Monthly Archives: March 2013

Poet laureate to keynote Holocaust memorial

Mirriam-Goldberg

Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg will give the keynote address at an April 8 service in Topeka to commemorate victims of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

Mirriam-Goldberg will speak on the topic: An Unanswered Letter, An Unanswered Call for Help: What the Holocaust Shows Us About Caring Enough to Take Action.

In their quest for racial purity, German dictator Adolf Hitler and his followers killed 6 million Jewish people in a systematic campaign of terror and prison death camps.

The Nazis also targeted and killed hundreds of thousands of others the regime considered “undesirables,” including Romani people — then known as gypsies — the developmentally and physically disabled, and homosexuals.

Gov. Sam Brownback is also scheduled to present a proclamation at the ceremony, which is set for 1 p.m. April 8 at the Kansas State Historical Museum, 6425 SW 6th Street, Topeka.

The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Appeals Court: Legal Colorado marijuana still a no-no in Kansas

You can still get busted for possession of pot in Kansas, even if you got it legally in another state, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The court took up the question of whether out-of-state marijuana can be legally possessed here because it’s likely to come up more and more often, now that 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it for medicinal use.

Voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, passed initiatives in November legalizing pot for recreational use as well.

The ruling comes in response to a case in which a Colorado man was acquitted of possession of marijuana because he had obtained the pot legally under a doctor’s prescription, which has been allowed in Colorado since 2000.

The defendant, Troy James Cooper – who lawfully used marijuana under a doctor’s prescription in his home state – was acquitted of a possession charge after he was arrested in Ellsworth County. Cooper was visiting family and friends and the marijuana was found during a routine traffic stop.

The trial court acquitted Cooper on the grounds that the prosecution violated his constitutional protections under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment and impermissibly infringed on his right to travel from state to state.

The state Attorney General’s office took the case to the Court of Appeals as a “question reserved.” The process is used as a way to get a higher court to rule on a legal question of broad statewide interest to offer guidance for future arrests and prosecutions.

It doesn’t affect the outcome of the trial case, so Cooper is still off the hook as far as his charges go. Lawyers from the Attorney General’s office were the only ones to file briefs in the Appeals Court case.

Based on their argument, the appellate court ruled: “The Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not bar the enforcement of Kansas criminal statutes prohibiting possession of marijuana against someone traveling through or staying temporarily in this state even though that individual possesses marijuana in conformity with another state’s law allowing its use and possession for medical purposes.

“In those circumstances, the right to lawfully possess the marijuana rests on state law and therefore is outside the scope of the (federal) clause.”

However, the Appeals Court did caution that its ruling was narrowly applied to the 14th Amendment question.

“We … express no opinion on other constitutional rights or protections that conceivably might afford a defense to a person prosecuted under the Kansas Criminal Code for possessing marijuana legally through another state’s laws permitting its use as a medication,” said the opinion written by Judge G. Gordon Atcheson.

Brownback to national viewers: ‘We’re seeking tax refugees’

Gov. Brownback talks Kansas tax policy on Bloomberg Thursday.

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback is on a two-day national media blitz in New York promoting the state’s new lower income tax rates.

“We’re seeking tax refugees,” Brownback told Bloomberg TV in an interview Thursday morning. “So anybody watching this show, whether you’re in New York or anywhere, come to Kansas.”

Brownback’s staff said he is also making appearances on Varney & Co. on the Fox Business channel this morning, Your World with Neil Cavuto on Fox News at 3 p.m. Central, Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business channel at 6 p.m. and America’s Newsroom on Fox at 8:10 a.m. Friday.

“I want to attract people and human capital into the state,” Brownback said in the Bloomberg interview.

The governor, whose trip is paid for by taxpayers, is also taping an interview expected to air later on Yahoo! News, and he is conducting interviews with the Wall Street Journal, Brownback spokeswoman Sara Arif said Thursday.

“He’s really promoting our tax policy,” she said.

Brownback’s plug for Kansas’ new tax environment follows the income tax rate reductions he signed into law last year that eliminated income taxes for most small businesses and farms and lowered rates for individual income taxpayers. It also comes as lawmakers grapple this year with how to adjust state spending and increase other revenue streams to prevent big budget deficits projected as the result of the tax cuts.

Brownback’s follow-up tax cut plan would extend a temporary six-tenths of a cent sales tax due to expire in July and eliminate the popular mortgage interest deduction, a move he admits is a tough sell. After an additional individual income tax rate reduction, the plan would channel any state revenue growth beyond 4 percent to drive down rates even more.

Eventually, Brownback wants to eliminate state income taxes.

A Senate committee jettisoned Brownback’s proposal to also eliminate the real estate property tax deduction. The altered plan is awaiting debate in the Senate, where conservative Republicans have a majority.

Meanwhile, House leaders say they don’t think there’s support to extend the elevated sales tax rate, and they are discussing alternative proposals that will likely include major spending cuts.

Democrats call the plan a tax hike because it extends the elevated sales tax, and it takes the valuable mortgage interest deduction away from Kansans.

Wichita Democratic Rep. Jim Ward said Kansas tax policy may not be as rosy as Brownback suggests.

“Governor, phone home,” Ward said. “There’s a $4 billion hole in your tax plan, schools are struggling and you’re trying to shift the burden onto working taxpayers. Get back home and get to work.”

The media tour Thursday and Friday comes after Brownback’s planned interviews with national media at the National Governor’s Association in Washington in late February were postponed as he  returned to Kansas to oversee response to two major snowstorms that blanketed the state. Brownback took a commercial flight to New York with his spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag and special assistant Matt Goddard, his staff said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has recently been discussed as a potential 2016 presidential candidate after injecting himself into the national immigration reform debate, and Brownback’s response to questions about national politics suggest he is also watching the national scene.

“You don’t change America by changing Washington,” Brownback said. “You change America by changing states.”

Brownback, who ran for President briefly in 2008, has downplayed any suggestion that he is trying to set the stage for another White House bid.

When Varney & Co. host Stuart Varney suggested Brownback has “national office in view along in the distant horizon,” Brownback again shrugged it off.

“I’ve got state office in view in Kansas,” he said. “I have five children, my wife and I do.”