Daily Archives: Jan. 6, 2013

Good trend on jail numbers continuing

At Wednesday’s Sedgwick County Commission meeting, County Manager William Buchanan summarized the many measures the county has taken to better manage the jail population and avoid another expansion of the facility, including what he rightly called the “amazing statistic” that 92 percent of those who graduated from drug court committed no new crimes in the six months afterward. The average daily jail population was 1,374 in November, down from 1,496 in November 2011 and 1,700 a few years ago. Buchanan had a valuable caution for the future, though. “We’re very concerned about the reduction in the state funds for the prevention programs,” he said, noting the county has seen those funds cut from more than $1 million a year to $200,000 last year. The state is “not paying attention to the front end of the system, and that’s going to catch up to us,” Buchanan said.

Norquist to counter Kobach’s view on immigration

Illegal immigration is sure to be debated by the 2013 Legislature, which includes many new members who share Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s zeal to pass an Arizona-style crackdown. But the Kansas Chamber of Commerce is bringing anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to address legislators Jan. 16 to warn against passing what chamber CEO Mike O’Neal calls “harmful, anti-business legislation.” Kansas lawmakers also should note Arizona’s five-year experience with its mandate that employers check the citizenship status of applicants by using the E-Verify database. Only 43 percent of businesses are doing so, and there is little enforcement. Mitt Romney had called Arizona’s E-Verify law a model for the nation. An attorney for Arizona businesses told the Yuma Sun that E-Verify has “a lot of deficiencies” and invites identity theft, saying about half of undocumented applicants can find ways around it.

Roberts’ demotion another blow to Kansas’ clout

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., tried his best to cast the loss of the ranking Republican spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee in a positive light, promising in a statement to “remain a strong and vocal champion for agriculture as a senior member of the committee” and reassuring Kansas farmers and ranchers “that I will continue to be your voice and your champion at every turn.” No doubt he will influence the renewed effort to pass a farm bill and other issues however he can. But Roberts’ replacement as ranking member by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., was good for Southern farmers and a particularly frustrating blow for Kansas, which just saw its role in agricultural policy diminished last month when Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, was booted off the House Agriculture Committee. Politico noted that Roberts was a “frequent thorn in the side of the South since he has been one of the leading opponents of target price supports important to rice, peanut and wheat producers from the region.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told Politico Thursday that “Pat Roberts has been good to Southern crops and he is a good friend,” but added with a smile: “It looks like we’ll be eating rice for dinner tonight.”