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Legislator Report #2


Last week Governor Brownback gave his 5th 'State of the State Address'. In his address the Governor proposed the legislature pass a constitutional amendment that would specify a priority list for appropriations, or what expenses should be paid first by the state. The proposal would guarantee the state make debt payments first before any other appropriations are made. This resolution would have to pass both the House and Senate with a two-thirds (2/3's) majority and then be approved by Kansas voters for it to be added to the Constitution. The passage of this amendment should help the state achieve a better credit rating.

During his speech, Governor Brownback also called on the legislature to reform the process of selecting Supreme Court Justices to a more democratic model. He proposed the legislature pass a resolution to amend the state's constitution.

Currently, Kansas Supreme Court Justices are selected through a process where-by a commission, made up of 3 members of the Kansas Bar Assoc. (KBA) choose three nominees and the governor then selects one of these to fill the vacancy on the court. The concern is that the current process places a lot of power with unelected individuals who may not be accountable to the people. Kansas is the only state that gives that much authority to its bar association in the judicial nomination process.

One suggestion on the resolution was to model the selection process after the federal model (the Governor appoints and the Senate confirms). The other suggestion would be to move the selection to a direct election. This resolution would also have to be passed by two thirds (2/3) of both the House and Senate and be put before Kansas voters for their approval or rejection.

Judicial selection legislation has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee which I serve on. Both these resolutions, in their current form(s), would receive my support as it allows you-the people- to decide.

Becky Hutchins, 61st State Representative

STATE CAPITOL, Topeka, KS 66612. Phone: 785-296-7653

Email: becky.hutchins@house.ks.gov

Representative Becky Hutchins
January 23, 2015

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Kansas is at risk


To the Editor:

Kansas is at risk.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan stood before the press and television cameras at the White House and held up a report titled A Nation at Risk. Eighteen months in the making and written by members of the National Commission on Excellence in Education at the behest of Secretary of Education, the report examined the quality of education in the United States—and the findings were atrocious . The commission found few signs of encouragement about the American education system. Test scores were rapidly declining, low teaching salaries and poor teacher training programs were leading to a high turnover rate among educators, and other industrialized countries were threatening to outpace America's technological superiority. The report provided mounds of statistical evidence —23 million American adults were functionally illiterate; the average achievement for high school students on standardized tests was lower than before the launch of Sputnik in 1957; and only one-fifth of 17-year old students had the ability to write a persuasive essay.

32 years later Kansas Governor Sam Brownback aims to roll back the clock. Today in Kansas, only one-fifth of 4 year olds have access to public pre-school. But before we get to that, last week Gov. Brownback delivered both the State of the State address and his budget. The speech blamed Public Education for budget woes, which is a lie, but he went further and pointed to prior Republican legislatures as crooks who conspired to make the "at risk" weightings too complicated and confusing in the hope to abuse tax dollars. There seems to be no one he won't throw under the proverbial bus on the quest to income tax elimination.

The Governor's budget essentially rewrites history, or more accurately erases history. School districts are left wondering how the "block grant" will be allocated to each of the nearly 300 districts. Everything since the 1983 Nation at Risk report tells us that students who demonstrate risk factors ranging from poverty to health to geography require significantly more time, talent, and treasure to close the achievement gap with their peers. This budget denies those facts. Gov. Brownback believes that those facts and their subsequent measuring formula for fund allocation are too complicated and confusing.

If Kansas doesn't live up to its constitution and isn't held accountable for not doing so, then the bedrock of democracy is cracked. Thomas Jefferson said "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people". All across the world people fear what they don't understand. Simply because Gov. Brownback does not understand how the at-risk weighting formula works does not mean that it must be destroyed. Fortunately, it is education that rectifies the unknown and diminishes fear.

Under the new budget, each school district is facing unnecessary multi-million dollar cuts for at least the next 2 years. The rest of the country is investing in education, especially early education and Kansas is putting itself at risk. Gov. Brownback has taken none of the steps prescribed by the Federal Court that ruled he is already violating current constitutional law. Retention and recruitment of quality educators is more difficult than ever in this self-inflicted cannibalization of our education system. The future of Kansas is at risk.

Early Education is vital to that future. Pre-K for all 4 year olds is the national standard now. According to the Kansas Department of Education, Kansas is not meeting that standard, only one-fifth of Kansas 4 year olds have access to state funded public school. The evidence regarding early education is overwhelming. Kansas Department of Education report shows at least 7-10% return on investment for every dollar invested in school readiness preparation of our nearly 40,000 Kansas 4 year olds. If all 4 year olds were to be grouped together they would constitute a population comparable to the city of Hutchinson. Age 4 also corresponds with the highest potential for learning to happen. Young families are struggling to pay the exorbitant cost of private pre-school. It costs over $600 a month for pre-school in Manhattan, but only $600 a year for fees at the Public High School. The immediate effects of young families seeing upwards of $7,000 in their pockets from child care savings a year coupled with the 7-10% long term return on investment for the child's early education is staggering when you take that multiplied by 40,000. No other issue does more to drive long-term economic development for businesses than a well-educated workforce. Public Education in Kansas is a constitutional priority, it is the fruit of the Kansans before us, and no other governor has done more to put that sacred trust at risk.

Aaron Estabrook

Board of Education

USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden

Aaron Estabrook
January 23, 2015

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Contractor Licensing


Editor's Note: This is the full text of letter from Dave Karnowski, Chairman of the Construction Board of Appeals, that he read at the Wamego City Commission Meeting Tuesday night.

Our current law requires contractor licensing. This is to protect the property, health and safety of those who occupy buildings. In order to be licensed, they have to meet statutory requirements to show they are capable and qualified to do the work. Those who are licensed risk their livelihood if they do work that does not meet the International Building Code because they have a license to lose.

Licensing is commonly accepted as a means to prove competency where the profession impacts the unsuspecting public who are unaware whether they are in jeopardy or not. Construction is one of those professions. We as a society have advanced beyond such ideas as "let the buyer beware," As good businessmen, we must be good citizens. Those who ignore health and safety by suing non qualified, unlicensed workers, including themselves, to improve their profit margins need to rethink their position. We all have access to the means to be licensed in whatever trade or profession we undertake. There are those who are unwilling to do this and who are seeking special status and a loophole where they can work without being qualified. Our society has progressed beyond the tycoons and slumlords of years gone by who pursued profits with disregard for the rights or safety of others. Businesses today incorporate a degree of responsibility to the people whose lives they impact.

It is not enough to merely carry liability insurance. How do you give someone their life or their health back? Liability insurance merely protects the worker or contractor from bankruptcy if he makes a mistake. We as public officials must be proactive. We have a responsibility to continue to insist that work covered by the International Building Code, as adopted, be done by those who have demonstrate through training and the licensing process a level of responsibility and ability to do work that will not endanger property, health and lives. The Building Official must rely on the training, responsibility and knowledge of these people to insure that the work being done is safe and up to code.

Although he needs to know the code, he cannot be everywhere and see everything. All who are involved in the construction process needs to be responsible to the renting and buying public.

I urge those wishing to do the work covered by licensing in our statutes to get themselves qualified as soon as possible. Certainly, there is enough work for all, and the help would be appreciated.

Dave Karnowski

Chairman Board of Construction Appeal

Dave Karnowski, Chairman Board of Construction Appeal
November 05, 2014

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Casting a vote out of fear


I wake up every morning and turn on the TV in an attempt to get the news I missed during the night and go to bed at night tuning in to the news to help me prepare for another day. Good use of a modern medium I would think. The problem is, I am inundated with political adds and images telling me I need to be afraid.

I should be afraid that a black man is in the White house and ruining our country, I need to be afraid that people of a different color and culture our stealing our democracy and my vote will not count. I am told that if I do not support an ideology that sorts and selects all individual into 2 categories, conservative or liberal, then something is wrong with me. I am told that my vote will either support God or the Devil, Good or Evil, Right or Wrong. Life is not so black and white.

I just want to say to the people who put these adds together and worse yet the politicians that use these tactics---How stupid and gullible do you think I am? Frankly I am extremely insulted that anyone would have such and arrogant and self righteous attitude toward their constituents. I am perfectly capable to cast a vote in response to what I see, what I feel, what I touch, and what I experience, without your influence of distortions of truth, manufactured images, and blatant lies.

My plea to all citizens and voters is that you vote with your heart, the same heart that feels lifted and honored by doing the right thing, even when it is not the easiest thing to do, the heart that does not violate a core value because it might go against an ideology that is popular at the time with your cohorts.

If you wish to honor yourself, vote from your true heart. If this heart is filled with fear and hate of your brothers and sisters, I wish you healing. If your heart is full of hope and gratitude then I wish you would pass it on to your neighbor.

Voting from a position of Fear, is surrender to the interests of those who are not interested in anything but promoting themselves.

Tony Siebert
October 27, 2014

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IS THE SUN SHINING ON YOUR SCHOOLS?


IS THE SUN SHINING ON YOUR SCHOOLS?



Some argue that Governor Brownback has not cut K-12 funding. While the following are not to the penny, let’s analyze the funding amounts for the Wamego school district for the past four years while the Governor has been in office and learn the truth.

Funding amounts change each year due to your weighted district enrollment, Base State Aid and the Local Option Budget which increase or decrease by action of the Legislature and the Governor. The base state aid cuts have been as low as $595 and as high as $653 per student during the past four years. Let’s average it at $625.

The weighted Full Time Equivalent number of students is 2,334.3 X $625 = $1,458,937.50 that your district has been shorted each year by the Governor and the Legislature in violation of State law. This number divided by your general fund of $8,959,043 is a cut of 16.28% per year. Over four years, the cut is $1,458,937.50 X 4 = $5,835,750.

Additionally, your district has been shorted $365,843 per year, or, $1,463,372 over the four year period by the LOB not being fully funded, again, in violation of State law.

Therefore, the annual cut has been (Base State Aid + LOB) $1,458,937.50 + $365,843 = $1,824,780.50. This amount divided by your general fund of $8,959,043 = a 20.36% annual cut that you have had to make up with staff cuts, program cuts, local property tax increases, increased fees to students and parents, drawing down reserves and deferred maintenance.

Any business or household experiencing an income cut of 20.36% would be seriously stressed to make ends meet. Governor Brownback has massively cut your K-12 education funding. The sun is not shining on the schools in Wamego, Kansas.

The idea of forced school consolidation is a topic of interest to many as the Legislature and their special committees continue to examine how to make public schools “more efficient”. The real plan by those who believe school funding is currently adequate or should be reduced even more is to “force school consolidation through starvation”. In other words, continue to under fund schools at such a level that many smaller districts cannot afford to operate the schools in their communities.

Kevin R. McWhorter is a nine year member of the Goddard Board of Education who advocates for all Kansas K-12 students by testifying before the Senate and House Education Committee’s regarding education issues when the Legislature is in session.

Kevin McWhorter
October 08, 2014

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Membership Drive


Dear Editor,

As a valued library patron and a member of the Wamego community, the Friends of the Wamego Public Library organization would like to invite you to become a member or to renew your membership.

The Friends of the Library raises money and support for services offered by the library, ensuring that the Wamego Public Library continues to be an important part of this community. We are also part of the state-wide organization, Friends of Kansas Libraries, whose mission is to support and advocate for superior library services.

The Friends of the Wamego Public Library organization raises funds from memberships, contributions and fundraisers. These funds help the library provide programs, books, materials and services to the community. Here are some of the activities and support we provided during 2013-2014:

• Partnered with Wamego High School Forensics Department & the Columbian Theatre to present ‘Books Come Alive’ family event and fundraiser

• Provided Halloween treats for Trick or Treat in Downtown Wamego

• Organized Annual Thanksgiving Pie Sale Fundraiser

• Hosted the Children’s Tent at the Kansas Sampler Festival in May and will be hosting the tent again in May 2015.

• Provided prize books for the Summer Reading Program

This year, our goal for our membership drive is to purchase new slat boards for the reading room, to display the magazines.

We hope that you will join our organization; your presence is important to us. If you would like to become a Friend, please fill out the included application form and return it to the library. We would love to see you at one of our meetings!

Sincerely,

Friends of the Wamego Public Library

Amy Hecke, Secretary for the Friends of the Wamego Public Library
September 26, 2014

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Dogs as companions


Science has proven dogs experience emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, loneliness, grief, and pain are a few.

Dogs depend on us to provide adequate sustenance (nutritious food, fresh water), adequate health care (flea/tick/mosquito/worm preventive, vaccinations, grooming), trust us, love us unconditionally.

Dogs can sense our emotion, provide loving companionship; protect us, add stability to our lives, help us overcome/deal with physical and mental health issues, teach us what love is, and responsibility. They crave our touch, attention, gentle words, approval. Dogs see us as family, and we should see them as family members.

Dogs are not yard art. Imagine being outside in the heat in a fur coat. Shade does little to cool us, same for dogs. Dogs cool themselves by panting but cannot provide much relief on hot days. When panting is obstructed there is less cooling effect. Dogs outside in summer need shaded areas. A child’s pool of cool water is helpful. A dog’s coat can provide some warmth in winter, but they need more in colder months. In situations where dogs can’t be inside, make sure their outside environment is as comfortable as possible and spend plenty of time with them.

Dogs need exercise, whether it is being taken for walks or playing in the yard. They long to be with us. When walking your dog, make sure the sidewalks aren’t too hot to burn their paws. Different breeds have different exercise requirements so research what your type of dog requires. Never leave dogs unattended in the car. In warmer months temps rise quickly, even if parked in shade. On a 75 degree day the temp can raise to 118 in 10 minutes.

If a dog acts out, there is a reason - provocation, lack of training, lack of exercise, or loneliness. Some breeds require more personal care, companionship, or a job to do. Dogs can adapt to less than ideal situations, it is our obligation to provide proper care. If we see a dog treated poorly or being abused, speak up.

Ms. Troy Lynn Eckart
September 02, 2014

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Classified Live


Dear Editor,

I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed the article about rower Liz Scherer. My daughter is a rower at Kansas State and the great words she said about rowing, I could have heard out of Mary Rose's mouth. My husband and I just laughed and said HOW TRUE!! The only thing Liz missed, was to let you know that when rowing in a 2K OR 5K, the rowers have to ROW to the starting point!! They are NOT left off there. So....before they even begin the race, they have already rowed the equivalent of that race just getting to the starting line.

Thank you for writing about a local D1 athlete that worked very hard in her sport.

Sincerely,

Mary Rose Eakes



(I didn't know how to write the letter to Editor for the paper, so I sent this way. I hope that's ok.)

Mary Rose Eakes
August 09, 2014

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4th of July


My son-in-law runs the Youth Group Fireworks stand each year so we came to Wamego to celebrate the 4th with our family. What a great day we had! We enjoyed meeting many wonderful folks, the carnival, the parade and the best fireworks we've ever seen. Congratulations Wamego! Way to go!

Maureen Suprenant
July 05, 2014

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Flag Ceremony


Dear Editor,

Several of hours of planning have gone into play to organize laying to rest American Flags. Flags have been gathered from several different towns including, Hays, Blue Valley/Randolph, Wamego, Belvue, St. Marys, Louisville, Manhattan, Topeka, Ogden, Silver Lake, Westmoreland, and even Denver, Colorado.

Beginning back in May, thinking I wasn't even going to reach my goal of 500 American Flags, has almost tripled. Right now, I have 1,382 old, tattered, destroyed flags that need to be laid to rest. On July 2nd, I would like invite the public to First Baptist Church to be apart of this opportunity. This ceremony will begin promptly at 11am. The ceremony will begin with an opening of the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. A brief description of the American Flag will also be given.

The ceremony has been dedicated to 5 Men who have served our Great Nation. A donation table will also be set-up to donate towards the Wamego Veteran Memorial that will be established in the City Park. Donations can be brought to the event or even sent to the Wamego Community Foundation, Memo: WAVM Donation, PO Box 245, Wamego, KS, 66547.

I would like to thank all those who have donated flags and have helped make this event possible. Thank you to those who have donated water and snacks including, Gene's Heartland Food, Hy-Vee in Manhattan and WalMart in Manhattan. As well, as First Baptist Church for allowing this ceremony to be taken place at their facility.

Cody Filbert, Flag Ceremony Coordinator
June 26, 2014

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