Daily Archives: April 27, 2011

Sedgwick County commissioners approve citizen advisory boards

Jim Skelton

Sedgwick County commissioners approved a resolution Wednesday allowing them to establish citizen advisory boards in their districts if they want them.

Commissioner Jim Skelton, who represents the southeastern part of the county, including Derby and Mulvane, is the only commissioner who has said he wants one so far.

Skelton served on the Wichita City Council, which uses such boards.

The boards would consist of 11 members appointed by each commissioner. Board  members would give commissioners advice and recommendations on public policy, citizen engagement, and problems in the districts.

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Kansas Senate sends third abortion bill to governor

UPDATED longer version

TOPEKA  — The state’s abortion clinics would be inspected at least twice a year under a bill that passed the Kansas Senate on Wednesday.

The bill also gives the Kansas Department of Health and Environment the power to write standards for buildings and equipment, issue annual licenses, fine clinics and go to court to shut them down.

Senators passed House substitute for Senate Bill 36 on a 24-15 vote. It now goes to the governor.

Proponents such as Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, said oversight of abortion clinics is crucial “because the health and safety of women is at stake.”

But opponents said if the state is going to inspect abortion clinics, it also should look at clinics and doctor’s offices where patients undergo other types of surgical procedures such as hip and knee replacements.

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Senate vice president questions fiscal note on abortion bill

TOPEKA  — The Senate’s vice president today questioned the fiscal note for an abortion bill that would require inspections at the state’s three abortion clinics.

The fiscal impact of the bill would be $67,165 for one full-time staff member.

The bill, Senate Bill 36, calls for at least two inspections each year at each of the state’s clinics.

“I want to know where I could apply for that job,” Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood said, adding his comment was a rhetorical question.

He said it was ridiculous for the state to pay someone $10,000 per inspection, assuming “that individual has nothing to do the rest of the year.”

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, said oversight of abortion clinics is crucial “because the health and safety of women is at stake.”

Sen. Terrie Huntington, R-Fairway, said there are other types of clinics where women undergo surgical procedures such as eye surgery or knee or hip replacement.

If the Senate passes a bill on abortion clinics, she said, then “all ambulatory clinics need to be inspected and licensed.”

Senators are debating the bill now.

Kansans for Life just put out an e-mail asking supporters of the bill to call the legislative hotline.

The House already has passed a similar bill.

Kansas Senate honors KU’s Tyrel Reed

TOPEKA — Kansas senators gave University of Kansas basketball player Tyrel Reed a standing ovation today during a resolution honoring him for his athletic and scholarly pursuits.

Reed, a guard from Burlington, appeared in the Senate chamber with his parents, Stacy and Debbie Reed.

A sponsor of the resolution recalled pro player Charles Barkley once saying that he was a basketball player, not a role model.

“Charles Barkley might not be a role model,” Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence. “Tyrel Reed is.”

Statehouse cafeteria question? Call the Department of Revenue, apparently

TOPEKA — Here’s a fun post from the Statehouse for your day:

So I’m up here again for a week or two covering the Legislature’s wrap-up session. I couldn’t remember if the cafeteria in the Docking Building accepted debit or credit cards, so I called the Statehouse tour center to find out.

I asked my question: “Does the cafeteria accept credit cards?” After a brief pause, the very nice woman who answered the phone gave me this number to call: 785-296-3909.

I then called, and guess who answered?

Someone from the Kansas Department of Revenue.

I guess that made sense. Or cents.

Kansas House speaker: Time to move on from feral hog debacle

TOPEKA — Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, says a resolution calling for censure of Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, is a waste of time and takes away from the state’s pressing problems.

Peck got into hot water in March during a discussion about wild hogs. He suggested that if shooting hogs from a helicopter worked, the state could have a solution “to our illegal immigration problem.”

“Representative Peck spent a few seconds uttering a comment for which he has since apologized numerous times,” O’Neal said in a news release issued today. “The Democrats have spent more than two months focusing on a statement that all parties, including Representative Peck, agree was inappropriate and regrettable. I would encourage the Democrats to refocus and join us in addressing the pressing issues facing our state and achieving workable solutions.”

Democrats are calling for a resolution censuring Peck. O’Neal said “No further time, energy or money should be wasted rehashing this event in an attempt to distract from the priorities of growing the economy, increasing jobs in Kansas and passing a responsible budget.”

County medical society lobbies for Project Access funding

WICHITA — Dr. Jon Rosell, executive director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, has asked Sedgwick County commissioners to approve the funding for Project Access that it denied last week.

“We’re experiencing a significant demand for our services,” he said at this morning’s weekly commission meeting.

Project Access helps connect the poor in Sedgwick County with access to health care.

Last week, four commissioners couldn’t reach a majority on an agreement with the Central Plains Regional Health Care Foundation and Wichita to cooperate on the project, depriving it of  $250,000 the commission had agreed last August to put in the county’s budget for the program. That money would have supplied slightly less than a third of the program’s budget.

Rosell said that this month alone, 80 patients were referred to Project Access for help getting health care. He expects up to 2,200 enrollees in the program this year.

The matter was not on the commission’s agenda, and commissioners took no action.

The issue is expected to be brought up again when all five commissioners are present. Only four were present this morning. Tim Norton, who voted to approve the agreement last week, was absent. Jim Skelton, who was absent last week, attended the meeting and said he wanted to see the matter on the agenda again “at the earliest opportunity.”