How to give up a bit of freedom today

TRACKSIDE © by John D’Aloia Jr.

February 11, 2003

Last week I thought that the Kansas legislature was going to dictate "how can we give up a bit of freedom today" as the theme for coming TRACKSIDEs. This week I am sure.

How do we give up a bit of freedom today? One way is to sit still while the legislature makes it more difficult for citizens to participate in government. This past year, citizens in my town attempted to recall school board members but were thwarted when a judge decided the recall petitions were legally insufficient.

I wonder what the good citizens will think of SB103, introduced to revise the recall law, making it makes it more difficult to recall anyone. Under current recall law, the number of signatures on a recall petition must equal 10% of the votes cast for the office of the person being recalled at the general election. The bill ups the ante by requiring that the number of signatures must equal 10% of the votes cast for all candidates at the last general election for the position being recalled.

Under current law, the task of determining if a recall petition complies with the legal requirements as to form and substance is assigned to county attorneys. The bill gives the task to three-member boards of politicians which have to review recall petitions and pass on their acceptability. Besides denying an application for recall if it is not proper as to form and conformity with the statutes, the bill requires the boards to deny the petition if they determine that "The facts do not support the grounds for recall as stated in the application."

Give this a plain-language reading. How are the boards going to make such a determination if they do not first determine if what purports to be a fact in a petition is in fact a fact? Investigate? Hold hearings? And what if they then rule that the facts support the grounds for recall stated in the petition? Are they not in fact passing judgment on the validity of the petition, thereby biasing the recall election and usurping a decision that rightly belongs in the voting booth following the recall election campaign? SB103 also puts a 30-day "statute of limitations" on either the recallees or the sponsors of the recall petition to challenge the board’s decision in court.

How do we give up a bit of freedom today? Let government bias the market place by dictating wages and providing special benefits to favored constituencies. SB112 imposes a minimum wage standard on all employees of companies constructing state public work projects. It is similar to the federal Davis-Bacon law which mandates higher wages on federal construction projects, market place meddling that drives up the price of federal construction projects.

SB113 mandates that non-union member employees pay a "fair share representation" fee to a union when the union has been certified as the exclusive bargaining agent at their place of employment, whether they want to or not. The bill also gives the union the right to go to court to collect the fee if not paid.

SB114 increases the state minimum wage from $2.65/hour to $5.15/hour. It is no business of government what the private sector pays in wages. Look beyond the pay check and you find that minimum wage laws reduce the number of starter jobs, increase the knowledge required for remaining jobs as productivity requirements increase, increase prices, and increase union wages that are based on a premium over average wages. Am I advocating slave labor sweat shops? Of course not. Employers have a moral obligation to pay their employees a fair wage, commensurate with capabilities and responsibilities. In Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII laid it out: "Among the most important duties of employers the principal one is to give every worker what is justly due him." Let the market place be free, subject not to the whims of the Guardians, but to the imperatives of God’s Law.

All is not gloom and doom. There is evidence that some state senators understand the relationship between the state government and the federal government, and the state’s relationship to citizens. In voting against a bill that mandated the inclusion of social security numbers on drivers license applications (the bill passed 32 to 8,) one senator entered into the record his vote explanation: "I vote No on SB16 because this bill is another attack by the federal government on the separate states’ rights of government as delineated by the Constitution of the U.S. government. This attack occurs through economic extortion by the threat of withholding the return of the tax dollars paid in by the citizens of Kansas." Right on Senator Jackson.

See you Trackside.


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