TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday allowed bills revising how Kansas regulates banks and real estate appraisers to become law, but he refused to sign them as a protest against states being “coerced” by the federal government into making such changes.
For the second time in three days, the conservative Republican governor used obscure legislation to object to what he sees as the over-regulation of businesses. A Democratic critic suggested his latest actions were “borderline grandstanding.”
The two measures that Brownback allowed to take effect bring Kansas into compliance with a federal law enacted by Congress in 2010. The law was to strengthen the regulation of the nation’s financial system in response to the Great Recession. Brownback strongly opposed the federal legislation as a U.S. senator before becoming governor in January 2011.
Brownback vetoed a bill Friday to revise the state’s rules for ex-barbers and former barber college instructors, requiring more of them to take exams to get re-licensed. The change was pushed by the state Board of Barbering. In his veto message to lawmakers, Brownback said Kansas wouldn’t tolerate unnecessary regulatory burdens on free enterprise.
In a statement Monday, he decried “wayward legislation” by the federal government leading to “an unprecedented expansion of federal power over the nation’s economy.” He said he has asked Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, another Republican, to review the 2010 federal law’s constitutionality.
“We are being coerced by unelected federal bureaucrats,” he said in his statement. “These federal officials are threatening to do harm to our state’s economy if we do not acquiesce in passing state laws dictated from Washington.”
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said Brownback was trying to make a political point “with little behind it.”
“It’s borderline grandstanding,” he said.
Brownback said Monday he refused to sign the two measures to protest what he calls federal intrusion into the state’s regulation of businesses.
One measure Brownback refused to sign Monday deals with companies that manage at least 15 licensed Kansas appraisers who examine property before creditors decide whether to lend money on that property. The firms will be required to register with the state Real Estate Appraisal Board.
Brownback noted that the state board already licenses and regulates individual appraisers, arguing that measure creates an unnecessary layer of regulation.
The other measure revises lending and ownership rules for state-chartered banks. Brownback noted that if the state didn’t make those changes, state-chartered banks wouldn’t be allowed to engage in the same financial transactions as banks chartered by the federal government.
“Because we have little choice but to let these bills go into effect, I will allow them to become law without my signature,” Brownback said. “By not affixing my signature to these bills, however, I want to send a clear message that I have serious concerns about their constitutionality.”
Hensley said that if Brownback had serious concerns, “he should have vetoed them.”