Martin Hawver
Guest columnist
Two little bills that nobody paid much attention to when they were passed by the Legislature suddenly have become worth considering now that Gov. Sam Brownback has vetoed them.
One would have very simply prevented the governor or Legislature from dipping into the Kansas Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund for state spending. That fund receives a percentage of severance taxes collected on oil and gas production, handing it to counties when the local mineral valuation falls by 50% for two consecutive years. It’s a little like a safety net for local governments which see drops in tax revenues as oil and natural gas fields are depleted.
It passed the Senate 40-0, the House 124-0. But Brownback’s veto was sustained.
In his veto message, Brownback wrote, “While the policy expressed in (the bill) has merit, it needs to be considered in the context of a comprehensive pro-growth tax and budget package.” That means Brownback might want to spend that money, or at least that the state knows better how to spend money than those counties that see revenues decline and still have to pay the sheriff.
The second bill—vetoed last week—will, if the veto is sustained, kill a bill passed by the Senate 35-5 and the House 111-7 that would have required barbers who have been out of the business for more than three years to be retested and pay a licensing fee to get their scissors and razors back.
Brownback saw that as an unnecessary state incursion into, well, either something that doesn’t amount to much—the hair will grow back if you get a bad haircut—or state meddling.
“By vetoing SB353, I intend not only to prevent this small increase of government interference in the marketplace, but also to send the clear message that Kansas will not accept unnecessary government burdens on the free market,” Brownback said.  “It is time to take the parking brake off of the dynamic economic engine that is the Kansas spirit, which if unleashed, will generate growth and prosperity for all.”
Hmm… One veto makes sure that the state can reach into the cash flow of counties that are seeing a major revenue source dry up, the other, well, we guess takes the parking brake off of those out-of-practice barbers to “generate growth and prosperity for all.”
Hands-on for the trust fund; hands-off for the barbers who haven’t cut hair since Justin Bieber changed his hairstyle.
Well, one veto keeps state control over that depletion trust fund, and other, well, gives up state control over how guys are going to look in the prom night photo or maybe the wedding photos that will be framed and put on the mantle for decades.
Where do you want the government to keep its iron hand from intruding into your life? Over money or hair styles?
Is there a bit of a philosophical shift here?
Yes, probably, but those are “little” bills. We’re thinking on this pair of vetoes that maybe Brownback didn’t quite get the sideburns even…
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