Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sedgwick County commissioners approve forgivable loan to Hawker

WICHITA — Hawker Beechcraft will get $500,000 a year for five years from Sedgwick County.

Commissioner Richard Ranzau voted against giving Hawker the money, part of a $45 million deal orchestrated by the state, county and city.

The city of Wichita also agreed to give Hawker $500,000 per year for five years.

Ranzau said the county needs the $2.5 million more than Hawker.

Commissioners Tim Norton, Jim Skelton and Dave Unruh voted to approve the loan, which is tied to employment levels. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn was absent.

City Council puts off vote on airport roof inspection

The roofs at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport will have to wait at least another week.

City council members put off their vote this morning to borrow $50,000 to hire a contractor to inspect hail damage from a hail storm last September and prepare designs for areas that need repair. Read More »

City faces $1.5 million shortfall this year, $2.2 million next year

City Hall has to cut back on its fuel spending, find ways to reduce the fees it pays to Sedgwick County to jail suspects and will probably have shrink its management structure or take other steps to avoid a budget shortfall.

And the financial forecast gets uglier next year, city finance officials told city council members this morning.

Budget and research officer Mark Manning initially projected a $3.1 million deficit this year. But he suggested technological improvements, reduced fuel usage, fewer jail fees and management reorganization efforts could trim that to a $1.5 million shortfall. It’s up to City Manager Robert Layton, finance officials and city council members to figure out how to close that gap by mid August when the budget must be approved.

Few details have been offered on how the city could do that.

And those numbers don’t even include the shortfalls in the city’s transit and central inspection budgets. Read More »

County commissioners approve $11.6 million for I-235 interchange

Sedgwick County commissioners have approved adding $11.6 million to the capital improvement plan for a project that will improve the interchange at I-235 and Kellogg.

The money represents a local match for state funding.

Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau voted against the commitment, saying the city had obligated money for other projects of less priority. They said they agreed the project was important but felt city funds should be use for the local match.

Commissioners Tim Norton, Jim Skelton and Dave Unruh voted to approve the addition to the CIP.

Council approves downtown incentive policy

Real Development's Exchange Place project is one of several redevelopment plans financed in-part by taxpayer incentives.

City Council members this morning approved a wide-ranging policy aimed at encouraging downtown development and carefully evaluating developers who want taxpayers to help make their projects happen.

District 4 council member Michael O’Donnell was the lone opposition vote. He said the policy was too “open ended” and carries too much risk to public funds.

“We’re risking the public’s time and money on these projects,” he said.

The downtown incentive policy will steer developers seeking city hall’s help to preliminary meetings with city officials and members of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation. They will then have to submit a business plan and other documents to the city. Those requests will be vetted by city officials and private businesspeople and scored based on how well they fit with the city’s downtown development goals and how strong business plans are. Read More »

WSU’s Ed Flentje named interim president at Emporia State University

Ed Flentje

Ed Flentje, a longtime professor of public administration at Wichita State University and former interim Wichita City Manager, will take over as interim president of Emporia State University, where he graduated from in 1964.

Flentje, an ESU Foundation board member, will start the new job July 1, the university announced today. He will not be a candidate for the permanent position. He replaces Michael R. Lane, who will step down June 30.

Brownback signs abortion restrictions into law

Gov. Sam Brownback today signed a bill to put strict regulations on abortion clinics and hospitals that allow abortions, and restrict how doctors provide their patients with abortion-inducing drugs.

Brownback signed House Substitute for Senate Bill 36, which requires abortion clinics to be licensed and comply with a long list of medical standards and practices.

Abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy will be allowed only at a hospital or surgical center and doctors can only perform abortions within 30 miles of a hospital where they have admitting privileges.

Physicians also will be required to have at least one other person in the room — and the doctor or observer has to be female — to perform an abortion or related pelvic examination.

The most contentious part of the new law was a section requiring that a woman who undergoes a medication-induced abortion to take the drugs in the presence of her doctor.

Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, a physician, argued during House debate that there is no medical reason for a woman to have to take the drugs in a doctor’s office. She said side effects from a medication-induced abortion are much like a miscarriage and women would rather go through it in the comfort of their home.

The bill is one of three anti-abortion measures passed by the Legislature this session.

The other bills:

– prohibit insurance companies from providing abortion coverage as part of their regular health-care plans.

– stringently regulates abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy, based on disputed research that the fetus can feel pain at that point of development. Abortions past that point are only allowed when two unaffiliated doctors agree that it is needed to save the pregnant woman’s life or prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” specifically not including the woman’s mental health.

– require girls younger than 18 to get both parents’ or a judge’s permission before having an abortion.

Brownback has already signed the fetal-pain and parental consent bills, consistent with his earlier pledge to sign any pro-life legislation that crosses his desk.

Former city attorney may get contract for on-call legal work at city hall

Joe Lang

Joe Lang, a former assistant city attorney who left city hall more than a year ago, may land work as an on-call lawyer for the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The planning organization and city purchasing officials recommended Lang for the up to $30,000 one-year contract. The money comes from federal transportation funds.

Lang beat out two others who responded to the city’s request for proposals. Council members will vote on the contract Tuesday.

It’s fairly common for former city officials to find new jobs consulting, lobbying or partnering with city hall.

How area legislators voted on bill restricting insurance coverage of abortions

Kansas legislators have approved a ban on insurance companies offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans except when a woman’s life is at risk.

Here’s how area lawmakers voted on the bill, which passed the Senate 28-10 and the House 86-30 and has been sent to the governor.

SENATE

Republicans

All area Republicans voted yes, except for Jean Schodorf of Wichita, who voted no, and Les Donovan of Wichita, who did not vote.

Democrats

Oletha Faust-Goudeau of Wichita voted no.

HOUSE

Republicans

All area Republicans voted yes, except for Joanne Pottorf of Wichita, who voted no.

Democrats voting yes

Jan Pauls, Hutchinson; Vince Wetta of Wellington

Democrats voting no

Nile Dillmore, Gail Finney, Geraldine Flaharty, Judy Loganbill, Ponka-We Victors and Jim Ward, Wichita; Ed Trimmer, Winfield.

Democrats not voting

Melody McCray-Miller, Wichita.

Bill banning abortion coverage from insurance plans passes after legislative marathon

TOPEKA — After working through the night and with several stops and starts, both houses of the Legislature passed a bill that will require most women who want an abortion to pay the full cost of the procedure themselves.

House Bill 2075 bars insurance companies from including abortion coverage in their regular health coverage plans. Under the bill’s provisions, general insurance plans could cover termination of pregnancy only in emergency situations to save the life of the mother.

It is the fourth major anti-abortion law to pass the Legislature this session.

The bill passed the Senate easilyThursday night but temporarily stalled in the House, which initially voted to send it back to a conference committee for a revision, but then reversed course and approved the bill 10 minutes short of 6 a.m.

Final passage, 28-11 in the Senate and 86-30 in the House, came after two lengthy rules fights that were ultimately decided by floor votes.

Read More »