This year was a busy year for journalists, between the presidential election and the “fiscal cliff.” But next year will have its own set of major stories. Here are some of the headlines and stories you are likely to see in 2013:
Kansas sales tax extended: The anti-tax Legislature, with a lot of consternation, will approve the extension of the one-cent sales tax, most of which was to expire on July 1, 2013. The vote will be close, but Gov. Sam Brownback will cajole enough legislators to come around to his view to help offset the steep tax cuts he signed.
Congress passes assault-weapon ban: As a result of the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, even NRA members in Congress will support an assault-weapon ban, much like we had in place from 1994-2004. It will pass easily in both houses, which the president will promptly sign into law.
Assad flees to Russia: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad likely will find that his military troops (with the exception of the faithful Alawites) will turn on him as rebels penetrate deep into Damascus. We very well might find a follow-up headline: “Syria disintegrates into chaos,” when disparate rebels turn on each other to gain control of the country. Of course, the headline we dread the most would be “Chemical weapons in hands of terrorists.”
Hillary Clinton in fundraising mode: An undeclared candidate for president of the United States in 2016, Hillary Clinton will start the process by making lots of speeches and raising lots of money. Currently, she has the highest poll ratings for a non-incumbent candidate in recent history. She wanted it badly before, and it is unimaginable that she wouldn’t go for it.
Kansas school budgets cut for efficiency: Despite Gov. Brownback’s admonition that schools are off-limits in budget cuts, he also appointed a special task force to find “inefficiencies” in schools statewide. With that report due at the beginning of 2013, it would be perfect cover for legislators who are facing a major deficit and looking to save money. They can blame, or give credit to, the task force for finding ways to cut school funding “without impacting classrooms.”
Confusion in KanCare rampant: The new private managed Medicaid program in Kansas that goes into effect in 2013 will throw the nearly 400,000 Medicaid recipients into turmoil. There will be confusion about picking from the three alternative private providers, and there will be yet more confusion about the new limits imposed by these companies to keep costs down. It has been promised the state will save a billion dollars over five years. But this new system is bound to have major — and adverse — impacts on the poor, who are dependent on Medicaid dollars for their health care.
Gay marriage upheld: With nine states already implementing such marriages, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to uphold the right of states to pass such laws and to require other states to recognize those marriages. It is not likely that the highest court will nullify state laws that prohibit gay marriages, due to discrimination. With current trends, it is likely that more and more states will uphold gay marriages, as today’s younger voters gain more clout at the polls.
Kansas alters appellate court selection: This is a near certainty. The current method of selecting appellate judges in Kansas, nominated by a panel of lawyers and non-lawyers, will be struck down by the Legislature and substituted with a far more political process. They will grant the governor the power to select his own nominees, with the approval of the state Senate. In the current environment, judges will become far more ideological (to the right).
Egyptian women to wear veils: Despite strong opposition from secular Egyptian women who can now walk around “face free,” the new Islamist government will impose new laws requiring veils. In the beginning, many Egyptian women will ignore the laws in protest, but they will be arrested and harassed until they conform.
Johnson County unemployment rate hits new low: The economic recovery will be felt here in a big way. The unemployment rate is likely to drop to about 4.8 percent, more than two points below the national average and near our Johnson County pre-recession lows. The drop reflects a diverse economy with a strong, highly educated work force and a quality of life that attracts companies and makes them want to expand here.
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