Daily Archives: March 11, 2009

Alcohol at special events and direct wine shipments pass the Senate

Wandering through Final Fridays with a glass of wine just moved a step closer to reality.

Wednesday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 213 on a vote of 37-3. Republican Senators Dennis Pyle, of Hiawatha, Roger Reitz, of Manhattan, and Dick Kelsey of Goddard voted against the measure.

The proposal allows communities to permit alcoholic beverages to be served within special event areas such as Final Friday or River Festival.

Currently, events can have beer gardens serving 3.2 beer, but the bill would expand the area to the entire event and increase the beverage options.

The chamber also approved SB 212 on a 39-1 vote. The bill allows Kansans to receive up to 12 cases of wine annually from out-of-state wineries. Currently, wine shipments must be sent to a liquor store.

Both bills now go to the House for debate.

No revote on slots in Sedgwick County, committee decides

A proposal to allow Sedgwick County residents to vote again on slots at the Wichita Greyhound Park was eliminated in a Senate committee this morning.

It had been included in a bill to boost the amount of slots revenue that horse and dog tracks could keep.

Committee Chairman Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, opened the hearing by saying a revote in Sedgwick County wouldn’t work with the bill. He offered no explanation.

He then moved to take it out, and the committee approved that.

Sedgwick County voters rejected slot machines by 244 votes in a 2007 special election. Owner Phil Ruffin closed the park two months later. Voters also rejected a casino for the county in the same election.

Senators on the Federal and State Affairs Committee still are discussing a proposal to calling for tracks to give 22 percent of the slots revenue to the state rather than 40 percent as required by a 2007 law that permitted expanded gambling in Kansas.

Return to Kansas.com for updates today.

Most Wichita residents support a smoking ban, poll shows

TOPEKA – More than half of Wichitans support a statewide smoking ban according to a poll released Wednesday by the American Cancer Society.

The numbers come hours before a House health committee is scheduled to hear from opponents of Senate Bill 25, which would ban smoking in most indoor public areas.

On Tuesday, the House Health and Human Services Committee heard from the bill’s supporters including Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby.

“This is a true public health threat,” he told the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita.

Medicaid, the state’s health care coverage for low income people, annually spent $196 million on tobacco related illnesses.

Landwehr said Tuesday she had not yet decided if the committee would vote on the bill or not.

Republicans fire back at Dems on stimulus aid

By Dion Lefler

Republican leaders in the state House of Representatives fired back this morning at Democratic leaders who accused them of rejecting federal stimulus aid for secondary education.

“It is absolutely false to claim that any member of the House would refuse stimulus dollars during these difficult economic times,” said the statement from the House Republican Leadership group. “The money will play a vital role as it will be utilized for job growth and building the economy.”

Today’s statement was a response to a statement Tuesday by House Democrats criticizing the Republicans on the Appropriations Committee.

The GOP members had rejected a budget amendment by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that would have incorporated into the state budget about $89.6 million for universities, colleges and trade schools.

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Teen driving restrictions save lives, supporters say

TOPEKA – Kansas is one of three states that have not created graduated driver’s license for teen drivers.

In the 47 states with updated laws, crashes involving teen drivers have decreased by up to 50 percent, Transportation Secretary Deb Miller wrote in her testimony to the Senate Transportation Committee.

“It will save lives,” said Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, a strong supporter of the bill, “It’s very, very simple the black and white statistics are very clear.”

Donovan has pushed for the license changes for multiple years, and while the idea has always found strong support in the Senate, it has floundered on the House side. This year he’s hoping will be different since the House has already passed House Bill 2143.

The proposal would:

  • Restricts teen drivers without a full license from using devices such as cell phones while driving.
  • Increases the age for an unrestricted license to 17.
  • Adds penalties for violating restrictions.
  • Restricted permits would still be available at 14.
  • Requires teens with driver’s permits to be with an adult who is at least 21 years old.
  • Requires teens with restricted driver’s license 15 and younger to have completed 25 hours of supervised driving and if 16 they must have 50 hours of supervised driver, and at least 10 at night.
  • Restricts teens from driving at night.
  • Restricts drivers younger than 16 from carrying minor passengers who are not siblings.

The bill’s supporters said giving teens more supervised time behind the wheel, baring the use of distractions such as cell phones and restricting the passengers a teen driver’s can carry would decrease accidents.

Committee Chairman Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, said the committee might vote on the measure Friday.

For more, read Thursday’s Eagle.