For all the self-congratulatory bluster coming out of the media this past month, who would have known that conservatives actually strengthened their hold in the Kansas House?
If proof were needed, conservatives elected a majority leader more to their liking than incumbent Don Hineman. Rep. Dan Hawkins of Wichita bested the moderate Hineman of Dighton by a 48-35 margin. On the Kansas Policy Institute’s Freedom Index, 14 House Democrats had more conservative voting records than Hineman. Although no Democrat had a more conservative record than Hawkins, he is not near the top of the Freedom Index.
Republicans went into the 2018 election with 85 representatives to the Democrats’ 40 and came out of the purported “blue wave” election with 85 representatives. In at least six districts, however, conservative Republicans replaced moderates.
If the local media were quiet about the conservative resurgence, the Washington Post took note, if only to lament it. The headline of a Wednesday article by the AP’s John Hanna–“Kansas sees LGBT milestones, yet big change may come slowly”–hints at the roadblocks ahead. Concedes Hanna, “The GOP still has large majorities in the Legislature, and it will be a little more conservative after this year’s elections.”
“It’s not the governor who decides if we get hearings or if bills come out of committee,” acknowledged Tom Witt, the executive director of Equality Kansas. “That’s going to make it a little more challenging.”
Incoming Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, is keen on solving problems that do not exist. Kelly has promised to issue an executive order, writes Hanna, “to end anti-LGBT discrimination in state hiring and employment decisions.”
Former Governor Kathleen Sebelius had issued a comparable executive order in 2007, but Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded it, saying rightly that such a decision was the province of the legislature. Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer had gone on record saying no such discrimination would be tolerated.
The AP’s Hanna provides no examples of anyone being discriminated against in recent memory on LGBT grounds, let alone on LGBTQIA grounds, whatever they might be.