Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Opinion: The Hawver Report - Nov. 14, 2018

By Martin Hawver

How would you like to be elected governor of Kansas by about 46,000 votes on Tuesday and on Friday learn that you’re going to have $306.4 million more to spend than you thought?
Columnist Martin Hawver
Martin Hawver
Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Well, that’s exactly what has happened to Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, who by the way beat Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach who pledged during his campaign to start cutting taxes quickly if elected.
Well, Kelly isn’t talking tax cuts, she’s talking investment in schools, expanding Medicaid and balancing the budget without new taxes—and that was before she heard about the $306 million windfall which the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group unveiled Friday. The CREG meets twice a year, in November and April, to predict upcoming state revenues.
This might be an interesting four years ahead with a governor who wants to first take care of the state’s responsibilities that have been avoided the past several years before talking about tax cuts. The new money is good, of course, but we’re not yet constitutionally “adequate” on state aid to schools and are making little progress in restoring money that has been “swept” out of agency budgets for highway construction, pensions and such.
No, we’re not looking for Kelly to start handing out tax cuts while she’s waiting for her stationery and business cards to be printed up.
In fact, even before that $306 million windfall, Kelly was talking about waiting until next April’s Consensus Revenue Estimate before giving much thought to tax cuts—after she’s nailed down the spending necessary to restore state government duties.
Part of that, of course, is her experience as a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee—which makes the appropriations and cuts necessary to balance the budget. It’s been more cuts than appropriations in the past few years, and she’s made clear that restoration of services is first in line, ahead of tax cuts.
What’s it mean? Well, from a Statehouse viewpoint, it probably means a rather complicated “State of the State” message when lawmakers come back to town in mid-January. She’s a details person, likely to talk more about programs that need to be rebuilt or financed adequately than new programs that Republicans tend to spend a lot of time trying to think up catchy names (or acronyms) for.
Don’t look for flash.
Now, remember that she’s going to face an overwhelmingly Republican legislature that is probably going to be more interested in cutting taxes than rebuilding the state payroll of social workers and helping local school districts rebuild their staff of teachers and aides.
Key there is for the governor to convince those conservatives in the Legislature that the not-very-flashy care of the poor and ill and their children are the best way to improve the state before cutting taxes.
Tax cuts? They will probably start with the sales tax on food. It’s a big deal for the poor who see the cost of a can of beans at 9% or 10% (depending on local sales taxes) more than the shelf price before they get it out of the store and into the kitchen.  Oh, and it also means that those steaks and salmon are cheaper, too, but it’s not an afford-it or not decision for more prosperous Kansans.
That $306 million? Well, it gives Kelly some negotiating room, enough spare cash to bargain a dab of tax cut in return for the social service, highway construction and health-care expenditures she’d like to make.
But all that new direction in state spending that Kelly proposes will ultimately be keyed off of the makeup of the Legislature, and whether that top-heavy Republican majority in both chambers is solid enough to pass veto-proof legislation.
We’ll see. Check back in April…
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Monday, November 5, 2018

Opinion: The Contentious Words and Name Calling Turns

Kevin Surbaugh

photographer Kevin Surbaugh
The November election is tomorrow. How many people will vote tomorrow? Last week Douglas County reported that 23% had already voted (through Oct 29).  Since then the Kansas Secretary of State has reported 300,000 had already cast a vote in early voting statewide.  That kind of turnout is unprecedented, for a midterm election. Will that turnout hold true through election day tomorrow.  We will see, but for now, let's focus on my endorsements for this years election.

On the Federal level, you probably already seen my endorsement of Steve Watkins over Paul Davis.
photographer Kevin Surbaugh
In the race for Governor of the Great State of Kansas, Laura Kelly (Democrat), Kris Kobach (Republican), and Greg Orman (Independent) are considered to be the three battling it out.  There are two others running, another independent and a Libertarian. They aren't even polling higher then single digits,  Then again, neither is Orman. So why is he considered a major candidate and the other two aren't? It goes back to when, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against Pat Roberts, when without a Democrat in the race, he came in a strong second place.

The Governor's race is interesting to me. It, of course, is the meat and potatoes in Kansas politics. Our focus boils down to Kelly and Kobach.  Polling, which I had alluded to already, have the race very tight. A poll conducted by Emmerson has Kobach edging Kelly 44% to 43% in a poll conducted between October 26 and 28.
In another poll, conducted about the same time (Oct 17-27), ISPOS and Reuters in conjunction with the Virginia Center of Politics reported that Kelly edged out Kobach 43% to 41%, in a statistical dead heat.
The race has been interesting, to say the least. Like both of the Congressional races in eastern Kansas, it has been contentious. With former Republican Governors and U.S. Senators endorsing the Democrat. Republicans who have ignored Ronald Reagan statement, "never say anything bad about fellow Republicans."  It is true that Republican politicians have supported Democrats before, likewise, Democrats support Republicans. However, those instances were done in secret. Not publicly broadcasted. It is part what is expected from the leadership of any party. I, myself have personally served as a precinct committeeman. A position that, in part elects the chair and other leadership of their respective party. In turn, they also help promote the candidates of their party, they cannot publicly support any candidate from another party. Doing so goes against the grain of what they were elected to do. So the actions and statements by that handful of Republicans (some of who I call friends) are disappointing.
So, who am I endorsing? Well, I actually cast my vote, with having to be in the office until 4:30 and then driving in rush hour traffic back to home, it was just easier. Even though I am among the 23% plus that has already voted, it is important for me to lay out my cards and tell my readers who I voted for and thus who I encourage each of you to vote for also. That candidate is Kris Kobach. True, there are issues I disagree with him on.  One of which is medical marijuana. Something that has been proven to offer relief for some kinds of pain and medical conditions. Something that Missouri and Utah are voting on tomorrow to join the growing list of states that will legalize it for those with a doctors prescription. I think Kobach could come around with some education.   His commitment to hold the line on taxes is a big reason I support him.
State Representative
In the race for state representative, Eileen Horn is running unopposed, so I wrote my own name in.  If you so chose, you can also write in the name of D. Kevin Surbaugh for state representative. I have not campaigned for the position, nor will I, but I will accept the position if there are enough write-in votes.
Live Reporting
Finally, I will be live posting results as they come in tomorrow night. The first post I expect will be around 7:30, thirty minutes after the polls close. Who will win? We will find out tomorrow night.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Opinion: A Look at the Second Congressional Election

Kevin Surbaugh

It's that time of the year again. Yes, it's election time.  That is no surprise with all the contentious barbs that have been being traded this election cycle. In fact, it has been one of the most contentious I have seen in several years.  Even more so than the Trump v Clinton election two years ago.
My mailbox has been filled with a lot of mail from both sides.

One piece of mail came from a group calling itself the Center for Voter Information, out of Springfield, MO.  Once it was opened up, I found the mailer was a liberal organization, twisting the truth. The first problem is that it is out of state interest group, interjecting itself into a Kansas election.  The second, it claimed that Steve Watkins wants to cut the taxes for millionaires.  Trying to insinuate that he wants to raise everyone else's taxes.  The real fact is that he wants to lower the taxes for everyone, especially the poor.  The fact that millionaires are also included, is a good thing.  If the millionaire's taxes are lower, they have more money to pay employees. Yes, millionaires tend to be the ones who own businesses. As such they create jobs.  More money they have, the more jobs they can create. The more jobs they create, the more people are working and paying taxes.  Which, is a big win for the government.
The fact Paul Davis is shady is, or should be by now obvious, with his being present in the back room of a strip club, receiving a lap dance when the club was raided for drugs. One could say, as Davis tries to, that was thirty-years ago. Does change the fact, that as a lawyer he should have known better.  Sure people can change, but it's hard to not overlook that fact.  I admit, I have done things in my past, that I would rather forget. Especially in my youth. That, however, was just that I was not a lawyer, I was not someone, who was representing the law in any way. I was young and ipressionable, I since grew up.  Davis was a grown man, working as a lawyer.
He in turns tries to paint Watkins to be just as shady. I for one am not buying it. Yes, I have qualms about the GOP nominee (I endorsed and voted for Caryn Tyson in the Primary), but I cannot in good conscience, vote for someone, who wants to raise taxes on Americans.  Which in turn, if it happened, would raise unemployment.  The fact is, we must cut Government waste.  If a candidate, isn't willing to look at cutting government waste first and foremost then I am not interested in voting for them,  It is for that reason, I am endorsing Steve Watkins for Congress in the second district of Kansas,  

Monday, October 29, 2018

Opinion: Hawver Reports

By Martin Hawver

We’ve come to the point in the campaigns that political ad after political ad after political ad drag on long enough that there’s time to microwave popcorn and not miss the cop show on television.
Martin Hawver
Yes, and for those of you who have other things to think about during the commercials…one of those thoughts might just be what happens to the Kansas Legislature after the next federal census in 2020.
That’ll be the 24th national census, and it is designed to tell us what the population of the nation is, and where those people are located—and likely whether Kansas remains a four-congressional district state.
Is that official April 1, 2020, headcount a little far off? Why think about it now? Well, if you live in one of those Kansas House or Senate districts out west, say, west of US-81, the north-south Interstate that is the dividing line between western Kansas and eastern Kansas, you might want to start thinking about it now.
It’ll be 2022 when the first statewide election occurs after the census, based on that federal census and where it says the people are. That’s the key data for reapportionment of Kansas House and Senate districts. Oh…and the state’s four congressional districts.
And that reapportionment is based on U.S. Census population data which the Legislature will spend more than a year dissecting into 40 Senate districts and 125 House districts, and, yes, those four Congressional districts.
What’s worth thinking about now ahead of that reapportionment? Probably for much of western Kansas it’s what the Republican Party efforts to further regulate immigration and the “close the border” talk has to do with populations out west of US-81.
Yes, it is western Kansas, with its agriculture and food processing industry that stands the best chance of seeing foreign workers not participating in the census or maybe misstating their legal citizenship for fear of deportation. Oh, and there are lots of foreign-born workers and their children in other parts of the state, too.
Now, the GOP and President Donald Trump make a decent case that immigrants should come across the border with Mexico legally. They ought to get the visas and such, and probably some clearly defined path to becoming a full United States citizen, with a stake in how this country is run, and the right to vote.
But this concentration on immigration, while a strong national political issue, will undoubtedly have some effect on headcount in the census.
So, if the historic trend of adults and their children moving out of western Kansas is accelerated by federal immigration regulation that makes the census inaccurate, count on many who have come to this country and state for a better life to decide just not to participate.
And that means likely less census-counted population in parts of western Kansas, and by the time the Legislature has mapped out new House and Senate districts based on population, fewer state representatives and senators from areas where the population count is down.
That means fewer, and larger, Kansas House and Senate districts out west, and likely more districts in urban areas of eastern Kansas—Wichita, Topeka, and Missouri-bordered northeast Kansas counties.
Now, it’s based on population, and that’s fair, but it likely means less attention will be paid to western Kansas (except for highways) and more attention to population-heavy areas based on their representation in the House and Senate because the members of the House and Senate will be tilted toward urban areas—which, by the way, are easier to gerrymander based on voter political registration.
Something to think about during those commercials, isn’t it?
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Opinion: The Trump Factor

By Martin Hawver

We have less than a month to figure out whether the Topeka rally by President Donald Trump will see if his endorsement of GOP gubernatorial candidate Secretary of State Kris Kobach is going to move the tight race in Kobach’s favor.
Martin Hawver
Martin Hawver
Similarly, we’re going to see whether his endorsement moves the tight race for 2nd District Congress to Republican Steve Watkins, who has virtually no government experience—or even experience at voting—to the relatively little-known Republican.
While a presidential visit to the state is always front-page news, Trump had his issue Saturday which was celebration of the Senate confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as the newest, and perhaps tipping-point on life issues, nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The question, of course, is will that matter to Kansas voters next month?
At the rally, Trump talked a little about general issues, the ones that rile the Kansas Legislature each session, like taxes and spending and illegal immigration. But nothing specific that would bring Kansas notoriety as a national leader or strong supporter of Trump policies on those issues. But…it’s not going to be difficult for candidates for governor and congressional seats to raise those issues to show that if they are elected, well, the president is on their side for whatever political and legislative advantage that might yield them and their constituents.
There weren’t many legislative candidates visible at the rally. Trump didn’t identify any by name, and searches of the 10,000-Republican crowd at the event didn’t turn up any legislative candidate who made it into the same photo frame as Trump.  It is those state legislators who, if Kobach defeats Democratic challenger Laura Kelly, will tip Kansas government next session either in favor of Kobach or away from Kobach in floor votes or in considering vetoes.
The rally, though, probably had a positive effect on conservative Republicans trying to move some of those moderate GOP candidates toward conservative policy.  There are going to be those House candidates who point to conservative party leadership, and their degree of support for that conservatism may jiggle the Legislature’s votes on state issues ranging from tax cuts to school finance to expansion of Medicaid (KanCare) to voting rights.
And there are going to be moderate Republicans who vote along with Democrats on key state issues who will be able to portray themselves as important brakes on conservative moves that would dramatically alter Kansas’ responsibility to care for the poor, the ill, the roads, the students from grade school through college.
Which side wins and which side of the GOP uses the Trump appearance to its best advantage in the general election are keys for candidates who are selling themselves to voters who are pro-Trump or anti-Trump. Democrats, seeing the GOP reaction to the presidential visit, may find ways to translate that into voter support for not taking that conservative tack in the upcoming Legislature.
Remember, when Trump carried Kansas in 2016 with 56.6% of the vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 36%, that was before Trump actually had taken the wheel of the federal government. His tough trade policies that appeared for a time likely to make Kansas farmers just watch their crops and livestock they produced rather than seeing them sell at good prices, now are being shifted to what might become economic boons for those farmers. And restricting immigration, a key to Kansas productivity because those immigrants comprise a significant share of the state’s workforce, might just become another of those policy moves that may shift to help the state’s economy.
Kansans have a month to decide, or predict, what effect Trump has had on the state—and even their Kansas House districts. And then vote for or against it.
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Steve Watkins Endorsed by National Federation of Independent Business

Topeka, KS - Steve Watkins, U.S. Army veteran and Republican nominee for Kansas' 2nd Congressional District, has earned an endorsement from the National Federation of Independent Business, which is dedicated to electing small business advocates to Congress.
Steve Watkins (Gazette File Photo)
“I am truly honored to have my candidacy for Congress endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business, an organization that consistently stands up for the needs of our nation's small businesses,” said Steve Watkins. “As someone who has found both success and failure in the small business world, I know how tough it can be to start and grow a business and I will be a dedicated advocate for those who keep our local communities growing.”
"Steve Watkins has a deep understanding of the small business climate in our state,” said NFIB’s Kansas State Director Daniel Murray. “He knows the issues that concern our members, and we are confident that he will be a strong advocate for small business in the United States House of Representatives. On behalf of small business owners in Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, we are proud to endorse Steve Watkins for election to the U.S. House.”
This endorsement adds to four others earned by Steve Watkins in recent weeks, including the National Right to Life Committee, Kansans for Life, National Rifle Association, and an endorsement from President Donald Trump.

Obituary: Brenda Sue Rice

Funeral services for Brenda Sue Rice, 72, rural Baldwin, will be at 10 am Saturday at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, with Dave Olmstead officiating. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery. Brenda died Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at her home, surrounded by family.
Brenda Sue Rice Obituary
Brenda Sue Rice
She was born April 7, 1946, in Lafayette, Georgia, the daughter of Temple T. and Irene Hales Hale. She graduated from Lawrence High School in 1964. She began working at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, and later worked for ServiceMaster as an Environmental Services Manager. She enjoyed home decorating and cooking, and watching HGTV and various cooking shows. But most important to Brenda was her family.
She married Frank Molby in 1964. They divorced in 1976. She married Dan Morrow in 1977. They divorced in 1985. She married Virgil ‘Bear’ Rice in 1987. He preceded her in death in 2009. She was also preceded in death by four siblings, Geneva, Jeanette, BettyJo, and Sonny. She is survived by three children, Sean Molby and wife Christy, Grain Valley, Mo., Daniel Morrow, North Kansas City, Mo., and Shawna Vandebuerie and husband Luc, Baldwin City; a brother, Oscar Dee Hale and wife Donna, Burlingame; a sister, Frances Bates, Chattanooga, Tenn.; a sister-in-law, Carol Hale, Overbrook; and many nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Brenda Rice Memorial Fund, in care of the funeral home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS, 66044.