Brownback announces Secretary of State Thornburgh as campaign co-chair in gubernatorial bid

TOPEKA – Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh will help lead the statewide gubernatorial bid for U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.

The two men made the announcement Thursday at the Kansas GOP headquarters in Topeka.

“Ron Thornburgh is a model public servant – hard working, effective, principled and honest” Brownback said.

Thornburgh, who had previously contemplated running for governor himself said he and Brownback “share the same priorities… it is time we reinvest in the state of Kansas.”

The four-time secretary of state admitted that working on Brownback’s campaign was not the opportunity he initially anticipated but “I’m OK with that,” he said.

Brownback praised Thornburgh saying his joining the campaign would help unite the GOP across the state.

Both Thornburgh and Brownback said any discussion on whether the secretary of state might later join the campaign as a running mate were premature.

Thornburgh joins John Petersen of Overland Park, the former finance chair for Gov. Bill Graves; Wichita City Councilwoman Sue Schlapp and Garden City Commissioner Reynaldo Mesa as co-chars on the statewide campaign.

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.”

Parkinson to hold first press conference as governor on Friday

TOPEKA – Newly minted Gov. Mark Parkinson on Friday will hold his first media availability since being sworn in late Tuesday.

The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. This afternoon, Parkinson, a Democrat, will address a joint session of the Legislature at 4 p.m.

Parkinson assumed his new roll when former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius resigned to be sworn in as Health and Human Services secretary on Tuesday.

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.

DUI bill sent to conference committee

TOPEKA – The House on Monday voted to send a bill creating the Kansas DUI Commission and amending some of the state’s drunken driving laws to a conference committee.

The committee – of three House members and three Senate members – will work to develop a compromise bill.

The Senate inserted the measure into House Bill 2096 and the House wanted to study the bill more.

In addition to the commission and amending some laws, the bill also creates statewide driver improvement clinics.

Governor reappoints Wichitans to state councils and panel

TOPEKA – Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has reappointed two Wichita residents and a Derby woman to two state councils and an advisory panel.

Travis Francis, Wichita, has been reappointed to a three-year term on the Athletic Trainers Council. This council licenses and monitors athletic trainers in the state of Kansas.

Gary Mason, Wichita, has been reappointed to serve a two-year term on the Compliance Advisory Panel to the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. This panel renders advisory opinions concerning the effectiveness of the small business stationary source technical and environmental compliance assistance program; makes periodic reports to the administrator; and reviews and comments on proposed regulations.

Beverly Urmey, Derby, has also been reappointed to three-year terms on the Respiratory Care Council. This council conducts examinations and registrations of applicants in the field of respiratory therapy.

State Treasurer highlights stimulus programs that help individual taxpayers

TOPEKA – Although most of the attention has focused on how the federal stimulus package will help programs, there are also benefits for individual taxpayers.

Among the aid programs for individuals is a plan where the federal government will cover 65 percent of COBRA assistance for nine months, said State Treasurer Dennis McKinney on Thursday.

But “the clock is ticking,” he said. Employers must notify eligible employees about the help by April 18, and laid off workers must apply to for the program with in 60 days of the notification.

The assistance is for workers who were laid off between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009.

The plans offer health coverage for up to 18 months after a worker is laid off but typically cost much more than payments through an employer.

“Many people did not select that COBRA coverage because they couldn’t afford it when they were laid off particularly if they were needing family coverage,” McKinney said.

He hoped the assistance would encourage people to sign up for the health coverage, which would be done through their former employers.

“We don’t want a growth in the ranks of the uninsured in Kansas,” he said.

McKinney said his office planned to have information detailing programs from the stimulus plan that would help individual Kansans posted on its website by Friday.

Kansas House gives Goodwill Industries a sales tax exemption

TOPEKA – The House on Tuesday passed a bill that will exempt items purchased by Goodwill Industries from a sales tax.

House Bill 2299 now goes to the Senate. The exemption applies to items purchased for or by Goodwill Industries that help provided education, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

A fiscal note on the bill estimated that Goodwill Industries would have paid about $38,000 to the state in fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1, 2009.

The House amended the bill during debate to include a similar exemption for sales by All American Beef Battalion Inc. The exemption will apply to projects that help the beef cattle industry provide support and morale to members of the United States military.