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March 05th, 2021
L&T Opinions Page

earl watt newL&T Publisher Earl Watt


While the major focus has been on masks and the federal response to the pandemic, with whether or not barbed wire fence is necessary in the capital of the world’s leading democracy, and whether or not New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to cover up the actual number of senior citizens who died because he sent COVID-19 positive patients back to senior living centers, we can’t lose sight of some major development taking place in Kansas.

First, with the passing of 38th District Senator Bud Estes, we have to replace our own senator, and that responsibility falls on the precinct committee men and women. There have been a few names bantered around, but it is important that the replacement for Estes represent the core values of Western Kansas.

A more important issue that took place in Kansas saw our unemployment trust fund drained, and mostly by fraudulent claims.

Kansas businesses pay into the unemployment fund, and it had reached $1 billion to make sure when those who lost their job needed an income, the money was there.

But poor oversight over the Kansas Department of Labor by Governor Laura Kelly and her regime allowed an estimated $600 million to be paid for fraudulent claims.

According State Representative Marty Long, scam artists saw that no one was minding the store in Kansas, and they would make fraudulent claims, get paid, and immediately sweep the funds to a foreign bank, most likely in Nigeria, and there was no hope of ever getting the funds back.

Kansas was second only to California in the number of fraudulent unemployment claims even though there are 30 million Californians and only 3 million Kansans.

Representative Long said the governor’s office was made aware of the possible fraud in October of 2020, but the governor did nothing until the fund was all but depleted in January 2021 when security software was implemented and stopped the money flowing to the scammers.

But the damage had been done. Long said the $1 billion in the unemployment trust would be totally depleted in February, and Kansas would have to borrow from the federal government to keep paying unemployment claims.

On top of the fraudulent claims, those with legitimate claims were being held up for months at a time, so our governor found a way to pay fraudulent claims and delay legitimate ones until all the money was gone.

The software to correct the problem cost about $20 million, but the loss of $600 million will never be recouped.

How does the fund get replenished from the state’s incompetence? It will have to come from business owners and taxpayers.

Either way, that means additional expense simply because our leadership in the governor’s office wasn’t prepared for massive fraud.

Another issue Kansans will face will be the Value them Both Amendment.

This is not — repeat — this is not banning abortion in Kansas.

The United States Supreme Court has already protected a mother’s choice to receive an abortion in many circumstances, and they left it to the states to determine other circumstances.

What the Kansas Supreme Court did was to say the Kansas Constitution guarantees abortion in any and all circumstances as an unregulated right.

What the Value them Both Amendment allows is for the regulations that already existed in Kansas before the Supreme Court’s misguided ruling that the Legislature has no role in regulating abortion of any kind.

I am sure you will be told the amendment is an attempt to outlaw abortions in Kansas. That is a lie. Kansas can no more ban abortion than any other state, and those who want unregulated abortions know it.

But their only way to convince the people of Kansas to reject this amendment would be to mislead the people by painting it as outlawing all abortion.

The Kansas Legislature, like legislatures throughout America, have always been able to regulate the practice in certain circumstances. For example, for a viable pregnancy with no health issues in the eighth or ninth month, it has been illegal to perform an abortion. That is no longer true in Kansas. After the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling, there can be no restrictions of any kind.

The Kansas Supreme Court was attempting to protect abortion in Kansas because they believed it might be struck down at the federal level, and so they added words to the Kansas Constitution that were never there.

The only way to restrict the court’s overreach is to offer an amendment that protects the mother and the child by allowing reasonable regulation of the practice as Kansas has done for almost 50 years since the Roe vs. Wade court case.

This amendment upholds Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land — including Kansas. That decision allowed for certain restrictions to the practice, but the practice could not be banned. 

The Kansas Supreme Court removed any regulation of any kind.

The only way for the people of Kansas to have any role in the practice is through their elected officials with this amendment. Otherwise, only the unelected justices of the Kansas Supreme Court completely control this issue as dictators.

Even the right to the freedom of speech is not unfettered. You can’t yell, “Fire!” in a crowded auditorium. You can’t libel or slander someone without repercussions.

Even the practice of abortion should have some limitations, and the only way to do that is to have protections that value the rights of both the mother and the child when the time comes that the child has reached viability.

While many of us believes life begins at conception, The U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 found that restrictions cannot overburden a mother with a nonviable pregnancy to have an abortion.

Each day, viability gets better and better as medical technology advances, but until the child can be viable at conception, there has to be a protection for the rights of the woman.

This amendment allows the people through their elected officials to determine when that is, not a rogue court.

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