Author: Kate Campbell (page 2 of 17)

Electoral College Complexities

Paul Schumaker explains the history and complexities of the Electoral College

As the U.S. Constitution was being drafted in 1787, a significant concern was how to choose a successor to George Washington as president, KU Political Science Professor Emeritus Paul Schumaker explains. The goal was to establish a state-centric process to do so that would enhance the federal nature of government.

The solution was to have state legislatures select a College of “notable and high-minded” Electors to decide who would be president based on a simple majority vote among themselves. The House of Representatives would choose among the top five vote-getters should there not be a clear winner.

There are 538 electors in the College now, one for each Senator and each Congressional Representative in a state. It will take an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to change the system.

When the public votes for the office of president in the national election every four years, they are really electing the slate of Electoral College representatives. In most states, the winner of the popular vote in a state gets all the electoral votes from that state. Only Maine and Nebraska have decided to distribute the votes proportionally.

As a result of the currrent Electoral College system, states and state parties play a huge role in the nomination and election processes. State rules determine who gets on the ballot and define voter ID and registration rules. Only a small number of states are “in play” during national elections, those where it is unsure whether Republican or Democrat votes will prevail. As a result, there is often lower voter turnout in “safe states.” A mismatch of the popular vote and the electoral votes is more likely under the system.

Schumaker wrote a book on this topic in 2002, Choosing a President: the Electoral College and Beyond. In it, he and others evaluate the Electoral College system and six legitimate alternatives to it. The book discusses how the Electoral College was created, evolved, and currently works and describes various reforms and possible replacements.

Pete Dulin Knows Brews

Pete Dulin got some teasing about the research he conducted in eastern Kansas and western Missouri for his new book Expedition of Thirst. He does admit it was a real pleasure to work on his travel guide focused on regional breweries and wineries.

On April 1, 2019, Kansas law changed to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell strong beer. The new law lifted a restriction that dated from the time of Prohibition, according to Dulin. Dulin went on to explain that in the 1880’s, before Prohibition, Kansas was the number one producter of beer and wine in the United States. Then, ironically, forty years prior to federal Prohibition, Kansas became the first state to enact a statewide rule against alcohol.

Today, craft beer has rebounded to have a $480 million impact in the Kansas economy, ranking the state 43rd in the production of craft beer in United States according to the Brewers Association 2017 statistics. Still, Missouri craft beer production is six time that of Kansas and generates twice the revenue.

Many small breweries start as a “food pub,” brewing beer to serve with food for local customers. Those breweries may sell their beers from the taproom, but to expand their distribution, they must find a distributor to reach retailers as required by state law.

Hannes Zacharias’ River Replay

In 1976, Hannes Zacharias paddled a canoe down the Arkansas River from his home in Fort Dodge, KS, to the Gulf of Mexico. In 2018, Zacharias took the adventure once again. In his replay, he started at the mouth of the river in the mountains of Colorado, making the 2,060 mile trip to Venice, LA, largely by kayak.

Hannes Zacharias speaks to Rotarians

The plot pf Zacharias’ story focused on the significant changes that he observed in the river itself as much as his tales about the people and the places he encountered.

The mouth of the Arkansas River is in central Colorado. It is the sixth-longest river in the United States, the second-longest tributary in the Mississippi–Missouri system, and the 45th longest river in the world. Fed by snow melt in the Rocky Mountains, water in the “Ark,” as Zacharias calls it, flows through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas before joining the Mississippi River.

In the upper miles of the Ark, recreational uses such as rafting, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are available only in compromise with ranchers who are reluctant to give access to the river.

Once the river hits the plains, reservoirs intended to control flooding and supply irrigation systems divert the water. As a result, the water that remains in the river is of poor quality. And often, the river bed is completely dry. Zacharias estimates that he was unable to travel on water for about 250 miles of his trip down the river channel.

By the time the river goes through Oklahoma, it fills with water again to supply hydroelectric power plants. Below Tulsa, a series of locks and dams begins, facilitating commercial barge traffic.

Once the Arkansas River joins the Mississippi, the water travels another 600 miles before entering the Gulf of Mexico. When Zacharias finally reached the mouth of the Mississippi, he poured water that he had collected at the mouth of the river in Colorado into the Gulf waters.

Understanding the Current Health Care Debate

Dr. Matthew Stein speaks to Lawrence Central Rotary

According to Dr. Matthew Stein, the current health care debate can be framed as the tension between opportunity and equity in American values. On one hand, health care can be understood as a privilege that one must earn and purchase as an individual–an opportunity. On the other hand, health care is a basic requirement for a life of liberty as a part of the social contract that Americans share as a part of the common welfare–a question of equity.

Dr. Stein, a retired physician, is a student of the history of health care and health insurance. With that background, he explained the evolution of health care models in America and defined various types of health insurance. His comments clarified terms in the current debate on health care.

In his presentation, Stein referenced an article published in The Commonwealth Fund by Sara R. Collins. Collins provides a tool to compare the range of health care reform ideas currently under consideration in Congress.

Retired from his oncology practice at LMH, Stein has taught seminars on the history of health care and related topics at KU for a number of years.

Lawrence Central Rotary Celebrates Sixteen Years

Back, L to R: Scott Wagner; Gena Dellett with her son; Margaret Brumberg; Chip LaClair; Bob Swan; Steve Mason; Tobin Neis; Fred Atchison; Lori Trenholm; Kate Campbell; Lynn O’Neal
Front, L to R: Karena Schmitendorf ; Shelly McColm; Janis Bunker; Irina Swan; Audrey Coleman; Letitia Cole; Jim Evers

Members of Lawrence Central Rotary gathered with spouses, children, and other guests at S&S Artisan Pub and Coffeehouse to celebrate the club’s birthday. Established in March 2003, the club currently has 38 members.

President Audrey Coleman presented the Becky Castro Award for Community Service to Kate Campbell during the program.

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