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Archive for Sunday, March 2, 2008

Capitol Briefing

News from the Kansas Statehouse

March 2, 2008

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State spending Web site launched

People who want more information on how their tax dollars are spent by Kansas have a new online resource called KanView.

The Web site provides information on state spending, revenue sources, numerous reports and state debt.

The address is www.accesskansas.org/kanview/index.html.

Sebelius stands by Obama

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius continues to get mentioned in prominent reports as a possible running mate if U.S. Sen. Barack Obama gets the Democratic nomination for president.

Sebelius said she is not focused on such considerations, but that she will do "everything I can" to help Obama become the next president.

Sebelius said she believes her mention as vice presidential material is a reflection on some of the bipartisan work that has been accomplished in Kansas on such issues as school finance.

Astronaut Hawley wants to explain science

Astronaut and Kansas University alumnus Steve Hawley was given celebrity treatment last week in the Capitol as KU announced he would be returning to the school to teach astronomy and physics.

The veteran of five space shuttle missions, said one of his jobs will be to try to get more Kansas students interested in science and math.

Asked whether the frequent fight in Kansas over teaching evolution affected students' interest in science, Hawley said, "There's a role for faith, there's a role for science, but they're not the same. They can co-exist peacefully, but when one intrudes on the other, then you have issues."

He said he wanted to explain to students what science is and how it is done. "Ultimately, what you really want is not a new generation of scientists necessarily. What you want is a citizenry with the ability to be critical thinkers," he said.

'In God We Trust' license plate gets thumbs up

State Reps. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, and Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, were the only two House members last week to vote against a bill that would provide for a license plate that says "In God We Trust."

Sloan said he opposed the plate because it was an inappropriate encroachment of religion in state business. State Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, said he voted against it because the Legislature has failed to address other issues, such as health care, minimum wage, immigration and tax relief for seniors. "Instead, we spend our time naming highways and issuing commemorative license plates. Someone needs to say enough is enough and demand we get down to business," Dillmore said.

Bill would allow sale of KU building

Kansas lawmakers will consider a bill this week that would allow the Kansas Board of Regents to sell a building in Lawrence on behalf of Kansas University.

The hearing on Senate Bill 638 is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

KU wants to sell the property at 1043 Ind., which was built as a residence in 1900, purchased by the university in 1950 and adapted for office space, according to a regents report.

Because the structure needs significant repairs and code upgrades, "The university does not wish to continue to invest limited resources in the building and believes there may be private parties interested in rehabilitating the building," the report said.

What's next

10:30 a.m. Tuesday: Hearing on Senate Bill 458, immigration reform, before Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, room 313-South, Capitol.

1:30 p.m. Wednesday: Presentation by Dr. Howard Rodenberg, former director of health for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, on climate change before Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, 136-North, Capitol.

10:30 a.m. Thursday: Hearing on Senate Bill 610, requiring racial profiling abatement training, before Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, room 526-South, Capitol.

Quote of the week:

"The call for compassion by this Legislature, O God, goes beyond defending the labels of conservative or liberal. The issues of today are too urgent to be trivialized by such action."

- The Rev. Thad Holcombe, campus pastor, Ecumenical Christian Ministries at Kansas University in giving the guest prayer before the Kansas House last Monday

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