- if the Supreme Court doesn't shake things up.
Look at it as the legislative equivalent of comfort food -- and just wish you were a legislator, that unique breed of Kansans who never have to double-check to make sure they have lunch money.
Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of
Hawver's Capitol Report.