Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

I hear it expressed repeatedly that, “If you do not vote in an election, then you have no right to complain or to criticize.” We should remember that individuals who do not cast a vote in an election can still exercise their right to free speech in our democracy.

Sedgwick County

There are rumblings pushing toward the idea of consolidating Sedgwick County and City of Wichita governments. Some people are unhappy with a divided Sedgwick County Commission on some budgetary matters for the coming fiscal year. Also, there is concern about how well the city-county partnership is working in funding some entities.

Kansas 4th District Congressman Mike Pompeo has agreed to co-sponsor a joint resolution that would allow states to form a health care compact and, potentially, circumvent parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“Mike has agreed to be a part of the health care compact because he views it as one of the last remaining opportunities to protect Kansans from the disaster that is the Affordable Care Act,” Heather Denker, a spokesperson for Pompeo’s office, said in an email.

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The United States Supreme Court decided two landmark cases this past week. One affirmed subsidies for Americans purchasing health care insurance on a federal exchange. In a second case, Obergefell v. Hodges, the court, after refusing to hear earlier cases, declared same-sex marriage to be a right guaranteed under the Constitution, by expanding the penumbra of a constitutional right to gay couples.

Stephen Koranda file photo / KPR

Emotions ran high, the political atmosphere was tense, and Governor Brownback reportedly “choked up” in a meeting with legislative leaders before the Kansas legislature ended its 2015 session at 4:00 a.m. on a Friday, when the House passed the largest tax increase in Kansas history.

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The 2015 Kansas state legislative session is winding down.

Critics complain that the legislature was in session too long to accomplish what it did. At the same time, we need to remember that the state legislature is the most important link between Kansans and their state government. It is also the most representative institution of the state.

Sean Sandefur file photo

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's office is working to determine when it would have to inform state workers they would be furloughed if a budget is not passed on time, the governor's spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Legislature already is in overtime on its 90-day session, with Wednesday being its 97th day, and has yet to pass a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Spokeswoman Sara Belfry said the governor's office is working with several agencies to "determine the last possible date" the budget would need to be passed in order to avoid payroll disruptions.

The Kansas Senate has spent today debating a bill that would raise taxes to close a projected budget shortfall.

The work started with Republican Sen. Dennis Pyle moving to kill the tax bill, saying increasing taxes is not the way to fix the state’s budget. He wants lawmakers to look for more budget cuts.

“By not raising taxes, you’re going to empower the private sector," Pyle says. "Or are you going to empower big government, are you going to empower more government consumption?”

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How well are Americans doing with civic literacy?

The results of the 2010 National Assessment of Education Progress, known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” demonstrate that most K-12 students are learning little about civics and history. Only 22 percent of fourth-grade students, 18 percent of eighth-graders, and 13 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency in American history.

Lucas Hayas / Flickr / Creative Commons

Since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788, the federal government has been the center of power in this country. However, two recent developments suggest that this may be shifting.