The Garden City Telegram
5/9/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Open talks

Lawmakers should be quizzed by the people they represent.

Gov. Sam Brownback was pleased to see this year's legislative session wrap up in short order.

He wasn't the only one. Many other Kansans were relieved to see state lawmakers go home before more damage could be done.

While some harm was avoided — an attempt to repeal the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, for example, was rejected — the session still will be remembered for assaults on many Kansans driven by the ideological interests of a few.

The session opened with such embarrassing right-wing pursuits as a "religious freedom" bill that would encourage discrimination against same-sex couples. That and other senseless proposals fizzled, thankfully.

But there were plenty of setbacks. Among the lowlights:

* Continued refusal to make health care available to nearly 100,000 working Kansans by expanding Medicaid.

* A response to a court order to boost state aid to poorer public school districts unnecessarily included a way to undermine teacher job security, and added tax breaks for corporations' private school donations as part of a quest to build public support for charter schools and voucher programs.

* A measure that will prohibit local control over gun regulations (a nonsensical pursuit indeed from a radical right that rejects federal control over guns and more).

Whether Kansans agreed or disagreed with such moves, they always should be prepared to share their thoughts with the folks elected to represent them in the Statehouse.

One such opportunity will arrive Thursday with the final 2014 legislative coffee organized by the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce, and set for 6:30 p.m. at St. Catherine Hospital.

Local and area lawmakers were invited to participate. We'd hope those who followed national blueprints for ultraconservative policy-making from the American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity come prepared to explain why they put those agendas above the interests of the people they serve.

And, they should explain why open debate was so often blocked during the session, keeping Kansans in the dark as deals unfolded.

Citizens should take advantage of such opportunities as Thursday's legislative coffee to share their thoughts on the issues. Some lawmakers might even listen.