The Buzz

March 7, 2014

Brownback tries to anticipate Friday’s Supreme Court ruling on school funding

And...McCaskill wins showdown over prosecuting military sexual assaults

The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

You made it through another week. Take a bow:

• “I have repeatedly stated and believe funding schools is the most important thing state government does.” — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday in advance of Friday’s much-anticipated ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court on school funding.

Does Brownback have an inkling that the judges are going to order a huge increase in school spending? The statement from him Thursday suggested exactly that. Brownback clearly is trying to anticipate the ruling and get out the word that, hey, he’s pro-schools, too. His opponent, Democrat Paul Davis, spent a big chunk of his campaign speech in Overland Park Wednesday night disputing that.

• “This debate has been about one thing — getting the policy right to best protect and empower victims, and boost prosecutions of predators. I believe we’re on the cusp of achieving that goal.” — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill in the wake of a tense Senate vote Thursday on prosecuting military sexual-assault cases.

McCaskill won her months-long showdown with New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, a fellow Democrat, over this issue. Gillibrand wanted to to remove the military chain of command from prosecuting sexual assaults. McCaskill opposed that move. And she won.

• “This is about politics, not about women's health.” — Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri on a bill that passed the Missouri House Thursday that would triple the state’s mandatory waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion.

Brownlie’s point: Lawmakers are again grandstanding on the controversial issue to curry favor with anti-abortion voters this year instead of focusing on other issues, such as expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

• “This is a huge a topic, and this is something that every word has to be right.” — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle announcing that the Legislature was done for this year, at least, in considering new legal protections for those who oppose gay marriage.

This topic remains intensely controversial and stirred up national attention a few weeks ago. The legislation was viewed as giving police officers the right to not serve gay couples even in emergencies. Wagle said lawmakers should pursue the bill next year. Of course, next year is not an election year. Just a guess here, but we’d bet a few dollars that aides to Brownback wanted to kill this issue in a year when he faces a tough re-election fight. The thinking: Brownback helped elect many conservative lawmakers who were pushing this issue with the result that the resulting controversy was spilling over on him.

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