Kansas State Fair improvement bill OK'd
A bill permitting the Kansas State Fair to undertake a $36.1 million, 10-year capital improvement plan won unanimous Senate approval Thursday and went to Gov. Bill Graves.
The legislation calls for the state to issue $29 million in bonds, with the city of Hutchinson and Reno County each contributing $300,000 a year for 10 years. Local officials also plan to seek $700,000 in private donations.
Supporters said the bonds would help the State Fair Board catch up with years of postponed maintenance on buildings at the fairgrounds.
The program would allow the fair to make its buildings accessible to people with disabilities and make sure all structures meet fire codes.
Foundation's funds not in budget equation
As legislators confront a budget problem, there is one large fund they apparently won't touch the $75 million held by a foundation created last year by Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall.
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Kansas paid the money to settle a dispute on whether it had operated as a charity from 1941 to 1969. The state contended the company was a charitable organization and that the people of Kansas had a claim on some of its assets.
Stovall used the $75 million settlement to establish a nonprofit organization called the Sunflower Foundation: Health Care for Kansans.
Some lawmakers contend that Stovall should have consulted the Legislature and that at least some of the money belongs to the state as a whole.
The foundation's assets appear safe, however.
"We're not looking at Sunflower Foundation," House Appropriations Chairman Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, said Thursday. "It's not state money."
Judicial selection proposal dies
A proposed constitutional amendment to end the election of district court judges died Thursday in the Senate on a 23-17 vote.
The measure would have asked voters to change the Kansas Constitution and make all district judgeships appointive. Two-thirds of the both the House and Senate must agree to put proposed constitutional amendments before voters.