As governor, Brownback moved Kansas to right on big issues
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — As governor, conservative Republican Sam Brownback moved Kansas hard to the right, gaining national attention for an ultimately ill-fated experiment in cutting taxes while making the state a leader on abortion restrictions and gun rights.
BIG TAX CUTS
Brownback successfully pushed the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass aggressive personal income tax cuts in 2012 and 2013, arguing they would provide “a shot of adrenaline to the heart” of the state’s economy.
But persistent budget problems followed, along with court mandates to boost spending on public schools. Kansas became an example even for conservatives of how not to do trickle-down economics. Voters turned on his legislative allies in 2016, and bipartisan majorities rolled back most of the cuts last year over Brownback’s veto.
Kansas has become a testing ground for anti-abortion policies during Brownback’s seven years in office, and he’s repeatedly touted the wave of additional restrictions.
In 2015, the state became the first in the nation to ban a common second-trimester procedure that opponents designated “dismemberment abortion.” That law remains on hold because of a court challenge.
Brownback last year signed legislation that requires clinics performing abortions to identify their doctors for patients and provide information about them — specifically on white paper in 12-point Times New Roman type.
Brownback was a vocal opponent of gay marriage both during his tenure as governor and his previous 14 years as a U.S. senator. LGBT groups opposed his nomination by President Donald Trump as U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
In 2015, he rescinded an executive order banning discrimination in state hiring and employment against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. Then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, had issued the order in 2007, and Brownback argued that the Legislature should sign off on such a policy.
Under Brownback, the state tightened its rules for cash assistance, imposing a work requirement and lowering the state’s lifetime cap on cash assistance. Brownback contends the policies promote self-sufficiency and move people from welfare to work; critics say they hurt poor families.
In 2015, Brownback successfully pushed to have his administrative policies written into state law so that they’d be harder to change. The state received national attention for including what appeared to be the nation’s most exhaustive list of items that couldn’t be bought with cash assistance, including tattoos, cruises, concert tickets and visits to psychics.
Gun-rights advocates enjoyed a long string of legislative victories under Brownback. The state stripped cities and counties of their authority to regulate guns in 2014 and the following year ended a requirement for gun owners to obtain a state permit to carry concealed.
But lawmakers last year passed a bill meant to keep concealed weapons out of public hospitals and mental health facilities. The University of Kansas Health System was a strong supporter, and Brownback let it become law without his signature.
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