When it comes to the illegal immigration debate this year in the Kansas Legislature, it's hard to decide whose actions have been more discouraging.
Is it key business and industry organizations?
Or is it the lawmakers who bowed to those organizations in watering down a Senate bill aimed at boosting penalties for knowingly hiring undocumented workers?
It hasn't been the finest hour for either group.
Urged on by business interests, members of the Senate Federal and State Affairs committee last week stripped the bill of virtually all penalties. The committee also removed a requirement for employers to use a federal database designed to track the legal status of workers.
Supporters of the bill were flabbergasted.
"We gave the problem a pass," said Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka.
Debate over immigration reform got off to a disappointing start when a representative of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry made this comment last month: "We are not interested in being responsible in the business community for solving a social concern."
That's a disappointing position, especially for Kansas businesses owners who are operating by the rules. Those employers are having a difficult time competing with those who hire illegal immigrant workers, and it's fundamentally unfair.