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Archive for Monday, February 12, 2007

Capitol Briefing

February 12, 2007

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Moveable feast

One time a Kansas legislator joked that the best way to see whether legislators were wined and dined too much by lobbyists was to weigh them before the legislative session and then weigh them after the session and see how much they had gained.

Lawmakers don't have trouble eating for free during the session.

This week, for example, there are no fewer than 17 social events for lawmakers hosted by numerous special interests including bankers, labor, agriculture, utilities, colleges and school boards. That is in addition to the meals picked up by lobbyists treating individual lawmakers or small groups of them.

Presidential primary

Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, still is pushing for his bill that would allow Kansans to vote in a presidential primary on Feb. 5, 2008.

Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh wants Kansas to have a presidential primary but hasn't committed to a date yet, saying it would be better to see how other states jockey for position in the primary schedule.

Mays joins the lobby

Just weeks out of office, former House Speaker Doug Mays, a Republican from Topeka, has set up shop as a lobbyist.

Mays served as speaker from 2003 through 2006. He didn't seek re-election to the Legislature and was replaced as speaker by Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.

Mays has several clients, according to the state lobbyist directory, including Kansans for Economic Growth, which is seeking a casino in southeast Kansas, LoanMax, Maple Hill Farm, Pfizer Inc. and Tallgrass Ranchers, which opposes wind farms in the Flint Hills.

Domestic violence

Advocates for protection against domestic violence say that sexual and domestic violence in Kansas has reached a crisis level.

During a news conference last week, officials with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence said only 40 percent of Kansas counties have readily available advocacy services.

Since a report released in October about women murdered and assaulted in Kansas, another nine women have been killed and three of them had been raped, the coalition said.

Close enough

House Resolution 6006 urges the Kansas University Medical Center not to proceed with affiliations with other hospitals and health care institutions until the Legislature has an opportunity to review the proposals. It also states that Kansas taxpayers have a lot at stake in these discussions, expending $248 million annually to support the medical center.

KU leaders oppose the resolution, and when they came to the Capitol last week to testify against it, they noted the actual total of state support to the medical center was $116 million per year.

Quote of the week

"Take good notes. Spend money. Wear a warm coat."

- Advice given by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to representatives of states competing with Kansas for a national biodefense lab, who Roberts said were in Kansas to see the state's plan of action in trying to win the lab.

What's next

8:30 a.m. today - Hearing on SB 71, which would repeal the state minimum wage law, before the Senate Commerce Committee, Room 123-South, Capitol.

10 a.m. Monday - Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty news conference on recent poll showing opposition to the death penalty, Room 423-South, Capitol.

1:30 p.m. Monday - Hearing on HB 2255, which would ban state funding of human cloning, before the House Health and Human Services Committee, Room 526-South, Capitol.

1:30 p.m. Tuesday - Hearing on SB 170, which would ban soft drinks from schools, before Senate Education Committee, Room 123-South, Capitol.

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