Parkinson vetoes Planned Parenthood budget restriction

? Gov. Mark Parkinson on Friday cleared the decks of the 2009 legislative session by vetoing an anti-abortion slap at Planned Parenthood and legislation that would have increased requirements for advance voting.

Lawmakers return June 4 for the official end of the session, but that day is usually a formality.

Parkinson vetoed a line-item in the budget bill that would have prevented Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri from receiving approximately $250,000 in federal funds for family planning services. The prohibition was sought by abortion opponents.

In his veto message, Parkinson explained his decision. “Regardless of one’s views on whether abortion should be allowed in this country, hopefully we can all agree that we should make every effort to prevent unplanned pregnancies,” Parkinson said. “Access to affordable family planning services and contraceptives is critical if we are to continue reducing the number of abortions that occur in this state.”

Abortion opponents were incensed. Operation Rescue put out a release headlined “KS. Gov. Becomes Puppet to Abortion Cartel … .”

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, one of the authors of the budget provision, noted it would have diverted the funding to local hospitals and safety net clinics.

And, Huelskamp said, Planned Parenthood was “shrouded in controversy,” partly because it faces more than 100 charges filed by former Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline that allege falsifying abortion records and performing illegal late-term abortions. Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing, and said none of the federal dollars at issue could be used for abortions.

Parkinson also vetoed Senate Bill 171, which would have increased requirements on advance voting.

He said there has been no voter fraud detected in Kansas, and that “adding affidavits and signature lines to an already-crowded return envelope for an advance ballot” would discourage voter participation.

The measure also would have made it easier for Kansans overseas and in the military to vote. Parkinson said he supported that part of the bill and hoped the Legislature would OK that alone in 2010.

And he vetoed a bill pushed by House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, that would have made it more difficult for cities to annex certain property.

But Parkinson left intact the Legislature’s funding of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. Former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had vetoed the funding, saying that the agency had become ineffective. Sebelius left last month to become secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kansas lawmakers reduced the KTEC funding, and earlier this week, KTEC’s President and CEO Tracy Taylor announced he would be stepping down June 30.