Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: State: 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.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On March 16, a crowd estimated to be 1,000 parents, teachers and students rallied at the east steps of Capitol in Topeka to protest potential future cuts in education funding. Demanding that schools get "what's right, not what's left," and "SOS - save our schools," the crowd's chants echoed in down the halls of the Capitol. Photobucket
AYF rally particpants

Following the Montoy lawsuit in 2005, funding levels substantially improved educational results and programs across the state. Kansas children were learning more, were achieving high academic standards and graduating from high school ready to contribute to our state.

Still the funding never reached the levels ascribed in the Kansas Legislature's own cost study (2001 Augenblick and Myers). This study found that funding needed for Kansas schools - now nine years ago - ranged from $5,811 per pupil (large districts) to $8,541 per pupil (small districts); with additional costs for: special education: $7,400-$12,000 per pupil; at-risk: $1,900-$2,600 per pupil; English Language Learner (ELL): $1,200 to $6,000 per pupil. In order to be a "Successful School," the average base cost of $4,547 per pupil was proposed.

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...

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The Kansas Constitution provides for six statewide elected offices:
Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer.

With the appointment of Democrat Chris Biggs today as the new Secretary of State, this leaves only Republican Sandy Praeger, our Insurance Commissioner, as the lone Republican constitutional statewide elected official. And we could do a lot worse than Praeger. Right Wing Republican Eric Carter tried to unseat her three years ago by telling audiences: "She's not a Republican." He lost.

Republicans love to point out that all five Democrats were appointed, as if it was sinister. But the Kansas Constitution gives the Governor great power, and having a Democrat Governor these last seven years has made these appointments possible.

Paying for Access

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - The Speaker of the House for the Kansas Legislature, Mike O'Neal, just doesn't get it. He doesn't seem to understand how his actions look to the ordinary citizens he is supposed to represent.

For those who haven't heard, he is accepting money from workers compensation funds, the Kansas Bankers Association, the Kansas Realtors Association, and Speedy Cash to sue the state. These special interest groups have every right to lobby the legislature. But make no mistake about it, they try to influence legislation. And when Mr. O'Neal accepted money from these groups it sure looks like he is charging for access to his office. O'Neal may not consider this paying for access. But I do. And many other Reno County residents do.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - There is no evidence that Senator Brownback is even slightly worried about losing this year's governor's race. However, a new poll by the Associated Press-GfK suggests he should be worried.

Americans detest Congress, Republicans and Democrats. A dismal 22 percent approve of the job Congress is doing. Over half of people want to fire their congressman. The American people want the two parties in Congress to work together to solve our nation's problems. And they aren't doing anything.

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.

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.

MOUND CITY, Kan. - In 2002, Tom Holland said that he ran to represent his neighbors in the Kansas House of Representatives, "because our schools were facing severe funding shortages."

He explained, "Year after year, I watched my kids' classroom sizes get bigger and important programs being cut. I knew how to solve problems for businesses, and when I saw the problems facing my kids' schools, I decided to lead. I set out to share my vision with other Kansans. The critics said I had no chance. But, I went on to beat the established candidate, a four-term incumbent, and the chair of the House Education Committee."

Living in Kansas full-time, Holland raised four children: Thomas, a Kansas University graduate; Derek, a Baker University graduate; Brandon, a Kansas University junior; and Louisa, a South Junior High eighth grader. All four attended Lawrence schools during a tumultuous time when public schools faced severe funding shortages.

We Deserve Better

PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. - At a recent legislative forum Reno County Representative Mike O'Neal told the audience they were blaming the wrong people for cuts in education. He claimed it was the local school boards spending too much on non-classroom items that was at fault.

He certainly left me with the impression that it was high administrative costs that were the problem.

I was outraged. How could our school boards be doing this in a time of economic crisis?

Armed with righteous indignation I confronted area school superintendents. What I found was not what I expected. What Mr. O'Neal had called wasteful administrative spending seemed pretty essential to me.

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.

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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: March 2010 section.

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