Fixing? Talking. Purging!

Nov 13, 2015 by

Two down, 35,998 to go!

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office had, until recently, a list of 36,000 Kansas who tried to register to vote and had their registration suspended by Kobach because they did not have the necessary documents to prove their citizenship on hand.

Two of those on the list filed suit and guess what? Kobach cleared them, registered them to vote, and immediately asked the court to toss out the lawsuit. They lack standing, Kobach argued, because they are now registered and suffered no harm.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World,

“one of the men’s attorneys, Will Lawrence, said Kobach appeared to be ‘playing games’ with voters’ rights.

‘Obviously we are happy that our two clients are registered to vote but it’s more than these two individuals who are being affected,’ Lawrence said. ‘If Kobach can just go in and get this done, why not do this for everyone?’”

That’s a pretty good question! Read more about it here.

K-12 Student Success Committee meets again

The second meeting of the 2015 Special Committee on K-12 Student Success was held on Tuesday and was consumed with yet more information gathering.

There were a few interesting notes:

  • In reviewing data on new construction, Sen. Masterson noted that new construction seemed to be resulting in more square footage per student.
  • During a review of superintendent salaries, Rep. Lunn wanted to know if the numbers included special annuity deals (an apparent reference to the agreement between the Blue Valley School District and former superintendent Trigg).
  • When hearing about recent declines in student assessment results, Rep. Lunn asserted that school funding was increased by $312 million but scores went down. This is proof, according to Lunn, that there is no correlation between spending and achievement. (And, yes, Lunn’s assertion about increased funding for school operations is misleading.)
  • During a presentation by Scott Frank, Director of the Legislative Post Audit Division, Sen. Hensley asked Frank to tell the committee what the LPA had discovered about the relationship between spending and achievement. Frank reported that the LPA found a very strong correlation between the two; about 90%.

All of the documents from the latest meeting can be found here. Be prepared! That’s a lot of spreadsheets!

The committee will meet again on December 9.

Is Dissent Treason?

You might remember 2012 when a group of moderate Republican Senators dared to stand up against Governor Brownback’s tax “experiment” and were subsequently purged from the Senate during the Republican primary elections by candidates supported by the Governor. The message then was clear – oppose the Governor’s agenda at your own risk!

During the 2014 legislative session, the public education agenda of the Governor and his allies was blocked by a single vote in the House Education Committee as voucher bills were defeated by one vote when moderate Republicans joined Democrats in supporting public schools. Speaker Ray Merrick took care of that in 2015 by simply removing Rep. Melissa Rooker – the most outspoken Republican advocate for public education on the committee – and sending her to the Transportation Committee.

It appears there will be yet another purging of the moderates this year.

Merrick just announced that two more moderate Republicans will lose their seats on the education committee. Rep. Diana Dierks (Salina) and John Ewy (Jetmore) will be replaced by Kasha Kelley (Arkansas City) and Becky Hutchins (Holton).

Beyond that change, moderate Republicans who have supported the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas have been removed from the House Health and Human Services Committee. Looks like Merrick and Brownback will not tolerate their advocacy either.

Since all legislation must go through the committee process before hitting the floor, these changes are monumental. Brownback and Merrick are trying to ensure that no legislation they oppose will come out of these committees. Moderates are being marginalized. They will be left with taking their advocacy to the floor of the House only, making it much more difficult for them to have an opportunity to shape legislation.

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