Daily Archives: Jan. 13, 2010

Political statement or outrageous boredom? Only the baby knows and she’s not telling

TOPEKA — As every politician knows, kissing babies goes with the territory. But today, the baby swiped the spotlight from the politicians at a Capitol news conference on the state budget.

After 17 minutes of Democratic lawmakers complaining of Republican budgetary intransigence, Madison Mah, age 1, expressed her own outrage with a howl familiar to anyone who has ever tried to keep a young child happy through a, shall we say, less-than-exciting event. Madison was in attendance with her grandmother, Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis got a few chuckles when he quickly sought to incorporate the baby’s frustrations into the Democrats’ message.

“What Ann Mah’s grandchild is trying to tell everybody here is that she is very concerned about further education cuts, and I just wanted to get that on the table,” he said.

But the larger laugh went to John Hanna of the Associated Press, who remarked, “No, I think she just wanted her binky, actually.”

Democrats challenge GOP lawmakers to lead way on budget

TOPEKA — Ten House and Senate Democrats challenged Republican legislators to put forth their own plan for balancing the state budget if they don’t like the governor’s plan for sales and tobacco tax increases.

But the Republican speaker of the House responded that he thinks it’s unreasonably early to expect GOP lawmakers to release a budget plan.

The Democratic lawmakers conceded Wednesday that they have their own misgivings over Gov. Mark Parkinson’s plan to close a $400 million budget gap with a 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax coupled with dramatically increased tobacco taxes.

But they complimented their party’s governor for putting forth a detailed plan to get negotiations started and said it’s time for the GOP lawmakers, who have veto-proof majorities in both houses of the Legislature, to step up.

“We were particularly concerned not that Republicans disagreed with the governor, but that they presented no ideas as to what they wanted to do with the state,” said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence.

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Committee endorses ban on synthetic marijuana

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers are moving quickly to ban synthetic marijuana after police said it’s a growing problem in area high schools.

A state Senate committee endorsed legislation Wednesday that would make possession of the fake pot a misdemeanor. The bill now moves to the Senate floor. A similar ban was proposed in the House.

The ban would prohibit products such as K2, the brand name of an herbal mix sold at a Lawrence store that contains synthetic cannabinoids. The product acts on the brain similarly to marijuana, but does not currently fall under drug laws.

Kansas would be the first state in the nation to ban the products.

Kansas Democrats criticize Brownback’s fundraising but still lack their own candidate

TOPEKA – The Kansas Democratic Party called Sen. Sam Brownback’s fund raising efforts “underwhelming” on Wednesday although they lacked anything for a comparison.

The party has no official candidate after former pharmaceutical executive Tom Wiggans withdrew his name in mid-December as the party’s gubernatorial contender.

Brownback, a Republican who is serving in the U.S. Senate, raised more than $1.53 million in cash contributions, his campaign reported last week.

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Parkinson works without a net

parkinson10stateofstateSay what you will about Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson’s plan to raise the sales tax, but you have to give him credit for memorization. Parkinson delivered Monday’s State of the State Address without a teleprompter, or even paper notes. The feat impressed members of both parties as well as Washburn University Political Science Professor Bob Beatty, who was watching along in the Stateouse. “We’ve discovered he’s a great orator,” Beatty said. “I’ve never seen a politician deliver a speech of that length without using at least notes.”

His predecessor, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, relied on teleprompters to deliver her own State of the State addresses.

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Joe the Plumber coming to Wichita

joetheplumbermugWICHITA — Joe the Plumber is coming to Wichita to endorse Jim Anderson for the Fourth District congressional seat.

Joe the Plumber, whose real name is Joe Wurzelbacher, will join Anderson at a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Murdock Theatre, 536 N. Broadway.

The event will feature a meet-and-greet and barbecue dinner provided by Two Brothers BBQ beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Admission to the town hall meeting is $5. For $25, people will be admitted to the town hall meeting and the dinner and have a photo taken with Joe the Plumber.

Tickets are available for advance purchase at the Postnet store, 2350 N. Greenwich Rd. Suite 100, by calling 316-636-9300, or by e-mailing info@anderson4congress.com

Karl Peterjohn to serve as chairman of Sedgwick County commission

Sedgwick County commissioners this morning elected Karl Peterjohn to be their leader this year.

Board member Gwen Welshimer made the recommendation, which received a second from Kelly Parks.

Commissioners approved Peterjohn for chairman unanimously. Board member Tim Norton was not at the meeting.

Welshimer will continue to serve as the vice-chairman of the board.

Sedgwick County approves loan to Airbus

To help keep Airbus North America Engineering in Wichita, Sedgwick County commissioners this morning approved a $200,000 forgiveable loan to the company.

Airbus considered moving engineers to a satellite facility in Mobile, Ala., but vice president of engineering William Greer, a longtime Wichita resident, said he told executives of Wichita “This is where I can get the engineers.”

The city also approved a $200,000 loan, which together with the county’s loan Airbus will use to remodel the former Kansas Sports Hall of Fame at 238 N. Mead.

As part of the deal, Airbus promises to add 80 jobs within three years. Its Wichita office now employs 210 aeronautical engineers. The average annual salary of the new jobs, excluding benefits, will be $126,000.

“We need those jobs,” commissioner Gwen Welshimer told Greer.

Harlem Globetrotter visits Sedgwick County commissioners

Harlem Globetrotter Slick Willie Shaw made an appearance at this morning’s Sedgwick County commission meeting to promote the team’s Jan. 22 event at Intrust Bank Arena.

From the Bronx, Shaw is a former St. John’s University basketball player.

Commissioner Dave Unruh jokingly asked Shaw if he thought the Globetrotters would win that night.

“We probably have a 100 percent chance,” Shaw said.