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Archive for Sunday, February 6, 2011

Capitol Report for Feb. 7: Former A.D. Lew Perkins pays up

February 6, 2011

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U.S. House drops ‘forcible rape’ language

The author of a bill in the U.S. House that would ban taxpayer funds for abortion said he will drop the term “forcible rape” in the exemption portion of the bill. The exemption to the proposed ban will now cover all forms of rape, said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

The bill, which had been co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, whose district includes west Lawrence, had touched off a firestorm of criticism.

H.R. 3 would make permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest and if the life of the mother is threatened. Currently, the amendment is subject to annual review. Jenkins was one of 173 co-sponsors of the bill.

But H.R. 3, as filed, also would change the “rape” exemption to “forcible rape.” Abortion rights advocates said using the term “forcible rape” could exclude statutory rape or rapes where the victim was drugged, unconscious or verbally threatened.

But last week, Smith’s office said the word “forcible” would be replaced with the original language of the Hyde Amendment.

Abortion rights supporters still oppose Smith’s bill because it contains other provisions that they said will make it more difficult for women to get comprehensive health care coverage.

Former A.D. Lew Perkins pays up

Former Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins paid his $4,000 fine moments after it was assessed last month by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

Perkins admitted no intent to violate the law under a settlement with the Ethics Commission.

After the commission approved the deal, Perkins’ attorney, Todd Thompson, went to the Ethics Commission office and wrote a check for the amount of the fine.

The Ethics Commission had alleged Perkins violated a ban on gifts to state officials by accepting free exercise equipment.

Group complains about American Future Fund

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the American Future Fund, which was active in Kansas during the last election cycle, has violated tax law.

The fund is set up as a tax-exempt nonprofit to provide nonpartisan advocacy on issues. The group opposes the new federal health reform.

But CREW said AFF acted like a partisan group during the election.

“There is nothing wrong with working to elect Republicans, but you can’t violate the law to do it,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Given the amount of money the American Future Fund spent on ads in the 2010 congressional elections, it seems clear the primary — if not only — goal of the group is to elect Republicans to Congress.” AFF reportedly spent nearly $10 million nationally during the election campaign.

In Kansas, AFF ran ads critical of Democrat Steve Six for his decision not to join a legal challenge to the federal health law. Six lost the election.

Francisco appointed to Ways and Means

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, has been appointed to the Senate Ways and Means Committee to replace Janis Lee, who left the Senate after being appointed to the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals.

“With Douglas County public schools facing more than $4 million worth of cuts in the next two years and mental health centers in northeast Kansas facing $2.7 million worth of cuts, it’s vital that we have someone with Senator Francisco’s insight and knowledge on this committee,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka.

In addition, Francisco will continue serving as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture and Senate Natural Resources committees.

She is also a member of the Senate Utilities Committee, the Joint Arts and Cultural Resources Committee, the Joint Bioscience Committee, the Joint State Building Construction Committee, the Joint Higher Education Committee, and the Joint Energy and Environmental Policy Committee.

Quote of the week

“Passion is good, lying is bad. Most folks believe that they don’t like the federal health care bill, but to tell them they get to vote on it is a lie.”

— State Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, criticizing a proposed constitutional amendment, which supporters say will allow Kansans to ignore the federal health reform law.

What’s next:

• 9 a.m. today, Kansas Board of Regents President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Tompkins testifies to House Appropriations Committee, Room 346-South, Capitol.

• 1:30 p.m. today, possible vote on HB 2044, increased penalties for those who flee a traffic accident, before House Corrections and Juvenile Justice, Room 144-South, Capitol.

• 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, hearings on HB 2006, repeal of in-state tuition for some undocumented students, before House Federal and State Affairs Committee, Room 346-South, Capitol.

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