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Archive for Monday, April 2, 2007

Capitol Briefing

News from the Kansas Statehouse

April 2, 2007

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Peace offering

After a contentious debate when the House approved expanding gambling last week, state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, extended the olive branch inviting Republicans and Democrats to meet at a Topeka nightclub to unwind and socialize.

"We argue for our constituents, but we can also have a good time," Ballard said to the House. She received applause from House members for her comments.

Francisco endurance

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, helped the tag-team filibuster for supporters of gambling in the Senate by talking for approximately three hours from the Senate floor. That was the longest of any senator.

She informed senators that she would have no trouble filling the time, saying at one point that as a young girl she won an endurance contest for being able to hold her arms out longer than anyone else.

During the filibuster, she spent much of the time reading from feasibility studies on proposed casinos in Kansas. The delay tactic worked as supporters got the necessary 21 votes to send the bill expanding casinos to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who says she will sign it into law.

Three speakers

It may have been a coincidence, but the stunning passage of the gambling bill after more than a decade of futility came as three former House speakers pushed for expansion of gambling.

And each one of the former House leaders was opposed to expansion of gambling when they were in the Legislature.

Tim Shallenburger, R-Baxter Springs, Robin Jennison, R-Healy, and Doug Mays, R-Topeka, were all in the Capitol last week. Mays and Jennison are registered lobbyists for gambling interests while Shallenburger has been helping in southeast Kansas in trying to secure gambling.

AAA Lawrence

For the second time this session, state Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, has tried to ban allowing residents to renew their driver's licenses at the AAA, 3514 Clinton Parkway.

His amendment to another bill to do that, however, failed last week 60-61.

Peck, an insurance agent, and other insurance representatives say the deal between the state and AAA gives AAA an unfair advantage in marketing and selling insurance.

AAA denies that, and the Kansas Department of Revenue said the contract with AAA provides a convenience for residents.

Quote of the week

"I took a gamble."

- State Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, said later about when he made the motion to concur with the House-approved bill to expand gambling.

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