That’s how Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., must feel about Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s request for a special session of the Legislature Sept. 3 to rewrite the state’s “Hard 50” criminal sentencing law because of a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the matter.
Though the Supreme Court’s decision came June 17, the issue conveniently didn’t become an emergency until 37 days later when Schmidt sent a letter to Brownback imploring the governor to call back state legislators.
Don’t worry: The timing of a September special session conveniently will still allow Kansas GOP lawmakers to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) national convention in Chicago Aug. 7-9. The big business group meets legislators for discussions of model public/private partnership policies with an emphasis on limited government, low regulation and non-union issues. The event conveniently provides lawmakers, including local Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, and former Franklin County state Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, the opportunity to strategize with each other, as well as like-minded individuals who might soon become campaign donors.
The proposed special session date also conveniently still allows GOP lawmakers to attend the Americans for Prosperity conference Aug. 30-31 at Universal Studios Orlando Resort in Florida. Again the emphasis is expected to be on small-government, low-tax and low-regulation environments with Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, as the keynote speaker.
In an amazingly convenient coincidence, the special session in Kansas will convene in time to approve the governor’s nominee for the Court of Appeals judicial position plus 18 other Brownback appointees, including three members of the Board of Regents, new secretary of administration, new securities commissioner and others. The judicial position is of particular concern following Brownback’s maneuvers allowing him to nominate a candidate — which he has chosen to keep secret and avoid public scrutiny — that the Kansas Senate would confirm. Under normal circumstances, the candidate wouldn’t be approved until the Senate regularly reconvenes in January 2014, but this special session conveniently changes everything.
In the past, a nominating committee recommended three, pre-screened candidates from which the governor could select. Now politics and partisanship conveniently can occur with virtually no oversight because of a GOP majority rubber-stamp body that says yes to whatever the governor wants. We all should beware of a government that loves too much secrecy. That appears to be precisely the kind of environment Brownback not only favors, but is perpetuating with his secret selection of judges.
We all should be alarmed by the oh-so-convenient events occurring. Though the governor assures us that a bipartisan group of lawmakers approved having the special session, the timing is awfully conducive to Brownback’s agenda.
Very convenient indeed.
— Jeanny Sharp,
editor and publisher