A month into this year’s legislative session, brand new Gov. Jeff Colyer will tell the House and Senate just what he wants his 11-month governorship to look like this afternoon.
Those first days of this election-year session? Well, there were no injuries, so that’s a good thing — but about as good as it got. Now-U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback is out of the building, and Colyer has a strong venue this week to talk to the House and Senate about his plans for this fiscal year and next; before today, he has been silent about just what he wants to change, if anything.
He already has harvested a House member, Rep. Larry Campbell, R-Olathe, to be his budget director, and moved Brownback/Colyer budget director Shawn Sullivan to a new more global administrative post.
At the Statehouse? Well, opinion is still split on whether he keeps the massive stuffed buffalo head in the entrance to his office. That buffalo head makes an interesting background for photos, but, well, it’s a buffalo head and that’s as good as it gets. Furniture moved in the office, and well, we’re waiting for that new “tone” he talks about.
Legislative leadership? Colyer has met with both Republican and Democratic leaders, and nobody is talking about what, if anything, purposeful was said in those polite talks.
And Colyer himself isn’t talking about anything that Brownback who was his boss for seven years did or didn’t do that Colyer had to just ignore and not criticize because, well, that’s what lieutenant governors do, just be quiet.
It’s not strange Colyer isn’t well-known to many Kansans, because the sitting governor is the face of the state. Not quite like being lieutenant governor is a witness protection program, but only in the past few months has Brownback allowed Colyer to put his DNA on much besides appointment of a new Kansas Secretary for Children and Families, Gina Meier-Hummel, to succeed retiring Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.
So, us Statehouse hangers-on are interested in today's message and what will change that we can figure out.
How often is it that us insiders don’t know more than Kansans who have regular lives, in which they don’t look for every verb or adjective that might mean a bill or a policy isn’t favored by the guy who has to sign or veto it?
But, we will be watching whether Secretary of State Kris Kobach and a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor this summer will be at the speech. We all noted Colyer tapped Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss to do the official swearing-in last week. That’s a job that often falls to the Secretary of State, but Colyer really didn’t want competitor Kobach in the pictures and demonstrating the power to scooch Colyer into the nicer office.
So, what’s new? We have a Legislature that will have spent a few weeks on the job without a clear vision of just what the new administration wants to accomplish and whether lawmakers — those Colyer fans and those who would like someone else for governor — are willing to give Colyer legislative victories he can use to win the GOP nomination for governor.
Republican candidates for just about any elected office tend to lean to the far right, to get those diligent Republican primary voters, then after the primary move toward the political middle for the general election in hopes they can pick up moderate votes, maybe a Democrat or two.
We’ll see which way Colyer is going this week.
Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report.