Daily Archives: Feb. 16, 2010

Kansas Senate passes tougher seat belt law

seatbeltTOPEKA — Seatbelt scofflaws risk being pulled over for not buckling up under a bill  the Senate sent to the House on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 483 passed 26-14. It faces a tougher reception in the House, where a similar bill failed last year.

“It will save lives, no question about it,” said Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, who has pushed for the bill for several years.

About 25 percent of Kansans drive without wearing their seat belts — and 75 percent of deaths from automobile accident are people who were not buckled in, he said. “That’s all the information that anybody needs.”

Donovan said he hopes this is the year the bill passes both chambers.

Kansas law already requires drivers to wear a seat belt, but they can be ticketed for failure to do so only if an officer pulls them over for some other reason. The proposed law would come with a $30 to $60 fine.

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Developers, lottery reach new agreement on Sumner County casino

012909casino_br05.JPGAfter a 2 1/2-month delay, Sumner County’s casino gained new momentum Tuesday.

The Kansas Lottery reached a verbal agreement with Chisholm Creek Casino Resort developers on a new contract to build the facility.

“We’re there, I think,” said Ed Van Petten, the lottery’s executive director, who two weeks ago had questioned whether a deal could be struck.

The new contract includes amendments to build a hotel at the same time as the casino  and to provide financial safeguards for the developers in case a competing tribal casino is built in Park City, Van Petten said.

The lottery sent documents to the developers to review, and a contract should be finalized this morning, said John Frieden, a Topeka attorney who represents Chisholm Creek.

Frieden declined to comment on the contract  until it is finalized. “It’s possible some parts of it may be changed,” he said late Tuesday.

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Baldwin City senator to announce Democratic run for governor

hollandTOPEKA — Democratic Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City   plans to announce he is running for governor at an event in Topeka Wednesday.

Holland, 48, is the Senate Minority Caucus Chair and an information technology consultant who was elected to the Senate in 2008. He had  served in the state House since 2003.

The senator is scheduled to make his announcement at 1 p.m. at the intersection of 11th and Garfield, a release from his campaign said Tuesday evening. Read More »

Senate panel gives OK to ban on texting while driving

textphone-150x150TOPEKA – A Senate committee Tuesday moved a bill that would ban texting while driving to the full chamber.

The measure Senate Bill 351 would make a first time violation a traffic infraction. Lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee also amended the bill to remove a provision that would have made the unintentional killing of another person while texting punishable as “involuntary manslaughter while driving and texting.”

The amendment means the bill will treat deaths caused while texting and driving the same as if the driver had been fiddling with the radio or talking on the phone, said Sen. Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, who offered the amendment.

NOTE: The bill was amended in the committee and the online version linked to above will not immediately reflect those changes.

The measure passed on a voice vote and now goes to the full Senate.

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County could make room for inmates in courthouse, commissioner says

jailinmatepicMoving county administrative offices out of the courthouse and historic courthouse to make room for work release and minimum security inmates is one idea a work group of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council is kicking around, Sedgwick County commissioner Gwen Welshimer said this morning while meeting with her colleagues and staff.

The county is struggling with overcrowding at its jail and has considered several alternatives after it decided in 2008 not to raise taxes to pay for a $55 million expansion. Possible locations for work release inmates such as an industrial site at 1600 E. Murdock have been met with concerns by Wichita City Council members and residents.

Welshimer said it might be less expensive to move county offices out of the two courthouses and build an administrative center than to build a jail expansion.