Monthly Archives: February 2010

Senate: 16-year-olds can drive alone to church

steering wheelTOPEKA – Young drivers would be able to drive alone to and from religious services under a measure given initial approval by the Senate today.

The change in Senate Bill 484 would apply to 16-year-old drivers holding a restricted driver’s license or a farm permit. The graduated driver’s license that the state implemented this year currently bars such activity.

Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, who had championed the graduated driver’s license bill, said he supported the change.

“It makes the law a little bit more cognizant of what goes on in the real world,” he said. “I don’t see it adding to the danger element.”

The bill must pass a final vote by the Senate before it goes to the House.

Governor signs first bills of the session

Parkinson speakingFrom an announcement from the governor’s office:

To promote agricultural education and to ensure economic development in Western Kansas, Governor Mark Parkinson signed into the law the first bill of the 2010 Legislative Session today.

“With the first bill reaching my desk, I am pleased to see the Legislative Session beginning to produce results,” Parkinson said. “This legislation will benefit the agricultural education efforts at Fort Hays State and the economic vision for the City of Hays.”

HB 2414 would authorize the State Board of Regents, on behalf of Fort Hays State University, to sell and convey to the City of Hays, all of the rights, title, and interest, except mineral rights, in two tracts of real estate.

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Report: Kansas reluctant to disclose homeland security spending

security cameraJournalists at the Center for Investigative Reporting and The Center for Public Integrity have uncovered some questionable spending of federal homeland security grants. For example, the money bought $3,000 worth of lapel pins in West Virginia.

What did they find in Kansas? Reluctance… and some bomb-disabling robots. Read More »

Study: Kansas public pension system a ‘serious concern’

Calculator and stock chartsThe Pew Center for the States has issued a new report on public pension systems across the country — and Kansas, the center says, faces serious public pension problems.

Kansas was one of 19 states rated with “serious concerns” for the unfunded liability of its pension programs for public employees.  In fact, Kansas was one of just eight states receiving zero points on the center’s four-point pension evaluation scale.

The center says just 59 percent of the state’s pension liabilities are funded.  Most experts say 80 percent is the minimum, although that has slipped a bit in the recession. Read More »

Parkinson: No secretary of state pick for 10 days

Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson said it will be at least a week and a half or so before he announces the state’s new secretary of state.PARKINSON_MH6

Parkinson said he’ll consider members of both parties for the job, which opened up Monday with the resignation of Republican Ron Thornburgh.

Many expected Parkinson, a Democrat, to appoint a new secretary this week, but he said he’s taking his time to en-sure he makes the right pick.

“I don’t have a specific date,” he told reporters during an impromtu press conference this morning. “The criteria is quite simple: We have to have someone who is competent and who can run the 2010 election.”

Parkinson also said he’s pleased with the Democrats’ new candidate for governor, state Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City. He noted that Holland has experience in elected office — and a background of owning a successful small business.

Parkinson called Holland “a great state senator” who would “make a great governor.”

And he said he thinks it’s “hilarious” that many Republicans still suspect he’ll change his mind and run himself.

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Baldwin City senator announces run for governor

hollandLittle-known Kansas state Sen. Tom Holland kicked off his campaign for governor Wednesday, insisting voters deserve an alternative to Republican U.S. Sam Brownback.

Holland, a Baldwin City Democrat, said if elected in November he’ll focus on creating private sector jobs and protecting the state’s investment in education.

“I’m standing here today to let Kansans know they do have a choice for governor,” he said.

Holland’s campaign represents the latest attempt by Democrats to find a viable candidate to challenge Brownback, whose campaign for governor is well under way.

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Firefighters beat back builders on fire-sprinkler bill

sprinklerTOPEKA — A battle between firefighters and builders in the House of Representatives today went to the firefighters on a tie vote.

At issue was House Bill 2515, which would have banned cities and counties from requiring fire sprinklers in residential buildings of four units or less.

The bill was strongly supported by the state associations for Realtors, builders and mobile home manufacturers. It was just as strongly opposed by firefighter groups and associations of cities and counties. Read More »

Kansas Senate to consider amendment blocking federal health-care reform

TOPEKA — A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at limiting the impact of potential federal health care reform measures is on its way to the full Senate.

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday moved out Senate Concurrent Resolution 1626 without recommendation on a voice vote. Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, Kan., was the only recorded no vote.

The resolution would add a new article to the state’s constitution to say that no person or business in the state could be required to participate in a specific health care system or purchase health care. It also stipulates that health care providers may accept direct payments for medical care.

The idea, also being pushed in the House, is necessary to keep the federal government from infringing on the state’s sovereignty, supporters have said.

If the resolution passes by a two-thirds majority in both chambers, voters will consider the question in the November general election.

Lottery approves revised contract for Sumner casino

chisholmcreekcasinoWICHITA —  The Kansas Lottery Commission has approved a new contract with Chisholm Creek Casino Resort to build a casino in Sumner County.

The contract includes amendments adding a hotel to the project, and a schedule of investments that depend on whether a tribal casino is built in Park City by the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma. The casino must be built within 18 months of final approval from the state and contain a minimum of 72,000 square feet, 1,300 slot machines, 40 table games and a 200-seat restaurant. Read More »

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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