Last night, members of the South-central Kansas legislative delegation heard from citizens in a meeting at the Sedgwick County Courthouse. The 2010 Kansas legislative session starts next week.
Greg Dye of Wichita spoke on the Bank of North Dakota. He says that Kansas should have such a state bank, which would require an amendment to the Kansas Constitution. He also said that states should seek to remove themselves from the control of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Several speakers, including Wichitan Mark Gietzen, who is president of the Kansas Coalition for Life, asked legislators to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. He thanked legislators for passing such a law, and said it was unfortunate that the governor vetoed that bill. He said that Planned Parenthood has plenty of funds, and taxpayer money should not be used to fund organizations that provide abortions.
Allegations of problems with the child protection system in Kansas is usually an issue at these meetings. One speaker said he spent time in jail because of false accusations of a Sedgwick County family law judge. It’s driven by money, he said, in that when a child is judged to be a “child in need of care” the state gets money.
Another speaker said that “every child is nothing but a dollar sign to the system” and made allegations of inappropriate postings on Facebook by SRS attorneys.
Marlene Jones spoke on child issues, citing the Kansas Legislative Post Audit study of 2009 that found that “58 percent of the social workers in Sedgwick County were being pressured by the Sedgwick County DA’s office to include distorted, falsified facts to remove children.” She referenced recent hearings in Topeka where SRS Secretary Don Jordan stated that Kansas’ reunification rate of children with parents is 25 percent, which Jordan also said is the same as the national average. But Jones said that according to HHS statistics, the national average is in fact 52 percent, making Kansas’ average less than half that. Jones said that Sedgwick County’s rate of reunification is only 15 percent. Families of the other 85 percent, therefore, are emotionally and financially destroyed trying to attempt to get their children back, “not knowing that there was never any possibility of that happening.” She urged accountability. There is video of Jones’ testimony.
Kip Schroeder of Wichita acknowledged the difficult job the legislators perform. Over the past ten years, he said, Kansas has lost 17,200 private sector jobs. During the same time Kansas added 20,200 public sector employees, which he said makes it difficult to maintain a balanced budget. He asked that legislators not raise taxes under any circumstances.
Judicial corruption was the topic of several speakers. A citizens’ grand jury, an ombudsman, or some type of outside entity is asked for as a way to investigate this alleged corruption. It’s requested that Jim Morrison, a Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives from Colby and chair of the Government Efficiency and Fiscal Oversight Committee, be given subpoena power to compel testimony under oath.
One speaker suggested a constitutional amendment that would require citizen election of supreme court judges, saying that would cause attorneys and judges to expose each others’ corruption as part of a campaign for election.
Others allege that Blackwater contractors working for the CIA are in Wichita conducting illegal surveillance and killing people in Wichita hospitals, because they were fighting for justice.
Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute presented testimony about how Kansas can make it through the current financial situation without raising taxes or cutting essential services. His remarks may be read by clicking on Solution to Kansas budget crisis offered.
John Todd of Wichita asked legislators to forgo tax increases. “This is not a time to raise taxes on businesses and families that are struggling to pay their bills and trying to maintain their jobs. Economic recovery will come from the private sector, particularly small businesses that don’t need a rollback of hard-fought tax relief gained in previous legislative sessions.” He also recommended legislative approval of appointments to the Kansas Supreme Court, no seat belt requirements or smoking bans, and passage of the state sovereignty resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1615).
KCTU Television’s R.J. Dickens presented a colorful argument for a “real person law,” which would require companies to make it easier to talk to actual customer service persons on the telephone. “We have the right to contact with other human beings in a timely manner,” he said. He added that the Kansas Corporation Commission has fined Kansas utility companies for not answering telephones quickly enough.
Kelly Wendeln spoke on the topic of wind power versus coal generation of electricity. He named all the area legislators who voted against the expansion of the Holcomb Station coal-fired electric plant in Western Kansas.
Gordon Bakken asked legislators to legalize marijuana, saying that enforcement of the marijuana prohibition laws creates more problems than the drug itself.
Joel Weihe of Wichita spoke on downtown Wichita development and revitalization. He asked that legislators turn down requests for tax credits as a Wichita downtown development tool. He said that only a small number of developers benefit from these subsidies. Also the subsidies let government pick winners and losers, and therefore creates an unlevel playing field.
Other coverage is from the Wichita Eagle at Sedgwick Co. residents tell legislators not to raise taxes, Kansas Watchdog at Wichita-area Legislators Hear From Citizens Before Session Starts, State of the state Kansas at Kansas Legislators Hear Capitol Preview, KWCH at Kansas Lawmakers Hear From Citizens, and KAKE at Lawmakers Hear From Citizens Before Heading To Capitol.
The attendance by legislators this year was noticeably lower than in recent years. There were some new voices in the audience this year, but many of the speakers are familiar to the legislators from previous appearances.
Some speakers in these forums and other similar situations demand that legislators “do their jobs” and work for the people, or something similar to that. The problem, however, is that there is a great diversity of opinion on what it means to “work for the people.”
The allegations of widespread corruption in Kansas state and local governments may contain a seed of merit. But sometimes people, after they’ve lost their cases in court or the legislature doesn’t agree with their positions or requests, declare corruption as the reason for their loss. Followers of this blog know that the city council, county commission, school board, Kansas legislature, and United States Congress rarely agree with the positions that I believe in and advocate. I believe that most of these politicians and officeholders are simply misinformed about issues, or that they don’t believe in freedom, liberty, and limited government as I do. It doesn’t mean they’re corrupt. They’re just wrong.