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Lighters Are Tools, Not Toys

TOPEKA, Kan.- Last week, I submitted the following written testimony in support of Senate Bill 342, which was introduced before the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee by Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau of Wichita.

This bill would ban the sale of novelty lighters that resemble popular toys and entice children to play with fire, leading to deaths, injuries and property damage. Adults have sustained first-hand injuries form these lighters, too. They are manufactured haphazardly overseas, and have been subject to a multitude of recalls over the years. Other states have taken action on this, and I think Kansas should follow suit.

WICHITA, Kan. - Members of the Kansas National Organization for Women (Kansas NOW) breathe a collective sigh of relief upon receipt of the news that the jury in the trial of admitted murderer Scott Roeder has handed down a guilty verdict, finding the him guilty of the crime of first degree murder and aggravated assault.

We hope that it will serve as a strong message to those that have exalted this coward into a position of prominence in the so called pro-life movement. Violence in any form against abortion doctors will not be tolerated.

Cause and effect

WICHITA, Kan. - Last week I wrote about the real repercussions cuts in the state budget have on people in need who depend on not for profits for services, which in turn depend on funding from the state, and the fetishism of anti-tax elements in Kansas who refuse to look at revenue streams no matter how many people it hurts.

You couldn't find a better example of this than the front page of today's Eagle. On the top of the page is an article about how funding is about to run out for the Child Advocacy Center, which deals with the most voiceless, helpless victims in our society - children who are victimized by those closest to them. The work is complicated and difficult and is spread across many agencies. The Center gets 54% of its funding from the state. If that gets cut, tough luck battered children.

2010 Election Season Begins

TOPEKA, Kan. - And we're off! The 2010 election season is getting off to a quick start with several candidates declaring interest in running for office. State Senator Chris Steineger filed for the Secretary of State position last week, joining several others who have indicated interest in running for the seat.

His press release is below...

kansas-state-capitol-2.jpgGREAT BEND, Kan. - Rep. Mitch Holmes' (R-114th) legislative update in the St. John, Kansas newspaper begins with news of legislative sacrifice:

"The Kansas Legislature started the 2010 session last week with several announcements. The first was the plans of Leadership to establish furlough days for all legislators during the session. Legislators are paid $88.66/day during the session or interim committees. The session is limited to 90 days by the state constitution. The furloughs will be on days not yet specified, but they will not be at the end of the session as a means of shortening the session."

In other words, the people of Kansas have been told the legislature is making a financial sacrifice in these difficult budget times. Legislators are already crowing about their sacrifice, as seen by Rep. Holmes' press release.

There are several reasons this "furlough" announcement is meaningless.

Budget cuts affect us all

WICHITA, Kan. - Our legislators are afraid. They are afraid they won't be elected if they raise taxes. They should be afraid of not being reelected for ruining our schools and not taking care of our senior citizens, and people with disabilities. The agencies that serve people with disabilities, our frail and elderly, and our schools have taken several cuts and absorbed them internally so that it doesn't affect the consumers. Any further cuts will affect the people who need the services. There is a reason why we protect our most vulnerable. Not just because its the right thing to do, but because the ugly truth of what could happen is too sickening to imagine.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Remember the old adage, "prevention is the best medicine"? I do, and it is used in my personal life on a daily basis. Simple preventative measures such as, taking the time to put on my coat when it is cold so not to get sick, eating healthy so my body can function, saving money so that I can plan for future life events, and attending doctors' appointments when needed. Prevention may cost me more at the time, but in the end will save large amounts of money. Sure, eating fruit and vegetables is rather expensive today compared to a bag of chips, and a ho ho, but the economics will play out in my favor. I consider it money saved every time I purchase a four dollar bag of grapes. Most of us that were raised in stable homes understand prevention and use it.

If prevention were used more in politics our state would not be suffering from a monstrous deficit. I attended a legislative meeting today here in Great Bend. State Senator Teichman, State Senator Emler, and Representative Wolf were key speakers. I sat and listened to their speeches, they discussed bills they will be voting on this legislative year.

Tom Holland for Governor

DERBY, Kan. - Tom Holland for governor is indeed a breath of fresh air. Just hearing of anyone willing to challenge Sam Brownback is encouraging, to say the least. However, just having the identification of Republican gives any statewide candidate in Kansas at least a 3 to 1 advantage. Even though Brownback doesn't have a very high approval rating in the polls, when it comes voting time, the republican candidate just seems to automatically get the nod.

What, then, will it take for Tom Holland to wage a successful campaign for Governor of one of the most solid red states in America?

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Saturday, January 23rd, Manhattan-Ogden NEA will host a Legislative Forum at The Little Apple Brewing Company in Westloop. The event will begin at 4:00 pm, and each legislator will have about 5 minutes to speak. Then, the discussion will be open for questions from attendees.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - After giving Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon and Governor Parkinson the cold shoulder last week, the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee appear to have had a change of heart on Wednesday and introduced the tax bills they had declined to introduce last week: Governor Parkinson's 1% sales tax increase and increasing the cigarette and tobacco tax to national levels.

Observers interpreted the committee's actions last week as a signal that working to solve the state's $400 million revenue shortfall in the next fiscal year was going to be contentious as it was the first time in most observer's memories that a committee did not give the Governor the courtesy of introducing his or her legislation.

Wednesday's action by the committee means that the bills have now been introduced in both the Senate and House.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Republican Attorney General candidate Senator Derek Schmidt attending a "States Rights" rally last Friday may seem innocuous to many. Lots of politicians rightfully point out that the federal government issues too many "unfunded mandates" to states and local units of government.

Steve Six, Kansas Attorney General
But many Tenth Amendment boosters have far more on their mind than unfunded federal mandates. Many believe that Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was a coup against
"the real constitution." They believe that the Tenth Amendment, when properly applied, forbids programs like Medicare, Social Security and the Federal Minimum Wage.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that such programs do not violate the Tenth Amendment. Attorney General Six wisely points out the proper remedy for an alleged Tenth Amendment violation is for the aggrieved party to file a lawsuit alleging the unconstitutionality of a particular law. Then let the courts decide.

EMPORIA, Kan. - The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ensures that persons charged with crimes are permitted to have the assistance of counsel. In the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) it was determined that for those persons who cannot afford an attorney, one must be appointed for them by the charging jurisdiction. In order to comply with the ruling, the State of Kansas currently reimburses private attorneys in counties which do not have established Public Defender offices but recent budget cuts imperil the rights of defendants as fewer attorneys will be able to offer their services to the citizens of Kansas.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The conservatives in the Kansas Legislature are going to face a new kid on the playground this year. Kansans for Quality Communities has come out to play and they intend to change who gets to play on the swing set.

Bringing together organizations representing education, health care, the disabled and state workers, Kansas for Quality Communities will provide a united front in reforming tax policy that has been inspired by the now discredited "starve the beast" mentality of the conservatives.

Following the passage of California's Proposition 13 in 1978 and the Reagan victory, conservatives sought to undo the policies begun by Franklin Roosevelt and the economic benefits those policies had brought to the working class by dismantling the social safety net provided by federal and state government bureaucracies. Thus government became the "beast" to be starved in order to reduce government to reflect the ideology of free-market capitalism.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Before Julie and I had children, we had HBO. Back then HBO featured exclusive heavyweight championship fights. Mike Tyson was Heavyweight Champion of the World. And when HBO would broadcast his fights, I started a tradition of inviting some of my friends over to watch the fights.

Mike Tyson was invincible, and the best I could hope for was that the fight would last a few rounds so we could have a few beers and see an interesting fight. We didn't like Tyson, but all good "morality plays" have a villain, and Tyson was the seemingly invincible Goliath.

I remember one Friday night when one of my friends was a little late for the broadcast, ringing our doorbell almost the exact second the bell sounded for the first round of the bout. In the few seconds that it took me to walk to the door and invite my friend into the TV room, Mike Tyson had knocked out Carl "The Truth" Williams. Williams had not thrown a single punch.

brownback.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - On Monday, Brownback for Governor, Inc. is expected to file a lackluster finance report for the last quarter. The report will show the campaign raised approximately 1.53 million dollars for Sam Brownback's gubernatorial bid.

"It's a remarkably low number for a candidate who has been running for Governor since the day he ended his Presidential campaign more than two years ago," observed Kenny Johnston, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party.

"This lack of support reveals that many Kansans have serious concerns about the extreme agenda he would bring back to Kansas."

WICHITA, Kan. - I dare to ask the women of Kansas to stand up and use our voting power to remove Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas Government. By his own actions Brownback has shown he cares nothing for important women's issues. He voted against the Preventive Services Coverage Bill that would expand women's access to preventive services such as mammograms. He also voted against the Equal Pay Bill, a gender pay equity law, and the Lily Ledbetter Pay Act that would redefine discriminatory salaries. Instead Brownback focused on anti-abortion amendments.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Why no Democrat has stepped forward to run against Senator Brownback for Governor is a mystery greater than Stonehenge. It's not like Brownback is a human dynamo.

Brownback is neither striking in appearance, nor good at political speeches. One wonders: "How did he get this far?" People tell me the answer is money. He married into a powerful family that had lots of money, and buddied up to corporate interests like Koch Industries, so that he has stacks of cash.

So what? If you have a deodorant that doesn't work, it doesn't matter how much you spend advertising it, sooner or later people figure out it doesn't work. In spite of the millions and millions spent to promote Senator Brownback, he approval rating is 49%. Shouldn't it be more like 70%?

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 State: December 2009. The next archive is State: February 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 State: January 2010 section.

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