Unwelcome acrimony in Topeka

5/19/2012

By GERRY SCHULTZ

By GERRY SCHULTZ

Last time I wrote a short note on the status of judicial funding and the impending furlough days for non-judge personnel of the Judicial Branch. That arrogance problem remains unsolved. My hope was that the Legislature could find a solution and adjourn before the expiration of the 90 days allowed. That didn't happen. However, when it comes to the budget, the Legislature has now waited until the 13th hour.

These past two weeks of the wrap-up session really were "the" session. We learned that the House of Representatives rejected the Senate plan for redistricting the Senate. Our local leadership voted lock-step with House leadership to defeat the Senate plan 42-72. When this writer contacted Senate President Steve Morris for some levity and clarification, this rejection by the House of a Senate plan regarding senators was a first for Kansas. One wonders how many "firsts" we get from the House this year. Why are our House members rejecting the approved Senate plan? The real reason is the governor's quest for unbridled political power in Kansas. The vote in the House was an acrimonious first for Kansas.

Approving the Senate plan for senators would have vaulted the Legislature toward adjournment, which can't come quick enough. Since it now appears obvious the Legislature will not do its job and approve an apportionment plan, each chamber passed bills to appropriate money for the inevitable lawsuits on reapportionment. The Senate bill is $500,000 and the House's number, an incredible $2 million. Everyone should remember that this same House could not find $1.4 million out of an estimated $252 million surplus to keep the courts open, but it can now spend $2 million on costly and unnecessary lawsuit costs.

At four times the estimated cost of the Senate bill, this shows the taxpayers who will spend money for lawsuits but cannot see the wisdom to fund essential government operations, like our local Courts. If the Legislature relies on the Courts to determine reapportionment, one wonders if there would be acrimony if the Legislature's lawsuits were set on furlough days.

Gerry Schultz has practiced law in Garden City since 1984.

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