Advocacy groups worried about state budget delays

Here are today’s headlines from Kansas government:(Harris News Service) Lawmakers delayed decisions on programs for disabled: House Speaker Melvin Neufeld expressed satisfaction with the Legislature’s passage of its main state budget bill Wednesday, saying it holds the line at a 5 percent spending increase. But groups advocating for the disabled are worried, considering the Legislature has yet to decide funding for physically and mentally handicapped Kansans on waiting lists for services in their homes and communities.(AP) Lawmakers cut $32 million in taxes: Legislators kept pre-session promises to lower taxes on businesses and residents, sending Gov. Kathleen Sebelius a package of cuts saving them nearly $32 million the first year they’re in effect.(Harris News Service) Presidential primary fading: It’s looking less likely that Kansas voters will cast ballots in a February 2008 presidential primary.(KC Star) Legislature accomplished a lot, but more to do: Bleary-eyed lawmakers left Topeka early Wednesday, accomplishing in three months more than many expected: tax cuts, gambling legislation and the seeds of health-care reform.(Harris News Service) Voter ID bill blocked for now: House Democrats and Republican moderates teamed up Tuesday to block a measure that would’ve given Kansas some of the nation’s most stringent voter identification requirements.(Topeka Capital-Journal) Opinions vary on Legislature’s work: Leaders in the House and Senate put their spin Wednesday on progress in the 2007 legislative session after ending a bleary-eyed, late-night debate hours earlier that led to first adjournment.(AP) Health care proposals ready for action: Modest health care initiatives, including new programs to help poor Kansans buy insurance and to encourage small businesses to offer coverage to their workers, have been bundled into a package legislators expect to consider later this month.(LJW) Speaker supports local taxes to fund university repairs: House Speaker Melvin Neufeld said Wednesday that because Lawrence benefits from having Kansas University, it should help pay for it with higher taxes.(Topeka Capital-Journal) Teen seatbelt measure approved: Kansas teens should start buckling up if they want to avoid a ticket. A bill enacting a primary seat belt law is on its way to the governor’s desk after the Legislature passed the measure early Wednesday giving law enforcement officers the ability to pull over teenagers solely for a seat belt violation.(Kansas Health Institute News Service) Exemption for doctors from consumer law approved: The Kansas House and Senate on Tuesday approved a bill exempting professional services by health care providers from the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.(Wichita Eagle) Gambling was session’s big story: The battle over gambling was won not in the halls of the Capitol , but on the sunny streets of Wichita and Wellington on an unseasonably warm election day last November. This was the year that three Democratic freshman representatives — Raj Goyle and Terry McLachlan of Wichita and Vince Wetta of Wellington –came to the Kansas Capitol and changed the balance of power, breaking anti-gambling forces’ 15-year majority.(LJW) Regents criticized over KUMC negotiations: The proposed affiliation between Kansas University Medical Center and Missouri-based St. Luke’s Hospital continued to dominate legislative discussions Wednesday.