Gotta wonder just what the members of the House who are seeking re-election are going to say through the screen door on your porch to convince you they deserve another two years in the Statehouse.
Because if you look at the big-picture stuff, well, it’s a little thin on anything that is much of a vote-mover.
The 2018 Legislature passed a budget, it offered up what lawmakers hope is a “fix” for the state’s unconstitutional school finance plan, and … oh yes, they passed the bill that will let bars and restaurants — and maybe the local pancake house? — sell alcoholic drinks at 6 a.m., giving you a three-hour head-start over the current 9 a.m. kick-off to a day’s drinking.
But there was a passel of narrow-interest measures that will appeal to some through the primary and into the general election.
Like … for the first time, making possession of a gun a felony if the gun owner has within five years been convicted of domestic violence, stalking and violence toward children.
That’s a significant gun control law, and the National Rifle Association was pretty quiet about it because, well, it is aimed at gun owners who have been convicted of domestic violence … not exactly the members that any organization would brag about.
And lawmakers also passed the telemedicine act, which will expand that health-care service into rural areas, where doctors are sparse and where specialists are even more sparse. Wouldn’t that be nice if you had a health problem that your general practitioner recognizes, but would like a specialist to look at?
The law, which specifically says it does not authorize delivery of any abortion services via telemedicine (largely prescription of abortifacients), contains the hotly debated non-severability clause that says if the abortion provision is held invalid or unconstitutional, the entire bill will be struck down — essentially ending tele-health regulation in the state. But the law until antiabortion forces try to dismantle it in court … sounds like something most voters would commend…
Candidates probably won’t be talking-up last year’s repeal of the Gov. Sam Brownback-era income tax cuts that slashed revenue and spurred budget paring that was reflected in everything from failure to improve roads and bridges to less money for public schools to higher tuition when you send the kids off to college. Tricky that campaigning, not knowing whether the person behind the door has an LLC and is having to re-learn how to file Kansas income taxes after the four-year non-wage income tax holiday or is one of those Kansans who paid taxes all along and saw their tax bill rise this year.
Maybe … they holler through the door that the state budget appears to be stable again, schools, social services, roads, law enforcement and such are starting to see their budgets rise a dab to provide voters the services they expect.
Or … maybe they say that by not passing a major tax cut bill this year, when — or if — they return to the Statehouse next year they will know how much that federal income tax trickle-down will yield in state revenues and find some use for it that will make most voters happy. How about a cut in the sales tax on groceries, maybe giving every Kansan a taste of that trickle-down by raising the state’s standard deduction, or maybe spending that unexpected cash on social services to the state’s poor.
Could be the campaigns this summer will be about a couple nice things, and some mistakes not made.
But it’s hard to campaign on not making mistakes, isn’t it?
Martin Hawver is publisher
of Hawver’s Capitol Report.