According to an article in the Wichita Eagle Sunday, June 21, 2015, Sen. Michael O'Donnell and other Republicans who voted to raise consumption taxes may be vulnerable in the 2016 election for Kansas Legislature.
The article by Bryan Lowry, Eagle Topeka Bureau, quotes O'Donnell as saying he "has a target on his back" after voting "last week in favor of HB 2109, which increases the state's sales and cigarette taxes, among other things." O'Donnell says he voted for the bill because it included a sales tax cut on food a year later.
Even so, O'Donnell isn't the only Republican feeling the heat for voting in favor of what several news sources are calling the largest tax increase in the history of Kansas.
Some people seem to forget that the current Republican Party, both in Kansas and in the nation has been taken over by extremist right-wingers who cater to the politics of the Koch-backed Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity, Arthur Laffer, and Grover Norquist, among others who seem to think government supported by a equality in taxation is next to pledging one's first-born to the devil.
These groups, while not overtly religious themselves, pander to fundamentalist Christians to join their privatization cause, even when that cause hits them in the pocketbook and elsewhere. What counts for this group is not how much they will have to pay in taxes to support public services, highways, and public schools. No, what these people vote on can be distilled thusly: Three G's A, and O. God, Gays, Guns, Abortion and Obama.
How Kansans, once relative moderates that leaned Republican, and who voted for Democrat Kathleen Sebelius for governor twice, made such a hard right turn may explained by looking at the current occupant of the White House. While most of those people deny they are racists, their complaints against Pres. Barack Obama can be found in their unhappiness that he and his family live in the house that has traditionally been the domain of white males.
Claims of Obama's lack of citizenship, his scooping up of everybody's guns, and his excessive issuance of executive orders have no basis in fact. He was born in Hawaii to a Kansas-born American mother, he has had little to say and nothing to do with taking guns away from gun owners, and he has signed fewer executive orders than his Republican predecessors. Then there's the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare by those who profess to hate it. It's an irony that many of those haters get low cost coverage
through the ACA without knowing that they are benefitting from Obamacare.
Governor Sam Brownback and many Republican legislators are hurting Kansans in need of health care by not signing on to the federally-funded Medicare under the ACA. All efforts to expand such coverage have been thwarted by those who are seemingly in favor of the same death panels that people like Sarah Palin said the ACA called for--a blatant lie, of course. In fact, a recent front page article in The Nation featured a Kansas woman from Montgomery County who is dying of untreated cancer because she can't afford health care. One would think that story would be enough to touch a few people's hearts. Then there's the bad press Brownback's adoption of Arthur Laffer's plan for business tax exemptions has brought upon the state from media around the nation. Brownback still holds out hope that Laffer's plan will work, even though it's been debunked in theory and in practice many times over.
And what of gay rights, gun rights, and abortion rights? At one time, Kansans voted in a moderate way even on these issues. Apparently, many of them have been worked into a frenzy over what might happen to their own marriages if gays are allowed to share in the legal benefits of marriage, or if any sensible gun regulations are imposed on gun owners, or worst of all, if women are allowed to make their own decisions about whether to have an abortion. Any analysis of such a frenzy shows the insanity of it. Gay marriages don't threaten straight marriages. Sensible gun rights still allow those want a gun and have the legal right to have one may have a gun. As for abortion, many of those who seek abortions are quick to admit that their church is against it, but "their case is different."
If Democrats could get a foothold in the Kansas Legislature, maybe we could return to the common-sense governance that was the hallmark of the state for decades. Given everything, gays, guns, and abortion will continue to rule in the Sunflower State. It will be interesting to see how Kansans respond once Pres. Obama is no longer president. In the meantime, there's little hope that a change will come any time soon.