Legislative wackiness gets an early start
The Kansas City Star
The wrong agenda
When the Kansas Legislature last year passed a resolution condemning the United Nations’ Agenda 21 environmental action plan, we wondered how lawmakers in Missouri had allowed their neighbors to beat them to the punch. Looney legislation is Missouri’s specialty.
Sure enough, Missouri is playing catchup. A bill filed in Jefferson City would prohibit the state and all of its cities and counties from assisting with nefarious efforts to promote Agenda 21.
Depending on how seriously one regards Glenn Beck and fellow conspiracists, Agenda 21 is either a 20-year-old, nonbinding United Nations resolution offering ideas for healthy and environmentally friendly communities — or a sinister ploy to confiscate private property and transfer wealth to poorer nations.
House Bill 42, which sounds the Agenda 21 alarm, is sponsored by Rep. Lyle Rowland of Cedarcreek, southeast of Springfield. Rowland, a Republican, is also this year’s sponsor of the obligatory “birther” bill, requiring that candidates for the U.S. presidency and vice presidency produce proof that they are American citizens before they can appear on the ballot in Missouri.
Outside the lines
In Topeka, meanwhile, incoming Senate President Susan Wagle said she might reopen the great redistricting debate, which the Legislature flubbed so completely last year a panel of federal judges had to draw the political lines.
But why? Redistricting is a form of purgatory, involving hours of haggling over one plan or another. And it’s not as if the map drawn by the judges didn’t produce the sort of Legislature Wagle favors, one that is overwhelmingly Republican and conservative.
Of course, a redistricting debate would be better than watching lawmakers revisit drug testing for welfare recipients, which is one of the bills filed in advance of the session.
Democrats have filed a couple of bills aimed at clipping the wings of Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach. One would limit statewide elected officials to 10 hours a week spent on paid activities not related to their state office. This would hamper Kobach’s busy legal career working for the deportation of illegal immigrants.
The Democrats’ proposal is somewhat perplexing. Seeing as how they approve of very little of what Kobach does as secretary of state, do they really want him spending more time at it? But we’re guessing the GOP-controlled Legislature won’t spend a lot of time on that bill.
In Washington, House Republican leadership booted Kansas U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp off the budget and agricultural committees, presumably for his inability to play well with others.
If Huelskamp’s transgressions were being mouthy and uncooperative with his own party, as reported, a statement following his demotion found him unrepentant.
“It is little wonder why Congress has a 16 percent approval rating: Americans send principled representatives to change Washington and get punished in return,” Huelskamp said. “The GOP leadership might think they have silenced conservatives, but removing me and others from key committees only confirms our conservative convictions. This is clearly a vindictive move, and a sure sign that the GOP establishment cannot handle disagreement.”
Huelskamp’s demotion, particularly his removal from the ag committee, is bad news for Kansas. A representative from the state’s 1st congressional district has helped shape farm policy on that committee for decades.
Huelskamp, who is as fierce a conservative as he advertises, apparently is a casualty of the GOP soul-searching that is taking place in the wake of the party’s loss of the presidential race. Signs are that tea party types such as Huelskamp are out of step with the majority of the nation’s voters.
If Huelskamp heard the sound of a door slamming this week, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri was headed for a door of the revolving variety.
The long-time congresswoman from southeast Missouri announced she will leave in February to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Emerson will be going to work for her largest career contributor; people affiliated with the cooperative have given her almost $80,000 over the years. Records show she was in final talks about the job within two weeks after her latest election victory.
Congressional rules prohibit Emerson from lobbying her former colleagues for one year. But lobbying is what the electric cooperative does; it spent $2.1 million persuading lawmakers from January through September of this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
As a congresswoman, Emerson was paid in campaign donations to help rural electric cooperatives avoid tough environmental regulations and reap tax credits. As a soon-to-be overseer of a large staff of lobbyists, she’ll be paid even more handsomely.