As a result, a number of GOP lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are supporting comprehensive immigration reform. Even firebrand conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity said he has "evolved" on the immigration issue and now supports a pathway to citizenship.
House Republicans plan to vote this week on legislation that would expand visas for foreign students in science and technology. Some GOP senators are proposing a variation of the DREAM Act aimed at children of illegal immigrants. Those could be positive changes, but lawmakers also need to take bigger reform steps.
For example, former President Bush proposed a good reform plan in 2006 that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States and create a temporary worker program, as well as increase border security and workplace enforcement. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed a similar reform in 2010.
It's been clear for many years that our nation's immigration system needs overhaul, but many lawmakers have refused to consider measures other than increasing border security and making life as miserable as possible for illegal immigrants. The new openness of GOP leaders to comprehensive reform is an opportunity that Congress must not squander.
But while national leaders are moving constructively forward, Kobach wants Kansas to move backward.
Kobach has tried in the past to get Kansas to repeal its law allowing the qualifying children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at Kansas public universities. He thinks he may now have the votes needed to revoke the law.
Kansas so far hasn't passed aggressive law enforcement measures similar to those that Kobach helped author for Arizona and Alabama. Such legislation also might now be in play for Kansas.
The key to keeping the state from sliding backward is Gov. Sam Brownback. When he was in the U.S. Senate, Brownback supported comprehensive immigration reform and the humane treatment of immigrants before backing away from the issue when he ran for president.
Since becoming governor, Brownback hasn't said much about immigration, other than that he thinks it is primarily a federal issue. Brownback needs to show more leadership and make it clear that Kobach's policies aren't right for Kansas or America.
The Topeka Capital-Journal, Nov. 28
Gov. Sam Brownback has launched a Governor's Weight Loss Challenge to encourage Kansans to get healthier and work together to reduce the state's obesity rate.
It is a laudable goal and it's significant that Brownback has stepped to the forefront and plans to participate by leading a five-member team in the challenge. Obesity is a major health concern in Kansas and across the United States — reports indicate more than two-thirds of adults and almost one-third of children are overweight or obese — and all efforts to draw attention to the problem and address it with action are welcomed.
The Governor's Weight Loss Challenge is scheduled to run from Jan. 15 through May 15, during which five-member teams of state employees will compete to lose the most percentage weight, which, hopefully, the participants will keep off.
A similar program conducted in Topeka this year — Get Fit Topeka Style — challenged 20 participants to lose weight. At the end of the program, a six-month challenge sponsored by Jayhawk Pharmacy and Patient Supply, the competitors had shed a total of 604 pounds with the assistance of trainers, dietitians and monitoring by medical professionals.
Members of the group were evaluated by percent of weight lost, percent of inches lost, and improvement in cholesterol, lipids, blood sugar readings, blood pressure and discontinuation of medications related to obesity. Winners were named in the categories of top female contestant, top male contestant and top team.
Get Fit Topeka Style was touted as an inaugural event, and it's hoped it will be continued. All who participated — contestants, trainers, dietitians, medical staff and sponsors — deserve credit for showing Topekans what can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time to improve their health and fitness.
While the governor's primary challenge is to state employees, Brownback is encouraging teams of people who don't work for the state to participate.
A website, at www.weightloss.ks.gov, is available to track the progress of each team in the competition. The website is available to nonstate groups who want to take up the challenge, although they won't be eligible for prizes. Teams can begin registering Dec. 17 on the website.
Brownback has promised prizes to the top two teams of state employees who lose the greatest total percentage of weight over the four-month challenge. Other teams of state employees who beat the governor's team will be entered in a drawing to win prizes.
Just how difficult it will be to beat Brownback's team is unknown. He says he will announce the other members of his team in December. If they all are as fit as the governor appears to be, the team might not have a lot of weight to shed.
Regardless, the challenge is an excellent way to encourage Kansans to focus on their health.