Whatever It Does, Legislature is Predictable

Topeka Capital-Journal
March 3, 1999

At approximately the halfway point in this session, the situation is normal in the Kansas Legislature. There is a lot of huffing and puffing going on, there is some name-calling, the Republican religious right-wingers are bent on doing God’s work rather than the state’s work, and whether by design or by accident the lawmakers seem once again to be headed for overtime.

In the midst of all this, Gov. Bill Graves said he will support Texas Gov. George Bush for president in 2000, a move many interpret as a clear indication that Liddy Dole is running for vice president, and that a Bush-Dole ticket is more than just a possibility. If nothing else, Bush-Dole fits well in a headline.

Probably due more to personalities than assessing the needs of the state, most legislators these days are found in one of three camps – the transportation people, the budget cutters and those wanting to fund all the social programs.

The transportation plan, which is the biggest gorilla in the Statehouse zoo, is getting a lot of attention, but that doesn’t mean it will ever make its way out of the place. It started when a task force developed a plan, just as it was asked to do, but then the governor changed it and it became his plan.

Now the House has passed its own version of the plan and sent it to the Senate, but it’s a foregone conclusion that when the Senate gets through with it the House won’t recognize it. This probably is the buildup for passing some kind of plan in the frenzy of the final minutes of double overtime, known as the veto session.

What will come out then is anybody’s guess, but it probably will have amendments in small print calling for a legislative pay raise with automatic pension increases, and stricter abortion laws. Continue reading