A Kansas senator said he’s tired of the state’s Supreme Court “dropping little turds” such as last Friday’s ruling that gives the Legislature until June 30 to make school funding equitable or risk a court-ordered shutdown of schools.
Closer to home, Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. John) adds that lawmakers should openly defy the Supreme Court.
The 2016 Legislature’s final adjournment, Sine Die, was Wednesday, June 1. In years past, this was a day where the only order of business was to convene for a brief ceremony and declare there was no further business to conduct. But our Legislature has left a lot of unfinished business on the table.
Wednesday could have been a day to address the school funding formula. Instead, the Senate approved a resolution condemning a recent federal directive that public schools allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.
You’d think the funding issue was more pressing, but our lawmakers are apparently more obsessed with bathroom issues.
“Why don’t we just have a statute that grants amnesty to everyone that is in the funding chain, between the state treasurer, all the way down to the school board and superintendent, that says they are immune from any contempt of court charge and that schools are to open this year?” Holmes said. “If the court decides to strike that down, we (can) have an agreement with the governor who will grant a pardon to anybody that the court attempts to charge with contempt of court, and we’re going to keep the schools open.”
Sen. Jeff Melcher (R-Leawood) chimed in, “I think we should remember that this court doesn’t have any intention of allowing this issue to be resolved. They’re going to continue dropping little turds like they have at the appropriate times to do everything that they can to try to distract the Legislature. And for us to play this game with them is just encouraging them to continue engaging in this bad behavior. Eventually we’re going to have to stand up to this court and let them know that we are the Legislature. They are not the Legislature. Capitulating with them, I think, is a poor strategy and we’ll continue to be unsuccessful.”
Gov. Sam Brownback also criticized the ruling. “It is unfortunate that the Kansas Supreme Court has put at risk the education of Kansas students by threatening to close schools on June 30,” he said. “The court is engaging in political brinksmanship with this ruling, and the cost will be borne by our children. We will carefully consider the implications of the court’s ruling and its disregard for the proper role of the Kansas Legislature.”
That careful consideration should have come months earlier, but it cannot wait another year.