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Archive for Wednesday, February 3, 2010

House Speaker O’Neal representing plaintiffs in lawsuit against state over budget bill

February 3, 2010, 3:34 p.m. Updated February 3, 2010, 6:26 p.m.

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— Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, who has been a vocal critic of schools suing the state, is serving as an attorney for a number of groups that have filed a lawsuit against the state over a budget bill passed by the Legislature.

O’Neal defended his action on Wednesday, but Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, wasn’t pleased with the development.

Parkinson said, “We are in an unprecedented financial crisis in the state. It’s time for us all to pull together and work through it. It’s not time for us to be filing lawsuits against each other.”

The dispute is over the final appropriations bill approved by the Legislature last year to help balance the budget. The bill included a sweep of fee funds from various funds.

O’Neal opposed the bill and now represents nearly 20 plaintiffs affected by the sweep, including the Kansas Association of Realtors and the Kansas Bankers Assocation. The groups filed a lawsuit last month in Shawnee County District Court. Some counties are considering joining the suit too.

O’Neal said he complied with state ethics laws in order to represent the group, noting he voted against the appropriations measure and filed a written protest. He argues the sweep of funds was unconstitutional because the funds were paid by individuals and businesses to be used for specific purposes.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence criticized O’Neal.

“It is very inappropriate for the sitting speaker of the House to act as the lead attorney in a case like this, that involves entities that are, in effect, suing the Legislature,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Davis who suggested O’Neal pass the case to another law firm.

Last month, in the Republican response to Parkinson’s State of the State, O’Neal criticized school districts that were threatening to sue the state over budget cuts.

O’Neal’s staff said school litigation was different because schools were using tax dollars to sue the state.

But Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said O’Neal stands to make a lot of money from the state if his side prevails. And if the courts ordered that the state return the swept funds, the question then becomes where would that money come from, he said.

“It’s entirely inappropriate for the speaker to drum up business like this,” he said.

Comments

frank mcguinness 4 years, 10 months ago

Wow, so you get to run the state and sue the state?

I guess thats getting you cake and eating it too.

Randy Leonard 4 years, 10 months ago

Why do the people of this state continue to elect people like O'Neal?

Randy Leonard 4 years, 10 months ago

Why do the people of Kansas continue to elect people like this?

texburgh 4 years, 10 months ago

Kansas is doomed. O'Neal - one would struggle to come up with a bigger hypocrite or a more arrogant bag of donkey scat - is in charge because Republicans voted to put him in charge. The voters of Kansas voted in the Republican legislators who voted O'Neal in as their leader. O'Neal and the Republicans who worship him are what's wrong with Kansas and left to their own devices they will destroy it. TABOR, everyone armed everywhere, if health care reform passes Kansans can't get the benefit, overturning smoking bans, it's okay to shoot people you disagree with at the entrance of their churches, Koch industries is the master of the world, the right to work for less...these are the tenets of the Kansas Republican Party. God help us all as so many of us vote against our own economic self interest.

BigPrune 4 years, 10 months ago

don't any of you smarty pants see the message he's sending? the schools were using tax dollars to sue the state first.

...and it's not the state of kansas that's the laughing stock of the nation, it's lawrence.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 10 months ago

BigPrune:

don't any of you smarty pants see the message he's sending?

I think the message is not very flattering for the people of Kansas.

I am starting to seriously worry about our state government.

anon1958 4 years, 10 months ago

Parkinson said, “We are in an unprecedented financial crisis in the state. It’s time for us all to pull together and work through it. It’s not time for us to be filing lawsuits against each other.”

LOL Parkinson is such an idiot. His statements and reasons for not people not to sue the state are just vapid.

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 10 months ago

I am told, by friends who roam the halls in Topeka, that Rep. Neufeld chortles everytime something like this happens because the House managed to find a Speaker that makes Rep. Neufeld look like he was really good.

WilburM 4 years, 10 months ago

No, Melvin set the bar so high for incompetence and general doofdom, even O'Neal's ethically challenged actions pale in comparison. The GOP caucus understood Melvin's lack of ability by refusing him a second term as speaker. Of course they did elect him once...

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 10 months ago

Mike O'Neal is guilty of extremely poor judgment.

On the other hand, I believe Governor Parkinson has performed admirably in his position and I have been very pleased with his leadership style.

Governor Parkinson has shown good judgment.

Some people demonstrate throughout their life a remarkable ability to always make the right decision. I wish we had more of these kind of people in government. Things would go a lot smoother for all of us.

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

texburgh (Anonymous) says…

"The voters of Kansas voted in the Republican legislators who voted O'Neal in as their leader. O'Neal and the Republicans who worship him are what's wrong with Kansas and left to their own devices they will destroy it. TABOR, everyone armed everywhere, if health care reform passes Kansans can't get the benefit, overturning smoking bans, it's okay to shoot people you disagree with at the entrance of their churches ..."

Gee, nice rant, tex, but you kind of started losing it about there ... or perhaps you can point me to a pending bill in the Kansas legislature legalizing "shoot[ing] people you disagree with at the entrance of their churches"?

As you pointed out at the beginning of your diatribe, the voters of Kansas sent these people to Topeka. If the folks in Larryville disagree with their policies so much, feel free to try and convince enough of your fellow Kansans to think more like you do and replace them.

Good luck with that.

justthefacts 4 years, 10 months ago

While I certainly am confused as to how someone can ethically be the leader of the entity being sued AND be on the team doing the suing, the issue is one that needs to be addressed. For years, members of specific groups that are licensed/regulated by the state have paid fees that are meant (by law) to only cover the costs of regulating that sector, only to have the Legislature RAID those fee funds to spend the money for other things, leaving the state regulatory bodies strapped for cash and unable to do their jobs properly. The legal challenge is a valid one, but the state agencies in question never had the nerve (or perhaps legal standing) to challenge the entity that funds them (the Legislature).

matchbox81 4 years, 10 months ago

JustTheFacts, thanks for clarifiying the story. The LJWorld article was sort of confusing about the background information.

justthefacts 4 years, 10 months ago

DeNada. I don't think the LJW article was intended to go into the nature of the suit much. It was more focused on the story about the Represenative's dual roles.

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