Daily Archives: May 16, 2013

New judicial-reform bills are petty, punitive

New bills aimed at changing (and punishing) the Kansas courts are another example of why the legislative and judicial branches should be kept separate. Apparently angered that the Kansas Bar Association doesn’t support a GOP plan to alter how Kansas Supreme Court justices are selected, Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, hastily introduced a constitutional amendment to allow the governor to make lifetime appointments to the state Supreme Court, subject to Senate approval. But in a seemingly contradictory move, he also introduced bills that would reduce the mandatory retirement age for appellate judges to 65 and split the Court of Appeals into criminal and civil divisions, with the criminal division having final say on all criminal cases. These bills are petty attempts to weaken the Supreme Court and purge justices. Kinzer said he doubted that his bills would get a vote before the session ends. They certainly don’t deserve serious consideration.

Keep state budget negotiations out of backrooms

One way to reduce “he said, she said” disagreements at the Statehouse – such as the dispute about whether House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, referred to Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, as childish and egotistical – is to not have so many closed meetings. Merrick’s disputed comments were made during a closed meeting with House Republican freshmen. Of more concern was that until Wednesday, budget and tax negotiations had been occurring in closed meetings between Merrick, Wagle and Gov. Sam Brownback, rather than in open conference committee meetings. Such backroom dealings reduce the public’s faith in the legislative process – and suggest that state leaders also don’t have much faith in lawmakers or the process.

Welcome to Wichita

Some top U.S., Mexican and Canadian trade officials are in Wichita for the 37th-annual World Trade Week. Thursday’s conference, organized by the World Trade Council of Wichita, focuses on the North American Free Trade Agreement, the largest free-trade agreement in the world. Mexico and Canada are also the top two export markets for Kansas. Panel discussions include legal and trade regulations, tax policies, transportation and trade strategies. The conference is a good opportunity to network with trade officials and companies.