Now, we wait to see the outcome
They're back home, probably trying to remember just what you do with an actual bill for drinks and meals, but at least the freshmen legislators now can tell their coffee crowds about working until 2 a.m. hammering out a year's worth of government.
The 2013 session of the Legislature, which adjourned early Sunday, was more complicated than some in recent years, maybe partly because of record numbers of new members who probably didn't realize just what all the state does and how it pays for it.
Also, the session might have surprised some folks who thought it would get done in the 80 days -- instead of 99 -- some legislative leaders predicted. Wouldn't a conservative Republican governor, House and Senate all work smoothly together, they reasoned. Nope: Family squabbles can morph into the most intricate, complicated battles you'll find anywhere.
The 0.6-percent sales tax expiration? A small majority of Republicans, some grudgingly, resuscitated all but a dab of it, and how that sells back home is going to be interesting. It was the biggest campaign issue last fall most of the public apparently didn't care that strongly about. We've heard no stories of a spouse being told he or she would have to get cloth seats in the new car because of the sales tax.
And the budget, it's the 600-plus page bill few actually have read, but the key is it spends approximately $104 million less than Gov. Sam Brownback proposed. That's not bad for lawmakers who still have stacks of anti-"tax and spend" government palm cards around. Yet they are going to have to wait, probably until they hear complaints, to learn just what locally important spending cuts they unknowingly voted for -- and how it plays in the community.
But, they're out of town, and the bookkeepers throughout state government agencies, school districts, state universities and such will be spending the next couple weeks figuring out how they did, what services they can continue and which are going to be ratcheted-down due to budget cuts.
The process will continue long after lawmakers have returned home to real work.
Next? It's the usually largely ceremonial sine die (that's Latin for "without day," which means "without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing"). June 20 is the absolute adjournment of the Legislature for this year. Will it be just a meet-and-greet? Or will there be some so-far undiscovered problem that will require actual legislation? We won't know for a couple weeks...
But most legislators will have until June 20 to do some other important work. They can't legally drop in the mail requests for campaign contributions from corporations, unions and political action groups until the gavel falls on sine die. So, they'll probably be busy figuring out how to write those letters seeking contributions based on what they voted for and against this session.
Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report. To learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service,