- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Topeka Capital-Journal, March 3

Legislators get passing grade:

Assigning a midterm grade to the work of Kansas legislators isn’t a simple task, largely because bills have simply shuttled from one chamber to the other and work remains to be done before they are sent to Gov. Sam Brownback for his signature.

The 2014 legislative session has reached the point when most bills are to have been dealt with in their originating chamber, either the House or Senate, and moved across the rotunda for consideration by the other chamber. Other bills will be introduced before the session closes, however, and issues that now appear dead may resurface as amendments to other measures - although the thinking here is that anything already on life support is there for a reason and shouldn’t be resurrected.

Given all that is yet to come, the only fair grade now would be a “C,” from which the legislators can take the session up or down.

That doesn’t mean the 2014 session hasn’t produced anything worthy of comment.

On the lighter side, kudos go to House members who chided their colleagues on the time spent naming official state fossils. It isn’t unusual for an individual or group ask legislators to put the state’s stamp on a specific critter or plant, and Rep. Mike Kiegerl, R-Olathe, rightly said the foolishness has to stop sometime. Regardless, the House approved a bill to honor the tylosaurus and pteranodon as the state fossils.

The House receives a high mark, though, for advancing to the Senate a bill that would unseal court records used to establish probable cause to obtain a search or arrest warrant. Kansas is the only state that now automatically seals all such records.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects U.S. citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The way to ensure searches and seizures by law enforcement officers are reasonable is to open the records used to obtain warrants. The fact prosecutors and law enforcement officials have reservations about the bill should be cause for concern.

An issue that hasn’t gained much traction in the Senate or House is Brownback’s push for state funding of all-day kindergarten. House and Senate leaders aren’t fond of the $80 million price tag the proposal carries, but the governor’s request is a sound one that may have gained some support with recent reports of higher than expected state income tax receipts.

Most Kansans expected the Legislature to respond in some manner to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling on a case challenging the level of funding provided for K-12 education. The court has not yet ruled on the case, however, nor indicated with any precision when it will.

If the issue does come to the Legislature, how it is handled certainly will impact Kansans’ opinion on the success of the 2014 session.

In the meantime, we’d encourage legislators to concentrate on what they must do and should do and not waste time on the frivolous stuff and issues that really aren’t issues.


The Garden City Telegram, March 2

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