Obama observance sought
Topeka activist Sonny Scroggins has pushed for a national holiday to honor President Barack Obama as the country’s first African-American president.
But now Scroggins said he is tweaking that proposal and wants every Nov. 4 to include a national “observance” to recognize the significance of electing an African-American to the country’s highest post. Obama was elected president on Nov. 4, 2008.
“That’s the day America grew up, stood up and woke up,” Scroggins said. Scroggins said Obama has taken a lot of political hits since the election. “He needs cooperation from Congress and the lobbyists, but people are more interested in making him look bad,” he said.
Message to feds: Back off, but pay up
The Kansas Legislature is considering at least two resolutions to send to Congress and President Barack Obama that might be at cross purposes. One tells the federal officials to stop intruding on states’ rights, and the other tells them to expedite federal funding of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility that is to be constructed at Kansas State University.
New Statehouse security complaints
The House-Senate committee on security apparently is getting an earful from folks upset about heightened security measures at the Capitol. Capitol Police have set up metal detectors for people to go through before they enter the building. This has produced some lines and grumbling.
But Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, who is a member of the security committee, said she believes the new security is going well and is necessary. Several committee members, however, said there is a problem in one area — there is no security check on people coming into the Capitol through the tunnel from the Docking Building.
“It’s bypassing the whole system,” said Rep. Mario Goico, R-Wichita.
Partisan commandment broken
J.R. Claeys, a Republican candidate for secretary of state, isn’t abiding by former President Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment — thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
Claeys’ campaign issued a critical news release when Elizabeth Ensley, Shawnee County election commissioner since 1992, announced she would seek the GOP nomination for secretary of state. The Claeys campaign brought up two elections in which there were errors in preliminary vote totals during Ensley’s tenure. “This is like an incompetent employee asking for a promotion,” said Christian Morgan, Claeys’ spokesman. The other Republican candidate is Kris Kobach, former state GOP chairman. Two Democrats — Sen. Chris Steineger of Kansas City and Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs — are in the race.
Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, a Republican who is not seeking re-election, has endorsed Ensley.
Quote of the week
“In other words, I am asking you to raise my taxes, but I’m also asking that when you do so, you make sure that a large chunk of that tax increase goes to public education.”
— Megan Greene of Lawrence, parent of third-grader, in comments to the House Tax Committee
• Hearing on SCR 1621, prohibiting use of public monies to challenge constitutionality of legislative appropriation, before Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m. today in Room 548-South, Capitol.
• Hearing on HB 2475, increasing state sales tax by 1 percent, before House Taxation Committee at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 783, Docking Building.
• Hearing on SB 401, making changes to Kansas casino gaming law, before Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Room 144-South, Capitol.
• Hearing on SB 342, prohibiting sale of novelty cigarette lighters, before Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 144-South, Capitol.
• Hearing on SB 351, prohibiting texting while driving, before Senate Judiciary at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 548-South, Capitol.
• Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on bills to abolish the death penalty, 9:30 a.m. Friday, Room 548-South, Capitol.