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HUTCHINSON, Kan. - Democrats from the First Congressional District gathered here on Saturday, May 5, electing delegates to the Democratic National Convention, to be held the week of September 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Traveling from as far apart as Garden City, Hays, Emporia and various points in between, representatives from all the state senate districts in the "Big First" participated as delegates and observers, said District Chair Larry Daniels of Dodge City. "In total 74 people attended which I believe is an excellent turnout considering the distances people had to travel because of the size of the district," Daniels said.

The competition was very strong for the election, Daniels said, as 49 Democrats from the district had filed candidacy forms with the state party so their names would appear on the ballot. Five delegates were elected to represent Kansas from the First District.

Where Do We Go From Here?

great-seal-of-kansas.pngELLIS, Kan. - The legislature has now adjourned, and the governor has signed the budget that was the primary responsibility of the women and men we elected to represent us during the session. Because a state budget is an expression of our priorities and values as Kansans, it should not be surprising that there are multiple and competing interpretations about what it all means.

Some Kansans are aghast. The state with John Steuart Curry murals in the capitol building no longer has a state-funded arts commission. K-12 funding has been set back to levels we have not seen in nearly two decades. Commitment to higher education is stagnate, although the anxiety level of anyone who works in the public sector is through the roof. And in a climate of financial crisis we are actually going to spend more money to make voting harder. As a northwest Kansas Democrat who cares about working across partisan and ideological divides for the good of Kansas, I am one of those who worries about the direction our state is headed.

allen-schmidt.jpgHAYS, Kan. - This week marked the end of one era and the beginning of another era for the Democratic Party in western Kansas.

Committee members who represent the precincts of the 36th Senatorial District convened at Professor's Banquet and Catering Center in Hays on Wednesday night to elect a replacement for former Senator Janis Lee, who resigned in late January upon her confirmation to the Tax Appeals Court. After 23 years of service in the Senate, Lee's wisdom and experience cannot be immediately replaced. Committee members elected a Hays man, Allen Schmidt -- dairy farmer, retired military officer, and medical services consultant -- to fulfill the remainder of the term Lee was re-elected to serve in 2008.

HAYS, Kan. - Kansas Secretary of State Chris Biggs will be on hand as the Ellis County Democratic Party opens its 2010 Election Headquarters on Wednesday, September 29 at 6 p.m.

The headquarters is located at 107 W. 10th Street in Hays. Please come and welcome the Secretary of State, take some yards signs to show your support for the candidates, and let the Democratic Party in Ellis County know how you can help.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Connie Schultz, nationally syndicated columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, will give this year's lecture for the Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture Series, entitled "Words from the Heart: Gender, Justice and Advocacy" on Wednesday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

"We selected Connie Schultz to be this year's speaker because of her dedication to issues of concern to Jana," said Kathy Rose-Mockry, chair of the Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture Series board. "Connie has spent her career fighting for the same causes Jana did--women's rights, equality, social justice and serving others."

The Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 2009 to commemorate late women's rights activist and KU law student Jana Lynne Mackey.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Curt and Christie Brungardt, parents of the late Jana Mackey, applaud Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson for signing a new domestic violence law today in Topeka. Mackey was a 25-year-old law student who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Lawrence in 2008. "We are very pleased with the actions of our legislature and Governor in addressing this serious issue," said Christie Brungardt. "While we recognize that this new legislation alone will not stop domestic violence, we do believe that it is an important step in the right direction."

Originally recommended by the Governor's Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, this bill is recognized as the most comprehensive domestic violence legislation ever passed in Kansas. This law will assist the criminal justice system in documenting crimes associated with domestic violence and track repeated offenders. The legislation also requires the courts to order assessment of the offender and recommend intervention treatment programs.

ELLIS, Kan. - Two Kansas politicians have been getting the kind of media attention in the last week that should make citizens of this state cringe with embarrassment. One of these Kansas politicians is a sitting U.S. Senator, and the other one wants to be.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice today unanimously recommended the domestic violence tag bill to the full body of the Kansas House of Representatives.

HB 2517 would require that domestic violence markers be attached to all criminal cases where the district court finds evidence that an offender committed any other criminal violations against a person with whom the offender had an intimate relationship. The list would include battery, arson, assault, kidnapping, disorderly conduct and destruction of property.

TOPEKA, Kan. - One day after testifying before the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee in support of new legislation to help track crimes associated with domestic violence in Kansas, nationally recognized advocates Curt and Christie Brungardt are hopeful about the prospects for passage of the bill.

"Today was a very positive day for this legislation," Curt Brungardt said Tuesday. "We are much closer to having everybody who cares about this issue on the same page. "

The Brungardts, whose daughter Jana Mackey was murdered in Lawrence by an ex-boyfrend in July 2008, testified Monday in support of House Bill 2517. The bill would require that a domestic violence tag be placed on all legal documents associated with a criminal act that is based on an intimate relationship.

TOPEKA, Kan. - For most students, high school will always be high school, driven by concerns about homework, curfew, popularity and the prom. But students at Southeast of Saline High School received special recognition for their efforts to raise awareness and money to combat domestic violence in Kansas last week.

As part of the kick-off events and press conference for Jana's Campaign,, the domestic violence advocacy movement announced by nationally known activists Christie and Curt Brungardt in honor of their daughter, the late Jana Mackey, the Brungardts drew attention to students in Juanelle Garretson's Life Dimensions class.

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