www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Pipeline: Foreign profits, American risk -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christianity' -- Chapter 3 -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Kiwanis generosity -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

The state economy -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Restate of the union -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

France needs our First Amendment -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Repurposing Washington -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

March for Life -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Brownback, the budget and schools -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Sensible checks are no assault on gun rights -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

Jeb Bush chooses expedience on marriage issue -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

The State of the State Address and the legislative session -1/19/2015, 8:47 AM

Spending's not the culprit in budget woes -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Pilgrim's paradise -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Spring elections -1/18/2015, 3:23 PM

Kobach is back -1/16/2015, 3:04 PM

More with Les -1/16/2015, 10:03 AM

Understanding Hooper -1/16/2015, 10:02 AM

Basic economics -1/16/2015, 10:01 AM

Female governance -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

2015 energy policy -- a unique opportunity -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

The better option -1/15/2015, 9:36 AM

'Wall Street' a waste -1/14/2015, 2:50 PM

Trade already -1/14/2015, 2:49 PM

No media bias? -1/14/2015, 2:48 PM

Retirement funds -1/14/2015, 2:47 PM

Redefining public education in Kansas -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

What the future holds -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Efficient education -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Terrorists usher in the 'End of Satire' -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

Sexuality, lame logic, substandard science -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

A tragic family story -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

For freedom, LGBT rights, a year of decision -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Roberts' promotion -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

FHSU campaign -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Fairness in U.S. -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Liberals' use of black people -- Part II -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christians' -- Chapter 2 -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Taxing situation -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Trust: Society depends on it -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Education schools lack a paradigm -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Congress convenes -1/7/2015, 10:07 AM

Simple way to fix gridlock: change committees -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Kansas is your customer -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Large budget shortfalls await solution -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

The state and funding K-12 education -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Tree removal -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Republicans won -- now what? -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Social Darwinist religion, Chapter 1 -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Liberals' use of black people -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Ignorance abounds -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Superbug dilemma -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Thanks North Korea -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Sony gets the last laugh -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Free speech -12/31/2014, 1:16 PM

New Year's resolutions -- sort of -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

A flat-footed backflip for Wall Street -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Dim the lights -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Some near-sure bets for the new year -12/31/2014, 9:21 AM

Adios, Rick Perry -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Budget strife means high-anxiety session -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Time for caution -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

-12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Court's raw deal -12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Chris Christie's pork barrel politics -12/29/2014, 10:00 AM

A Festivus Miracle -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

Faith, not politics, keeps Christ in Christmas -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

EPA rule falls short -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

2014: The year in Kansas higher education -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Methane from cattle -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Black progression and retrogression -12/26/2014, 9:38 AM

Up-Lyft-ing Christmas tale -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Terrorism on soft targets -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Story of Christmas -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Fabricated column -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

The Christmas spirit dwells in us all -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

Celebrating life -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A visit from St. Nicholas -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A look ahead to the Legislature -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

There is a Santa Claus -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

Cuban sanctions need to be lifted -12/23/2014, 9:33 AM

2016 presidential campaign already boring -12/22/2014, 9:08 AM

A rainbow coalition of protests -12/22/2014, 9:07 AM

Budget needs dynamic leadership, not scoring -12/21/2014, 1:06 PM

Sure, you can say that -- but please don't -12/21/2014, 1:06 PM

Holiday travel -12/19/2014, 10:16 AM

ALEC's starring role in the 'Wrecking Crew' -12/19/2014, 10:17 AM

Should profiling be banned? -12/19/2014, 10:06 AM

No right to misbehave -12/18/2014, 10:09 AM

Pompeo deserves thanks -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Executive orders -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Attack on Pearl Harbor -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Christ's role -12/18/2014, 9:59 AM

Governing vs. giving -12/18/2014, 9:58 AM

Adapting to change -12/17/2014, 10:30 AM

Brownback's 'vision' -12/17/2014, 10:30 AM

Young at heart -12/17/2014, 10:29 AM

Newman provides western Kansas education -12/17/2014, 10:29 AM

Big banks win again -12/16/2014, 9:37 AM

Securing the future of aerospace in Kansas -12/16/2014, 9:36 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Kansas' policy conflicts

Published on -1/12/2014, 2:26 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

One of the common complaints citizens register about federal systems like the United States is the potential always exists for the federal and state governments to conflict over policy. The result usually is confusion at best, and a fundamental contradiction that renders the citizen the only loser in a tug-of-war over policy authority at worst. Whether it is Medicaid, Obamacare, immigration or tax policy, many times the states and federal government disagree on the best way to implement a policy designed to have the two levels of government cooperate. Kansas finds itself in the latest in a series of such conflicts now, over tax filing policy for same-sex couples.

The fight over same-sex rights has become a proxy for the federal-state battle for power during the last decade, and the federal government issued its biggest attack yet In August, when the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service announced same-sex couples who previously had needed to file separate tax returns would be allowed to file jointly beginning with their 2013 returns. One caveat: The couple has to be legally married, meaning they must have formally filed marriage papers in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Couples simply cannot declare themselves married in states that do not recognize same-sex unions. If taxes were only filed at the federal level, or if states automatically followed the federal government's lead, then there would be no issue. Since Kansas does not recognize same-sex marriage, there is an obvious conflict between the state's existing system requiring separate filings and the federal government's allowance of same-sex couple filing.

Kansas has a history of rejecting federal policy attempts it deems overreaching, and this is no exception. Gov. Sam Brownback emphatically rejected federal Obamacare exchange participation since its passage in 2010, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach's pet voting laws -- requiring birth certificates to register and photo identification to vote -- represent Kansas' reticence to cooperate with federal policy the state believes are illegitimate intrusions into state sovereignty. Most of the time the state fighting such federal policy ends up on the losing end of the conflict, but that does not stop the state from fighting, at least for electoral or symbolic political reasons.

In October, the Kansas Department of Revenue ruled requiring same-sex couples here to continue filing separately. A clause in state statute calls for the use of federal definitions of marriage in state tax filings, so the October revenue ruling represents a change of policy that might in fact be illegal. Hence, the Kansas Equality Coalition filed suit on New Year's Eve to force the state to follow the new federal guidelines and allow joint filing.

At stake is not just a technical argument but a pitched battle in the war about same-sex rights in America today. President Barack Obama changed his stance to support same-sex marriage during the 2012 campaign. Then June's Supreme Court decision striking down the bedrock of traditional-marriage legislation, the Defense of Marriage Act, opened a policy window the Obama administration has seized upon.

Kansas probably will be one of the last states to accept such federal efforts, though. As recently as 2005, state voters rejected gay marriage with Amendment 1. The referendum wrote a prohibition against the performance or recognition of same-sex marriages within the state into the Kansas constitution by a 70-30 vote.

The federal government's change of attitude might signal an overall shift in attitudes toward same-sex marriage. Eighteen states now recognize same-sex unions in some form, an increase from just two a decade ago. Those states have no conflict between state and federal policy, but that leaves 32 states with some form of conflict. The decision on Kansas' policy will serve as a template for other states in conflict with the federal rules. Furthermore, the number of states that do not recognize same-sex marriage but accept the federal government's tax filing policy will be a telling statistic to trace momentum in the continuing fight over same-sex marriage.

As the federal and state governments hash out their ideological differences, those caught in the middle are regular citizens who are uncertain about something as basic as filing their taxes.

Chapman Rackaway is a Professor of Political Science at Fort Hays State University.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos