Entries from blogs tagged with “politics”
Jim Sherow, a professor at Kansas State University and former Manhattan mayor, formally launched his bid for the 1st District congressional seat, setting up a rare Democratic primary in the heavily Republican district.
Bryan Whitney, a 2013 graduate of Wichita State University, previously announced he is running for the seat.
Sherow is a former mayor of Manhattan who has taught history and agriculture at K-State for 22 years. He said in an email today that he is launching his campaign from his hometown in Hutchinson and aims to be the first Democratic candidate to hold that office since 1956.
"For the first time ever western Kansas has not had a representative on the Agriculture Committee," Sherow said in an email statement announcing his candidacy.
The seat is currently held by two-term Republican Tim Huelskamp, who was removed from his seats on the House agriculture and budget committees after frequently crossing swords with House GOP leaders. That has upset farm groups, including the Kansas Farm Bureau's political action committee, which so far has not made an endorsement in the race.
Sherow boasts that he has written several books about the High Plains and its water needs.
The "Big First" district covers 69 counties in western and central Kansas and voter registration there heavily favors Republicans. It was previously held by Jerry Moran (1997-2011) and Pat Roberts (1981-1997), both of whom are now U.S. Senators. Before that it was held by Keith Sebelius (1969-1981) and Bob Dole (1963-1969).
Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, reportedly claimed again last week that school funding cuts under Gov. Sam Brownback's administration have led to "thousands" of teacher layoffs, a claim that has already been shown to be greatly exaggerated.
According to a report in the Kansas City Star, Davis reasserted that claim last Wednesday during a fundraising event in Johnson County.
But even after Brownback compared education to defense spending in his first State of the State speech — a comparison Davis agreed with — the governor submitted a budget the next day with what the Democrat called the largest cut in school spending in state history.
The result: thousands of teacher layoffs and a myriad of school fees that parents must pay.
“This is foolishness,” said Davis, adding that it’s “not who we are as a people. It’s time for us to get things right.”
Although the story itself did not put quote marks around the phrase, Star reporter Steve Kraske confirmed in an email that Davis used the word "thousands" in reference to teacher layoffs.
Davis made a similar claim when he gave the Democratic response to Brownback's State of the State address in January, and the Journal-World reported afterward that the claim was greatly exaggerated.
According to official state data, only 811 teachers lost their jobs due to a "reduction in force" between 2009 and 2013.
Because Brownback didn't come into office until January 2011, only 201 of those can actually be attributed to his tenure in office - those that occurred in the 2011-2012, and the 2012-2013 academic years.
Layoffs, of course, are not the only way to reduce the size of a workforce. Many districts used attrition during the Great Recession - not replacing teachers who retired, changed careers or moved out of the area.
Since Brownback became governor, the total number of full time equivalent teachers employed in public schools has actually grown slightly, from 34,074.8 in his first full year in office, to 34,772.8 this year. That is still below the pre-recession number of 34,978.8 during the 2008-2009 school year.
Officials from Davis' campaign did not return phone calls made last week seeking comment. Davis himself said this week that he would have his office share with the Journal-World the information on which the claim was based, but so far we've not received it.
With western neighbor Colorado legalizing marijuana, Kansas officials on Tuesday issued a reminder that the sale, possession or use of pot is still illegal in the Sunflower State.
"Kansas law enforcement has seen and seized marijuana acquired in Colorado and brought illegally to Kansas," the statement said.
The statement was signed by Kansas Attorney Gen. Derek Schmidt, Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Ernest Garcia; Kansas Sheriffs Association President and Gray County Sheriff Jim Kramer; and Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police President and Wamego Police Chief Mike Baker.
"We remind Kansans never to bring marijuana into Kansas from Colorado. Doing so is a crime, and Kansas still enforces its law," they said.
Two years before entering the U.S. Senate race in Kansas, Dr. Milton Wolf of Johnson County penned a 38-page e-Book published through Amazon in which, among other things, he criticizes former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius.
The book, "First Do No Harm: The President's Cousin Explains Why His Hippocratic Oath Requires Him to Oppose ObamaCare," is part of a series from Broadside Books called "Voices of the Tea Party." In it, Wolf writes:
In my state of Kansas, for example, under our former insurance commissioner (and current Health and Human Services secretary) Kathleen Sebelius, the increased mandates she employed chased nearly a dozen insurance companies out of the state, diminished competition, and left forty thousand Kansans without health insurance.
• Insurance mandates: First, it's important to note that the Kansas insurance commissioner does not have the power to impose new benefit mandates unilaterally. All of the mandated benefits, including those dating back to the 1970s, as well as those enacted since Sebelius left office, were enacted by the Kansas Legislature. Sebelius, however, did lobby in favor of many new mandates while she served as commissioner.
Several paragraphs earlier in his book, Wolf writes dismissively of benefit mandates, saying: "State insurance commissioners, greased by the lobbying machine and eager to promise all sorts of new goodies to voters, mandated that insurance companies wishing to operate in their state provide whatever service they arbitrarily demanded — podiatry, chiropractic, in vitro fertilization, midwifery, acupuncture, radiology, whatever — whether the patients want it or not."
However, very few of those services are actually mandated in Kansas.
The Kansas Insurance Department website provides a comprehensive list of the benefit mandates that apply in Kansas, some of which date back to the 1970s.
Those that began when Sebelius was commissioner (1993-2003) include: mental health prescription drugs (2001); diabetes supplies and equipment (1998); prostate cancer screening (1998); dental anesthesia for children and disabled individuals (1999); breast reconstruction for mastectomy patients (1999); osteoporosis treatment (2001); off-label cancer medications (1999); and well-woman exams (2001).
• Companies leaving Kansas: Wolf argues that those mandates caused insurance companies to leave Kansas, resulting in less competition in the marketplace. It's an argument he has repeated many times, including a 2012 op-ed piece he wrote for the Washington Times, without ever citing a source to substantiate the claim. His campaign did not respond to an email request Tuesday asking for a source.
The issue also came up when Sebelius campaigned for governor in 2002, and the response at that time was that it was the result of mergers and acquisitions within the insurance industry, not the result of coverage mandates.
A spokeswoman for the Kansas Insurance Department said the agency does not track the number of insurance carriers on a year-to-year basis, so they were unable to confirm or deny Wolf's claim. Insurance industry officials, however, say the trend has continued over the last five to seven years, again due largely to mergers and acquisitions, but there have been no new entrants into the Kansas health insurance market.
• Rise in the uninsured: Wolf's claim that 40,000 Kansans lost their health coverage as a result of the mandates comes from a 1988 study by the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market think tank, which asserted generally that "as many as one of every four uninsured people lack health insurance because state regulations have increased the price of insurance."
That study has been criticized as flawed for several reasons. For one, it ignored the possibility that high costs in some states were what spurred the new regulations and mandates, not the other way around.
The claim is also contradicted by data from the U.S. Census Bureau that shows the number of Kansans without health insurance actually fell during the time Sebelius was insurance commissioner.
In 1994, the year Sebelius was first elected to that office, the Census Bureau estimated 12.9 percent of Kansans had no health coverage. Based on the state's population at that time of 2,554,047, that translates to roughly 329,472 Kansans uninsured.
Gov. Sam Brownback was the subject of two national pieces this week.
Yahoo News focused on his potential as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
"His quiet, yet ambitious, work in Kansas has proceeded without major controversies of the sort that have helped define Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who fought a pitched battle with public-sector unions, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was a magnet for viral controversies even before the recent allegations of misconduct surrounding the closure of George Washington Bridge lanes," wrote Chris Moody. Here is a link to that story.
And The Daily Caller dissected the pros and cons of Brownback's tax policy in this story.
This attention follows a Feb. 13 piece in the New York Times, headlined "Brownback Leads Kansas in Sharp Right Turn."
Meanwhile in Kansas, Brownback faces a tough re-election challenge against House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. The race is neck-and-neck, according to a recentpoll.
School children visiting the Statehouse on Thursday quickly gravitated toward the building's newest addition — a 17-foot juvenile mosasaur hanging on the wall in Gov. Sam Brownback's ceremonial office.
"It's kind of like lightning in a bottle, the way I see it," said Alan Detrich, of Lawrence, a fossil hunter who discovered the dinosaur several years ago in Gove County in western Kansas.
"Once you get a kid interested in dinosaurs or fossils, they want to read about it, and on the way to becoming a paleontologist they might accidentally end up being a doctor, or a governor, or a state representative," Detrich said.
Detrich has loaned the mosasaur to the state for an indefinite period of time.
The mosasaur arrived as the Kansas House gave final approval to make the tylosaurus, a type of mosasaur, as the state marine fossil, and pteranodon as the official state flying fossil.
The designation started with petitions from school children in Lecompton Elementary; Liberty Memorial Central Middle School and New York school, both of Lawrence; and Santa Fe Trails Middle School in Olathe.
Amanda Martin-Hamon, the daughter of the late Larry Martin, who had been Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Kansas University Natural History Museum, said her father would have been proud of the designation because it will be used as an educational tool. "He felt like paleontology was a really great way to do that because kids love fossils, they love dinosaurs. It sparks their imagination to think that sea monsters were real," she said.
Martin-Hamon's daughter Teagan, a third-grader at Lecompton school, helped spur the petition effort of having a state fossil.
The mosasaur, coiled up in its "death pose" on display, was a swimming reptile predator common to Kansas when it was under an inland sea millions of years ago.
There's talk in political circles that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach may face a challenge in the Republican primary, and it may come from an unlikely source — a Lawrence Republican.
Former Lawrence school board member and one-time Washington, D.C., staffer Scott Morgan told me today that he is considering a run. I'm not sure what I would peg the chances of him running at, but he certainly didn't want to close the door on the possibility.
"I'm considering lots of things, but so are a lot of other people," Morgan said.
Morgan said he is part of a group of moderate Republicans who are increasingly becoming convinced that the far right wing of the Republican Party needs to be challenged more in primaries.
"These movements come and go, but they only go when people stand up and try to push them back," Morgan said.
Morgan served two four-year terms on the Lawrence school board, but got started in politics as a staff member for Sen. Nancy Kassebaum and later for Sen. Bob Dole. Morgan also served as a nonvoting member of the Federal Elections Commission in the mid-1980s, when Dole was Senate majority leader. More recently, Morgan unsuccessfully ran for a state Senate seat in Lawrence in 2008, losing to Democrat Marci Francisco.
Kobach already has drawn a Democratic challenger. Jean Schodorf, who previously served in the state legislature as a Republican, switched parties to challenge Kobach.
Morgan said he has no desire to find an alternative party, but said he is concerned about Kobach's leadership. Kobach has been a champion for a law that requires proof of citizenship for voters.
"The burden of proof should be on the government, not on the person wanting to vote," Morgan said. "This is too basic of a right to let government block people's right to vote.
"It is such a weird attitude for a secretary of state. Instead of going after the fraud, you put out a blanket litmus test to stop the wrong type of people from voting, I guess."
Morgan said he doesn't have a timeline — other than the June 2 filing deadline — for deciding whether to run.
A bill that would phase-out the mortgage registration fee over five years has been approved by a Senate committee.
Bankers and real estate agents have been pushing for the end of the fee, saying it hurts their business and consumers.
But county officials statewide, including those in Douglas County, have said the lost revenue would need to be made up some other way.
Senate Bill 298 was recommended by the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee earlier this week.
The fee is equal to $2.60 for each $1,000 borrowed on a home mortgage, or $390 for a $150,000 mortgage. It isn't collected from people who pay cash for real estate.
In Douglas County, the fee generated about $1.8 million last year, and officials estimate a 2-mill rise in property taxes would be needed to replace that money.
The bill approved by the committee would also phase-in over four years a $4-per-page increase in fees for documents handled by county registers of deeds. But county officials say they won't produce nearly enough to replace the mortgage registration fee.
The Tea Party Express, a California-based political action committee, formally announced its endorsement today of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf. The announcement is being made in a series of public events around the state, including one scheduled for 3 p.m. this afternoon at the Celtic Fox, a restaurant and bar in downtown Topeka.
Wolf is challenging incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Roberts in the Aug. 5 primary.
The Tea Party Express was established in 2009, mainly to promote opposition to President Obama's health reform law, commonly called Obamacare. According to an early article posted by Talking Points Memo, it received initial financial backing from Our Country Deserves Better PAC and Americans for Prosperity, a group largely funded by David and Charles Koch.
“Dr. Milton Wolf has intimate knowledge of America’s healthcare system and is the perfect person to tackle President Obama’s failed healthcare policy," Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer said in a statement. "He even has proposed his own alternative to the Obamacare train wreck, Patient Care. It’s that kind of conservative leadership that has been largely absent for far too long in D.C. I am confident Dr. Wolf will join the ranks of Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul when he is elected.”
The Kansas House advanced a bill to designate the Tylosaurus and Pteranodon as the official state fossils, but not before a lecture from a state legislator that the action was a waste of time.
"This foolishness has to stop sometime," said state Rep. Mike Kiegerl, R-Olathe.
He said the proposal would have no benefit and the Legislature should spend its time on school finance and funding services for those with disabilities.
But other legislators said designating a state marine fossil and state flying fossil would expose Kansas schoolchildren to the natural scientific history of Kansas.
And it would spur tourism, they said, especially at the Kansas University Natural History Museum and Sternberg Museum in Hays.
In fact, famous fossil hunter Alan Detrich will bring a juvenile Tylosaurus skeleton to the Statehouse on Thursday for display.
House Bill 2595 gained preliminary approval 93-13.
The Tea Party Express plans to hold a series of events Thursday featuring Republican U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf, who is trying to unseat incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts in the GOP primary in August.
Meanwhile, Roberts today released the first TV ad of the campaign season, blasting Wolf, a Johnson County radiologist, over recent revelations that he once posted grisly X-ray images of gunshot victims on a Facebook page and made inappropriate comments about them.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for the California-based Tea Party Express, wouldn't say whether the group plans to endorse Wolf. He would only say that there will be an announcement at the events.
The nearest event will be from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Celtic Fox in Topeka, which is directly northeast from the Kansas Statehouse.
Wolf has been portrayed as a Tea Party candidate since announcing his candidacy in October. He has written a book about his opposition to the Affordable Care Act that is available only in e-book format through Amazon. It is part of a series of treatises from Broadside Books called "Voices of the Tea Party."
Last weekend, the Topeka Capital-Journal published a story about Wolf's Facebook posts that generated national attention.
Today, the Roberts campaign released an ad highlighting that story. It ends by asking the question, "If Milton Wolf is so irresponsible as a doctor, how can he possibly be trusted as a U.S. Senator?"
But Roberts has come under withering attack himself from the Wolf campaign. That was fueled by a recent story in the New York Times that reported Roberts does not really have a residence in Kansas but declares the Dodge City home of a friend as his voting address.
In recent press statements, Wolf routinely refers to "Sen. Pat Roberts (R-VA)" and calls him Virginia's third senator.
National Journal, a non-partisan political publication, includes the Kansas gubernatorial election among its list of 15 governorships "most likely to flip" from one major political party to the other.
"By all rights, Kansas should be safe Republican territory, but it features the sleeper race of the cycle," the National Journal states, ranking the race between Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, No. 10 among the top 15.
The article mentions past Democratic successes for governor in Kansas, the warfare between moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party and polling that indicates a tight race.
Hillary Clinton appears to be more popular in Kansas than her husband ever was when he ran for president, but she would still have a hard time carrying the Sunflower State if she were the Democratic nominee in 2016, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling.
The survey of 693 Kansas voters taken Feb. 18-20 shows Clinton getting roughly 40 percent of the vote, but still trailing in head-to-head match-ups with the most talked-about GOP contenders. She trails former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 50-41; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 46-39; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 49-42; and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, 48-41.
By comparison, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, received only 33.74 percent of the vote in Kansas in the 1992 three-way race against then-President George H.W. Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot. And he got 36 percent of the vote in 1996 against Kansas native son Bob Dole.
Those findings were part of the same poll released last week that showed Democrat Paul Davis leading incumbent GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, 42-40, in the upcoming gubernatorial race.
PPP is a private polling firm based in North Carolina that works principally with Democratic and progressive-leaning candidates.
A few other interesting tidbits from their Kansas poll:
• Kansas University is more popular than K-State: 38 percent of those surveyed consider themselves Jayhawk fans, compared to only 34 percent for the Wildcats.
• KU basketball coach Bill Self enjoys a 79-percent job approval rating among Jayhawk fans, but only 37 percent approve of the job football coach Charlie Weis is doing.
• Jayhawk-turned-Tarheel basketball coach Roy Williams still has a 63-percent favorability rating among KU fans.
• K-State football coach Bill Snyder has an 81-percent job approval rating among Wildcat fans, while 60 percent of Wildcat fans approve of the job coach Bruce Weber is doing.
• The Kansas City Royals are the most popular Major League Baseball team in the state (49 percent), although that might have been lower, especially in western Kansas, if the Colorado Rockies were offered as an option. The Yankees poll only 4 percent in Kansas, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals.
A national uproar has ensued over House approval of a bill that would provide legal protection for those who, because of religious beliefs, refuse to provide services to same-sex married couples.
The 72-49 vote on Wednesday that sent House Bill 2453 to the Senate was accompanied by several written explanations by many legislators on why they voted the way they did. Those are recorded in the House Journal.
Below is the roll call vote on HB 2435 and the written explanations of vote and who signed them.
HB 2453, AN ACT concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage, was considered on final action.
On roll call, the vote was: Yeas 72; Nays 49; Present but not voting: 0; Absent or not voting: 3. Yeas: Anthimides, Boldra, Bradford, Brunk, Couture-Lovelady, Campbell, Carlson, Carpenter, Cassidy, Christmann, Claeys, Corbet, Crum, E. Davis, DeGraaf, Dove, Edmonds, Edwards, Esau, Estes, Ewy, Garber, Goico, Gonzalez, Grosserode, Hawkins, Hedke, Henry, Hibbard, Highland, Hildabrand, Hoffman, Houser, Howell, Huebert, Hutton, Jones, Kahrs, Kelley, Kelly, Kiegerl, Kinzer, Kleeb, Lunn, Macheers, Mast, McPherson, Meier, Meigs, Merrick, Moxley, O'Brien, Osterman, Pauls, Peck, Petty, Powell, Proehl, Read, Rhoades, Rothlisberg, Rubin, Ryckman Jr., Ryckman Sr., Schroeder, Schwab, Schwartz, Seiwert, Suellentrop, Sutton, Thompson, Vickrey.
Nays: Alcala, Alford, Ballard, Barker, Becker, Bollier, Bridges, Burroughs, Carlin, Carmichael, Clayton, Concannon, P. Davis, Dierks, Doll, Finch, Finney, Frownfelter, Gandhi, Henderson, Hill, Hineman, Houston, Jennings, Johnson, Kuether, Lane, Lusk, Lusker, Menghini, Perry, Phillips, Rooker, Ruiz, Sawyer, Sloan, Sloop, Swanson, Tietze, Todd, Trimmer, Victors, Ward, Waymaster, Weigel, Whipple, Wilson, Winn, Wolfe Moore. Present but not voting: None. Absent or not voting: Bruchman, Peterson, Thimesch. The bill passed, as amended.
EXPLANATIONS OF VOTE
Mr. Speaker: It is my deeply held sincere religious belief that the commandment to “Love one another” is contradicted by this legislation. This bill expressly permits discrimination against my neighbor in the name of religious freedom. I vote no on HB 2453. — Sydney Carlin.
Mr. Speaker: I strongly believe in preserving religious liberty. I also believe that between the constitutional amendment passed in 2005 and HB 2203 passed last year, we have accomplished most of the intent expressed in HB 2453. HB 2453 has created perceptions of promoting discrimination. This was quite evident as I listened to the discussions on the floor, and as I read the emails that I received yesterday. However, I firmly believe that HB 2453 does create a fertile ground for lawsuits. I do not think that prohibiting lawsuits as part of the bill is going to stop them. I vote no on HB 2453. — Shanti Gandhi.
Mr. Speaker: I vote no on HB 2453 because: 1. I believe it is unnecessary considering the constitutional amendment passed in 2005 and the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act passed in 2013; 2. The motive of the bill is a fear of a speculative federal appeals court opinion that may or may not find our constitutional amendment unconstitutional; 3. The bill would be personally hurtful to my friends when they are denied services available to everyone else based upon whom they love; 4. I believe the bill is much broader in scope than what was intended. —Tom Sloan, Don Hill, John E. Barker, Steven R. Becker.
Mr. Speaker: I vote no on HB 2453. My closely held religious belief is that God is love. I cannot vote yes for this bill if I am to heed the words of Christ when he said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.” — Don Hineman, Barbara Bollier, Tom Sawyer.
Mr. Speaker: This bill is not discriminatory against any group of people. It only ensures that individuals are not forced to participate in an event that is contrary to their religious beliefs. Questions arise for me on how this bill affects people receiving lawful government services they have the right to receive. I vote no on HB 2453. — James E. Toddd.
Mr. Speaker: I strongly support religious freedom, but this bill is not about religious freedom. In my opinion, this is about legalized discrimination, and I cannot vote in support of this. I vote no on HB 2453. —Patricia M. Sloop.
Mr. Speaker: I vote no on HB 2453. I support freedom of religion, but proponents of this bill concede it addresses issues which Kansans are not currently facing. Kansans are facing the consequences of 2011 education cuts. A study last fall shows only three states have cut education deeper. Adjusted for inflation, per pupil school funding is below 1992 levels. Schools are closing, class sizes are growing, parents are paying higher fees, and our economy is struggling. The next generation of leaders, innovators, and job creators is being molded today in Kansas classrooms. We must invest in them because strong schools are the foundation of a stronger economy. — Carolyn L. Bridges, Roderick Houston, Adam Lusker, Ed Trimmer.
Mr. Speaker: I support religious freedoms, however, I cannot support any legislation that condones or licenses discriminatory behavior against any person. I vote no on HB 2453. Gail Finney, Julie Menghini, Broderick Henderson, Tom Burroughs, Paul Davis.
Mr. Speaker: One of the founding principles of our country, inscribed in the First Amendment, is the right of the people to be led by their conscience and follow their own deeply held religious convictions without fear of penalty or reprisal. Because of that, I vote YES on HB 2453. — Connie O'Brien, Travis Couture-Lovelady, Willie Dove, Ronald Ryckman Sr., Brett Hildabrand, Jerry Lunn, Joe Edwards, Craig McPherson, Randy Garber, Richard Carlson, Leslie Osterman, Will Carpenter, Kevin Jones, Allan Rothlisberg, Joe Swiewert, Sharon Schwartz, Ken Corbet, Ron Highland, Amanda Grosserode.
Mr. Speaker: The Kansas Bill of Rights says, “The right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed: ... Nor shall any control of or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. ...” The bill's opponents have made false representations about new discrimination. States enacting same sex marriage – from New York to Hawaii – have also enacted specific protections for religious liberties as it relates to same-sex marriage, including Progressive governors like Andrew Cuomo and Martin O'Malley. Kansas is consistent with those states. It maintains the status quo. Nothing more, nothing less. I vote YES on HB 2453. — Charles Macheers, Keith Esau, Mario Goico, Jim Howell
Mr. Speaker: There are substantial legal conflicts surrounding a possible U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion striking down the Kansas marriage amendment. Because of that, it is imperative that we protect individuals from penalty if they choose to decline to participate in a marriage event that conflicts with their religious beliefs. I vote YES on HB 2453. — Kasha Kelley, Dennis Hedke, Kelly Miegs, Bud Estes, John Bradford, Kent Thompson, Reid Petty, Daniel Hawkins, Marvin Kleeb.
Topeka — An ultrasound will be performed on a pregnant woman before a Senate committee today, the chairwoman of the committee said.
The procedure will be performed in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee as hundreds of anti-abortion advocates gather at the Statehouse to coincide with the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Public Health and Welfare Chairwoman State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, is an ardent opponent of abortion.
She said the ultrasound needed to be done for the committee for education purposes. "Because we often consider the life and health of the unborn child in the Senate health committee, it is important that committee members are educated as to the science of the life within the womb," Pilcher-Cook said.
Those opposed to abortion often push for laws that require women who want an abortion to have an ultrasound and have abortion providers place the ultrasound image next to a pregnant woman so she can view it and listen to the heartbeat.
In his criticism of U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., on Monday, Dr. Milton Wolf indicated Republicans shouldn't make friends with Democrats and that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's recent controversies have been caused by the media.
Wolf, a tea party-backed challenger to Roberts in the GOP primary, was interrupted several times by applause during his 24-minute talk to about 50 people who attended an event put on by the Douglas County Republican Party at Famous Dave's restaurant.
One of Wolf's major criticisms of Roberts is that Roberts voted in the Senate to confirm President Barack Obama's selection of Kathleen Sebelius in 2009 as secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius has been at the forefront of implementing the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, which is opposed by all Republicans in Congress.
"One of the problems with our party is too often we're the go-along to get-along party," said Wolf. "We try to get people in the media to like us, we try to get the Democrats to like us. It never works. Ask Chris Christie about that. He can walk on the beach every day of the week with Barack Obama, but as soon as he starts looking like a candidate for the presidency, the media is going to stab him in the back," Wolf said.
In 2012, Christie, a Republican, praised the response of President Obama and the federal government to Hurricane Sandy, which battered the Northeast. Christie's appearances with Obama just days before the presidential election was criticized by some Republicans as helping Obama.
Recently, Christie has been embroiled in controversy over an allegation that his aides closed lanes to the George Washington Bridge in political retribution against a New Jersey mayor.
Wolf added, "You cannot make friends with our adversaries, and yet what we have — and this should trouble us all to know — is we have Sen. Roberts who voted to put Kathleen Sebelius in charge of Obamacare," he said.
Sebelius was confirmed as secretary on a 65-31 vote. Nine Republicans voted for her, including Roberts and then-U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican who is now governor of Kansas. In recent months, Roberts has called for Sebelius to resign after the troubled roll-out of the ACA's enrollment website.
Topeka — Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, has pre-filed legislation that would require the governor to make public the names of people who apply for an appointment to the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Last year, Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and his conservative allies pushed through a change in the way Court of Appeals judges were selected.
Now those judges are selected by the governor subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Prior to the change, the governor selected an appeals court judge from a list of nominees provided by a nominating commission.
Brownback selected his chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, as the first nominee under the new law.
The new selection process became more controversial when Brownback refused to divulge the names of those applying for the vacancy on the state's second highest court. Under the former system, the nominating commission released the names of those applying, its final recommendation and had even opened up to the public its interview process.
Brownback declined to make the applicants' names public, saying it would hurt the chances of getting qualified individuals to apply.
Under Senate Bill 252, the governor would be required to make each applicant's name and city of residence available to the public once the application process is over. The 2014 legislative session starts Monday.
Brownback’s former tax consultant criticizes federal minimum wage as ‘black teenage unemployment act’
Art Laffer, the $75,000 consultant who helped shape Gov. Sam Brownback's tax changes, called the federal minimum wage "the black teenage unemployment act."
While on Fox News on Wednesday, Laffer said the minimum wage "makes no sense to me."
He added, "I mean, honestly, it's just the teenage — black teenage unemployment act, and this is the very groups that we need to have jobs and not be put out of work because of the minimum wage."
Laffer argued that more teenagers would be hired if employers could pay them less than the $7.25 federal minimum.
His comments were made during a discussion on the possible extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
In 2012, Laffer, who is considered the father of supply-side economics, was hired by the Brownback administration for $75,000 for consulting work on the governor's tax plan.
Laffer championed Brownback's plans to cut income tax rates, eliminate credits and deductions and rely more heavily on the sales tax.
At the time, Laffer also supported Brownback's plan to end the state portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps low-income, working Kansans. Later, Brownback backed off that proposal.
Topeka – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis announced that three former legislators, all Republicans, will lead the campaign's Republicans for Davis group.
“I am deeply committed to restoring the Kansas tradition of bipartisan cooperation in the governor’s office," Davis said Monday.
Davis, from Lawrence, is the House minority leader and likely Democratic challenger in November to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
In response to the announcement, Brownback's campaign spokesman David Kensinger referred to Davis' support of President Barack Obama.
"There are only so many Kansans willing to vote for a guy who doubled down on the Obama agenda as an Obama Delegate in 2008 and 2012," Kensinger said.
And James Echols, chair of Democrats for Brownback, issued a statement, saying that many Democrats appreciate Brownback's leadership. "Sam Brownback has shown the right mix of courage and vision to lead our state," said Echols, president of the board of Economic Opportunity Foundation Inc., of Kansas City, Kan.
Davis said he wanted Republicans and independent voters to be part of his campaign and administration if elected.
The three Republicans who will serve as co-chairs of Republicans for Davis are former House Speaker Wendell Lady of Overland Park and former House members Charlie Roth of Salina and Fred Gatlin of Atwood.
Lady said Brownback's income tax cuts, which included eliminating income taxes for nearly 200,000 business owners, "is the most unfair tax legislation ever enacted in Kansas." Brownback has said the cuts will stimulate the economy.
Roth said the state was going in the wrong direction under Brownback and that Davis has helped engineer bipartisan passage of key legislation. Gatlin said Davis would bring people together.
In Kansas, Republican registered voters outnumber Democrats by more than 341,000 out of the state's 1.7 million voters.
Topeka — State Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, has filed a bill that he says is aimed at preventing the government from obtaining personal electronic data without a warrant.
House Bill 2421, called The Kansas Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, has been pre-filed for the legislative session, which starts Jan. 13.
"The bill would prevent state/local agencies in Kansas from searching or obtaining personal electronic data such as cell phone content, email, and non-public social media info without a warrant," Hildabrand said.