Earmarking the can to kick down the road

If I hear one more congressional numbskull refer to Wednesday night’s congressional approval to fund the federal government and avert a government default as “kicking the can down the road,” I’m going to scream.

Of all the elected officials from Kansas, only Sen. Jerry Moran and Second District Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins voted yes to re-open the government and increase the debt ceiling so the government wouldn’t default on its payments. Continue reading

Three senators featured at Elephant Club Luncheon

Julia Lynn

Julia Lynn

Pat Apple

Pat Apple

Jim Denning

Jim Denning

The Elephant Club will feature three of Johnson County’s Legislators at it’s next luncheon beginning at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the Hereford House, 5001 Town Center Drive, Leawood..

 Senators Pat Apple, Julia Lynn and Jim Denning will address highlights of the legislative session, give insight to issues coming in the next session, and answer questions.

Apple is a seasoned veteran, who has served in the Senate for 11 years. Continue reading

Senate confirms Brownback’s choice of Stegall

By Tim Carpenter
Topeka Capitol Journal Online

The Senate delivered an overwhelming and partisan vote Wednesday confirming Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination of the administration’s top lawyer for a vacancy on the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Debate fixated on the merits of Brownback’s newly acquired power to unilaterally control nominations to the Court of Appeals and to a lesser extent the qualities of Caleb Stegall, who was viewed by Republicans and Democrats as possessing intellectual firepower and varied legal experience to serve capably on the bench. Continue reading

Global Disability Treaty

Obama: “It’s the right thing to do. We need to get it done.’

Freelance writer/editor

In a 42-minute, tag-team speech with First Lady Michelle Obama, the President of the United States this month affirmed to disabled Americans that global barriers to opportunity must be shattered.

Passage of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is an important global priority, PresidentBarack Obama told Disabled American Veterans in a speech at the Orlando Hilton.

“It’s the right thing to do,” the President said to an enthusiastic crowd. “We need to get it done.”

But that didn’t happen last December when the Senate refused to pass the CRPD treaty designed to extend the rights of the Americans with Disabilities Act to all corners of the globe.

The treaty failed 61-38, just five votes short of the super majority needed for passage. Eight Republicans and all of the Senate’s Democrats favored ratification.

But it wasn’t enough. Continue reading

Statehouse Report from the Olathe Chamber

After the majority of Kansas legislators spent the first week of veto session waiting around to approve a few conference committee reports, legislative leaders have held private meetings on how to wrap up the session.  Finally, on Wednesday May 15, tax and budget negotiators met formally to begin discussions.  You will recall this year legislators had plans to wrap up the 2013 session in 80 days, however, the 80th day passed uneventfully on  Monday, May 13 with little sight of final resolution.  Below is a quick recap of where negotiations stand as of this morning.

Budget & Taxes

After four rounds of budget negotiations that began on Wednesday the last remaining issues to resolve is how much to cut Regents funding and a House-sponsored pay cap for state employees.  Another issue yet to be resolved includes buying down waiting lists for the physically disabled and developmentally disabled.

On the Regents issue, the House supports a 4% reduction in Regent funding, creating a roughly $29 million savings.  The Senate approved a 2% cut, $14.5 million, but the latest offer by the Senate was a 1% cut instead.  Governor Brownback does not support any cuts in Regent funding.

The House also proposed to save $37 million by freezing salaries in the coming year with a few exceptions, notably Regent institutions and public safety agencies.  The Senate offered up a list of further exemptions from the salary cap that would cut about $7 million from the House’s projected savings.  Continue reading

Opinion: Momentum gaining for better complex rehab tech

Bipartisan Senate push launched — Kansas City leaders silent

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Freelance writer Finn M. Bullers also uses a wheelchair as a result of having muscular dystrophy.)

Freelance writer/editor

 Donna Adell of Ottawa, Kan., is confused.

The power wheelchair her husband Charles uses was supposed to make his life easier after a hip-replacement surgery five years ago cut him off from an active life.

Medicare paid for the chair, Donna Adell said. But then refused to service the chair and provide replacement batteries because Medicare officials said the chair only was to be used inside the home.

“The whole purpose for the power chair was to help (Charles) become more independent — to get outside, to visit friends and neighbors nearby, and to go up to our mailbox,” she said.

Late Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, joined forces in a bipartisan effort to improve the life of Charles Adell and tens of thousands of people with disabilities across the country. There are 380,000 Kansans with disabilities, 10 percent of whom use wheelchairs. Continue reading

Gun fanatics miss gun-control message

 By Finn Bullers


A hail of bullets does not respect the First Amendment’s right to free expression. Instead — in most inglorious fashion — bullets rip flesh. Is that our birthright — the tandem power of free expression and firearms?

The Senate was asked for minor changes in gun background checks to take a stab at keeping future, unstable shooters from securing rapid-fire arms. However flawed, the legislation was a start — a chance to show 90 percent of Americans that their leaders are responsive to their heartfelt pleas and buckets of tears.

Instead, what we got from the Senate was the middle finger. Continue reading

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