Martin Hawver
Guest columnist
The deal with presidential election years—and, yes, we’re well into the 2012 presidential election cycle—is that issues come up on a national level that lead right to statehouses across the country.
One statehouse that will undoubtedly ring with debate over a Republican campaign issue is the one here in Topeka.
This issue, which may take some interesting turns, is that of in-state college tuition for non-citizens.
A Kansas law, recall, allows students who have spent three years attending high school here and agree to apply for U.S. citizenship to pay in-state tuition, just like native Kansans/Americans.
Gov. Sam Brownback last week endorsed for the GOP presidential nomination Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose state has a similar in-state tuition law.
Now, we’re not fantasizing that Brownback endorsed Perry because Texas has a law similar to Kansas’ on tuition.
But the issue arose during nationally televised GOP presidential candidate debates.
We’re betting that at least a handful of Kansans watched other GOP presidential nomination-seekers pounding Perry for his state’s tuition law, which he supports; Perry said opponents to such a measure don’t “have a heart.”
Real key to that in-state tuition law in Kansas and in Texas is that after that youngster down the street—probably brought here by his parents who are illegal immigrants—has been here three years, has gone to school with the other neighborhood children, is, well, if not a legal U.S. citizen, at least one of us, a Kansan.
There aren’t any laws about being a citizen of a state. The borders between Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri are open.
You don’t show a birth certificate or passport to move among the states.
You get to be a Kansan by living here, being part of the community, by working and supporting your family and raising your children like, well, Kansans do.
No paperwork, you just become one of us, a Kansan.
Seems almost like a state rights issue—what you do in your state stays in your state—but  don’t count on that holding up on a presidential campaign level, though the federal government really doesn’t have anything to do with operation of state colleges.
Oh, the Kansas House almost routinely passes bills to eliminate the in-state tuition provision, and the Senate has to date always defeated those bills, sometimes not even letting them get to the floor for debate.
Wondering what happens next year when the Legislature gets together? Don’t bet against another House-led run at eliminating in-state tuition.
There isn’t enough deference to Brownback friend Perry to derail such a movement. What happens in the Senate? Well, it’s difficult to predict in the Kansas Senate’s election year session.
Will Brownback encourage or discourage the bill or dismiss it as just a presidential campaign issue?
And, will he sign or veto it if it gets to his desk?
There are many reasons that Brownback gives that lead to his support of the nomination of Perry for president, and we may just get to gauge whether the extent of his support for a governor who runs a state with an in-state tuition law like Kansas includes that provision.
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com.