BY MIMI MOFFAT, Kansas Chapter Political Chair
Here we go again. Two more attempts by right-wing extremists to change the Kansas constitution. This is not a bad movie. It's real-life crazy.
Question 1 would gut the power of the executive branch, upsetting the balance of power among our three branches of government.
Question 2 would protect the Johnson County Sheriff who is "investigating" the 2020 presidential election from oversight by the County Commissioners.
Question 1 - Constitutional Amendment - Legislative Oversight of administrative rules and regulations
§ 17. Legislative oversight of administrative rules and regulations.
Whenever the legislature by law has authorized any officer or agency within the executive branch of government to adopt rules and regulations that have the force and effect of law, the legislature may provide by law for the revocation or suspension of any such rule and regulation, or any portion thereof, upon a vote of a majority of the members then elected or appointed and qualified in each house.
This amendment would allow the Legislature to overturn any administrative action by the executive branch with a simple majority vote. Public health measures like vaccinations and masking, or anything else that might cause partisan outrage could be subject to a repeal vote. This is not how government is supposed to work. You don't need a law degree to understand the concept of separation of powers you should have learned about in seventh grade. Allowing the legislature to nullify administrative regulations would destroy that balance and gut the power of the governor and the administrative staff who run state government.
Question 2 - Constitutional Amendment - County and township officers
§ 2. County and township officers.
a) Except as provided in subsection (b), each county shall elect a sheriff for a term of four years by a majority of the qualified electors of the county voting thereon at the time of voting designated for such office pursuant to law in effect on January 11, 2022, and every four years thereafter.
(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to a county that abolished the office of sheriff prior to January 11, 2022. Such county may restore the office of sheriff as provided by law and such restoration shall be irrevocable. A county that restores the office of sheriff shall elect a sheriff by a majority of the qualified electors of the county voting thereon for a term of four years. Such sheriff shall have such qualifications and duties as provided by law. The time of voting for the office of sheriff may be provided for by the legislature pursuant to section 18 of article 2 of this constitution.
(c) The filling of vacancies and the qualifications and duties of the office of sheriff shall be as provided by law.
(d) The legislature shall provide for such other county and township officers as may be necessary.
§ 5. Removal of officers.
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), all county and township officers may be removed from office, in such manner and for such cause, as shall be prescribed by law.
(b) A county sheriff only may be involuntarily removed from office by recall election pursuant to section 3 of article 4 of this constitution or a writ of quo warranto initiated by the attorney general.
All but one Kansas county has an elected sheriff. The impetus for this bizarre amendment is that Johnson County has a sheriff who is still "investigating" the results of the 2020 presidential election, to the dismay of the majority of the Board of County Commissioners. If this amendment passes, Sheriff Calvin Hayden, a proponent of the Big Lie, could only be removed by the Attorney General or a recall election. One of the County Commissioners who is running for BOCC Chair, is not willing to state publicly that Joe Biden is the duly elected President of the United States. (If you live in Johnson County, please review our Johnson County endorsements.) This amendment would abrogate local control over county law enforcement.