Kansas Schools Flush with Unencumbered Cash
If someone told you public school districts are talking about closing schools and firing teachers because of funding challenges, but aren't using millions in cash they built up over the past few years, you'd probably say "That can't be true." But it's happening in Kansas. And it might be happening in your local school district, too. Here in Kansas, public school districts began this year with $1.6 billion in unencumbered carryover cash reserves. "Unencumbered" means the cash is not subject to any lien, encumbrance or other creditor claims.
YRC Warns of Bankruptcy
YRC Worldwide Inc. has missed a key deadline in its restructuring process and again is in danger of having to file for bankruptcy protection. In its annual report, filed late Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Overland Park-based company (Nasdaq: YRCW) said a “milestone failure” had occurred last week and that its lenders could declare the company to be in default on its credit agreements.
State Senator Talks Her Way Out Of Serious Tickets
Wichita's police chief is responding to controversial video showing a state senator talking her way out of serious speeding tickets. Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau is heard telling of influential city leaders she knows... and ultimately getting out of a citation.
But it didn't stop at name-dropping. At one point during one of the stops, Faust-Goudeau pulled out a challenge coin and claimed that Police Chief Norman Williams had given it to her to use if she ever needed it. The coins are given out by the department for things such as doing a good deed. They are also collector's items to promote themselves.
Kansas Senate OKS In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens
A Kansas Senate committee on Wednesday killed a bill to deny eligibility for in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants at Kansas universities, colleges and trade schools. H.B. 2006, which easily passed the House, hit a wall at the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which voted overwhelmingly not to recommend it for passage.
Congressman Yoder Visits Prairie Village
Freshman U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder swung through Prairie Village Monday night as part of a “City Council Tour” of the northeast Johnson County district he now serves.
PV Resident Says City Spends Too Much on Food, Travel
How much is too much when it comes to spending taxpayer's money? One Prairie Village resident says that city's mayor and city council's travel expenses are outrageous and completely unacceptable in these tough economic times. Jori Nelson says that she has spent hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours requesting and collecting information that tracks the city's travel expenses for the past 10 years. "Fine dining at Ruth Chris Steakhouse, at the Capitol Grill, to have $600 meals and alcohol. It is just not OK and it's got to stop." Prairie Village council member David Morrison says that he agrees. "Cosmopolitans, lobster thermador, trips to the Capitol Grill, probably not the best use of taxpayer money," said Morrison. "I pay for my own way out of my own pocket. I stay at Motel 6. I pay for my own travel."
Kansas Senators Continue to Violate Federal Law to Aid Illegals
Once again the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee (SFSA) has chosen to require Kansas citizens to help pay college tuition for illegal aliens against the wishes of the Kansas citizens. Chairman Pete Brungardt of Salina, one of Sen. John Vratil’s minions, has been a staunch supporter and defender of this illegal, immoral and fiscally reckless policy.
Kansas Senate votes to save state Arts Commission
State senators on Wednesday saved the Kansas Arts Commission as a government agency. The Senate voted 24-13 to reject Brownback's plan to convert the commission into a private, nonprofit group, save the state about $575,000 annually and push for more aggressive private fundraising for arts programs.
House overrules casino smoking exemption
A measure to end smoking in state owned casinos escalated Tuesday into a full blown debate in the Kansas House over the statewide ban passed by last year’s legislature. State Rep. Randy Garber, a Republican from Sabetha, proposed an amendment that would have allowed local businesses to decide whether or not to allow smoking on their premises, effectively overruling the smoking ban. The amendment sparked a lengthy debate over public health versus freedom of business. “The smoking ban has only been on the books for nine months, we haven’t had the opportunity to realize the health benefits of it yet,” said Rep. Mike Slattery, a Democrat from Mission. Rep. Amanda Grosserode, a Republican from Lenexa, said the debate should be left up to business owners and customers. “I have never been a smoker, however I support the right of those who smoke,” Grosserode said. “I vote with my feet. If there’s a restaurant or a business that allows smoking, I don’t need to be someone who frequents that establishment.”
New way of picking appeals judges gets second shot
A measure that would bypass the Supreme Court Nominating Commission when putting new judges on the Kansas Court of Appeals gained new life in the Kansas House Wednesday. The bill would grant the governor the power to make the appeals court nominations, subject to confirmation by the Kansas Senate. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, urged the Senate earlier this month to approve the new selection process.
The Kansas “Drudge” Meadowlark
Click here to get an update on current news and information in Kansas courtesy the Kansas Meadowlark website.
The Times Public Service: Registered Sex Offenders
As a public service to the residents of Northeast Johnson County the Times offers Family Watchdog as a web generator to view if an offender lives near you.
By Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach
Shawnee Mission Times
We’ve made a lot of progress toward making Kansas election law the strongest in the country to ensure that one citizen gets one vote without that vote being nullified by ineligible voters. The Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections voted overwhelmingly (8-1) in bi-partisan support for an amended HB 2067, the Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, on Thursday, March 17, 2011.
By Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas
Shawnee Mission Times
As March 23 marks the one-year anniversary of the enactment of Obamacare, health care costs are still soaring for patients. The misguided and critically flawed law needs to be addressed to actually improve access to affordable, quality health care in America.
Parole Board has Hearing on Trooper’s Murderer
By Currie Myers, Shawnee Mission Times
Kansas Parole Board’s last project may be the murder of a Kansas Trooper. The Board will decide whether or not to keep Jimmie Nelms in prison for the 1978 murder of state Trooper Conroy O'Brien on the Kansas Turnpike.
The Elected Sheriff: Our Last Line of Defense
By Ken Smith, Shawnee Mission Times
Penned by John Hancock, concluding the Declaration of Independence lays a pledge for all to witness, which reads: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Affixed under this declaration was listed the signatures of the courageous men who stood united in the face of tyranny, risking all in support of their countrymen. As we look around our great Nation these 235 years later it is difficult to find representatives of the people who embody the same convictions and determination as did our Founding Fathers. Those men, who were marked as traitors and consigned to certain death at the hand of their oppressor, gave their lives and their fortunes that American Liberty could take birth.
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Editorial: Judicial Bill Deserves Hearing
Via the Topeka Capital-Journal Editorial Page
Our mothers always told us we shouldn’t do something just because everyone else was doing it, and there’s certainly a great deal of wisdom in that advice.
However, when it comes to the way Kansas chooses its appellate court justices, some changes deserve full consideration and debate in the Legislature.
The current system in Kansas is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and it’s drawn a vocal group of critics.
Under the state’s system, which has been in place since 1958, a judicial nominating commission sends three selections to the governor, who must appoint one of them.
A proposal that has been approved by the House this year would change that system in favor of adopting the federal government model, in which the governor would nominate a judge who would then undergo a confirmation process in the state Senate.
It’s certainly a change worth exploring. After all, the federal system was crafted by a pretty sharp group of individuals — the framers of the U.S. Constitution, who got a lot of other things right when it came to establishing checks and balances.
Proponents of changing the process in Kansas say the current system puts too much power in the hands of the state’s bar association in filling vacancies on the appellate court. The state is the only one in the nation that gives members of its bar a majority on its judicial nominating commission.
Not only does the bar pick the commission’s chair, it also fills four of the eight seats on the panel. The governor appoints the other four.
Supporters of the current system say changing it would inject hardcore partisan politics into the process. As is, they say, the system has yielded one of the nation’s most intermediate appellate courts.
But critics say the system puts selection in the hands of non-elected, politically unaccountable individuals, and therefore is not democratic.
They also scoff at the notion that politics don’t play a part in the current process.
What’s not a point of contention is that the House passed the proposed change on a 66-53 vote, meaning a majority of lawmakers in one legislative chamber think it’s needed.
However, the bill appears to have hit a dead end in a Senate committee, where it has not been scheduled for discussion despite the support it gained in the House.
Gov. Sam Brownback and others are calling on the Senate to take action on the bill, and they’re right to do so.
Although it’s a source of a great deal of disagreement, the measure deserves a full run through the legislative process.
Being unique isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in this case, enough Kansans are questioning the state’s system that it would be inappropriate for the bill to be squirreled away.
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