Monthly Archives: April 2009

Parkinson to be sworn in as governor at 7 p.m.

TOPEKA – Kansas will have a new governor by the time the sun sets tonight.

Shortly after the U.S. Senate confirmed former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, as Health and Human Services Secretary, she stepped down as governor and is on her way to Washington D.C., governor’ spokeswoman Beth Martino said in an email.

Gov. Mark Parkinson will be officially sworn in at 7 p.m., Chief Justice Bob Davis will administer the oath of office.

Lawmakers return to Topeka Wednesday to start a wrap up session where they are likely to try and override one of Sebelius’ final vetoes.

The bill would require doctors providing late-term abortions to provide more detailed justifications for the procedure on forms sent to Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The measure would also allow a woman or her immediate family to sue a physician providing late-term abortions in civil court if they think the procedure was illegal.

Conservatives were critical of Sebelius for her stance on abortion, including the most recent veto, and her ties to late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller of Wichita.

Senate confirms Sebelius as HHS secretary

The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services.

The vote, 65 to 31, came just before 6 p.m. in Washington D.C. after an all-day debate.

Both Kansas senators, Republicans Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, voted for Sebelius, a Democrat.

Last week, Brownback had said the governor’s veto of a bill aimed at tighetning regulations of late-term abortions made it harder to support her. Sebelius had vetoed similar bills in previous years.

The move means Kansas is likely to have a new governor when the Kansas Legislature returns Wednesday for a wrap-up session.

It’s hard to say if Sebelius could hand the reins of power over to Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson tonight or not – her office is keeping mum on its plans.

KDHE creates swine flu hotline and email

Kansans concerned about the appearance of swine flu can call a toll free hotline with questions.

The toll-free number, 1-877-427-7317, is offered by Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

After calling the number, people will be directed to press “1″ to speak to an operator about the swine flu.

Kansans can also email questions about the virus to swinefluinfo@kdheks.gov.

The department has also posted information about swine flu on its website.

Kansas has had two confirmed cases of swine flu, but no other cases have been confirmed. The department is investigating the cases and working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In accordance with the Kansas Response Plan, KDHE is also monitoring and instituting recommendations from CDC for any additional influenza disease surveillance activities, reviewing plans to further enhance those activities, and advising health care providers on how to handle potential swine flu cases.

The department recommends the following steps to help prevent the virus from spreading:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.

  • Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.

Peterjohn endorses Huelskamp for Congress

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp has picked up the endorsement of anti-tax activist and Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn.

Huelskamp, a Fowler Republican, is running for the 1st Congressional District hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, a Republican, who is running for the U.S. Senate that Sen. Sam Brownback is vacating. Brownback, a Republican, is running for governor.

Huleskamp is one of many Republicans hoping to replace Moran in Washington D.C. Other contenders include: Fort Hays State University education instructor Sue Boldra: Pratt businessman Tim Barker; and former Brownback chief of staff, Rob Wasinger.

Below is the release sent out by Huelskamp’s campaign announcing the endorsement.

“Kansas Anti-Tax Leader Notes Huelskamp Always Honored ‘Taxpayer Protection Pledge’

Conservative anti-tax Kansas crusader Karl Peterjohn today announced his endorsement of Republican Tim Huelskamp (KS-01) for Congress.

According to Peterjohn: “Some others in this race have bragged about being the first to sign the ‘no tax’ pledge. Well, I’m here to tell you that Tim Huelskamp signed American’s for Tax Reform’s ‘Taxpayer Protection Pledge’ thirteen years ago — and despite great pressure to break his pledge on several occasions – he has always honored his promise to Kansas taxpayers. I am proud to support his bid for Congress.”

Peterjohn has been the Executive Director of the influential Kansas Taxpayers Network since 1992 and was elected to the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners in 2008.

“Karl Peterjohn has worked tirelessly on behalf of Kansas taxpayers. I am honored to receive his endorsement,” said Huelskamp.

Last week, Huelskamp met with Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and has again signed the pledge — this time as a candidate for U.S. Congress.

“We signed the ‘Taxpayer Protection Pledge’ thirteen years ago when I first ran for the state senate and have never gone back on our word. I’m looking forward to continuing that same tradition of integrity and fiscal leadership in the United States Congress,” said Huelskamp.”

Wichita looks at year-round Q-Line

The Q-LineIt looks like Wichita may soon have downtown shuttle buses year-round. That’s according to a presentation the city council will see Tuesday.

It says the Q-Line will have to expand to year-round, six days a week service to provide arena event shuttle services. That will nearly double the cost for the city, which is already in a budget crunch. But it’s subsidized some by the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, which has promised $20,000 to market the service. The total cost for 2010 would be $159,120.

The expansion comes as ridership has increased. The buses carted 3,428 people in 2006, 4,362 in 2007 and last year it carried 9,153 folks. That seems to dovetail with the influx of more people going to Final Friday Art Crawls. The newly-started First Friday music crawls will probably also increase the number of people looking for a lift.

Is Brownback backing away on Sebelius?

By David Goldstein/Eagle Washington Bureau

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback could be waffling a bit in his support for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to run the Health and Human Services Department.

Congressional Quarterly reports that the Republican lawmaker plans to think more about his endorsement in light of her veto Thursday of late-term abortion legislation.

“It makes it harder and harder,” Brownback, an abortion opponent, told the magazine.

Neither the senator nor an aide would comment about whether he is reconsidering his support.

It’s tradition for legislators to embrace presidential nominees from their states, regardless of party. Only twice in the last 20 years has a senator from one party failed to back a home state nominee from the opposing party, according to Congressional Research Service.

One of those cases was in 2001, when Sen. Jean Carnahan, a Democrat from Missouri, voted against the confirmation of former Republican Sen. John Ashcroft, also of Missouri, who had been nominated for attorney general.

In Brownback’s case, he is one of the Republican Party’s leading social conservatives and has been under pressure from that wing to disavow his support of the Democratic governor.

Though Sebelius has a reputation for working across party lines, she is anathema to abortion opponents because she supports abortion rights. They’re especially put off by her association with George Tiller, who operates an abortion clinic in Wichita and has been a political contributor.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele have called upon President Obama to withdraw her nomination.

The bill that Sebelius vetoed would have imposed requirements on physicians who perform late-term abortions. The procedure is outlawed except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger or she faces serious medical consequences.

The legislation would have required physicians to file state health reports explaining the medical diagnoses that necessitated a late-term abortion.

Sebelius said she thought the bill probably was unconstitutional and would also “lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women.”

Senate Democrats need 60 votes to confirm her on Tuesday when her nomination is scheduled to be debated. They hold 56 seats. The chamber’s two independents generally side with them as well.

At least four Republicans, including Brownback, have committed to voting for her. The others are his Kansas colleague, Sen. Pat Roberts, an old friend of the Sebelius family, and the two party moderates from Maine, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. There could be others as well.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said Sebelius supporters have enough votes to confirm her.

Senate vote on Kansas Gov. Sebelius set for Tuesday

Sebelius NominationBy David Goldstein/Eagle Washington Bureau

The Senate will vote on Tuesday whether to confirm Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary.

The debate could last several hours. She’ll need 60 votes for confirmation; Democrats are confident she will be approved.

Legislative forum scheduled for Saturday

Area lawmakers will hold a public forum Saturday, days before they return to Topeka to try to cut more than $300 million from the state’s budget.

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Wichita Water Center, 101 E. Pawnee. Lawmakers from the area will be on hand to discuss the session, which adjourned a few weeks ago, and the wrap-up session, set to begin Wednesday.

Text of Gov. Sebelius’ abortion veto

Text of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto message on Thursday of a bill making changes to the Kansas abortion laws:

“For more than a decade, Kansas laws have banned partial birth abortions and post-viability abortions except in those very limited cases where it is necessary to preserve the life or health of a pregnant woman. The United States Supreme Court has consistently held that while states can limit the availability of post-viability abortions, they must allow them where necessary to protect the health or life of the woman. As governor of Kansas, I have worked hard to reduce abortions by supporting a range of initiatives including adoption incentives, encouraging parental involvement and individual responsibility for young men and women, expanding health services for Kansas children, promoting access to affordable contraceptives, expanded maternal and infant health services and promotional efforts, providing funds for proven successful pregnancy maintenance programs and encouraging age-appropriate sex education. These efforts have resulted in reducing the number of abortions by more than 10 percent in the last six years in Kansas. I am confident that with a more united effort to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, combined with creating conditions that provide support and assistance for mothers and their babies, we will have even greater success reducing abortions in our state. Unfortunately, House Sub for SB 218 will not help to reduce the number of abortions in Kansas, and would likely be declared unconstitutional. Under the bill, a physician intending to comply with the law could later be criminally prosecuted. A physician acting in good faith to save a pregnant woman’s life, and using his or her best medical judgment, should not be subject to later criminal prosecution. Similar language was declared unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Women’s Medical Professional Corp. v. Voinovich, 130 F.3d 187 (6th Cir. 1997). The provisions in this bill that would allow for the criminal prosecution of a physician intending to comply with the law will lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women, even when it is necessary to preserve their lives and health. While I agree that we should try to reduce the number of abortions, it cannot be at the increased risk to the life or health of women. Therefore, pursuant to Article 2, Section 14 of the constitution of the state of Kansas, I veto House Substitute for SB 218.”

Kansas Gov. Sebelius vetoes late-term abortion law

TOPEKA – The governor vetoed a bill that would have require doctors to give more detailed justification for a late-term abortion on forms sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Explaining the veto Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, said the House substitute for Senate Bill 218, included provisions that might be unconstitutional.

She singled out a provision that would allow a woman or immediate relatives to sue an abortion provider they suspected of violating the state’s abortion law. The provision also allows a district or county attorney or the Attorney General to bring criminal violations against a doctor.

“The provisions in this bill that would allow for the criminal prosecution of a physician intending to comply with the law will lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women, even when it is necessary to preserve their lives and health,” she wrote. “While I agree that we should try to reduce the number of abortions, it cannot be at the increased risk to the life or health of women.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee approved the governor’s nomination as health secretary sending the matter to the full Senate where its stalled.

Abortion opponents have raised concerns about Sebelius’ strong pro choice track record and her ties to Wichita late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.