Daily Archives: March 16, 2010

Man, that is a big tent; Kansas Republicans lay historical claim to anti-war ACLU pioneer

Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin

While looking for a phone number today, I stumbled across the following item in the “Who We Are” section on the Web site of the Kansas Republican Party:

Republican Women — Once again the Republican Party was the vanguard in relation to women. In 1917, Jeannette Rankin, a Montana Republican, became the first woman to serve in the House.”

A little historical context…

Although Rankin (1880-1973) was a Republican and the first woman elected to Congress, her positions on issues bear little resemblance to contemporary Republican thinking in Kansas.

In fact, she was one of the most liberal members of Congress, well, ever.

Rankin was a dedicated pacifist who opposed US involvement in World War I and cast the only vote in Congress opposing US entry into World War II.

She also was the founding vice president of the American Civil Liberties Union and her name is attached to the Montana ACLU’s top award.

Rankin saw a revival as a hero of the American left in the 2008 film “A Single Woman,” starring Nevada playwright and actress Jeanmarie Simpson. (Full disclosure: I grew up with Jeanmarie in Arizona, although I haven’t talked with her for many years).

The film featured narrations by a number of well-known progressive actors and activists including Martin Sheen, Peter Coyote, Margot Kidder and Cindy Sheehan.

UPDATED: House postpones debate on sale tax exemption bill until veto session

UPDATE 2: TOPEKA – The House pushed off a final decision on a bill that would have eliminated several sales tax exemptions, but not before eviscerating the measure.

Debate on the bill was postponed until May 3, which is during the veto session, on a vote of 64-57.

That motion was the focus of more debate than any other action on the measure.

In a series of four amendments, the House eviscerated a bill that would have eliminated sales tax exemptions on residential utilities and religious organizations, among other things.

All of the amendments passed without any “no” votes.

The only sales tax exemption the bill now eliminates is one on coin-operated laundries.

House Bill 2549 as it came out of committee would have added about $170 million to state coffers. The biggest gain would have come from eliminating a 1970s-era sales tax exemption on residential utilities, which would have netted a little under $140 million.

Rep. Jeff King, R-Independence, vice-chair of the House Taxation Committee, called the tax a 5.3 percent tax increase on all Kansans and highly regressive.

The House’s first action was to reinstate the sales tax exemption status for religious organizations. The amendment passed, 119-0.

“There is a strong consensus that we should not balance the budget of Kansas on the back of the poor,” King said, noting that donations for churches were down.

The House then eliminated a tax on lottery tickets, which would have cost the state funds becuase it would have disqualified Kansas from some of the multistate games that are now available.

Parkinson names Biggs secretary of state

TOPEKA – The governor named Chris Biggs to become the Kansas secretary of state on Tuesday.

Biggs, who has served as the state security commissioner since 2003, said he did not have an agenda for the office, which oversees elections. Biggs is running for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state; that election is in August.

“The biggest problem we have, and this is apparent to me, is not one of voter fraud but of voter apathy,” he said shortly after being sworn in by Kansas Supreme Court Justice Lawton R. Nuss.

Parkinson, a Democrat, said he made his pick out of the approximately 15 people who expressed interest because of Biggs’ experience and reputation.

“He shares my view that elections need to be open and we need to do everything we can to get people to vote,” the governor said.

In addition to serving as security commissioner, Biggs served 14 years as Geary County attorney.

Former Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, a Republican who served four terms, resigned Feb. 15 to become a senior vice president for Olathe-based NIC Inc., which builds and manages government Web sites.

For more, read Wednesday’s Wichita Eagle.

Listen in live to Parkinson’s Secretary of State announcement

At 10:30 today, Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, will announce his pick to serve as Secretary of State for the rest of the year.

The announcement will be made in the governor’s ceremonial office, but those interested can listen in live online. Audio from the event will be broadcast at: http://governor.ks.gov/media-room/listen-in-live.

Earlier from the AP:

TOPEKA, Kan. – Gov. Mark Parkinson has scheduled a news conference to name a new secretary of state to replace Republican Ron Thornburgh.

Parkinson’s office said the new secretary will be named at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Thornburgh, a four-term Republican, resigned Feb. 15 to become a senior vice president for Olathe-based NIC Inc., which builds and manages government Web sites.

Assistant Secretary of State Janet Chubb has been in charge of the office since Thornburgh’s resignation.

The Kansas Constitution requires the governor to replace a statewide elected official to finish an unexpired term. Kansans will elect a new secretary of state in November.

Parkinson, a Democrat, isn’t bound by Thornburgh’s party affiliation and could name a Democrat to fill the vacancy. The appointment doesn’t require legislative approval.

County commissioners talk about Kansas Coliseum pavilions

Sedgwick County has identified $1.1 million in additional renovations at the Kansas Coliseum’s pavilions.

They include new bathrooms, showers and work on the parking lot and lighting.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn made an analogy that renovating the pavilions is like a homeowner fixing up their kitchen.

Commissioners made no decision today.