Monthly Archives: August 2011

Do Kansans need earthquake insurance?

Damaging earthquakes are rare in Kansas. But when they happen elsewhere, Kansans have stepped up. In January 2010, these volunteers in Wichita packed meals to ship to victims in Haiti.

TOPEKA — If you live in the Wichita area, you’ve probably thought about insurance coverage for floods, tornadoes and fires. But earthquakes? Do we really need to worry about earthquakes in Kansas?

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said today that recent earthquakes in Oklahoma and out east have elevated people’s awareness, and her office noted that Kansas has fault lines running through the state.

“Earthquake coverage is not a part of a regular homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy,” she said in a prepared statement. “If your company offers it, coverage can be added by including an endorsement to your policy or by purchasing a separate earthquake policy. In either case, you will pay an extra premium.”

But one of the state’s top earthquake experts who has studied tremors for more than 30 years said he wouldn’t buy the insurance for his home.

“When people call me and ask if they should take out earthquake insurance, I tell them it’s fairly cheap and if you’ll sleep better at night and can afford it, go for it,” said Don Steeples, a McGee Distinguished professor of geophysics at the University of Kansas.

The last earthquake to cause significant damage in the Wichita area was a 5.2 to 5.5 magnitude quake in 1867 along the Nemaha Ridge, which runs roughly from Omaha to Oklahoma City. That quake started near Manhattan.

The Humbolt Fault runs along the Nemaha’s eastern edge near El Dorado. It is capable of producing earthquakes of up to 6.0 on the Richter Scale.  But Steeples said an earthquake of that magnitude happens only about every 2,000 years. Read More »

County commission meeting has turned into a zoo

Celebrating the Sedgwick County Zoo’s 40th anniversary, commissioners received stuffed animals this morning from the zoo.

Karl Peterjohn got a gorilla. Jim Skelton scored a giraffe. Dave Unruh received an elephant. Tim Norton got a penguin. Richard Ranzau got a chimpanzee.

Skelton joked that he thought Ranzau won the award for the animal that best matched a commissioner’s personality.

Ranzau joked back that Skelton better not make him angry “because we’re voting on concealed carry next week.”

Moran questions potential closing of rural post offices

Moran

TOPEKA — Sen. Jerry Moran is asking the Postmaster General to justify the potential closing of rural post offices across Kansas and the rest of the nation when estimates indicate the closures wouldn’t shore up the Postal Service’s financial woes.

“The Postal Regulatory Commission has found that maintaining rural post offices only amounts to 0.7 percent of the USPS’s total budget,” Moran stated in a letter to the Postmaster General. “I believe reducing services to these communities will significantly impact rural citizens with little benefit to the Postal Service’s bottom line.”

Moran’s letter comes a few weeks after the Postal Service released a list of about 3,700 post offices that will be studied for closure this year. The list includes 156 Kansas post offices, including more than two dozen in south-central Kansas.

As The Eagle reported last month, the reason for the potential closures is in the numbers.

The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion during its 2010 fiscal year, largely attributed to web-based services, online billing and private competitors that have acquired much of the postal service’s business.

The Postal Service receives no tax money.

ACLU sues to block Kansas abortion-insurance ban

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking to block a new Kansas law that prohibits insurance companies from including abortion coverage in comprehensive health plans.

“This law is part of a nationwide trend to take away insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure that is an important part of basic health care for women,” Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “Many things can happen in a pregnancy that are beyond a woman’s control, so having insurance coverage for abortion ensures that every woman can get the health care she may need.”

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

The challenged law prohibits coverage of abortions except in life-threatening emergencies. Women who want abortion coverage would need to purchase a separate “rider” to their policy, which the ACLU says is not always offered as an option.

Insurance companies would be prohibited from offering any abortion coverage, even by a rider, through the statewide insurance exchange scheduled to open in 2014 as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, the lawsuit said. Read More »

Kansas senators split on debt vote

Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran diverged on the Senate’s 74-26 vote today to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Roberts voted for the package; Moran opposed it. Here’s their reasoning:

Roberts

Roberts: “My first priority in voting today was to ensure our country did not default, which could have sent our country into economic chaos at a time when our economy is already on the brink. I will never play roulette with Kansans’ life savings.

“This agreement protects Kansas families and businesses from an even greater economic crisis than we have already experienced while stopping proposed tax increases and cutting $2.4 trillion in run-away government spending. Read More »