Daily Archives: Feb. 11, 2013

Pope’s decision to resign is remarkable

Pope Benedict’s decision to resign is remarkable historically, as the last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and that was due to a schism in the church. Benedict said he lacked the strength to continue the demanding job. “In order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary – strengths which in the last few months, have deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” he said.

Voters should understand what’s on the ballot

Good for Secretary of State Kris Kobach for backing a bill that would allow a plain-language “explainer” to be posted at election sites when a ballot measure is too confusing. Wichita’s vote last year on the Ambassador Hotel tax subsidy was exhibit one for why such explanations are sometimes needed. The ballot measure was filled with so much legalese (as required by the state constitution) that it was difficult to decipher what a “yes” or “no” vote meant. And election officials are prohibited from explaining the measure to voters. One concern about an official explanation is that it might be written in a way that influences voting. But the bill includes checks to ensure the explanation isn’t biased.

Allow candidates to transfer funds

After last year’s redistricting, a lot of members of the Kansas House ran for the Senate but couldn’t legally use leftover campaign funds, which under current law end up being returned to donors or given to charity or state parties. House Bill 2112 would change that. As state Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, said last week: “Most campaign contributions are made because of the person running for office.” Then-congressmen Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran were able to transfer $1 million and $2.4 million, respectively, from their campaign treasuries to be used as they ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010. Why should state candidates’ leftover funds be unusable?

Bill would require chief justice to address Legislature

Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, was free to deny Chief Justice Lawton Nuss’ (in photo) request to speak to a joint session of the Legislature, and ask the chief justice instead to put his State of the Judiciary report in writing. But a bill introduced by Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, would newly spell out the chief justice’s responsibility to deliver such an oral report to the Legislature at the beginning of each session. It also says the governor “shall deliver an oral State of the State address to every session of the Legislature” – an annual tradition not currently required by law, Ward said.