www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Indians get snookered -4/21/2014, 10:27 AM

Religion's unfair advantage unwarranted -4/21/2014, 10:27 AM

-4/21/2014, 10:27 AM

He is risen -4/20/2014, 2:20 PM

Anti-Semitism alive, dangerous in America -4/20/2014, 2:19 PM

Abolition of teacher tenure out of place -4/20/2014, 2:19 PM

Library award-winning -4/20/2014, 2:19 PM

Equality in discipline -4/18/2014, 7:57 AM

Earth daze -4/18/2014, 7:57 AM

Equal pay -4/18/2014, 7:57 AM

Receiving great care -4/17/2014, 4:09 PM

Unequal pay among genders -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Fighting for Kansas veterans -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

School reductions -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Dress for safety -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Does losing due process create inadequacies? -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Hate crimes -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

On with the prom -4/15/2014, 8:57 AM

Newman proud to be in western Kansas -4/14/2014, 8:57 AM

Waiting on revenue estimates -4/13/2014, 8:57 AM

Wake up, people, and see the danger we’re in -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Patronizing paychecks -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Stripping of teachers’ due process worrisome -4/13/2014, 6:11 AM

The Kansas Ministry of Truth -4/13/2014, 6:14 AM

Letterman, Hillary and Jeb: 21st Century symbols -4/13/2014, 6:10 AM

Expensive school bill -4/13/2014, 6:12 AM

How to assist evil -4/11/2014, 9:15 AM

Taxing life away -4/11/2014, 9:12 AM

Lying about Obamacare -4/11/2014, 9:17 AM

The talk radio party? -4/10/2014, 11:04 AM

Term limits -4/10/2014, 11:06 AM

Let's do what we do best -4/10/2014, 11:05 AM

Satisfying the court -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Late-night funding fight -4/9/2014, 10:44 AM

‘Farmland’ — art is life on screen -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Tradition not changing -4/8/2014, 12:02 PM

Flat as a pancake -4/8/2014, 11:22 AM

Willing to take a bet -4/8/2014, 11:24 AM

Exposure to violence threatens children’s future -4/8/2014, 11:23 AM

Battling MS -4/7/2014, 8:58 AM

Why Renewable Fuel Standard matters -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Rites and wrongs of spring -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Coming to terms with Brownback -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Are 'religious viewpoint' laws needed in schools? -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

School non-funding -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Sex and race equality -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Rest of the story -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Bank on USPS to save 'bank deserts' -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Gambling and government -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Not merely water under the bridge -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Federal fine -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Twister time is here again -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

School funding battle continues -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

Watching for the flip-floppers -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Will Hays enter the 21st century? -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Tax breaks -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Hobby Lobby case a slippery slope -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Happy birthday, Gloria -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Unequal voting -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Protecting the pollinators -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Parties, politicians and seeking an advantage -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Healthy aging -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Threatened chicken -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

As temperatures rise, pay attention to stored grain -3/30/2014, 3:49 PM

Bizarre arguments and behavior -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

In your dreams -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

Against the wind -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Discovering the salt of the earth -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Entrepreneurship key to economic growth -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Kansas goes Kremlin with arrests, secrecy -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Get ready for Arbor Day -3/26/2014, 2:03 PM

Reading between the lines -3/26/2014, 2:02 PM

Switching parties -3/26/2014, 1:53 PM

Putting a price tag on damages -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Privately piercing, serious sacrifice -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Autism bill passes House -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

United stance -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Legislative session getting down to the end -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

Taxation bill involving livestock successful -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

STARBASE Day hits Topeka -3/24/2014, 10:13 AM

Judging based on accomplishments -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Who speaks for the voiceless? -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Fly Hays -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

Learning from the candidates -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

hedy -3/21/2014, 1:12 PM

-3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Fred Phelps -3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Is There Wage Stagnation? -3/20/2014, 9:58 AM

Cost of living, wages don't add up -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

Legislative proposal raises questions -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

No vote on war -3/19/2014, 3:32 PM

Wonder of St. Fidelis -3/19/2014, 4:01 PM

Protein for breakfast -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

A pointed comment on guns -3/19/2014, 8:57 AM

Campaign madness -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

Counting the cost of Kansas' Medicaid expansion -3/18/2014, 9:26 AM

Tax-relief spells a sure vote -3/18/2014, 9:26 AM

Tourney madness -3/18/2014, 9:25 AM

St. Patrick's Day -- The value of Irish humor -3/16/2014, 5:44 PM

Not all things are bad -3/16/2014, 5:44 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Brownback clears the final hurdle

Published on -11/11/2012, 3:59 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Gov. Sam Brownback and his political allies cleared their final hurdle of this election season as Kansas voters rewarded them with huge majorities in both houses of the Kansas Legislature on Tuesday.

Republicans will retain a 92-33 advantage over Democrats in the Kansas House and a 32-8 edge in the Kansas Senate, which are the exact margins of the past two legislative sessions.

Even though Republican majorities will remain the same, the composition of the legislature changes dramatically come January. Voters turned out 19 House incumbents in the primary and general elections, many as a result of court-ordered redistricting. Only 69 House veterans will return in January.

While five former House members were elected, 51 House members will be brand new, making this the largest freshmen class in 60 years or more. And, more than 70 members will have two years' experience or less.

The change in Senate composition is striking as well. Twelve Senate incumbents were defeated, 10 in the primary. The Senate will have 17 new members, but 11 of them are incumbent House members who successfully won Senate seats and two more are former House members.

In the August primary Brownback took the unprecedented action of campaigning against incumbent Republicans who he believed were blocking his legislative agenda. As a result Brownback and his conservative allies helped defeat nine Republican moderates in the Senate, wiping out most of the chamber's Republican leadership.

Brownback's action prompted a group of moderate Republicans, mostly former elected officials, to endorse Democratic candidates in a few general election races. These endorsements may have influenced the outcome of one close race in Manhattan, but for the most part, moderate Republican voters returned to the Republican fold despite some vitriolic primary battles.

Democrats campaigned against giving Brownback a rubber-stamp legislature and in opposition to his income tax cuts, particularly the impact of the cuts on spending for education and social services. Republicans and outside groups cleverly responded by tagging Democratic candidates with Obama and Obamacare, both of which are unpopular in Kansas. A number of competitive campaigns produced close races across the state but did little to change the election's outcome.

Brownback's aggressive legislative agenda of cutting taxes and limiting spending, changing judicial selection, reforming Medicaid, and regulating abortion, among other issues should enjoy smooth sailing in the upcoming legislative session.

On the other hand constitutional amendments, for example on judicial selection, if proposed by Brownback, could be blocked by an alliance of Democrats and the diminished number of moderate Republicans. Still, moderate Republican legislators will be under intense pressure to join the Brownback bandwagon and avoid the fate of their defeated comrades.

Challenging issues will confront Brownback and state lawmakers almost immediately. A decision to establish a state health insurance exchange as encouraged by Obamacare and recommended by Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger faces a November deadline. Whether Kansas will extend health care coverage to uninsured, lower-income Kansans with expanded Medicaid funding, available through Obamacare, will be on the table shortly. Flaws in the income tax bill enacted last year have to be fixed by legislative action and could open up other tax issues for discussion. Lowered revenue estimates may require Brownback to revisit extending the temporary sales tax increase to avoid drastic cuts in state spending.

In two short years, Brownback has established himself as an aggressive governor who is willing to take political risks on issues he cares about. He is comfortable and confident in his gubernatorial role. His approval ratings suggest that Kansans are not as yet completely comfortable with him and his policies.

But, for the moment, Kansas voters have given Brownback and his agenda a vote of confidence.

H. Edward Flentje is a professor at Wichita State University.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos