Monthly Archives: December 2009

Kansas lauded for cockfighting law

The Humane Society of the United States is applauding Kansas’ new law on cockfighting as one of the years’s best legislative achievements for animal rights. The new law makes cockfighting a felony; previously it was a misdemeanor. Police said the lighter penalties weren’t enough to dissuade the leaders of underground cockfighting rings. Authorities used the new law, passed last spring, when they raided an alleged cockfighting ring in Douglas County this fall. One man was arrested and 169 birds were seized. The HSUS cited the new law in its list of the 12 best state legislative initiatives of the year.

Rep. Gene Suellentrop sworn in to Kansas House

TOPEKA – Wichita restaurant owner Gene Suellentrop is officially the state representative for the 105st District.

Thursday, in a quiet ceremony in the House chamber, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh swore in Suellentrop.

Last week, the Sedgwick County Republican Party chose Suellentrop, 57, to replace former-Rep. Jason Watkins.

“Jason has done a lot for south central Kansas for jobs and economic development and I want to continue that,” Suellentrop said. “In order to pull out of this recession we are going to have to focus on jobs.”

Watkins, whose last day as an elected official was Sunday, has been named director of government relations for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Suellentrop said running for the Legislature was not something he had thought about wanting to do, “but it was something I felt I probably needed to do in this time.”

Joining him at the swearing in ceremony was Suellentrop’s wife Chris and two of his children: daughter Sarah and son Matt.

Lawmakers propose commission to consider overhauling and closing state departments

Schmidt

Schmidt

Tafanelli

Tafanelli

Two state lawmakers are proposing to establish an independent commission to find ways to consolidate, overhaul or eliminate state departments.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Indendence, and Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R- Ozawkie, are proposing what they call a “BRAC” commission for state government.

BRAC is the acronym of the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which was empaneled by Congress to handle the politically delicate matter of identifying unneeded military bases to be shut down.

The commission proposed by Schmidt and Tafanelli would be called the Kansas Government Streamlining Commission.

Members would be appointed by legislative leadership and the governor and would be authorized to examine all aspects of state government.

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Democrat bows out of race for Kansas governor

Tom Wiggans is out of the race for Kansas governor, not even a month after he announced his campaign.

His departure leaves the Democrats without a major candidate – again – to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.

Here’s the announcement:

“For a candidate who has recently returned to his home state and who has never run for political office, it will take more time and resources than I can assemble to mount a winning campaign. While I have remained involved in many activities in the state over the past years, I have spent much of my business career away from home and thus am unknown to many voters and donors.”

Therefore I believe it is in the best interest of the voters for me to end my exploration of running for Governor and entering public service at this time, and instead offer my ideas and experience to state leaders, institutions, and companies and focus my energies on creating new jobs and a strong economy for the future.”

The Democrat faced a tough race. Despite a long career in pharmaceuticals, Wiggans was little known in the state and faced a tough contender in Republican U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.

Wiggans’ departure leaves the Democrats with only one candidate, Herbert West III of Paola, who recently lost a campaign for Miami County sheriff.

Group pitches detention facility to Sedgwick County

WICHITA — Metropolitan Detention Kansas pitched a proposal this morning to build up to a 1,080-bed detention facility for Sedgwick County.

It would be a medium security and work release facility.

Under the proposal, Metropolitan Detention would pay for the facility and charge the county a daily fee per inmate.

There would be up to five pods with each pod housing 216 beds.

Commissioners plan to ask staff to look further into the proposal.

Gary O’Neal, chairman of Metropolitan, presented the plan.

Wichita altering pit-bull ordinance

The Wichita City Council today tweaked pit-bulldog control regulations that are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

The major provisions of the new ordinance:

– Require pit-bull owners to sterilize their dogs.

– Require a breeder’s license if an owner wants to keep more than two pit bulls.

– Require pit bulls to be implanted with an identifying electronic microchip.

Today, the council carved out an exemption to the sterilization requirement for current pit-bull owners who show their dogs in legitimate dog shows.

Environmental Services Director Kay Johnson said the organizations that regulate dog shows require that the dogs in competition be unaltered and unsterilized.

Read More »

Wichita approves arena parking pre-sales

The Wichita City Council today approved an agreement to allow patrons of the Intrust Bank Arena to buy advance-reserved parking with their tickets.

The agreement will allow arena operator SMG to pre-sell parking for 200 spaces adjacent to the arena site.

The number of spaces could increase if demand is high, officials said.

Customers who purchase the reserved parking will receive a parking permit at the same time they get their event tickets.

Reserved parking sales will end a week before each event to allow officials time to set aside an adequate number of spaces for those who pay in advance.

Sales will be conducted at the box office and through the Select-A-Seat ticketing system.

Gov. Parkinson teams with Sid the Science Kid to promote H1N1 vaccinations

TOPEKA – Gov. Mark Parkinson is appearing with public broadcast’s Sid the Science Kid to encourage Kansans to get the H1N1 vaccine.

“People need to continue to take this extremely seriously,” said Parkinson, a Democrat, during a teleconference on Monday.

He is one of 15 governors, one first lady and Nebraska’s top state health official to record the spots with the animated character.

The 30-second video features Parkinson sitting at his desk in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office talking to the animated character.

Sid has previously gotten the vaccine for H1N1, commonly called the Swine Flu, and isn’t the only children’s character that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has tapped to encourage vaccinations or flu prevention.

Elmo has previously demonstrated proper hand washing and sneezing techniques on Sesame Street.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, warned that the flu seasons can run through May.

“Vaccination is best protection against getting the flu, it is important to remind Americans that now is a good time to get the vaccine,” she said during the teleconferencing.

For more information on the H1N1 virus and to view the other public announcements go to www.flu.gov

Gov. Parkinson and his wife donate $1,000 to Toys for Tots

TOPEKA – The Governor and First Lady announced Monday morning that they were donating $1,000 of their personal funds to Toys for Tots in Wichita.

“We’re asking all of the generous people in the Wichita community to step forward very quickly with financial contributions and with additional contributions of gifts so hopefully this can all be replenish by the end of the week,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat.

Parkinson and his wife Stacy are both originally from Wichita.

Sometime between 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, thieves broke into the warehouse of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots and took more than 1,000 toys.

They apparently picked a lock on the barrier gate, threw open an overhead door and ransacked box after box meticulously packed and readied for distribution.

“That’s really about as low as you can get,” Parkinson said.

He did not hold out hope that the stolen gifts would be returned.

“I’m not sure any sort of reason would matter to people like that,” he said. “The mind set of stealing gifts intended for poor kids is so disconnected with any sense of reason that I don’t think we can reason with these folks.”

Parkinson did think that the Wichita community would come together and replace the stolen toys.

“It’s a terrific community, it’s a very giving community,” he said.

More information on the program and locations of drop-off sites in the area is avalible at www.toysfortots.org.

Kansas to get ASARCO cleanup funds, too

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will receive $3.8 million from the bankruptcy of mining and smelting titan ASARCO to help with the state’s part of enviromental cleanup at abandoned mining operations in Cherokee County, a KDHE spokeswoman said Friday.

The money is part of a $1.79 billion settlement to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental authorities.

It is in addition to the $25.1 million ASARCO is giving the EPA for the Cherokee County cleanup as reported here Thursday. The money is expected to accelerate efforts to clean up contaminated ground and water in and around Treece, Baxter Springs, Waco and unincorporated areas of Cherokee County.