Regulation

Language makes a difference

No longer is it "Sustainable Communities." Now it's "South Central Kansas Prosperity Plan." Either way, the program is still centralized government planning, with great potential to harm our economy and liberties. The newly-renamed planning initiative has a new website set to launch in a few days -- Let's Talk Prosperity. But no matter how politicians and bureaucrats dress it up, we need to remember the roots of this program. It took from 1987 to 2012, but Sedgwick County actually adopted the language of the United Nations regarding sustainability. Those critical of sustainability planning are concerned that engaging in the practice…
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The heavy hand of Kansas regulation

Regulation run amok in Wichita, from Anne Meyer of KWCH 12 Eyewitness News: (Wichita, KS)— "Two for one" drinks or "half price". Customers may not know the difference between the two on their bill, but those words matter when it comes to Kansas liquor laws. One phrase is legal, the other is not. One Wichita bar owner is trying to fight that. Shooters on South Hydraulic is known for attracting pool players. Now Owner Paul Weigand is getting attention from the state for violating Kansas' liquor law. "I'm just not ready to pay that fine yet, I want a judge…
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Kansas House votes for property rights

Today the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill that will protect property owners from harm simply because their property is near a historic property. The bill is HB 2118, as described by its supplemental note: HB 2118 would delete provisions related to environs restrictions from historic property reviews. Under current law, proposed projects within 500 feet of the boundaries of a historic property located in a city or within 1,000 feet of the boundaries of a historic property located in the unincorporated portion of a county are subject to historic design and appearance restrictions. The bill would limit historic…
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Wichita licenses the striping of parking lots

Next week the Wichita City Council will consider licensing and regulating the painting of stripes in parking lots. How, may I ask, has civilization advanced without the benefit of such regulation? The agenda report narrative states "The proposed ordinance does not set up permit or inspection processes; it would be complaint-driven enforcement through the ADA Coordinator." But earlier, the same report reads: "The proposed ordinance establishes a licensing and enforcement system applicable to persons and businesses catering to the public when they modify the construction or layout of parking spaces they make available to the public." The licensure requirement in…
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Obama’s regulatory extremism

In the introduction to his book Democracy Denied, Phil Kerpen gives us a history lesson on the grab for executive power by presidents through the use of "signing statements." Elizabeth Drew made the case against Bush's abuse of executive power in a lengthy New York Review of Books piece called "Power Grab." She specifically highlighted Bush's use of signing statements (a technique to object to elements of a law while signing it, and refusing to enforce those elements), the detention of foreign combatants at Guantanamo, and warrantless wiretaps. She concluded that Bush was a tyrant. Kerpen explains how the view…
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Dangers of texting while driving: Are laws the solution?

There's no doubt that texting while driving is dangerous, as illustrated in this KAKE Television news story. But the government solution -- passing laws against texting while driving -- haven't worked, and some states have experienced an increase in crashes after implementing texting bans. A news release from the Highway Loss Data Institute summarizes the finding of a study: "It's illegal to text while driving in most US states. Yet a new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finds no reductions in crashes after laws take effect that ban texting by all drivers. In fact, such…
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Special interests will capture south-central Kansas planning

Special interest groups are likely to co-opt the government planning process started in south-central Kansas as these groups see ways to benefit from the plan. The public choice school of economics and political science has taught us how special interest groups seek favors from government at enormous costs to society, and we will see this at play over the next few years. Sedgwick County has voted to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. While some justified their votes in favor of the plan because "it's only a plan," once the planning process begins, special interests plot to…
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Municipal stormwater regulation on White House agenda

Some scoff at those who raise warnings about overreaching federal regulation. But even though the national economy is suffering and we are drowning in debt, the administration of President Barack Obama can find time to meddle in the regulation of municipal stormwater. Following is an email from NACo, the National Association of Counties, to county commissioners, presumably across the nation. The email, which presumes that "green" stormwater management practices are most desirable, asks for suggestions from commissioners to present at a national conference on the topic, hosted by the White House. The agenda for the conference is White House Conference…
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Republicans recognize overcriminalization

A section of the platform agreed to at the Republican National Convention expresses concern over the rise of overcriminalization: "The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the over-criminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property -- and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies…
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Kansas counties decline sustainable communities planning

Two of the five Kansas counties that were asked to participate in a sustainable communities planning grant have decided not to join the effort. Of the five counties (Sedgwick, Butler, Reno, Harvey and Sumner), Butler and Sumner county commissioners voted against participation. The REAP sustainable communities planning process is designed to, in the words of REAP, "create a long-term regional plan for ensuring the health and productivity of our local economy. The grant will support community engagement to identify common values and goals, followed by local and regional efforts to enhance economic development, connect people with jobs, reduce housing and…
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