The Eagle editorial board took a stab at naming the 10 biggest local and state public policy/political issues of the year on today’s Opinion Pages. Note: These are political stories, not just news stories, so the capture and conviction of BTK doesn’t qualify. We also gave strong preference to issues that generated the most attention and public passion. As a result, the local war on porn made our list, even though it produced more heat than light, and Medicaid reform did not, though it is the biggest budget challenge facing the state. Here is our list:
1. Evolution. Scopes II hearings; State Board of Education vote; damage to state’s image; KU professor Paul Mirecki.
2. School funding. Showdown with Kansas Supreme Court; special legislative session; large funding increase; new cost study.
3. Iraq. Local deaths and deployments; Phelps protests at funerals.
4. Gay marriage. Constitutional amendment passes in landslide.
5. Economy. Local and state tax collections increased and aircraft orders are up, but demand for help from charities also increased; United Way fundraising and local attractions faltered.
6. Downtown redevelopment. Arena site chosen; new projects planned; WaterWalk off to rocky start; Boathouse controversy.
7. Expanded gambling. Talk of riverfront casino and a specific plan for a tribal casino in Park City. Sedgwick County decides not to hold nonbinding vote, but three area counties do.
8. GOP infighting. Rep. Jerry Moran flip-flops on governor’s race; state party chief Tim Shallenburger under fire; new moderate Republican group forms; Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts on national stage.
9. Abortion. Attorney General Phill Kline subpoenas clinic records, case before Kansas Supreme Court; legislative effort to regulate clinics; protesters at local high schools; death of patient at Wichita abortion clinic.
10. Pornography. Grand jury convened; Wichita City Council changes zoning; lawmakers considering skin tax.
Other top issues: Kansas mostly spared from military base closings; Wichita school district reviewing forced busing; Kline defends state’s death penalty law before U.S. Supreme Court.
What do you think of the list? Did we miss some big issues or get our ranking wrong?
Posted by Phillip Brownlee
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