Last Thursday afternoon, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback vetoed House Bill 2120, citing concerns over its constitutionality.
“Many concerns have been expressed regarding the constitutionality of House Bill 2120,” he said in a statement released last week. He argued it violated Article 15, Section 3 of the Kansas Constitution which governs lotteries, gambling and betting.
Back up a second. According to the Kansas Legislature website, House Bill 2120 is described as this: “Updating provisions relating to DNA collection and the Kansas bureau of investigations DNA database and amending the definition of a bet for purposes of the Kansas criminal code.” It also included a special sentencing rule related to firearms.
The governor said he supported the Legislature’s policy goal of permitting certain limited raffles for charitable purposes. “As such, I encourage the Legislature to consider a constitutional amendment to accomplish this goal,” he in his veto message to lawmakers.
Senators supporting the measure said they would seek other opportunities to advance the DNA and firearms provisions, and hoped that something could be worked out to allow charities to continue their practice of holding raffles.
“We have to be able to have a common sense solution to having a local church to raffle off cakes or a local Lions Club to raise money for scholarships,” said Senate Vice President Jeff King, an Independence Republican.
The operative words here are common sense. This appears to be a classic example of how the legislative process works, or doesn’t work.
Who’s idea was it to tuck raffles into a bill dealing with DNA testing by the KBI? Perhaps it was the other way around, but still it seems ill conceived.
Did the bill violate the Kansas Constitution? Does law enforcement need improvements in its DNA database? Who knows.
There are a host of clubs, organizations and other entities around here that rely on such fundraisers to make their events possible. These are not race tracks or casinos. These are quilt drawings raising money for Relay for Life or mission trips overseas.
It is sad these harmless activities have to be held hostage by Topeka politics.