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Letter to the Times: Amend the Kansas Constitution?

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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The U.S. Constitution, and that of the State of Kansas, provides for legislative, executive, and judicial branches with an intended purpose to “check and balance” one another. Both constitutions are examples of the concept that unchecked and unbalanced authorities will produce inevitable troubles.

The Kansas Legislature proposes an amendment to the Kansas Constitution such that any action, rule, or regulation of the state’s executive agents and agencies may be nullified by a majority (50% plus 1) vote of the Legislature.

With HCR 5014, on the ballot on Nov. 8, the Legislature wishes to be the final decider, checker, balancer. It wishes, without actually saying so, to do away with the required two-thirds vote of both the Kansas House and Kansas Senate to override a governor’s veto of proposed law. It wishes final say in matters including public health, education, law enforcement, taxation, environmental oversight and public lands, state economy. It has, at best, limited and self-interested vision, policy, wisdom, common sense, or grasp of things as they may be. It wishes to monitor and adjust libraries, sheriffs, police, county election processes, balloting places, bedrooms. It wishes to disregard the expertise available within the executive devoted to medical and other sciences. It contests the sharing of authority. It seems suspicious of many things, including the gender identity and education of its own children. It loses interest in governing as it acquires interest in winning elections. It has little apparent capacity to respond to the condition and opinions of its constituencies.

What if the Kansas Legislature were granted its proposed amendment, on one condition …

At the same time, amend the Kansas Constitution allowing the executive the power to nullify any law submitted by the Legislature. Form an executive-branch committee that can do it by a 50% plus 1 simple majority. In that event, you have the executive muddling with matters that the Legislature was originally designed to attend, and the Legislature doing the same thing right back at the executive.

Does this strike you as likely to end well?

— Jack Klinknett (he/him), Lawrence

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