Daily Archives: Feb. 3, 2013

Kansans unafraid of ‘sustainability planning’

Despite attempts by some local officials to portray “sustainability planning” as a United Nations plot to make us all ride bicycles and live in high-rise apartments, Kansans aren’t scared of it. In fact, 75 percent of those surveyed in a new Kansas Policy Institute poll agreed that communities should work with the Environmental Protection Agency and local groups to plan a “sustainable community.” This includes 62 percent of conservatives. What’s more, 65 percent of Kansans surveyed said that they wanted their federal and local tax dollars used to develop such plans.

Study says smoking ban hasn’t hurt business

Some individual businesses may have been negatively affected by the state’s 2010 decision to bar smoking indoors in public places. But a new study by the Kansas Health Institute found “no apparent evidence that smoking bans in Kansas have been associated with a decrease in statewide restaurant and bar sales, or with a decrease in the number of establishments serving liquor.” The researchers looked at restaurant and bar sales in the eight years leading up to the ban’s passage and the two years afterward. Legislators should not waste time trying to weaken or repeal the smoking ban, but they should end the hypocrisy of allowing smoking on the gambling floors of the state-owned casinos.

Party-switching voters benefited O’Donnell

State Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, provided a contrary view to a bill that would make it harder for voters to switch political parties. He said that about 400 Democrats switched their registration to Republican before the 2012 primary election in order to vote for Republican incumbent Sen. Jean Schodorf, who was defeated by O’Donnell. “It didn’t necessarily change the outcome – it was still a 20-point race – but it undermined the Democratic primary so that the weak candidate won by 60 votes,” O’Donnell said. “There’s a very good chance I wouldn’t have gotten elected had the stronger (Democratic) candidate gotten through, so I kind of like the way it is now.”

Repeal one-judge law or pay for 22 more judges

If legislators really want the state to operate more efficiently, they should heed the call of Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss (in photo) to repeal a state law requiring at least one judge be located in each of the state’s 105 counties. The 30-year-old statute has resulted in a misallocation of resources, with judges in populous counties such as Sedgwick having more cases then they can handle, while judges in some sparsely populated counties have little to do. Repealing the statute would “allow the court to apply sound principles of business management – to run the judicial branch of government more efficiently and effectively, and better meet the justice needs of Kansas citizens,” Nuss said in the State of the Judiciary report he submitted last week. If the Legislature doesn’t repeal the law, Nuss said, it needs to provide funding for 22 new district judge positions.