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Saturday, April 14, 2007
(1:33 PM) | Stephen:
Guns, Gays And Uh, Phill Kline

Kathleen Sebelius, the Governor of Kansas, vetoed a bill on Friday that was yet another attempt by the State Legislature to interfere with the ability of the state's cities and counties to govern themselves. This time, legislators want to dictate to cities and counties where they can and cannot ban the presence of concealed weapons. After the Legislature had passed the concealed-carry law, which banned concealed weapons in 21 types of places, several Kansas towns passed ordinances that expanded that list. For example, the state legislation prohibits concealed weapons in state governmental offices. Apparently, though, the idea that city governmental offices might be accorded the same status was too much for our women and men in Topeka to bear.

Other places the State Legislature thinks it's fine for people to have concealed weapons after the fold.

There had been a provision in this bill to ban concealed weapons from youth athletic events, but it was deemed "too broad." After all, said Rep. Phil Journey (R-Haysville), that provision could apply to "five kids playing stickball." So concealed weapons are allowed, under this bill, at all T-ball and soccer games and any other collection of children playing - organized or not. Another provision struck from the bill would have banned concealed weapons from properties surrounded by a fence with controlled access points - festivals and the like. Again, we can't force gun owners to emasculate themselves for such things as fairs, concerts or other city/county-sponsored events. Now, I'm sure that the comment thread is going to quickly devolve into a flame war about John Lott's "research" and how states with concealed-carry laws don't have any crime at all anymore. While I'm sure I won't be able to forestall such a thing, I'm also not interested in any of it. My problem with concealed-carry laws is that I don't trust my fellow citizens to handle themselves responsibly with the ability to carry handguns on their person wherever they go. The fact that we even have such a thing as the police is evidence that prior to the modern GOP's gun fetish society figured it was a good thing to take law enforcement out of the hands of whoever feels like doing it and into the hands of trained, dedicated professionals.

Recently the State Legislature also considered a law aimed at prohibiting Lawrence from establishing a domestic partner registry. That the legislation applies to all cities doesn't change that this was a deliberate slap at Lawrence for even thinking of such a thing. Nor did it matter that the registry did nothing to give anyone any rights not already denied to gays and lesbians. What it sought to address was how certain companies require domestic partners to be listed on such a registry in order to receive company benefits.

Phill Kline, former Attorney General and now District Attorney for Johnson County (read about the whole ridiculous story here), has been the target of state legislation. In Kansas, District Attorneys are part of their county's budget, but are not under the jurisdiction of the county government, answering to the Attorney General instead. In Johnson County, however, for the last 25 years at least the DA has followed county policies in all HR matters. The Johnson County Commission even passed an ordinance that specifically required the DA to follow its HR policies, and nothing was done about it for years even though it contradicted state law.

Enter Phill Kline who, about 1 hour after being sworn in, summarily fired 7 prosecutors and the DA office's chief investigator. Those 8 people filed a grievance with the county, saying that Kline didn't follow the correct HR policies. Kline responded that he was a state officer and didn't have to. It's gone to the courts, with Kline's right to ignore county policies upheld as well as the 8 employees' fired status being reversed. That's a good compromise, and honestly it's more that the prosecutors and investigator deserve under actual state law.

Unfortunately for Kline, most of Kansas is sick of him and quite a few people are incensed at the way he was selected as Johnson County DA. So the State Legislature considered legislation that would place DA's under county commissions for HR purposes. They even said that the law could be written to apply only to Johnson County. What a great precedent that is. Though, if writing separate laws for each county would make them too busy to pass laws making English the official State language, that may not be such a bad thing.

All of these bills show how deeply unprofessional the State Legislature is, and how power hungry they've become in Topeka. The rationale for the vetoed concealed-carry law was that all cities and counties needed to be consistent in their regulations. But the Legislature is willing to single out Johnson County just because Phill Kline is a huge jerk. And they're quite happy to interfere with all of Kansas' cities because of the actions of one of them.

The situation here is a good example of how ideologically bankrupt the GOP has become. They don't even try anymore to present themselves as the party of "small government and personal responsibility." Now, they're just the party of lax gun regulations, no acceptance of gays and in Kansas at least, the party of political hit jobs.


cross-posted at Ezra's place

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