The Hutchinson News, Oct. 18
Kansas municipal leaders want to legitimize immigrants who are in the state illegally at present. Even the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, with its ultra-right-wing politics, wants a new business-friendly immigration policy. That means a way for industries that rely on immigrant labor not to have their workforces wholesale deported.
It is time for the politicians to listen to local and business leaders and quit pandering to Kris Kobach - Kansas secretary of state and leading crusader against illegal immigration - and the bigoted ideologues.
The League of Kansas Municipalities issued a statement Monday at its annual meeting urging Congress to enact immigration reform that includes what the organization calls a "reasonable" path to citizenship for immigrants now in the U.S. illegally. Hutchinson City Manager John Deardoff was elected president of the League at the same meeting.
The statement follows a letter to the state's congressional delegation in August signed by more than 30 Kansas mayors, urging support for immigration reform.
"We support a federal solution to immigration reform that allows reasonable access to citizenship while assuring adequate border security and protecting our economy and workforce," the League's position on immigration reform stated.
"Any immigration legislation generated by Congress cannot burden local governments with extra law enforcement or administrative burdens. This federal problem needs a federal solution paid for with federal resources," the mayors' letter said. Area mayors signing the letter included leaders from Buhler, Coldwater, Mount Hope, Stafford, Moundridge, Russell, Syracuse and Leoti. Mayors of Wichita and Topeka also were signers.
Sadly, Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts of Kansas lack the self-confidence to stray from the talking points of the tea party forces. They both voted against sensible immigration reform that passed the Senate 68-32 in June. The four members of the House who represent Kansas aren't likely to be any more courageous and sensible.
Border security already has been beefed up, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, focusing on removal of people with felony records and other repeat problems, deported a record nearly 410,000 people in 2012.
The reality is that too many immigrants are here illegally simply to deport them all. And most of them are good, law-abiding, hard-working people who are working jobs that would go unfilled were the radicals to be successful in their ethnic cleansing campaign.
It is good to see leaders of Kansas cities get behind good, realistic immigration policy and try to talk some sense into the politicians in Washington.
The Kansas City Star, Oct. 18
Kris Kobach must ditch Kansas' discriminatory voting plan
Kansas' new proof-of-citizenship requirement has suspended the voting privileges of nearly 20,000 Kansans. It is causing headaches in multiple state offices, and there is a good chance it will be overturned in court.
So how does Secretary of State Kris Kobach propose to handle this debacle? By moving to a system even more discriminatory and cumbersome.
Kobach wants to create a framework whereby some Kansans would be eligible to vote in congressional and presidential races but not for state or local candidates. Other Kansans could vote for all candidates and issues on the ballot.
And some people wouldn't be able to vote at all, even if they thought they had registered properly.
The problem begins with a new law requiring Kansans to submit proof of lawful presence, like a birth certificate or passport, when registering to vote. The only other state with such severe requirements is Arizona.
The Kansas law clashes with the federal "motor voter" law, which says citizens must be offered the opportunity to register to vote at vehicle registration offices. Ruling in a case brought against Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court said this summer that states can't require more documentation for voting than they do for driver's license applications or renewals.
In Kansas, citizens don't need proof of citizenship to renew their driver's licenses. If they register to vote at the same time, they don't necessarily have proof of citizenship documents with them. These are the would-be voters whose registrations are in "suspended" status because they are transmitted to election offices without the documentation required by Kansas law.
Kobach has sued the U.S. Election Assistance Coalition, seeking to adopt the terms of the Kansas proof of lawful presence law for Kansas elections. His contingency plan is to allow newly registered voters who have complied with federal registration requirements — but not with the more stringent state law — to vote only in federal elections.
Those voters would have to fill out a federal form. If they use a Kansas voter registration form but don't provide proof of U.S. citizenship, they can't vote at all.
If this sounds like a mess, it is. It's also a stain on Kansas, harkening back to post-Civil War days in the South when black citizens sometimes had to register multiple times and meet stiffer requirements to vote in state elections than the federal government required.
The solution to this tangled problem is beautifully simple. There is no evidence that non-citizen voting is a problem in Kansas. The Legislature should repeal the law requiring proof of citizenship — or risk a fiasco in the 2014 elections.
The Wichita Eagle, Oct. 17
Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights states that we are all equal. But when it comes to voting and filing taxes, some Kansans are less equal than others.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach is pushing a bizarre plan to create two categories of voters: those who can vote in all elections and those who can vote only in federal races.
Kobach's scheme is his response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June barring states from having more voter-registration requirements than those established by Congress. Kansas' law requires new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship, while federal law requires only that they pledge they are citizens under penalty of perjury.
Rather than admit that the state overstepped and call for the Legislature to rescind Kansas' law, Kobach concocted a two-tiered system in which Kansans who legally register but don't provide documented proof of citizenship (about 18,000 people so far) would be allowed to vote for president and members of Congress but not in state and local elections. ...
The Kansas Department of Revenue also announced that it is requiring same-sex married couples to file their taxes differently from other Kansans. The notice is in response to another U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that invalidated the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The IRS followed up on that ruling by deciding that any legally married couple should file federal tax returns as married individuals, regardless of whether they live in a state that sanctions same-sex marriage.
Married couples use their federal filing status as the basis for their Kansas taxes. The KDOR notice goes against that law and requires legally married same-sex couples to file state tax returns separately and use a special work sheet to divide their income and deductions.
State officials are trying to balance the court's ruling with a 2005 Kansas constitutional amendment declaring marriage as between "one man and one woman only." But some argue that the new policy is contrary to the part of the amendment stating that "no relationship, other than a marriage, shall be recognized by the state as entitling the parties to the rights or incidents of marriage."
"As written, and as understood by the U.S. Supreme Court, it would appear any legally married couple - gay or straight - are entitled to be recognized as such in Kansas," a Hays Daily News editorial argued.
Kobach's scheme and the KDOR requirement likely will be challenged in court. But until the courts intervene, some Kansans will be treated like second-class citizens.
The Garden City Telegram, Oct. 16
It's time again for deer to be out and about, and more often in the path of motorists.
The Kansas Highway Patrol recently issued its annual reminder for Kansas travelers to be even more vigilant.
The high season for deer-related accidents runs from October through December. Deer-related collisions increase in frequency in mid-November, when the deer breeding season peaks, and while they move to new locations as crops are harvested and their habitats become less secure.
Costs climb as a result of the highway hazard.
The Kansas Department of Transportation reported 15 percent of all traffic crashes in 2012 involved deer.
Beyond the danger to motorists, the annual expense of vehicle repair and other property damage — plus law enforcement resources needed to cover wrecks — point to a need for continued pursuit of ways to lessen the threat by culling a deer population estimated at about 650,000 in 2012.
To that end, the Kansas Legislature approved a pre-rut, antlerless whitetail deer hunt, which recently took place. Another sensible strategy before the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism would be in discounted permits for younger hunters to encourage their participation.
While no strategy will erase the deer danger, law enforcement officers do offer ways to be safer on the road.
The best strategy is to be aware of areas that pose danger — most are marked by signs — and to drive slowly and watch both sides of the road, particularly around wooded areas and other places deer would frequent.
Deer often travel in groups. When one crosses the road, there may be others to follow, so it's necessary to slow down and watch carefully.
Motorists also should not swerve to miss deer in their path. Doing so can cause drivers to veer into the oncoming lane of traffic or roll in the ditch, which can be far more dangerous than hitting the deer.
Even as the state seeks new ways to cull the state's deer population — and new strategies are in order — motorists' common sense and awareness will remain the best defense against nasty, costly encounters with deer on the move.