Daily Archives: April 28, 2011

House seeks to force Senate to comply with anti-smut bill

TOPEKA — A day after forcing the Senate to take up an abortion clinic bill, the House turned to the same parliamentary maneuver today to try to make the Senate crack down on sexually oriented businesses.

On an overwhelming voice vote, representatives sent House Substitute for Senate Bill 25 across the hallway to the other chamber. The bill is identical to House Bill 2107, which passed the House earlier this session and is now stalled in committee in the Senate.

Because the House replaced the language in a bill that originated in the Senate, any senator can now bring the bill to a floor vote. The House used the same tactic Wednesday to force a vote on abortion clinic restrictions that were stuck in the Senate.

Several conservative members of the House said they want to force senators to either agree to House-proposed restrictions on adult businesses, or take a politically risky vote that can be portrayed as support for pornography and strip clubs in the 2012 election.

Donohoe

“There’s another vote out there, OK, and that vote is coming at election time,” said Rep. Owen Donohoe, R-Shawnee. “What I want to see is every senator who will not bring this out … have to run against that when they’re up for re-election, OK.”

“We are negotiating with ourselves to say, ‘I don’t want to be too conservative because this isn’t going to get past the Senate so we won’t get something accomplished,’” Donohoe added. “I guarantee you we could get something accomplished. We can get people (senators) replaced.” Read More »

Legislators still split on funding for Affordable Airfares

TOPEKA — The Kansas House and Senate still are split on whether to fund the Kansas Affordable Airfares Program, leaders announced this afternoon.

Sen. Sam Brownback has included the money in his recommended budget. The state has budgeted that amount for affordable air service in Wichita since 2006. The five-year commitment ends this year.

The money is in the Senate’s version of the budget. But the House stripped the money in its version.

Today during a conference committee meeting of the House’s appropriations committee and the Senate’s ways and means committee, leaders said they were still at odds.

Wichita and Sedgwick County officials point to a state audit that showed that for every $1 the state spends on the program, it gets back $2.32. Affordable airfares, they say, are crucial to keeping and attracting businesses to the state, particularly in the Wichita area.

Senator thinks money might be available to track DUIs in Kansas

TOPEKA — Funding might be available for a central repository to track DUIs, a state senator said today.

Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said he thinks the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation might be able to come up with the estimated $3 million. The Eagle reported earlier this month that Owens was working on finding money for the repository.

Owens has been a strong proponent of a statewide system to track DUI arrests and convictions. In 2008, 4-year-old Gisele Mijares and her mother were killed in Wichita while they were walking to Gisele’s school.

Prosecutors charged the driver in the crash with his fifth DUI, but the state’s driver’s license database showed only two convictions after the accident.

Owens has said that the repository is critical to reducing DUIs across the state. Read More »

House rejects ordering attorney general to challenge Mulvane casino

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, center, and Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, watch the overhead voting board during a razor-thin vote on House Resolution 6015.

TOPEKA — After a long debate on jobs, economics and the law, the House narrowly approved — and then rejected — a bill to order the attorney general to go to court to challenge the state’s approval of the Kansas Star casino in Mulvane.

House Resolution 6015 raised numerous challenges to the process used by the state Racing and Gaming Commission, which granted a casino permit to Peninsula Gaming last year.

The initial vote on the resolution was 59-63 against, but after several lawmakers changed their votes — Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, changed hers twice — the count was 63-59 in favor of advancing it to final action. But minutes later, the final action fell 59-62.

Minority Leader Paul Davis then immediately called for reconsideration, in an attempt to head off further moves to bring it back up. No supporters of reconsideration spoke, and as Republican supporters of the measure sought to stall and strategize, various Democrats called out “vote, vote, vote.”

Reconsideration was rejected 58-63, essentially killing the resolution for the rest of the legislative session.

Read More »

Spirit AeroSystems CEO urges support for engineering education

TOPEKA¬† — Spirit AeroSystems president and CEO Jeff Turner provided written testimony this morning supporting the University Engineering Initiative Act, which aims to increase the number of engineering graduates in Kansas to 1,365 per year by 2021.

“During these times, it is more important than ever to do everything in our power to protect the industries and jobs that help sustain our people and our communities,” Turner wrote.

He said a skilled engineering workforce “will positively impact the economy of Kansas.”

Spirit depends on engineers, Turner said, saying that they “play a critical role in our ability to design and build exacting products in one of the most rigidly controlled industries in the world.”

The Senate substitute for House Bill 2149 directs the Kansas Board of Regents, in concert with Wichita State University, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, to develop a plan to grow engineers locally.

The act would create four new funds to boost engineering education, paid for with lottery funds.

Read More »