Daily Archives: Feb. 20, 2013

County right to push back on public-lobbying bill

Good for the majority of the Sedgwick County Commission for passing a resolution Wednesday stating the commission’s official opposition to Senate Bill 109, which would criminalize the direct or indirect use of tax dollars to lobby the Legislature. People around the state might have been confused about where Sedgwick County stood, given County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn’s (in photo) testimony in support of the bill in a Senate hearing last week. The bill risks muting the voices of cities, counties, school districts, law enforcement authorities and others around the state whose expertise is vital to make good law.

Hearing on accreditation was a waste of time

At least state Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita, backed away Monday from his bill to prohibit health departments from becoming nationally accredited. But he wasted people’s valuable time by giving credence to the unfounded fears of Sedgwick County Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau that the federal government is trying to take over local health departments. As state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, noted, the Legislature shouldn’t have been dragged into a Sedgwick County dispute. State and local health officials also seemed frustrated. “All of this took time and money that could have been spent in better ways,” said Dan Partridge, director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.

NBAF funding at risk because of sequester

The threat of automatic budget cuts on March 1 has caused the Department of Homeland Security to hold back $40 million for a power plant and $50 million for construction at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them wait and see what happens,” said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka. “If the sequester kicks in, they’re going to have to reprioritize.” Kansas may also have to increase its investment in the research facility beyond the $140 million that’s been pledged, but the congressional delegation remains optimistic that the facility will be completed. “Maybe Kansas has to put a little more money in that the original plan didn’t call for,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita. “It makes sense for America, not just Kansas. Ultimately, that will drive us to get NBAF constructed.”

Can Congress still solve big problems?

Though there have been some encouraging signals on immigration reform, the idea that the government can, will or even wants to come together to solve big issues is seeming like a total fallacy, Chris Cillizza wrote in the Washington Post. One reason is that the overwhelming majority of GOP House members come from heavily Republican districts and have a disincentive to compromise. “The only danger for most GOP members of the House is in a primary, not a general election,” Cillizza wrote. “And the best way to avoid a primary is to hold the ideological line on anything and everything.” Other factors that make a “grand bargain” unlikely are that polarization among the public is at an all-time high, according to polls, and Republicans lack a clear leader for negotiations.