Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Policy: March 2010


House Hears Concealed Carry Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. - Do the No Concealed Carry signs posted on numerous buildings around the state make you feel more safe, or more vulnerable? Different answers to this question led to a long debate on the House floor on Tuesday, March 23, when a bill was heard to loosen conceal carry laws for the state of Kansas.

House Bill 2685 would allow individuals (including employees) with a conceal carry license to be able to carry a weapon into a public building unless that building has "adequate security measures" in place. What kind of security measures would it take to make the proponents of this bill feel safe? Metal detectors, wands or full time security guards at every entrance to the building for example. Public buildings would be required to take down their No Concealed Carry signs.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The Kansas Chamber of Commerce scolded 14 local chambers of commerce on Thursday for supporting a tax increase to fix the yawning Kansas budget deficit. The starkly differing constituencies of the KCCI (Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and local chambers of commerce can no longer be papered over.

The KCCI supports huge transnational corporations. The local chambers support Main Street. The KCCI supports far-right libertarian thought. The local chamber groups supports small businesses, whether owned by Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or non-political types.

I assume these local chambers of commerce pay dues to belong to the mother organization: the KCCI. Expect some defections. You can expect this recent dustup to be the prelude for more infighting between the 'mothership' and the local chambers. The KCCI is completely out of touch with small business, and is not worthy of being paid dues by any local chamber of commerce in the State of Kansas.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Kansas Senate Majority Leader Steve Morris (R-Hugoton) favors a tax increase. So why would a Republican in Western Kansas -- the most Republican area in the state -- want to raise taxes?

Because he's smart. Because Senator Morris cares more about the future of rural Kansas than his own political future. Because he knows that those suffering most from the draconian state budget cuts are those in rural Kansas. But maybe Senator Morris is smart like a fox, and knows the heart of Western Kansas. I suspect he does.

Health Care Bill Is Not Socialism

GREAT BEND, Kan. - When I was growing up in the 70's, people used the word "Communism" if they wanted to scare people. Because Communism collapsed and the Cold War is over, a different word is being used now to scare people: Socialism.

The health care bill has been referred to as "Socialism" over and over by it's detractors. So I decided to look up the word "Socialism." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Socialism, to wit:

  1. any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods;
  2. a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.
  3. a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

Balance vs. Budgets

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - "Families have to balance their budgets," my Republican friend said to me, "and the state should, too." We were discussing Kansas's latest round of budget cuts. I had expressed a worry that deeper cuts would eliminate even more jobs and that insufficient spending on education and infrastructure would undermine long-term recovery. Afterwards, I thought about the family as a metaphor for the state. What if we pushed the analogy further?

A few days ago, I was in a post office in another community, waiting to mail a package. I had spent the previous day on the phone and then on-line, trying to get the USPS's click 'n ship to work. The USPS has been urging customers to complete transactions on-line; but after many hours of frustration -- and multiple "chats" with on-line help -- I learned that the zip code I was trying to mail to had not yet been entered into the system. Hence, my trip to an actual, physical post office. There I found a line of customers extending out the door and around the lobby. I was recovering from surgery and unsteady on my feet, so my package and I leaned against various spots on various walls as the line crept toward the two employees at the counter.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Here in Lawrence, we just came through a dramatic and upsetting round of school funding cuts that effectively divided our community. There were threats of some--or several--of our grade schools being closed and things got ugly as parents turned on each other. When parents of children in threatened schools rallied, some parents of children whose schools were not on the chopping block were concerned that their schools would lose teachers, librarians, nurses, paras, etc. in order to save smaller, older grade schools. (What they didn't seem to take into consideration was that class sizes were going to go up regardless, because all those kids from closed schools were going to have to flood the remaining schools.)

Hoof and Mouth Disease! Oh, Oh, Oh!

GEM, Kan. - How many people even know what hoof and mouth disease is? Is that the epidemic that is running rampant in Washington D.C. or Topeka? Politicians are hoofing it out of town and mouths are spreading 'virus like' rumors and innuendos that have no fact behind them?

I'm compelled to write (It rained last night and I can't go to the field.) in response to another writer's article and the responses that followed. The article, if you want to reference to it, was: One Cent Will Save Public Education. Foot and mouth disease got worked into the comment section. What's that got to do with sales tax?

Let's look at this 'hoof and mouth' issue.

Opinionated Pragmatist

GEM, Kan. - I always thought pragmatism was a positive attribute. But, I've discovered, since President Obama's thought process has been labeled pragmatic, that a great number of people consider pragmatism to be negative.

Since as far back as I can remember, my opinions, motivations, and actions have been arrived at through a pragmatic process. The consequence of what I thought was well reasoned pragmatic opinion resulted in some rather memorable spankings from my parents. It took me a while to learn that even though the boss wasn't always right, the boss was still the boss. Quite often, we pragmatists make spur of the moment decisions and speak without thinking.

Covenant Marriage ... FAILS!

TOPEKA, Kan. - Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee debated leaving the Covenant Marriage Amendment as a part of HB 2667. This amendment was added by Rep. Anthony Brown (R-Eudora) on the floor of the House. It would have changed marriage statutes in our state without even having received a formal hearing.

Yesterday, Kansas NOW testified against the amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The opposition to the bill was overwhelming, while absolutely no supporters came to offer testimony in favor of the amendment. Even the fellow who introduced it stayed away. The bill was "worked" this morning and I am happy to report that the amendment was removed from the bill! Only two Senators voted in favor of the amendment, Senator Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) and Senator Donovan (R-Wichita).

The following is the testimony that I presented on behalf of Kansas NOW...

TOPEKA, Kan. - On Wednesday, state employees will be making their voices heard in Topeka. Below is a press release they sent out Tuesday.

More than 250 members of the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) will be marching on the State House to make our voices heard and to share our concerns with Legislators. In the midst of this current budget crisis we are more vigilant than ever to protect our jobs, paychecks, and pensions. As state employees, our jobs, wages, and retirement are directly linked to what happens at the State House.

We understand this crisis calls for shared sacrifice from all aspects of state government. However, we are not about to sacrifice our very livelihoods and the well being of our families to balance this budget. We know where the real waste in government is and if we were better protected from reprisal we would bring it out into the open. That is why we support the Whistleblower Protection Act. It's time to cut government waste, not jobs!

COLBY, Kan. - I lifted the following quote from the comment section of an editorial column.

Abortion neutral may be an elusive concept, but it remains very much alive if Congress, the White House and supporters of the overhaul effort want it to be.

If is a pretty big word, isn't it! The problem is the extremists on both sides don't want it to be neutral. Abortion issues and end of life ethics are the hot button issues that have stymied all efforts to pass health care reform. Neither of the extremist sides of those two issues have been interested in passing a health care bill that is neutral on those issues. As a result of this, we have a proposed health care bill that no one trusts. All the pork barrel amendments and verbose sections have produced a bill that defies simple interpretation.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The results are in, unemployment in Kansas jumped during the month of January from 6.2% to 7.1%. Kansas needs jobs; no one will argue with that. Kansas needs good paying jobs, jobs where a person can work hard, receive a paycheck and not have to worry about food at the end of the month. That should not be a debate.

It is no secret legislature in Kansas has continued to hand out tax exemptions and
give sweetheart deals to major corporations for years, while at the same time enacting tax cuts. Now the state is in trouble and according to The Pew Center On The States, a nonpartisan organization, it may be several years before our states realize just how dire our budget situation is. This is because of two reasons - people in the state of Kansas will need monetary support from the state while they are unemployed, and people are spending less. Both issues have only just begun. When people spend less money that means less revenue, or taxes for the state, this will begin to really hit the budget in the next fiscal year.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Sometimes, somebody just tells the truth. It's usually a child, like in the "Emperor With No Clothes." Everybody knows the truth down deep, but then someone just blurts it out, and there is a sense of relief and embarrassment.

Johnny Carson once said the only people who really tell the truth are the very young and the very old. There is some truth to that, but sometimes a middle aged person says what everyone knows to be true but is afraid to say.

Governor Mark Parkinson had such a moment last week. Discussing the Kansas legislature's 20 year "tax-cutting binge," Parkinson mentioned that the tax breaks have generally gone to the wealthy and corporate interests. "What have we done for the average person? Virtually nothing. The public has got to understand, they are being left out."

How true.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On March 4, 2010, after a lengthy debate, the Senate voted on legislation that prevented cuts from being made to Kansas' unemployment benefits.

As unemployment rates have continued to rise in Kansas, the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund has been drastically depleted. The fund, which is financed by employer taxes, has recently had to borrow money from the federal government to keep up with payments to unemployed Kansans.

I voted to prevent any cuts to unemployment benefits for Kansans. I have always sided with Kansas workers on issues such as wrongful death, worker's compensation and unemployment.

This bill doesn't solve the problem of a dwindling unemployment trust fund, but until we get the economy working for everyone again, the best decision is to help struggling Kansans make ends meet.

Justice Should NOT Be Bought!

TOPEKA, Kan. - Kansans for Life has targeted Kansas Supreme Justice Carol Beier. They have bought ads on television, print and radio in an attempt to control and influence the judiciary process. The motivation to remove Justice Beier stems solely from their disfavor with the Justice over rulings surrounding the actions of former Attorney General Phil Kline.

Justice Carol A Beier recently asked the Kansas Ethics Commission to decide if campaign finance rules apply to retention elections for Supreme Court Justices. The ruling stated...

"Since the position of Supreme Court Justice is not included in the definition of state officer, The Campaign Finance Act does not govern your election."

WICHITA, Kan. - Kansas legislators held a Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 6th at the WSU Metroplex and what a meeting.

Kansas State Rep. Brenda Landwehr sounded like she was trying to resurrect the confederacy. Y'all remember the confederacy? Our southern cousins decided in 1861 that they didn't have to obey the U.S. Constitution's "supremacy clause" and in fact could leave the Union if the national government passed a law they didn't cotton to.

Landwehr has decided she doesn't much cotton to following a president she didn't vote for, let alone being forced to uphold his nasty piece of legislation that would provide health insurance for a bunch of losers who can't afford to purchase their own but want a handout from hard working legislators like Landwehr.

SALINA, Kan. - Few folks are against free speech. But what one says is always limited to what one sees. Many good talkers are not necessarily good seers.

Case in point: Chapman Rackaway's recent editorial on the Supreme Court Citizens United case. His misguided missile, intended to strike its critics, instead winds up wounding the very free speech he advocates.

That arrow struck especially deep, given Rackaway's solid contributions to free speech, particularly through his hosting of candidate forums on Smoky Hills Public Television and his college teaching at Fort Hays State. His achievements illustrate, however, that all truth is relative, and easily blinded.

To defend free speech, Rackaway scaled Mount Everest rhetorical heights, only to fall off the cliff of corporate, moneyed influence. It's a common error.

ANDOVER, Kan. - Why would any church want to align itself with a politician or a political party?

As the geeky Milhouse van Housen asked Bart Simpson, "What do they have to gain?", and the next shot cuts to the Reverend Lovejoy throwing a cache of coins down a counting machine, the implications are clear; the church needs money to destroy the secular world.

In real life, it is not as crass as directly funneling money from the church to the politicians since that would be a campaign violation and no church would be that profoundly foolish. However, when it comes to the well known and often maligned principle of the separation of church and state, the only separating going on is the church effectively keeping government out of their business while entangling itself into the bowels of political races, governmental entities, and PACs to push their agenda into secular society.

TOPEKA, Kan.- Last Friday, the Kansas Coalition for Workplace Safety held a rally in the old Supreme Court chambers at the Kansas State Capitol. The rally was well attended by many of us who want to see injured Kansas workers given a fair shake for a change.

Rep. Paul Davis, the House Minority Leader and Sen. Anthony Hensley, the Senate Minority Leader gave a run down of Kansas' failing public policy concerning the treatment of workers injured on the job by no fault of their own.

Workers who have been victimized by our workers compensation system showed up to have their stories heard as those of us who attended saw real life examples why we need to ramp up this fight. We are among the worst in the nation, folks, and it is time we get this backwards mess straightened out.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

The previous archive is Policy: February 2010. The next archive is Policy: April 2010.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Policy: March 2010 section.

The previous archive is Policy: February 2010. The next archive is Policy: April 2010.

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