Tag Archives: State of the State KS

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday December 31, 2010

This Week in Kansas. On This Week in Kansas guests Rebecca Zepick of State of the State KS, Kansas Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Stephen Koranda, and myself discuss the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature. Tim Brown is the host. This Week in Kansas airs on KAKE TV channel 10, Sunday morning at 9:00 am.

Tax increment financing. “Largely because it promises something for nothing — an economic stimulus in exchange for tax revenue that otherwise would not materialize — this tool [tax increment financing] is becoming increasingly popular across the country. … ‘TIFs are being pushed out there right now based upon the but for test,’ says Greg LeRoy. ‘What cities are saying is that no development would take place but for the TIF. … The average public official says this is free money, because it wouldn’t happen otherwise. But when you see how it plays out, the whole premise of TIFs begins to crumble.’ Rather than spurring development, LeRoy argues, TIFs ‘move some economic development from one part of a city to another.’ … In Wichita, those who invest in TIF districts and receive other forms of subsidy through relief from taxes are praised as courageous investors who are taking a huge risk by believing in the future of Wichita. Instead, we should be asking why we have to bribe people to invest in Wichita. Much more on tax increment financing at Giving Away the Store to Get a Store: Tax increment financing is no bargain for taxpayers from Reason Magazine.

Lessons for the Young Economist. The Ludwig von Mises Institute has published a book by Robert_P._Murphy titled Lessons for the Young Economist. Of the book, the Mises Institute says “It is easily the best introduction to economics for the young reader — because it covers both pure economic theory and also how markets work (the domain of most introductory books).” From my reading of samples of the book, I would agree, and also add that readers of all ages can enjoy and learn from this book. The book is available for purchase, or as is the case with many of the works the Institute publishes, it is also available to download in pdf form at no charge. Click on Lessons for the Young Economist.

The worst Congress. While liberals praise the 111th Congress as one of the most productive ever, not all agree. The Washington Examiner reprises some of the worst moments of this Congress, and concludes: “Our Founding Fathers were always wary of those who wanted government to do lots of big things. That’s why they created a system that separated powers among three more or less equal branches and provided each of them with powerful checks and balances. When professional politicians become frustrated with Congress, it is a sign that our system is working as intended. Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley told Bloomberg News recently that ‘this is probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the ’60s.’ When Congress votes on bills that no one reads or understands, it can be quite ‘productive.’ Americans have already rendered a verdict on such productivity and elected a new Congress with orders to clean up the mess in Washington.”

China has seen the future, and it is coal. George Will in The Washington Post: “Cowlitz County in Washington state is across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore., which promotes mass transit and urban density and is a green reproach to the rest of us. Recently, Cowlitz did something that might make Portland wonder whether shrinking its carbon footprint matters. Cowlitz approved construction of a coal export terminal from which millions of tons of U.S. coal could be shipped to Asia annually. Both Oregon and Washington are curtailing the coal-fired generation of electricity, but the future looks to greens as black as coal. The future looks a lot like the past.” Will goes on to explain how it is less expensive for coastal Chinese cities to import American and Australian coal rather than to transport it from its inland region. China uses a lot of coal, and that is expected to increase rapidly. The growth of greenhouse gas emissions in China trumps — by far — anything we can do in American do reduce them, even if we were to destroy our economy in doing so.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday December 10, 2010

This Week in Kansas. On This Week in Kansas guests Rebecca Zepick of State of the State KS, Joe Aistrup of Kansas State University, and myself discuss Kansas House of Representatives leadership, Governor-elect Brownback’s appointments, and voter ID. Tim Brown is the host. This Week in Kansas airs on KAKE TV channel 10, Sunday morning at 9:00 am.

Cato scholar to speak on economic freedom. Today’s meeting (December 10) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features noted Cato Institute scholar, Principal Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, and author Timothy Sandefur. He will discuss his recent book The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law. A description of the book at Amazon.com reads: “America’s founders thought the right to earn a living was so basic and obvious that it didn’t need to be mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Yet today that right is burdened by a wide array of government rules and regulations that play favorites, rewrite contracts, encourage frivolous lawsuits, seize private property, and manipulate economic choices to achieve outcomes that bureaucrats favor. The Right to Earn a Living charts the history of this fundamental human right, from the constitutional system that was designed to protect it by limiting government’s powers, to the Civil War Amendments that expanded protection to all Americans, regardless of race. It then focuses on the Progressive-era judges who began to erode those protections, and concludes with today’s controversies over abusive occupational licensing laws, freedom of speech in advertising, regulatory takings, and much more.” … Of the book, Dick Armey said: “Government today puts so many burdens and restrictions on entrepreneurs and business owners that we’re squandering our most precious resource: the entrepreneurial spirit and drive of our people. Sandefur’s book explains how this problem began, and what steps we can take to ensure that we all enjoy the freedom to pursue the American Dream.” … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Tea party regional blogs compiled. Phillip Donovan has compiled a list of top tea party-related blogs by region, and Voice for Liberty in Wichita is on the list. Of my blog, Donovan wrote “Bob Weeks has been blogging the perspective of free markets, personal liberty, and limited government since 2004, long before the ‘tea party movement’ was born.”

Tax rates still a secret. Rhonda Holman’s Wichita Eagle editorial asks the central question about signage requirements warning customers of Community Improvement Districts that they will be paying higher sales tax: “But if transparency about CIDs is bad for business, how can CIDs be good for citizens and the community?”

Federal spending oversight. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the actual spending of money happens in the Appropriations Committee, and this committee is a large source of the problems we have with federal spending. The Wall Street Journal column Oversight for the Spenders explains why: “The Members who join the Appropriations subcommittee on, say, agriculture do so precisely because they are advocates of farm spending. They have no interest in subjecting their own programs to greater public scrutiny.” What is the outlook going forward for this committee? Incoming Speaker John Boehner appointed Kentucky’s Hal Rogers as chair. The Journal column says his “spending record rivals that of any free-wheeling Democrat.” A bright spot: reformer Jeff Flake of Arizona is appointed to the committee, but his request to run an investigations subcommittee was not granted. The Journal is not impressed, concluding “Mr. Boehner’s selection of Mr. Rogers is a major disappointment and makes his promises to control spending suspect. If he really wants to change the spending culture, he should unleash Mr. Flake.”

Slow death for high-speed rail. From Randal O’Toole: “New transportation technologies are successful when they are faster, more convenient, and less expensive than the technologies they replace. High-speed rail is slower than flying, less convenient than driving, and at least five times more expensive than either one. It is only feasible with heavy taxpayer subsidies and even then it will only serve a tiny portion of the nation’s population.”

Does the New York Times have a double standard? John LaPlante in LaPlante: NY Times leaky double-standard: “Many newspapers in America reprint articles from the New York Times on a regular basis. So their editorial slant is of importance beyond the (direct) readership of the Gray Lady. Compare and contrast how the Times treated two recent leaks: ‘The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here. — New York Times, on the Climategate emails, Nov. 20, 2009. … ‘The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. … The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.. — New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, Nov. 29, 2010.” I’ll let you make the call.

Wichita Eagle Opinion Line. “The party of the wealthy triumphs again. Congratulations, Republican voters. By extending the handout to the wealthy, you just increased the national debt.” I would say to this writer that action to prevent an increase in income tax from occurring is not a handout. The only way that extending the present tax rates qualifies as a handout is if you believe that the income people earn belongs first to government. This is entirely backwards and violates self-ownership. Further, the national debt — actually the deficit — has two moving parts: the government’s income, and its spending. We choose as a nation to spend more than the government takes in. That is the cause of the deficit.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday November 17, 2010

Kansas Senator Lee to tax court. State of the State KS reports that Kansas Senator Janis Lee has been appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas State Court of Tax Appeals. Lee is a Democrat from Kensington in northwest Kansas. This action opens another position in the senate — another three pending vacancies need to be filled due to senators who won election to other offices — and others are likely to follow as incoming governor Sam Brownback fills his cabinet. Lee scored 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, which is a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than some other Senate Democrats — and some Republicans such as Senate President Steve Morris, for that matter. Lee’s replacement will be selected by the Democratic Party precinct committeemen and committeewomen in that senate district.

Saving is good. A letter in today’s Wichita Eagle holds this observation: “Rich people don’t spend money in hard times. Give them a tax break, and they will stash it away. That’s why they are rich.” This letter contains a misconception that news media mistakenly repeats over and over: that consumer spending is good and saving is bad. What happens to savings — the “stash it away” the letter writer refers to? Few people stuff cash in the mattress or in a safe. Instead, they do several things with they money they decide not to spend on immediate consumption, which is the definition of savings. If put it in a bank, the bank lends it to others who will spend it. If used to pay down debt, that frees up funds for others to spend. If used to buy stocks and bonds, that provides funds for business to invest. Importantly, these funds usually go into increasing the nation’s stock of capital. This capital spending is especially desirable, as it supports current economic activity — that is, the people and companies that work today to produce capital goods — but it sets up the country to produce even more wealth in the future.

Voters express pessimism. Consistent with other recent Rasmussen polls, voters are not optimistic that Congress will be able to accomplish very much in the next two years. See Voters Hold Little Hope for What New Congress Is Likely To Achieve.

KDOT seeks public comment on public involvement policy. This seems almost like circular reasoning, but the Kansas Department of Transportation seeks public comment on a document titled “Sharing the Future — Public Involvement in the Kansas Transportation System.” The document — all 113 pages — may be found on this page. Comments should be directed to Kansas Department of Transportation, Bureau of Public Involvement, 700 S.W. Harrison, Topeka, 66603-3754, (785) 296-3526, fax (785) 368-6664, or maggiet@ksdot.org.

Texas stimulus spending — not. Texas Watchdog takes a look at federal stimulus spending in Texas and finds some disturbing results. An example: “A closer look at spending by each agency shows wild differences in the amount of money spent and the number of jobs created. At least eight agencies have reported spending $500,000 or more for every job claimed. In the case of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, its $883,993 per job is an estimate because more than a year after it was awarded nearly $8 million for a statewide library broadband upgrade project, nothing has been spent and none of its projected nine employees have been hired.”

Who stole Election Day? A candidate for Maine governor wonders whether the rise of advance voting — “convenience voting,” he calls it — is good for the country. Besides meeting a voter who expressed regret in having already voted for his opponent, Eliot Cutler writes this of convenience voting: “At a time when sea changes are roiling our democracy, political parties are in decline, and public confidence in the political system is plummeting, convenience voting is having all the wrong effects. In Maine, at least, it appears to be discouraging voter engagement, providing life support to withering political parties, and undermining one of our most enduring and important institutions.” More in the Wall Street Journal at Who Stole Election Day? Too many voters are making decisions when horse-race coverage dominates the news, attention to issues is limited, and key debates haven’t taken place.

Adapt, don’t overreact to climate change. Bjorn Lomborg — The Skeptical Environmentalist — of the Copenhagen Consensus Center argues in the pages of the Washington Post that mankind has shown that it can adapt to climate change. This record, he argues, means we should not panic about climate change. We can afford a long-term perspective: “… when it comes to dealing with the impact of climate change, we’ve compiled a pretty impressive track record. While this doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore climate change, it provides a powerful reason not to panic about it either.” He cites the example of the Netherlands: “Keeping Holland protected from any future sea-level rises for the next century will cost only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.” Concluding, he writes: “[adaption] will enable us to get by while we figure out the best way to address the root causes of man-made climate change. This may not seem like much, but at a time when fears of a supposedly imminent apocalypse threaten to swamp rational debate about climate policy, it’s worth noting that coping with climate change is something we know how to do. ”

Political attacks not all bad

Dr. Mel Kahn, a political science professor at Wichita State University, gave a lecture Friday on why he believes negative campaigning is essential to democracy. Kahn said that a recent study shows that there are sometimes more lies in positive ads than in negative commercials, and as long as ads are based on evidence, they help people know what’s going on in a world full of political spin.” The lecture was at the Wichita Pachyderm Club as covered by State of the State KS.

Kahn also said that since accountability is important to democracy, he was pleased to see the activation of those who disagreed with the policies of the current administration, saying this is the essence of democracy. He quoted John Stuart Mill: “Attacks and criticism make a real contribution. In other words, if the attack has validity to it, and it brings about a feeling on the part of the populace that things could be much better than what turns out to be a flawed policy, then we benefit. Because what we’ve really done is we’ve exchanged something closer to the truth for the error that we held sacrosanct before. … Any kind of policy ought to be able to withstand the nature of sharp criticism.” Also, if policies withstand attacks, we can have more confidence in them.

Kahn also took news media to task for not really doing its job, saying media mostly covers the “horse race” aspects of campaigns — who leads in polls, etc. — rather than covering “the substance of the real policies. I think a net loss,” he said. I would add that it’s not only news media, it’s the candidates themselves that don’t want to talk about substantive issues. In the campaign for the Kansas fourth Congressional district, the two major candidates — Democrat Raj Goyle and Republican Mike Pompeo — didn’t really have a lot of substantive discussion of issues. Goyle, in particular, made charges about Pompeo outsourcing work to China. But we never had a discussion about the merits of outsourcing, except for here: Outsourcing Kansas jobs. Other issues I covered in the campaign included social security in Goyle on Social Security protection, business incentives in Business can oppose incentives and use them, and Goyle’s purported tax-cutting votes in Raj Goyle tax cut votes not exactly as advertised. My articles were mostly critical of Goyle — as an advocate of limited government and economic freedom, it just works out that way — but I believe the articles examined the issues in way that other media did not.

In responding to a question, Kahn said that those who make criticisms may do so even though they may not have a better plan that would be better. Criticism of the critic for that reason, therefore, is not valid.

On local politics, Kahn said that Sedgwick County Commissioner Gwen Welshimer told him before the election that she had tea party support, but she didn’t want her liberal friends to know about it. Kahn said that was a mistake, that many people — Democrats and Republicans both — appreciate officeholders who will object to big-spending projects. Welshimer had earned tea party support because of her positions on taxation and spending, particularly her opposition to subsidy for developers. Kahn noted that the Wichita Eagle had been unfavorable to Welshimer.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday October 29, 2010

This Week in Kansas. Rebecca Zepick of State of the State KS, Malcolm Harris of Mammon Among Friends and Friends University, and myself join host Tim Brown to discuss politics, elections, shale gas, and Wichita’s aircraft industry. “This Week in Kansas” airs in Topeka on WIBW TV channel 13 Saturdays at 11:30 am, and in Wichita on KAKE TV channel 10 Sundays at 9:00 am.

Business jets and elections. Speaking of Malcolm Harris, his recent blog post Business jets and elections provides an accurate look at the past two years, with Harris noting that our economic problems are long-term in nature, but President Obama provided short-term solutions, and then lost his focus. As for the future, Harris writes: “Moreover, without significant policy changes there is a very real threat in the medium term. The perceived erosion of the rule of law (think of the treatment of GM’s bondholders), the costs of the healthcare system reengineering, and the prospect of tax hikes if the Bush tax cuts expire have eerily recreated the conditions of 1936. These set the stage for the Roosevelt recession of 1937. We avoided the financial collapse that trasformed the recession of 1929 into the Great Depression. Now we have recreated the conditions for the 1937 recession, a recession whose severity was exceeded only by the contractions of 1929-33 and 1920.”

Long-Shots in Kansas. Joseph A. Aistrup, professor of political science at Kansas State University, writing in an Insight Kansas editorial at State of the State KS, looks at some of the Kansas candidates this year who, facing only small probabilities of victory, still pound the campaign trail. He concludes: “Long-shots of every ilk and political party are the unsung heroes of our democracy. They spend countless hours campaigning in an effort to make sure that voters have the opportunity to choose. All of us owe them a debt of gratitude for making our democracy a more meaningful affair.”

Brownback at Wichita Pachyderm. Today’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature United States Senator and candidate for Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Rally in Wichita today. At 2:00 pm, Republicans hold a rally and news conference at the Sedgwick County GOP headquarters, 555 North Woodlawn. At 5:30 pm, Raj Goyle and other candidates appear at a “Made in America” tour stop at Old Town Plaza, 353 N. Meade Street.

Kansas minor parties might break through. A lack of competitive races statewide, coupled with some impressive showings in forums by minor party candidates, might foreshadow a big year for them at the polls. The Kansas City Star has more at In a year of voter discontent, minor parties might move up in Kansas.

History of the tea party movement. The Wall Street Journal reports on the rise of the tea party movement. See Birth of a Movement: Tea Party Arose From Conservatives Steeped in Crisis. Coverage of the tea party events in Wichita may be found at Wichita Tea Party.

Get your developer welfare here. The Wichita Eagle reports today: “Downtown officials will roll out a 10-page guide to available development incentives next week, the first step in their one-stop information shop for retail and residential prospects.”

Clinton to Meek: Quit. Former president Bill Clinton asked Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race, Politico reports. This would have helped Charlie Crist, who is losing to rising star national Marco Rubio, a tea party favorite. It’s thought that 1.7 million people have already voted in Florida, so those who had voted for Meek would have voted in vain had Meek agreed to drop out of the race.

Wichita Eagle opinion line. “I hear we may soon have a fish for our state fossil to celebrate 150 years of statehood. May I suggest Bob Dole as a replacement nominee?” Ouch.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Saturday October 9, 2010

This Week in Kansas: Tomorrow on KAKE Television‘s “This Week in Kansas” Kansas Policy Institute President Dave Trabert will be a guest speaking about economic development in Kansas. This is an important topic as Kansas is in “whack-a-mole” mode as we — case by case — defend our industry from poaching by other states. This Week in Kansas airs at 9:00 am on KAKE channel 10. The Winfield Daily Courier has other notes on this upcoming episode.

Sue Schlapp: Wichita Eagle Opinion Line Extra today: “At a past Wichita City Council meeting, council member Sue Schlapp got on her soapbox about needing less government in our lives. Then last week she turned around and voted for the community improvement district tax for the Broadview Hotel. Is this talking out of both sides of her mouth?” I’m glad someone other than I has noticed this.

Dave Unruh campaign billboardDave Unruh campaign billboard

Unruh’s record on taxes: A reader sent in this photograph of a Dave Unruh billboard supporting his run for reelection to the Sedgwick County Commission, noting the irony of the “Lower Taxes” message. The reader may have been referring to Unruh’s support of a solid waste management fee (a tax by another name), his vote in August 2006 to increase the county mill levy, and his enthusiastic support of the tax for the downtown arena, now known as the Intrust Bank Arena. The vote for a tax increase in 2006 was in part to build the National Center for Aviation Training, said to be necessary to keep Wichita aviation companies in Wichita. Nonetheless, Cessna, Bombardier Learjet, and recently Hawker Beechcraft have found it necessary to shake down the state and local government for even more corporate welfare. Still, I don’t recommend voting for Unruh’s opponent Betty Arnold, who recently wondered where was the government stimulus for USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on which board she serves. Evidently Arnold doesn’t realize that nearly every dollar the Wichita schools spend is government money.

Arnold’s website missing: By the way, Google can’t find a website supporting Betty Arnold’s campaign, which says a lot right there.

Goyle and Pompeo: Tomorrow Kansas fourth Congressional district candidates Democrat Raj Goyle and Republican Mike Pompeo debate at Congregation Emanu-El at 7011 E. Central in Wichita. State of the State KS reports: “The debate will be moderated by KAKE-TV’s Tim Brown from This Week In Kansas and will focus on both local economic, political and foreign policy issues facing the U.S. The debate is free and begins at 10:40 am. A brunch will be served before the debate for $7.” It appears that Reform party candidate Susan Ducey and Libertarian Shawn Smith will not appear. The two minor party candidates made credible appearances on a recent KWCH televised forum.

Goyle video, polls: Speaking of Goyle, video of Goyle endorsing presidential candidate Barack Obama in Texas has surfaced. And, more bad polls for Goyle.

Wink Hartman, Libertarian Party candidate?

As reported by Rebecca Zepick on State of the State KS, former Republican Congressional candidate from the fourth district of Kansas Wink Hartman may be considering another run for that position, this time as nominee of the Kansas Libertarian Party.

Zepick reported the news Saturday in the story Hartman Considering Re-Entering Race For Congress Against Pompeo and Goyle. She appeared later that day by telephone on KNSS Radio’s Jim Anderson Program, as did several others involved in this story.

Anderson’s radio program proved to be a sounding board for several issues surrounding this race. For example: All the Republican Party candidates pledged, several times, to support the winner of the Republican primary. A caller to Anderson’s radio show brought up this point, and reminded Anderson — the host of the show — that he, too, made the pledge. Anderson became agitated, at one point threatening to cut off the caller.

Anderson said that after a certain point, the campaign changed and became negative. Although he didn’t say so explicitly, it is clear that Anderson believes the negativity releases him from his pledge to support the winner of the primary. “I’m not supporting anybody right now,” he told listeners. He repeated this later in the show.

After this, Kansas Libertarian Party Chair and candidate for governor Andrew Gray appeared as a guest, calling in by telephone. Gray said the key to Hartman joining the ticket is Hartman’s ability to — currently or in the future — fit in the “Libertarian mode.”

Michael O’Donnell, a staff member in the Hartman campaign, then appeared by telephone and noted, as had Anderson, that the pledges to support the eventual primary election winner were made before the campaign became negative. True enough.

But where O’Donnell missed the mark is in his assertion that the Pompeo campaign launched the first negative attacks, referring to information made available about Hartman’s Florida home ownership and his Florida voting record. Hartman’s recent Florida voting record was first reported by me on this site.

While this information was not convenient to the Hartman campaign, it did not fall into the category of negative campaigning. This is the type of information voters are interested in. It was a matter of public record. It was all true.

O’Donnell said that the Hartman campaign merely retaliated. But it did much more than that, launching some vicious attacks on Pompeo using the techniques of negative campaigns. Hartman’s campaign escalated the attacks, culminating with a charge against Pompeo that Hartman could not back up with convincing evidence.

The pledges to support the primary winner were not made conditionally. They were absolute. In particular, candidates Anderson and Jean Schodorf need to step up and support Pompeo, the nominee. Evidently Paij Rutschman has made a financial contribution to the Pompeo campaign, but her website doesn’t endorse Pompeo.

Looking forward, O’Donnell said that he wanted to make sure that Hartman didn’t appear as a “sore loser mentality.” Losing a primary and then running on a different ticket qualifies as just that: a sore loser. And Hartman lost the primary election in a big way. Hartman’s support declined in the polls as the election drew closer. From July 1 to July 28 his campaign did not receive a single dollar in campaign contributions other than those made by the candidate himself.

Now Hartman may seek another round.

It’s difficult to see what positive things Hartman would accomplish as the Libertarian Party candidate. His political views are barely compatible with those of libertarians. Hartman seems the type of Republican that pokes fun of libertarians — like me — for their absolute defense of personal liberty (including legalization of all drugs and prostitution), a peaceful and non-imperialist foreign policy, deregulation of marriage (not prohibiting gay marriage), a welcoming approach to immigrants (instead of the fortified border that Hartman advocated during the campaign), and uncompromising opposition to corporate welfare (as reported, Hartman will receive many millions in such welfare in conjunction with his Hartman Arena).

Radical forms of libertarianism, including anarcho-capitalism or even the milder minarchism, seem beyond Hartman’s ability to grasp and understand.

The Kansas Libertarian Party has a decision to make, too. Will it embrace a candidate — one clearly non-libertarian and blemished from running a negative campaign — who can contribute millions to its cause and give the party a big boost in coverage and recognition?

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 22, 2010.

Republicans on the left help defeat Health Care Freedom Amendment

(Kansas Liberty) “Greg Ward, co-founder of the Kansas 9.12 Project and founder of the Kansas Sovereignty Coalition, was disappointed in the outcome, but said he was especially concerned about the actions of the Republican members who voted against the measure. ‘I am amazed at the number of Republicans working to limit the liberties we have instead of limiting the overreaching government on both the federal and state level that seeks more and more control of our lives,’ Ward told Kansas Liberty.”

House, Senate committees take a stand against increasing taxes

(Kansas Liberty) “The House Appropriations Committee adopted a budget plan today that could patch the state’s deficits for fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2011 — without raising taxes. The proposal would leave the state with positive balance of more than $300 million in fiscal year 2011 and would cut approximately $360 million. The Republican plan would create a 1 percent across-the-board cut, excluding education and health and human services caseload.”

Tax on sugary beverages could still be considered

(Kansas Liberty) “The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee made it clear yesterday that it was not interested in several of the tax-increasing proposals brought before the committee — including a proposal to create a tax on sugary beverages. For legislation to be voted on during a committee meeting, a member has to make a motion for the legislation to be passed out of committee, and that motion has to be seconded. However, the Senate Taxation Committee did not even have enough tax-supporting members for the majority of the proposals to be considered for a vote.”

Day-care bill passes GO in Senate

(Kansas Liberty) “Voice vote in general orders indicates Kansas Senate wants all child-care providers licensed and inspected by state.”

Kansas tax panel offers balanced budget, no new taxes

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas House Appropriations committee members unveiled a new plan Thursday for balancing next year’s state budget without raising taxes.”

Exemptions severely erode Kansas’ tax bases, audit finds

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas property tax exemptions for machinery and equipment created in 2006 have significantly eroded local tax bases across the state, state auditors reported Wednesday.”

KOSE seeks more protection for whistleblowers

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Some state employees feel they have a way to gain more revenue for Kansas. Two members of the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee Wednesday that strengthening whistleblower protection for state employees would mean less waste.”

Debunking Myths in the School Funding Debate

(Kansas Watchdog) “Protesters pushing for tax increases to end education funding cuts chanted, ‘We want what’s right, not what’s left’ at the State Capitol Tuesday.”

3rd District Candidates Debate

(Kansas Watchdog) “Overland Park, Kan. – A candidate debate and forum of eight 3rd Congressional District candidates was held Saturday at the Blue Valley Northwest High School. About 300 people attended to listen to 7 Republicans and a Libertarian candidate.” Related: Closing Statements from 3rd District Debate (video).

Sun Editor Steve Rose Needs Facts and Figures not Fear Mongering about Schools

(Kansas Watchdog) “Steve Rose in his ‘Memo’ this week, ‘Teachers, programs slashed. Thanks, Ray,’ needs more hard facts and figures instead of fear mongering about ‘slashing’ school budgets.”

Congressional Candidates Debate at Hope For America Meeting in Overland Park

(State of the State KS) “Republican and Libertarian candidates for Congress debated in Overland Park Saturday in the race for Congress in the 3rd District.”

U.S. House passes historic health reform legislation

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – The U.S. House has spoken on health reform, approving 219-212 a Senate-passed health reform bill that now goes to the president for signature into law. But the debate in Kansas, and across the country, continues.”

Menu labeling discussed

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – It’s not clear what will happen to federal health reform legislation that would require chain restaurants to label menu items, but the Kansas Legislature won’t take any action on the measure this year.”

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 16, 2010.

School consolidation measures deliberated in House

(Kansas Liberty) “The Kansas House tentatively approved a plan today that would allow three or more school districts to consolidate into two districts. House Bill 2704 originally included two consolidation-promoting components, but one of the components was stripped off on the House floor under the direction of Rep. Bill Light, R-Rolla.”

Concealed-carry bill stalls in committee

(Kansas Liberty) “Legislation promoting an alteration to the state’s concealed-carry law has been sitting in the House Federal and State Affairs committee since its February hearing. House Bill 2685 would require any state building that posts a sign prohibiting concealed-carry to have adequate security measures in place.”

Debate — who decides supremacy of Health Care Freedom Amendment?

(Kansas Liberty) “Conferees testifying on the Health Care Freedom Amendment butted heads today on whether the measure would provide the state with adequate protection from being forced to comply with any health-care mandates that could be passed by the federal government.”

Sales tax exemption repeals a possibility for nonprofits, other organizations

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas business owners and non-profit service organizations urged lawmakers Monday to reject proposals that would require groups as diverse as utility customers, Girl Scouts and coin-operated laundry owners to pay more sales taxes.”

Mega school districts would save millions, panel told

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Consolidating Kansas’ nearly 300 school districts into a fraction of that number, with 10,000 students in each district, would cut potentially hundreds of million of dollars in duplicative administrative costs, backers of such a plan told a Kansas House panel this week.”

KDOT looks at Amtrak expansion

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas House voted 115 to five Thursday to give Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller the ability to prepare for expanded rail service in the state. That same day, Amtrak released a study concerning the feasibility of such passenger rail service, which was presented to the House Transportation committee.”

Tobacco tax plan hurts mom-and-pop stores, opponents say

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Tom Palace considered wearing a bulls-eye costume to testify before the Kansas Senate Assessment and Taxation committee hearing Wednesday. As executive director of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, Palace feels that the legislature’s proposed options for additional revenue target his industry at every turn. Cigarette, liquor, fuel and sales taxes are all options that the legislature is examining to cover an estimated $400 million budget shortfall.”

Kansas panel changes proposed property tax lid

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas House Taxation committee members voted to send a proposed lid on new property tax increases to the House floor Tuesday after first changing a key condition in the plan.”

Spokesmen for developmentally disabled ask Supreme Court to halt spending cuts

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – A restraining order against the State of Kansas was requested Friday by advocates for the developmentally disabled, who said recent budget cuts are harmful and in violation of federal laws and the state constitution. ‘Thousands of people are hurting out there,’ said Tom Laing, executive director of Interhab, a group representing community programs for the developmentally disabled. ‘We should not want to live in a state where these things are allowed.'”

Legislature wades into tax bills this week

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – After weeks of talking about weak revenues and budget cuts, the Legislature this week takes up various tax proposals ranging from elimination of sales tax exemptions to a new levy on soda pop and other sugared drinks.”

Governor says votes there for major tax increase

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – There are enough votes to pass a $300 million to $400 million tax increase, the governor told KHI News Service. But still uncertain, he said, is the specific mix of taxes legislators will settle on. They currently have before them proposals to increase the general sales tax but also tobacco and alcohol. The Senate also is considering a measure that for the first time tax the sugar in soft drinks and other sugary beverages. The Senate and House this week also are looking at bills that would repeal sales tax exemptions.”

Sunshine Week 2010: Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

(Kansas Watchdog) “Our nation’s founding documents state clearly that the people, endowed with fundamental, inalienable rights, are the masters of government, which derives its just power from the consent of the governed. But, can consent be given without knowledge of what is consented to? Citizens are in an uphill battle against the inertia of decades of apathy. Adding urgency to the battle is the dramatic growth of government influence, power and complexity both nationally and locally.”

A Look Inside the Kansas State Board of Education

(Kansas Watchdog) “The March meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education made no headlines in the major media but the future of Kansas’ youth, the financial future of the state and its citizens’ freedoms all depend, in part, on how the Board works and the decisions it makes. A few glimpses into the Board’s operation are telling.”

My view: Campaign Finance should cover judicial retention elections

(Kansas Watchdog) “Regardless of where one is on the political spectrum, open government, open records and transparency are issues that everyone can agree on. When Tom Witt from the Kansas Equality Coalition asked me to speak in favor of transparency in judicial retention elections, I knew that was an issue I had no choice but to embrace.”

Governor Mark Parkinson on the Economy, the Budget and Kansas Health

(State of the State KS) “Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson (D) addresses budget shortfalls, key Capitol legislative issues and the need for bipartisan work in Kansas and Washington.”

Budget Director Duane Goossen On This Year’s $106 Million Problem

(State of the State KS) “Budget Director Duane Goossen talks about new information the state is short $106 million for 2010 and what should be done to fix it.”

School Consolidation Considered as Solution To Budget Crisis

(State of the State KS) “The House Education Budget committee heard debate on a bill Thursday that would consolidate the current 293 school districts to about 45 across the state.”