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4.2.22 – KansasCity.com

The Kansas Legislature adjourned early Saturday morning, having accomplished … what, exactly?

Lawmakers passed an unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional map earlier this year. They decided to offer an unnamed company $1 billion in incentives to build a big manufacturing plant. Friday, they finally passed a general state budget that contained a needed raise for state workers. That’s about it.

But repeal the food sales tax? Fund the schools? Expand Medicaid? Offer sports gambling? Nah. Kansans should be frustrated and angry. Republican legislators have turned governing into performance art, wasting your time and theirs on posturing and trivia while real problems facing real people are ignored.

This misguided approach was clear throughout the session, but it reached an apex of sorts Friday, April Fools’ Day. House Lawmakers spent much of the day debating a ban on transgender athletes in sports, and an unnecessary parents’ bill of rights, because of course discriminating against kids is much more important than what you pay at the grocery store.

The transgender athlete ban is on its way to Gov. Laura Kelly, who must veto it. Oh: Legislators also scurried about the Kansas Capitol, terrified that an ethics investigation might reveal the disgusting influence of money in state politics. Naturally, they considered removing the ethics director to stop the probe. Thankfully, that transparent attempt at self-protection collapsed. Saturday’s adjournment isn’t the end of this foolishness. Lawmakers will reconvene April 25, and will likely take up unfinished business at that time. Major issues like K-12 school funding must be addressed.

The April 25 meeting is called, quaintly, a “veto session.” It was designed to give lawmakers a chance to reconsider measures that the governor, you know, vetoed. Not now. After three months of work that produced mostly nothing, the Legislature may end up staying days to address important concerns such as repealing the unfair food sales tax, which should be law by now. Or, more likely, legislators will spend the next three weeks cutting deals outside of the public eye, then presenting them as final, take it or leave it, no amendments or changes allowed. Kansans want a government that works. Sadly, it’s been hijacked by extremists who march to the orders of national groups interested in legislation only for what it says, not for what it does. As a result, our kids are less well educated, our roads and bridges are in worse shape than they should be, our neighbors without health insurance must suffer. And we must pay hundreds of dollars more at the grocery store than we should. It’s grotesque and shameful. It isn’t the way to run the state’s business.

This story was originally published April 2, 2022 10:30 AM.