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And in a bit of valedictory grandstanding, Brownback has also signed what has come to be called the Second Amendment Protection Act. This one exempts firearms manufactured in Kansas from federal regulation. So if the feds come into the state and try to enforce federal gun laws, well, then Kansas law enforcement could, in legal theory, arrest the feds.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder immediately threatened legal action against the state, just as everybody who has ever taken a social studies class knew he would.
"Kansas may not prevent federal employees and officials from carrying out their official responsibilities," Holder wrote to Brownback, declaring the obvious. "And a state certainly may not criminalize the exercise of federal responsibilities."
Brownback countered with a meaningless statement about how "the people of Kansas have expressed their sovereign will," forgetting to add, "but we still want farm subsidies!"
Probably the most hilarious bill the Kansas House brought to the floor in 2013 was H.B. 2366. It states: "No public funds may be used, either directly or indirectly, to promote, support, mandate, require, order, incentivize, advocate, plan for, participate in or implement sustainable development."
The gang that put forth this bill — the Orwellian-named Committee on Energy and Environment — is chaired by a man named Dennis Hedke. He's a Republican representative from Wichita. He's also a geophysicist who does contract work for dozens of — wait for it — oil and gas companies in the region.
"I can't see why," he told The Topeka Capital-Journal, when asked whether his nonpolitical career presented an obvious conflict of interest with his duties as an elected official. "I didn't think about that. It never really crossed my mind."
In an interview with Bloomberg, Hedke acknowledged that Kansas has no laws that relate to sustainable development. He considers his bill a preventive measure. He also told the Capital-Journal that he sponsored the bill because of concerns voiced by his constituents about sustainable development. Then he declined to identify any group or individual who had expressed those concerns.
What's remarkable about this is that people like Hedke are so happy being lap dogs for the oil and gas industry that they don't care if it makes them look corrupt and idiotic. They will continue to sponsor ludicrous legislation and bullshit the press as long as they can snuggle up with that Koch money every night.
Meanwhile, Kansas oil fields, which many big energy companies have invested in over the past few years, are not yielding the North Dakota–level returns that the state had hoped for. Shell announced in September that it would leave Kansas. Tug Hill Operating has also closed up shop for the foreseeable future. And a few weeks ago, about 52 counties in Kansas filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that they had been stiffed $7.6 million in aid meant to help soften the blow of declining oil and gas production.
As Bloomberg notes, if Kansas developed just a tiny fraction of its wind potential — 7,158 megawatts — by 2030, that enterprise would bring some $7.8 billion to the state. Good thing Kansas has men like Hedke to keep that clean cash out.
Brownback has promised to sign any anti-abortion bill that lands on his desk. Unfortunately, in 1973, the Supreme Court struck down state abortion bans. This means that states have to get creative in finding ways to make it difficult for women to make decisions about their own bodies.
Kansas lawmakers are pretty good at this.