Kansans For Life’s response to Parkinson’s veto of provision blocking funds for Planned Parenthood

TOPEKA – Below is a written response by Kansans For Life Executive Director Mary Kay Culp.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, on Friday line-item vetoed from the wrap-up budget bill a provision aimed at blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving money for family planning services.

The money, a federal grant disseminated by the state, cannot be used for abortion services and helps fund Planned Parenthood’s clinics in Hays and Wichita.

Below is the response:

“Any hopes that Governor Parkinson was better than Sebelius on life issues just flew out the window with this veto in which he gives Planned Parenthood priority over public health clinics without him even having the guts to mention the nation’s single largest abortion provider, by name.

The Governor purposely gave the wrong impression when saying the budget went against the rules. This budget didn’t ban Planned Parenthood from getting one dime–they would remain on the list to receive funds. It simply re-prioritized the order of which entities got funds first.

When a private organization like Planned Parenthood gets tax dollars it frees up their private funds to pay lobbyists to troll for more tax funds, not to mention lobby against state abortion regulations. And even if the money goes to their clinics that don’t do abortions, again, it frees up the private money they have available for their clinics that do. In addition, even those clinics that don’t do abortions, refer for them.

By the Governor putting Planned Parenthood at the top, rather than the bottom of the list, he is saying he doesn’t care that they perform abortions, doesn’t care that they lobby to keep all abortions, even partial-birth abortions, legal, and doesn’t care that they are in trouble across the country for breaking state laws, including our own. But his veto does likely show that like Sebelius, Governor Parkinson appreciates that, unlike public health clinics, Planned Parenthood has a political arm that works to influence elections. .

There is no reason to give Planned Parenthood tax funding priority when the same services can be provided just as easily, and much less politically, by our public health clinics.”

Governor vetoes provision blocking funds to Planned Parenthood

TOPEKA – Gov. Mark Parkinson excised a provision in the state’s wrap up budget that would have prevented Planned Parenthood from receiving money for non-abortion family planning services.

He approved the remaining majority of the Senate substitute House Bill 2373.

Planned Parenthood last year received about $300,000 of the money, which are federal funds that the state administers.

“Regardless of one’s views on whether abortion should be allowed in this country, hopefully we can all agree that we should make every effort to prevent unplanned pregnancies,” wrote the governor in his veto message. “Access to affordable family planning services and contraceptives is critical if we are to continue reducing the number of abortions that occur in this state.”

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, inserted the provision into the omnibus budget bill during the Legislature’s wrap-up session earlier this month. Both chambers passed the bill including the provision.

While the money cannot be used for abortions, Huelskamp proposed blocking the funds because the Planned Parenthood does offer abortion services, he said in a release when the budget bill passed.

Parkinson, a Democrat, noted in his veto message that the group was eligible under the federal grant to receive the money, so the state could not block the funds.

For more details on the veto and the budget, read Saturday’s Wichita Eagle.

Below is the full veto message from Parkinson:

Section 89 has been line-item vetoed in its entirety:

“Regardless of one’s views on whether abortion should be allowed in this country, hopefully we can all agree that we should make every effort to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Access to affordable family planning services and contraceptives is critical if we are to continue reducing the number of abortions that occur in this state.

“This section would prohibit distribution of Title X moneys to private family planning providers unless they are either a hospital or provide comprehensive primary and preventative care in addition to family planning services. This proviso would prevent funding for two facilities of other eligible family planning providers. These facilities do not perform abortions, and by law, Title X funding cannot be used for abortion services.

“Both of these facilities provide affordable access to contraceptives and family planning services for women who are significantly below the poverty level. These women are most at risk for unplanned pregnancies. The family planning services provided by these facilities help lower the likelihood of unplanned pregnancy, and thus reduce abortions. Eliminating funding for programs intended to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies does nothing to help reduce abortions in Kansas.

“I am also concerned this proviso violates Title X of the Public Service Act. The facilities ineligible for funding under this proviso are, by law, eligible under Title X to receive the grants. The Public Service Act is clear that states are not permitted to refuse the award of Title X funding to entities that meet the statutory requirements for the grants. I therefore find it necessary to line-item veto this proviso.”

Abortion veto override vote fails in the Senate

TOPEKA – An attempt to override the veto of a late-term abortion bill failed Thursday evening in the Senate.

The proposal, House substitute for Senate Bill 218, would have allowed women and their immediate family to sue doctors in civil court if they thought a late term abortion was performed illegally.

With a vote of 25-13, the measure did not receive the two-thirds majority of votes needed to override a veto.

The change to the law regulating abortions on pregnancies after the 21st week gave women a recourse if they thought the law had been broken if the district or county attorney in their area would not file the suit, said Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee, who made the motion.

The bill also would have required doctors performing late-term abortions to provide more detailed descriptions of why the procedures were necessary. The move was aimed at Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, one of the few physicians in the country who performs late-term abortions.

The veto was one of former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ last actions before she stepped down to become Health and Human Services secretary.

The override attempt taken at about 7 p.m., one the chamber’s last action before leaving for the night. The bill is now dead.

Legislature’s wrap up session starts

TOPEKA – The Statehouse parking garage is full again, which means lawmakers are back in town.

The wrap up session starts today. Typically these mini sessions last only a handful of days. Legislators come back, tweak the budget and take a crack at overriding some vetoed bills.

This year is likely to be a little different. Facing a $328 million deficit, lawmakers are likely to use a combination of cuts to state programs and revenue enhancements to fill the gap.

That process is likely to be more contentious than adding money to key projects, which is typical in a good year.

Legislators are also likely to have at least two veto override attempts. One for a bill allowing the construction of two coal plants in Western Kansas and a second aimed at bolstering the state’s late-term abortion law.

Parkinson to be sworn in as governor at 7 p.m.

TOPEKA – Kansas will have a new governor by the time the sun sets tonight.

Shortly after the U.S. Senate confirmed former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, as Health and Human Services Secretary, she stepped down as governor and is on her way to Washington D.C., governor’ spokeswoman Beth Martino said in an email.

Gov. Mark Parkinson will be officially sworn in at 7 p.m., Chief Justice Bob Davis will administer the oath of office.

Lawmakers return to Topeka Wednesday to start a wrap up session where they are likely to try and override one of Sebelius’ final vetoes.

The bill would require doctors providing late-term abortions to provide more detailed justifications for the procedure on forms sent to Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The measure would also allow a woman or her immediate family to sue a physician providing late-term abortions in civil court if they think the procedure was illegal.

Conservatives were critical of Sebelius for her stance on abortion, including the most recent veto, and her ties to late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller of Wichita.

Is Brownback backing away on Sebelius?

By David Goldstein/Eagle Washington Bureau

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback could be waffling a bit in his support for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to run the Health and Human Services Department.

Congressional Quarterly reports that the Republican lawmaker plans to think more about his endorsement in light of her veto Thursday of late-term abortion legislation.

“It makes it harder and harder,” Brownback, an abortion opponent, told the magazine.

Neither the senator nor an aide would comment about whether he is reconsidering his support.

It’s tradition for legislators to embrace presidential nominees from their states, regardless of party. Only twice in the last 20 years has a senator from one party failed to back a home state nominee from the opposing party, according to Congressional Research Service.

One of those cases was in 2001, when Sen. Jean Carnahan, a Democrat from Missouri, voted against the confirmation of former Republican Sen. John Ashcroft, also of Missouri, who had been nominated for attorney general.

In Brownback’s case, he is one of the Republican Party’s leading social conservatives and has been under pressure from that wing to disavow his support of the Democratic governor.

Though Sebelius has a reputation for working across party lines, she is anathema to abortion opponents because she supports abortion rights. They’re especially put off by her association with George Tiller, who operates an abortion clinic in Wichita and has been a political contributor.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele have called upon President Obama to withdraw her nomination.

The bill that Sebelius vetoed would have imposed requirements on physicians who perform late-term abortions. The procedure is outlawed except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger or she faces serious medical consequences.

The legislation would have required physicians to file state health reports explaining the medical diagnoses that necessitated a late-term abortion.

Sebelius said she thought the bill probably was unconstitutional and would also “lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women.”

Senate Democrats need 60 votes to confirm her on Tuesday when her nomination is scheduled to be debated. They hold 56 seats. The chamber’s two independents generally side with them as well.

At least four Republicans, including Brownback, have committed to voting for her. The others are his Kansas colleague, Sen. Pat Roberts, an old friend of the Sebelius family, and the two party moderates from Maine, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. There could be others as well.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said Sebelius supporters have enough votes to confirm her.

Kansas Gov. Sebelius vetoes late-term abortion law

TOPEKA – The governor vetoed a bill that would have require doctors to give more detailed justification for a late-term abortion on forms sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Explaining the veto Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, said the House substitute for Senate Bill 218, included provisions that might be unconstitutional.

She singled out a provision that would allow a woman or immediate relatives to sue an abortion provider they suspected of violating the state’s abortion law. The provision also allows a district or county attorney or the Attorney General to bring criminal violations against a doctor.

“The provisions in this bill that would allow for the criminal prosecution of a physician intending to comply with the law will lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women, even when it is necessary to preserve their lives and health,” she wrote. “While I agree that we should try to reduce the number of abortions, it cannot be at the increased risk to the life or health of women.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee approved the governor’s nomination as health secretary sending the matter to the full Senate where its stalled.

Abortion opponents have raised concerns about Sebelius’ strong pro choice track record and her ties to Wichita late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

Gov. Sebelius signs Kansas minimum wage increase into law

TOPEKA – The handful of workers that make the state’s minimum wage of $2.65 will see their pay checks increase Jan. 1.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, today igned Senate Bill 160, which would bring the state’s minimum wage up to the federal $7.25. It’s the first time in two decades Kansas has increased the rate.

The issue has long been a top goal for Sebelius’ party but had initially found little support among Republicans. In her statement on the bill, the governor called the increase “long overdue.”

“While the state minimum wage only applies to a small sector of Kansas’ workforce, to them and their families, this legislation is critically important,” she wrote. “Our economy must return to its core principle that an honest day’s work brings home an honest day’s pay, and today we’re taking a step in that direction.”

Minimum wage was one of two high-profile bills sitting on the governor’s desk. Still no word on what she plans to do on a proposal that, among other provisions, would change late-term abortion reporting requirements.

Today is the deadline for Sebelius to take some action on the proposal – either sign it into law or veto it – or the bill could become law without her signature.

Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved the governor’s nomination for secretary of Health and Human Services, sending the matter to the full U.S. Senate.

While she didn’t face questions about abortion during her confirmation hearings, abortion opponents have vocally opposed her for the position. They’ve pointed to her prior use of vetoes to block legislation changing abortion rules and her ties to Wichita late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

House sends late-term abortion bill to the Senate

TOPEKA – The House sent to the Senate a proposal that would require more detailed explanations justifying late-term abortions, but it didn’t get the votes needed to override a likely veto.

The measure now goes over to the Senate, which can accept the changes the House made to the bill or send it to a negotiating committee. Lawmakers are trying to wrap up their work in Topeka today and leave for first adjournment.

The bill passed 82-43. The House needs two-thirds majority to over ride a governor’s veto, or 84 votes.

In addition to requiring doctors to performing abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy to provide more detailed explanations for why the procedures were necessary on forms that are sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Senate Bill 218 also tweaks the state’s definition of a partial birth abortion so it reflects language used at the federal level.

The proposal would also would require that the written information a woman is supposed to receive at least 24 hours before an abortion include the phrase “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.”

It would allow a woman or certain members of her family to file civil lawsuits against an abortion provider they suspected had violated the state’s abortion law. The law would apply to the woman’s husband or to her parents if she is under 18 when the suspected violations occurred.

Legislature possibly finishes up today

TOPEKA – Lawmakers could be finishing up their business in Topeka today and heading home for first adjournment.

A budget bill for 2010 is already on its way to the governor’s desk, which was the major item the Legislature needed to take care of.

Other big issues still floating about are a debate in the House on a bill that would allow to coal-fired power plants in Western Kansas, a final vote on a late-term abortion bill in the House then possible debate in the Senate.

A proposal to increase Kansas’ minimum wage from $2.65 to the federal level. The state’s minimum wage has not risen in about two decades.

Other than that, both chambers are simply handling committee reports and cramming through a wide variety of bills.

Even if something does not clear the Legislature by the end of today, lawmakers could have a second crack at it when they return for a wrap -up session at the end of April.

During the wrap-up session, lawmakers will have the opportunity to try and over ride any bills the governor vetoed.

They will also likely be making changes to the 2010 budget.

Most years, those change are additional spending for programs. This year it is like to mean cuts. In mid-April, the state will hear from the consensus revenue estimating committee which twice a year estimates the money Kansas will have for.