Daily Archives: May 14, 2013

No justification for scope, secrecy of AP phone probe

The U.S. Justice Department badly abused its authority last year when it secretly obtained two months’ worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press. The records were apparently part of an investigation into the leak of classified information, but the number of people and records targeted – which included the personal phone records of some AP employees – is unprecedented in recent years. “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters,” AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt wrote in a letter this week to Attorney General Eric Holder (in photo). As Pruitt noted, the records could “disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

Kansas gaining jobs from Obamacare

Despite its continued resistance to anything associated with Obamacare, Kansas is set to benefit from it. Up to 9,000 jobs are expected to be created at Medicare call centers in six states, including one in Lawrence. The call centers will answer inquiries related to the federally run insurance marketplaces. Kansas will get an even bigger economic boost if it allows the federal expansion of Medicaid. A study by the Kansas Hospital Association concluded that the expansion would inject more than $3 billion into the state’s economy and create 4,000 jobs over the next seven years.

Lawmakers finally brought boat taxes in line

However the sales-tax debate turns out, state lawmakers and Gov. Sam Brownback can say they lowered one tax by a whopping 30 percent this year – the property tax on boats and other watercraft. That tax had been so high in Kansas that many residents unlawfully registered and kept their boats in neighboring states. Voters finally passed a constitutional amendment last November authorizing lawmakers to classify and tax watercraft on a different basis from other personal property, and Brownback signed the resulting measure April 16 as part of a larger tax-related bill. Now, boats will be taxed at 11.5 percent of appraised value next year and 5 percent as of 2015. The new tax rate should benefit Kansas boat owners and dealers as well as the state’s lakes, parks and budget.