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Regional Headlines for Sunday, December 9, 2012




Brownback:  Sales Tax to Balance Budget?

Governor Sam Brownback hasn't dropped the idea of canceling a promised decrease in the state's sales tax as a budget-balancing option next year. But the proposal faces bipartisan legislative resistance. Brownback called on legislators this week to reconsider unsuccessful proposals he offered previously to offset massive income tax cuts he wanted as an economic stimulus. His ideas included keeping the sales tax at its current rate of 6.3 percent. The sales tax is scheduled to drop to 5.7 percent in July 2013. The state boosted the sales tax in 2010 to protect public schools and social services, and lawmakers pledged that most of the increase would be temporary. The increase occurred before Brownback took office. Brownback and legislators now face closing a projected $328 million budget shortfall. 


Kansas Lawmakers Discuss Judge Selection at Retreat

Conservative lawmakers are discussing options for changing how Kansas' appellate and Supreme Court judges are selected. The issue came up Saturday during a legislative retreat in Topeka. University of Kansas law professor Stephen Ware says Kansas' judicial selection system is unusual and "undemocratic" in how it selects its nominating commission. The governor selects four members of the commission, and members of the Kansas Bar Association elect another five members. Ware says Kansas is alone in giving the Bar control of the majority of the commission. Ware says he favors eliminating the commission and having the governor select judges with confirmation votes by the Senate. Conservatives favor the idea, but Democrats and some moderate Republicans say that would give the governor too much power. 

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