No Simple Choices


Well, Kansans, we have a little more than two months before the Legislature goes into session and becomes either dangerous or helpful.

Remember those good old days, when whoever voted to cut your taxes was a reasonably good pick for your vote in the upcoming election? Well, those days appear to be over. One reason is that the state is still in shaky financial condition, which means that if there is going to be a tax cut, it’s going to be pocket change or directed to such a small number of Kansans that we could probably notch their ears so we can tell who they are.

So, the upcoming holiday season is one in which we’re going to have to listen and watch for issues that are much more complex than we’ve had to weigh for decades.

Expand Medicaid so that between 130,000 and 150,000 Kansans can be provided health care? Even when the federal government will pick up 90 percent of the cost, and for just a dime on the dollar, we have healthier Kansans to mingle with at the mall or at the convenience store, or send your kids and grandkids to school with? 

Sounds simple. Except that there are conservative Kansans who want work requirements tied to getting health care. And even at the 90 percent federal funding, it’s still going to cost the state money that it can’t easily spend. 

Wrestle with what sounds good on that one…and then look at your car in the driveway.

This summer the Kansas Supreme Court held that the $235,000 cap on non-economic damages (basically reductions in physical and mental agility after the other guy has rebuilt your car) is unconstitutional. That cap, while probably high enough for the non-economic damage from not being able to dance, may require a jury to consider higher damages from the life-altering psychological changes a car crash may cause without a lid. 

That removal of the cap is undoubtedly going to raise your potential liability in a wreck that is your fault—and your premiums to drive legally on Kansas streets.  

What’s right there? Something to talk about because it will affect your checkbook, and the Legislature is going to figure out how much.

Oh, and then there is, as always, marijuana. Or cannabis as we’re calling it now in the Statehouse.

No doubting that there are Kansans with constant pain that makes their lives miserable and who have found that medical or some other genre of marijuana can alleviate that pain, physical and mental—even if the federal government doesn’t approve and doctors don’t know for sure.

Seems simple. Legalize its prescription by physicians. Except that, well, it is “marijuana” and some lawmakers fear that it will be mis-prescribed, or will lead to legalizing recreational marijuana in Kansas which apparently is more dangerous than, say, legalizing drinking…

So, what do we have to worry about for the next two-plus months? Strangely, it is worrying about what legislators believe will be good for Kansas and Kansans and whether they will find the right way to do what’s good without costing them votes. Because, of course, it’s all about votes for lawmakers who want to hang out in the Statehouse in 2021.

Oh, and then there’s that Internet, where anyone who disagrees with lawmakers’ decisions can spread that dissention worldwide, or at least to Kansas voters, and legislators have to explain why they voted right. That all becomes more difficult in the era of social media.

Those simple tax cuts appear out of reach, and everything else is becoming more complicated and divisive. 

Best part is that nobody is yet talking about letting legislators break the skin…

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