Daily Archives: Feb. 25, 2011

House votes to create commission on outsourcing government work

TOPEKA – After a lengthy floor fight, the House today passed a bill establishing an 11-member commission to study ways to outsource public jobs to private-sector companies and nonprofit groups.

The group would be called the Kansas Advisory Council on Privatization and Public-Private Partnerships.

According to House Bill 2194, the council’s main responsibility would be to “review and evaluate the possibility of outsourcing goods or services provided by a state agency to a private business or not-for-profit organization that is able to provide the same type of good or service, and whether such action would result in cost savings to the state.”

The council would also be tasked with identifying areas where government services compete with private business, “to determine ways to eliminate such competition.”

Outnumbered Democrats taunted conservative Republicans, saying that in creating another commission, they are expanding government in order to shrink it.

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House speaker and union leaders trade allegations over Thursday protest

TOPEKA — House Speaker Mike O’Neal said today that he’s reviewing video of a Thursday protest at the House chamber and may take action against lobbyists who were involved.

In a news conference, O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, claimed that union members harassed and swore at legislators and staff during the demonstration.

Union officials said O’Neal’s assertions of profanity are untrue and while they were noisy, they didn’t harass or intimidate anybody.

Union demonstrators gathered outside the House chamber Thursday morning to protest House Bill 2130 when it came up for a final vote. The bill would eliminate a paycheck checkoff that allows workers to voluntarily have donations to their union’s political action committee deducted from their wages.

The demonstration was smaller than, but inspired by, ongoing protests in Wisconsin. There, thousands of union members and supporters have besieged the Capitol for nearly two weeks in protest of a Republican plan to reduce benefits and gut collective-bargaining rights of public employees.

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Bill targets politicians’ self-serving ‘public service’ ads

TOPEKA — Final House approval is expected in about an hour on a bill to prohibit candidates, especially incumbents, from appearing in government public-service messages during the lead-up to elections.

Critics of such ads say they’re a misuse of power, allowing office holders to get free face time with voters that challengers can’t.

The House gave the measure preliminary approval Thursday; the Senate has already approved similar legislation.

Both bills, proposed by State Treasurer Ron Estes, would restrict the running of public service announcements or advertisements 60 days prior to elections that feature the picture or name of a candidate.

The hope is that politicians will no longer exploit announcements not paid for by campaign funds, nor will agencies use government funds to promote candidates, according to Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, who chairs the House Committee on Election.

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