Friday, July 25, 2014

HAWVER: Random bills can be entertaining

By MARTIN HAWVER, At the Rail | 2/3/2014

You sometimes have to wonder where the ideas for much of the Kansas Legislature’s election-year bills originate. That wonder is part of the seeing which ideas, good or bad or just surprising, show up.

Like the one that gives property owners the first right of refusal of deer antlers seized from illegal hunting on their property.

You sometimes have to wonder where the ideas for much of the Kansas Legislature’s election-year bills originate. That wonder is part of the seeing which ideas, good or bad or just surprising, show up.

Like the one that gives property owners the first right of refusal of deer antlers seized from illegal hunting on their property.

Or the one that would allow podiatrists, who are, of course, foot doctors, to also treat problems in the ankle. Which is probably a little like farming on some health care professional’s property.

Or one that would exempt motorcycles from turnpike tolls.

And, of course, the bill that would prohibit re-ticketing of an illegally parked car more than once each four hours.

If there’s one relatively charming thing about the Kansas Legislature, it might be that its members come up with ideas for some relatively novel legislation (or maybe it’s just to end a grocery store aisle conversation with a constituent).

Now, of course, there are serious bills introduced — lawmakers have to approve a budget and deal with criminal activities and protect the children and the poor and such — but then, there are those bills that legislators who are paid $88.66 per day introduce.

Part of the fun of the Legislature — for those who aren’t all fussy about lawmakers just dealing with earth-moving ideas, cutting taxes, paring expenditures and guaranteeing enough rain for the crops — are those little bills that probably aren’t going anywhere but are fun to listen to for a little while.

And remember that most folks who don’t live in the Statehouse have little reason to know details about the wide range of issues that are brought to the Statehouse for decision, or at least consideration. Why would a downtown legislator know about agricultural fence law, or a rural legislator have much background about urban zoning technicalities?

The melting pot of backgrounds and specialties, the regional differences, the level of education — remember, you don’t quiz out for a seat in the Legislature, you just get elected — probably means common sense prevails on most issues ... as long as it isn’t a campaign contribution killer.

Somewhere, in even the bills that sound a little flaky, there’s an attempt to accomplish something.

If illegal hunters don’t get to keep the deer antlers, maybe they’ll make sure they have legal permission to hunt on some farmer’s land, or maybe it’s not quite right for someone parking illegally to get a new ticket based on how fast parking police can circle the block and discover ... that car is still there.

Still wondering about the toll-free turnpike for motorcyclists, but we’re getting an idea of why no one has come up with a bill that would authorize distinctive license plates for members of the Kansas Legislature ...

Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his Web site at www.hawvernews.com

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