Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: State: February 2010


TOPEKA, Kan. - "Congressman Honda, I'm Marty Keenan from Great Bend, Kansas. Right in the Middle of the State!" Congressman Honda seemed strangely fascinated by Kansas. It was like an epiphany for him. I don't think he came to Kansas expecting much.

For one, he was floored by Governor Parkinson's oratorical skills. Parkinson gave a barn-burner speech at the Friday night "Washington Days" Banquet that was his best speech to date. And I've been listening to Parkinson speak since his Moot Court days at KU law school.

Honda spoke in a breezy, stream-of-consciousness style. "To see a guy give a speech like that without notes or a teleprompter or anything!" he mused about Parkinson. But it was the content of Parkinson's speech that inspired Honda.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2010 Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education Awards. Nominated by their peers, these awardees exhibit outstanding innovation, leadership and achievement, as well as collaboration and cooperation within the environmental education field. For the second year, three schools are receiving Kansas Green Schools of the Year Awards. "We are thrilled to honor these deserving individuals and organizations, who give so much of their time and are so dedicated to environmental education in Kansas," said KACEE President Schanee' Anderson, of the Sedgwick County Zoo.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On February 18th, House and Senate members passed the final version of the rescission bill, which made a number of cuts and adjustments to the 2010 state budget to address the state's $400 million deficit.

The bill affirms many of the same recommendations Governor Mark Parkinson outlined last year. One of the more significant cuts added to the bill was a 5% reduction in pay for all state officials, including legislators.

Even with the passage of the rescission bill, the legislature may need to take up the FY 2010 budget again in the near future. Revenues were lower then expected in January, and the state will likely be short another $40 million by July even with the additional cuts approved this month.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - A press conference was held today at Prairie Independent Living Resource Center (PILR) at 17 S. Main, Hutchinson, to discuss the impact of budget cuts on Kansans in need of services.

The news conference coincided with House Social Services Budget Sub-committee hearings in Topeka regarding the Social and Rehabilitative Services (SRS) budget where Christine Owens, PILR Executive Director, was scheduled to give testimony. Speakers at the news conference included citizen Dawn Allenbach and agency representatives from PILR, Unlimited Mobility L.L.C., Promise Regional Medical Center and Horizons Mental Health Center.

Let's Get Our Priorities Straight

WICHITA, Kan. - I applaud the fact that the State of Kansas will be cutting back its budget by $92 million. I think that most of us were thinking, "It's about time." Knowing that our state is in such a financial crisis while watching improvements being made to the state capitol at the same time seems unethical to me. I have not agreed with most of the cuts our legislators have made up to this point.

Cutting social services and trying to balance the states budget at the expense of children, the elderly, and the disabled is disgraceful. I believe if the state of Kansas is going to make more cuts it should be to everything but schools and services to the elderly and the disabled.

Kate's Law

TOPEKA, Kan. - While many Kansas legislators are doing their best to deprive Kansans of any benefits of the health reform efforts in Congress, parents of children with autism, Asperger's syndrome, and other autism spectrum conditions are working to get Kate's Law passed again this year. These parents have found that when they try to get health insurance coverage for their children, they often experience dead-ends, run-arounds, and delays. This even though autism spectrum disorders have long been documented as medical conditions that require medical treatment.

Right now many parents have to change health insurance carriers because of the current tenuous job situation. According to one of these parents, every time her family gets a new health insurance carrier, she goes through months of presenting evidence to the new carrier that her daughter, a teenager with Asperger's, does indeed have a medical condition requiring doctor's visits, drug therapy, and group therapy. This mother was able to have her child diagnosed with Asperger's as a toddler, so the girl does get the school services that she needs. However, she also must have her medical needs attended to in order to be successful in school.

WICHITA, Kan. - In the wake of massive budget shortfalls and threats all over the state of school closings and funds being cut to our poorest and most vulnerable citizens, I find it extremely distasteful that the Wichita Chamber of Commerce has just announced its intention to lobby against the Kansas State Income Tax. While the chamber admits that it will take years to reach this goal, the timing of the announcement, in my opinion, is just incredibly insulting.

Kansas Legislature Wants to Marry You!

TOPEKA, Kan. - State Representative Anthony Brown, R- Eudora, is sponsoring the Covenant Marriage proposal approved Thursday by the Kansas House. This proposal was added to House Bill 2667 which deals, ironically, with issues of custody, property, and, even protection from abuse.

The bill was approved on a vote of 70-49. As written and passed, a covenant marriage is "a marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship". By affidavit all who, voluntarily, enter into a covenant marriage are testifying that they have completed pre-marital counseling and fully understand that dissolution of their marriage shall be granted on limited grounds including, confinement of one spouse in a mental institution for a period of two years or more, or failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation. Bills and proposals such as the Covenant Marriage proposal purport to be about strengthening families and the institution of marriage.

"Kansas needs strong leadership - now. Holland can provide that, without the political baggage his opponent carries." - Baldwin City Signal

TOPEKA, Kan. - After months of speculation about who would compete against Sam Brownback, Wednesday brought good news for the Kansas Democratic Party when Tom Holland announced his candidacy for governor. Already, endorsements are rolling in.

"Tom has what it takes to be a great governor and I fully support him. Governors are CEOs of their states and as a successful small business owner, Tom's experience in balancing the books and getting the most out of every penny is exactly what Kansas needs," Governor Mark Parkinson explained.

Holland's name recognition may not yet be as widespread in Kansas, when compared with Brownback, but as Kansans learn more about Holland's experience, they are likely to find him a worthy and impressive candidate for the job of governor.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Senator Tom Holland is the opposite of a "sacrificial lamb." A "sacrificial lamb" is a metaphor that refers to a person or animal sacrificed for the common good.

If Tom Holland were an animal, a lamb would be the last species you would think of. The lion-hearted Holland has a certain swagger about him: call it guts, confidence, courage, ambition, or whatever you want. But he's not running against Sam Brownback to get run over. He's running to win.

And Holland's confidence is coupled with likability, two qualities that are usually mutually exclusive. When I was a long-shot candidate for State Representatives in 2004 against House Tax Committee Chairman John Edmonds, Holland treated me well, while also expressing respect for my opponent.


Chris Biggs
TOPEKA, Kan. - As readers will recall, Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh (R) announced his early resignation on February 8th.

In the next couple of weeks, Governor Parkinson (D) is expected to name an interim appointee to take Thornburgh's place through the November's election.
Chris Steineger
Politicos are speculating if Parkinson will appoint a Democrat or Republican and whether or not he'll attempt to influence the upcoming election by anointing a potential incumbent that will run for the spot in November.

"I am committed to naming a Kansan who can represent the office with honor and distinction while protecting and assisting Kansas voters and businesses," Parkinson said.

Meanwhile, replacement candidates (and appointment hopefuls) are queuing up. Chris Steineger (D) filed January 21st and subsequently asked Parkinson for the appointment. Steineger has served in the Kansas Senate for 13 years and currently sits on the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, Education Committee and Tax Committee.

Today, another candidate, Chris Biggs (D), entered the race. Biggs has served as securities commissioner for six years and is a former county prosecutor and public defender.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - It was horrible timing. A room in Great Bend was full with 350 people attending the "Kansas Oil and Gas Hall of Fame" banquet in 2008. At that very moment, Kansas was playing North Carolina in the Final Four at San Antonio.

As we waited for keynote speaker Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh to speak, my Dad passed me a note: "What's the score?" I checked on my cell phone and handed the piece of paper back to my Dad. "KU 40, UNC 12."

He shook his head negatively. "That can't be right," he seemed to whisper to himself. As each of the Hall of Fame Inductees had given their presentations, we tried to keep tabs on the game, while paying our due to the great inductees like L.D. Davis, Jim Robinson and others.

My Insurance, My Body, My Choice

TOPEKA, Kan. - Kansas House Bill 2564 would prohibit all insurance companies in the state of Kansas from covering abortions, unless the life of the mother is at risk or in cases of rape or incest. A pregnancy caused by rape would only be allowed coverage if the woman reports it. You can read a description of the bill and an account of the subsequent hearing here.

I testified as an opponent to this despicable bill on behalf of Kansas NOW. The following is my testimony given before the House Insurance Committee. An enormous debt of gratitude to Tiffany Campbell for allowing me to share her personal story....

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. - There is one bill sitting in Conference Committee in the Kansas Legislature that actually does something to promote clean indoor air for Kansans, and that's HB 2221. It's ironic that HB 2642 is called the "Kansas Non-smoker Protection Act." It actually weakens many local ordinances already in place by preemption.

Today at a press conference, Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Director, Division of Health at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment gave the Top Ten Reasons Why HB 2642 is Bad Policy for Kansas. Here they are:

Number 10: It's called the "Kansas Non-smoker Protection Act," but it actually does the exact opposite.

Number 9: It boldly encourages restaurants, bars and other establishments to buy their way out of their obligation to provide healthy environments for their workers and patrons.

I think Woody Guthrie Stayed Here!

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Some people find it shocking that I find Kansas beautiful. I suppose that is the curse of the home town. It is hard to find something beautiful about the town you grew up in, until you leave it.

Every state in the nation has something that is beautiful about it. Michigan has water and trees. Colorado has the mountains. Florida has the wetlands. Kansas has the huge sky. The sky is massive out here, a backdrop of everything else on the prairie.

SALINA, Kan. - The State of Kansas currently has legislation pending related to distracted driving. The legislation (Kansas House Bill 2132) would prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Specifically, drivers in Kansas would be prohibited from sending, reading or writing a "text message by means of an electronic wireless communications device."

On any given day last year, an estimated 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone who used a hand-held cell phone at some point during their drive, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A recent study in the journal Human Factors has found that texting while driving is riskier than talking on a cell phone or with other passengers while driving.

Donating our Tax Dollars

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Often times during a recession, middle class feel a raise in their taxes while multi billion dollar companies receive tax breaks. While CEO's still make million dollar bonuses. This is why Kansas must and most likely will, give a huge tax exemption to the TransCanada Pipeline. Approximately 8.5 million a year property tax exemption for ten years. In addition to the property tax exemption it has also been reported, but not confirmed that the pipeline company has signed with the Kansas Department of Commerce for 55 million in tax credits.

Reject the Teacher Tax

PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. - As Kansas faces a budget crisis a disturbing trend has developed. It is the special tax being levied on teachers. In many school districts teachers are being asked to take pay cuts. No one blames them for the fiscal crisis. We all agree they are already under paid. So why to some want to balance the state budget on the backs of teachers? The pay cuts amount to a special tax on teachers.

Can you imagine the outrage if we demanded a special tax on bankers or god forbid, lawyers? Balancing our books on the backs of teachers is just as bad.

Mike O'Neal should step down

PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. - Mike O'Neal should resign from the Kansas legislature.

Mike O'Neal should just leave the Kansas Legislature. His history of conflict of interest has become an embarrassment to the citizens of Kansas. While Mr. O'Neal may find nothing wrong with getting his wife a job with the state, we ordinary citizens find it problematic.

When Mr. O'Neal has been paid to represent the legislature in a law suit, we common folks once again found it strange, since we were already paying him to be a legislator.

And now he has decided to sue the state.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Thursday, Senate Bill 169, adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Kansas' current non-discrimination statute, came before the Kansas Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee. The committee voted, five to three, to refer the bill to the full Senate for consideration.

"This is another significant step in bringing fairness and equality to all Kansans," said Thomas Witt, the Kansas Equality Coalition's chairman.

Voting Thursday in favor of referring the non-discrimination measure were Committee Chairman Pete Brungardt (R-Salina), and Senators Roger Reitz (R-Manhattan), Tim Owens (R-Overland Park), Marci Francisco (D-Lawrence), and Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D-Wichita).

TOPEKA, Kan. - Senate Bill 169, adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Kansas' current non-discrimination statute, will come before the Kansas Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee on Thursday. SB 169 expands the Kansas Act Against Discrimination, making it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Kansans have been discriminated against in employment and housing," says Thomas Witt, chair of the Equality Coalition. "No one should be fired or denied the basic human need of shelter because of who they are or who they love."

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. - To help raise awareness about the crime of teen dating violence, Governor Parkinson has proclaimed February 1 - 7, 2010, as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.

Teen dating violence is a crime that may include physical assault, verbal or emotional abuse or sexual violence. It may involve harassment through the unwanted use of texting, emailing or instant messaging.

Nationwide surveys conducted in recent years found that 62 percent of young people report experiencing verbal abuse in relationships. 1 in 3 teenagers report being concerned about being hurt physically by a boyfriend or girlfriend. 1 out of 5 teenagers say they have actually been hit, slapped or pushed by a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Ice Age 2010

HAYS, Kan. - It's been a great winter - that is, if you are an opponent of global warming theory. Bitter cold temperatures and plenty of snow makes this winter one of the most memorable in a long time. Some say that we're entering another ice age, and mastodon sightings have been reported in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts.

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: January 2010. The next archive is State: March 2010.

If you want to browse other topics, you can also check our Table of Contents. The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.


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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: February 2010 section.

The previous archive is State: January 2010. The next archive is State: March 2010.

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

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