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

Taxes, or Votes

WICHITA, Kan. - To tax or not to tax, that seems to be the pre-eminent worry in elected official's minds. Whether it's best to cover the costs of necessary government expenses or to tell some citizens - usually the least of our brethren, the disabled, the elderly, the poor, the children - that they will have to depend on the goodness of others or go on the streets. Is that the question? Or are the representatives and senators in Topeka and across the nation more worried about losing votes from their constituents should they raise taxes to cover essential costs?

There are two easy ways to raise taxes. They could accept Governor Parkinson's proposal to instigate a temporary (three-year duration) one percent sales tax. The more progressive, alternative method would be to raise taxes on the wealthiest in Kansas, the corporate farms and persons making more that $250,000 per year. Unfortunately, the latter proposal will have little success because some self-centered citizen or corporate lobbyist will scream "socialist."

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.

immigration.gifWICHITA, Kan. - For over a century, some in American politics have attempted to keep certain groups of people from voting. Traditionally, going back to ancient Rome, the only people who could vote were those who owned property and the people who owned the property were men. But over the years, the United States passed laws and constitutional amendments to expand voting rights to other groups of people. In spite of Jim Crow laws and other similar means of disenfranchisement, we are generally quite proud of our efforts in suffrage, though the reality is we have a very long way to go.

Last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a new measure to "crack down" on undocumented workers. It requires, among other things, for immigrants to carry their papers on them at all time that prove they are in the country legally. As these papers are important legal papers, it is dangerous to carry them around all the time. Kansas Secretary of State candidate Kris Kobach says this will apply only to immigrants and not US citizens as it is a federal crime to say one is a citizen when they are not. This is a curious statement.

TOPEKA, Kan. - From KNEA News...

The state-wide coalition Kansans for Quality Communities (KQC) held a press conference in the capitol today at which they called upon legislators to pass a tax increase to support vital state services and keep Kansas communities strong.

Speaking at the press conference were KNEA lobbyist Mark Desetti, Kansas Organization of State Employees Executive Director Jane Carter, Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas Executive Director Shannon Jones, InterHab Assistant Executive Director Matt Fletcher, and Kansas Families for Education Executive Director Kathy Cook.

"The people of Kansas have elected their legislators to put the needs of all Kansans ahead of political expediency or ideology. Today more than ever, we are in need of a legislature that can set aside partisanship and demonstrate a spirit of collaboration and cooperation in the quest to preserve and ultimately strengthen our state and our communities," said Desetti.

I Am a Liberal

WICHITA, Kan. - "I am a liberal, a plain, unadorned, old-fashioned liberal...I believe in America; I believe in democracy..." So said Senator George McGovern said in a speech to the Americans for Democratic Action a couple of decades ago. I agree with him. Therefore I question why our legislators in Kansas and across the nation waste the taxpayers' money in vengeance and other wasteful schemes.

The Kansas legislators wage a personal attack against women by gutting a utilities bill and placing the text of an extremist anti-choice bill inside. Governor Parkinson vetoes it and now the bonehead, vitriolic anti-choicers are wasting our time and money by attempting to pass it over his veto.

Earlier, they spent time debating the merits of Flint Hills grasses to anoint "The Kansas Grass."

PhotobucketTOPEKA, Kan. - This week both the Senate Ways and Means and House Appropriations Committees are meeting to develop a budget.

Senate Ways and Means began meeting Monday and completed work on their budget Wednesday afternoon. The committee recommended a budget that would require an estimated $500 million in additional revenue but they could not reach agreement on a tax package to pay for it. Chairman Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, abruptly ended the meeting, announcing, "We are adjourned until the 28th," - the date when the entire legislature returns to Topeka for the veto session.

On the House side, Representative Kevin Yoder continues to say that the legislature must CUT, CUT, CUT. As I have reported earlier, Yoder represents a brand of politician whose intention is to destroy government and leave everything to the market to fix. Such ideology is not what the people of Kansans need. We need leaders who understand government serves a positive purpose.

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.

When Did Rape Become Funny?

SHAWNEE, Kan. - Facts show that rape is anything but funny. According to statistics, someone in the US is raped every two minutes. Additionally, victims of rape are 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide, and 3 times more likely to suffer depression. According to the group One in Four, "8% of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Of these men who committed rape, 84% said that what they did was definitely not rape." Sixty percent of rapes are never even reported, and only 6 percent of rapists will ever spend a day in jail for their crime. Are you laughing yet?

GREAT BEND, Kan. - When I was a boy, there was a phrase, a sentence, that I heard often: "Help those less fortunate." My parents used this phrase often, the nuns at St. Patrick's Catholic School used it, my leaders in Boy Scouts of America used it. And it became part of who I am.

As an adult in 2010, I no longer hear that phrase, but I still try to live it. The injunction to "help those less fortunate," is totally out of date in 2010 America. And I think I know why: because it implies that good luck has something to do with success. And that bad luck has something to do with being poor. And many successful people today want to believe they alone caused their success, and that the poor failed because they have some moral defect.

America has a larger class division than ever in my lifetime. The rich get richer, the middle class is shrinking, and the ranks of the poor grow every day. And some successful people believe they achieved success on their own, that no one -- government, or the community, or anyone -- had anything to do with it.

And the poor? They screwed up.

Want to Opt Out of Paying Taxes?

GREAT BEND, Kan. - With the uproar created by the Tea Party movement, perhaps we need to start a new program: allow Americans to opt out of paying taxes: local, state and federal. However, each person would have to sign an agreement, that in lieu of paying taxes, the following conditions would apply to them...

The Fruit Is On the Ground

HAYS, Kan. - I know. Criticizing a campaign mailer -- or maybe that should be spelled "campain maler" -- is like picking the fruit hanging so low it's almost on the ground. But maybe you will allow a little venting.

I won't criticize the use of suggestive phrases instead of actual assertions ("Kansas values. Kansas commonsense.") Nor will I criticize the assertions that are only questionably relevant: "Five generations of Mann's [sic] have lived in the house his great-grandfather built." OK. But he lives more than 100 miles to the east.

But then we get these words: "Free market solutions for healthcare reform" and "protect Social Security and Medicare." Under the assumption that he is listing these things because he supports them, isn't there a problem here? Neither Social Security nor Medicare are "free market solutions," and that is their glory. We have learned from hundreds of years of experience now that free markets are greatly inventive, but without assistance they promote inequality. In fact, they promote so much inequality that those who can no longer sell their labor or intelligence on the free market would be left without the necessities of life.

So which do you want, Mr. Candidate, free market solutions or help for the elderly?

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Senators Huelskamp and Barnett are not only the two front runners for the Big First Republican Congressional nomination, they are both doctors. Huelskamp has a doctorate from American University in political science. Barnett is an M.D., graduating from KU Med School in 1979.

Most doctors don't give away their inventory, their knowledge, for free. But Dr. Huelskamp is literally giving free advice to Dr. Barnett that could lead to a Barnett victory in the August 2 primary. "Jim Barnett is committing political malpractice by posing as a conservative," says Huelskamp, through his Campaign Manager David Ray.

The Huelskamp campaign is handing out the best advice any candidate like Barnett could hope for. And with four months to correct the problem! I've never seen such an act of charity from one competing politician to another.

It's Time to Talk About Breasts

WASHINGTON - It's time to talk to talk about breasts, and I can't think of a better place to do so than in Washington DC. After all, it is home to some of the biggest boobs I've ever met. In all seriousness, I'm not talking about some of the congressional members. I'm talking about the actual body part and about breast health. This May, I will make my third trip to Washington in order to lobby on behalf of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. I am often asked how I became involved with them, and I want to share with you the story of their work. I began working with the NBCC after my (step) aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted to become involved in finding the cure, and I wanted to know how I could support her fight.

Looking around me, I realized that my aunt's fight was not an isolated battle. Another aunt had stood next to her best friend as the disease proved more powerful than the treatments. I heard stories of women who survived cancer, but died from the harsh treatments used to fight it. I had watched my dad die of another form of cancer (lung). Watching him die from a senseless disease stirred up emotions that I didn't want to confront.

Real Baby Killers

WICHITA, Kan. - One of the most brutal child abuse cases made headlines this week in Kansas. Yes, there are real "baby killers" in society. Are we finally prepared to have a grown-up discussion on women and reproductive decisions?

Let's begin by first examining the sanctity of life philosophy of men like Scott Roeder. The philosophy is grounded in the theory that any pregnant woman, and I mean any woman, say a 12 year old girl with Down's syndrome, has the moral duty to carry her fetus to term regardless of any other issues or common sense facts. Or, let's use a different example. A woman in her early twenties who has no job, is hooked on drugs, lives with an abusive boyfriend and she also has anger management issues, is pregnant. Which is the more ethical choice? Deny both these females a safe, humane option to ending their pregnancies if they wish to do so, or uphold the sanctity of life and demand these women give birth?

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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: April 2010 section.

The previous archive is Policy: March 2010. The next archive is Policy: May 2010.

The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.

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