Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Kansas Senate President, Republican Steve Morris of Hugoton, is an ethical man who spilled the beans on Governor Brownback violating Kansas's Open Meetings Law.  When Sam did this he crossed the "Misconduct in Office" line making him eligible for recall under Article 43 of the Kansas Statutes.
As reported in the Capital-Journal online edition, @ http://cjonline.com/news/2012-01-30/morris-i-warned-about-koma-violations, Senator Morris attended a "legislative dinner" at the Executive Mansion, Cedar Crest, on January 9th.  Also present were members of the Senate KPERS Select Committee and the House Pensions and Benefits Committee.  During the "dinner" Brownback began advocating, saying the committees had to "do something" about KPERS.  Senator Morris quickly raised the red flag warning, he said "We can't do this."  Morris was right.
In an amazing display of "now you see me, now you don't" the Governor's spokesperson,  Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said:  the dinners are "private" and don’t violate KOMA because they are "social gatherings."

Of course they are "social gatherings" they are the "social gatherings" where Brownback wants to scheme the methodology of his extreme agenda. And that makes them meetings which should be open to the public.  If they were just "social gatherings" the Governor would have said something like, "Oh KPERS, yes, when we get back to work on Monday we can schedule a meeting about getting something done. By the way how is the family." But that wasn't close to the conversation reported by the President of the Kansas Senate.

Sam Brownback has tried to sell a lot of crazy ideas to Kansas since becoming Governor.  But you don't recall him because he wants to tax the poor and help the rich.  You don't recall him because he wants to give wealthy school districts the ability to raise money for their schools and your kids and grandkids don't get squat.  You don't recall him for any of his bad ideas.  It is politics and he is entitled to have all the bad ideas he wants.
Secrecy, the deliberate assault on transparency, and stealth government followed up by cover-up remarks from an official spokesperson?  Now you have conduct "impacting " the Governor's ability to perform the duties of his office.
Come on Democrats.  It is time to recall Sam Brownback.
What does it take to recall Sam Brownback?  You have to read Chapter 25 Article 43 of the Kansas Statutes.  That's K.S.A. 25-4301 et seq. 

25-4302.Grounds for recall. (a) Grounds for recall are conviction of a felony, misconduct in office or failure to perform duties prescribed by law. No recall submitted to the voters shall be held void because of the insufficiency of the grounds, application, or petition by which the submission was procured.
(b) As used in this section, the term "misconduct in office" means a violation of law by the officer that impacts the officer's ability to perform the official duties of the office.

75-4317.Open meetings declared policy of state; citation of act. (a) In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the policy of this state that meetings for the conduct of governmental affairs and the transaction of governmental business be open to the public.
(b) It is declared hereby to be against the public policy of this state for any such meeting to be adjourned to another time or place in order to subvert the policy of open public meetings as pronounced in subsection (a).
(c) K.S.A. 75-4317 through 75-4320a shall be known and may be cited as the open meetings act.

 75-4317a.Meeting defined. As used in the open meetings act, "meeting" means any gathering or assembly in person or through the use of a telephone or any other medium for interactive communication by a majority of the membership of a body or agency subject to this act for the purpose of discussing the business or affairs of the body or agency.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Kansas House Bill Number 2526, introduced by the Committee on Energy and Utilities,  is a piece of legislative art.  On the face it looks like it merely gives the Kansas Corporations Commissions additional authority to "promulgate rules and regulations necessary for the supervision and disclosure of any well on which a hydraulic fracturing treatment is performed."
That was Section One of the bill.  Section Two is only one sentence long, and threatens to dismantle all the regulatory protocol which the Corporations Commissions has written, or may in the future write.  Section Two says " K.S.A. 55-152 is hereby repealed."  
The way this bill is drafted reminds of the peanut under the shell game.  Now you see it now you don't.  K.S.A. 55-152 is important because it gives local groundwater districts the power to develop more stringent controls than the state requires.  It says, in pertinent part:  
Any such rules and regulations relating to wells providing cathodic protection to prevent corrosion to lines shall not preempt existing standards and policies adopted by the board of directors of a groundwater management district if such standards and policies provide protection of fresh water to a degree equal to or Any such rules and regulations relating to wells providing cathodic protection to prevent corrosion to lines shall not preempt existing standards and policies adopted by the board of directors of a groundwater management district if such standards and policies provide protection of fresh water to a degree equal to or greater than that provided by such rules and regulations. greater than that provided by such rules and regulations.
 Lacking statutory authority to promulgate rules protecting the environment will have the effect of legislative repeals of the existing rules.  This sets Kansas on a course of certain environmental catastrophe.  Repealing K.S.A. 55-152  is a very bad idea.

No doubt in my mind exists that the whole committee did not unanimously agree to this bill.  This is a problem with the Kansas Legislature where legislators don't want to own their bills. Instead they take cover from the committee of origin. 
The Chair of the Committee on Energy and Utilities is Dodge City Republican Representative Carl Holmes.  The Vice Chair is Fredonia Republican Forrest Knox.  The Ranking Member is Topeka Democrat Annie Kuether.  The members of the committee are Ulysses Republican Steve Alford, Leawood Republican Rob Bruchman, Topeka Republican Mike Burgess, Wichita Democrat Nile Dillmore, Wichita Democrat Gail Finney, Kansas City Democrat Stan Frownfelter, Wichita Republican Phil Hermanson, Dighton Republican Don Hineman, Garden City Republican Reynaldo Mesa, Parsons Republican Richard Proehl, Inman Republican Don Schroeder, Pretty Prairie Republican Joe Seiwert, Mission Democrat Mike Slattery, Lawrence Republican Tom Sloan, Overland Park Republican Greg Smith, and Clay Center Republican Vern Swanson.
 Whether or not your Representative is on the Committee on Energy and Utilities, let your Representative know that you oppose repeal of K.S.A. 55-152.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Let's be clear, voting is a fundamental right. The Legal Information Institute, http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fundamental_right, provides this discussion of what the term "fundamental right" entails:

Fundamental rights are a group of rights that have been recognized by the Supreme Court as requiring a high degree of protection from government encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in the Constitution (especially in the Bill of Rights), or have been found under Due Process. Laws limiting these rights generally must pass strict scrutiny to be upheld as constitutional. Examples of fundamental rights not specifically listed in the Constitution include the right to marry and the right to privacy, which includes a right to contraception and the right to interstate travel.

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary

In constitutional law, certain rights protected by the due process or equal protection clause that cannot be regulated unless the regulating law passes a rigorous set of criteria (strict scrutiny). Fundamental rights, as defined by the Supreme Court, include various rights of privacy (such as marriage and contraception), the right to interstate travel, and the right to vote. [Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.]

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach waged a campaign premised on the need to curtail voter fraud.  His campaign represented the height of intellectual fraud as he sold a bogus argument to a willing Republican electorate.  I call it intellectual fraud, which Reference.com defines as that which "signifies falsification of a position taken or implied by an author or speaker, within a book, controversy or debate, or an idea deceptively presented to hide known logical weaknesses."  See, http://www.reference.com/browse/fraud.

Kris Kobach falsified the position that there was widespread voter fraud in Kansas in his 2010 with Secretary of State Chris Biggs.  Kobach deceptively presented his idea which he knew, or should have known, had logical weaknesses.  But Kobach's intellectual fraud did not stop with his false campaign against Biggs.  And yes, I said false campaign because, as cited by the Osawatomie Journal this past Wednesday, the New York Times reported that "...Kansas had only one prosecution for voter fraud in the last six years.  But because of that vast threat to Kansas democracy, an estimated 620,000 Kansas residents who lack government ID now stand to lose their right to vote." 

Kobach's campaign said the photo identification was needed to assure the fairness of our elections.  Denying 600,000 Kansans the right to vote is fair?  I think not.  Now the logical weaknesses come home to roost.  If you are one of the 600,000 who live in either Miami County or Linn County   you cannot simply go to the office of the County Clerk and get your free state issued photo identification.  You have to go to Olathe, Johnson County, Kansas. 

Think about that, you don't have a driver's license, don't need a driver's license, don't want a driver's license, but in order to vote you have to go north a county or two to get a free state issued photo identification card.

That card isn't going to be free if you need to present a certified copy of your birth certificate, which you do not have, to get the state issued photo identification card.  That is why Kobach's law is an end run around the 24th Amendment which banned poll taxes. 

Now Kobach is getting all huffy blaming State Senator Kelly Kutala [D - Kansas City] for his failure, as Secretary of State, to shepherd his bills through the Kansas Legislature.  There is another problem with the state issued photo identification card.  The story is fully reported by the Topeka Capitol Journal online edition @ http://cjonline.com/news/2012-01-26/kobach-blames-kultala-free-id-flap. 

The article says that "workers in the Bureau of Vital Statistics, overseen by KDHE, were under the impression that they were to continue charging for all birth certificates until 2013."  Kobach thought they were going to be "free" this year.  Kobach didn't exercise due diligence and follow up on his own legislation.  This is what happens when the Secretary of State is more interested in political fanfare than the orderly administration of his office.  And didn't Chris Biggs warn us about this?

More logical weaknesses in Kobach's photo identification come from what you'd expect the Ivy League educated Law Professor to understand.  Either he doesn't or he doesn't care.  When a state is going to regulate a fundamental right it must do so in the least restrictive manner possible, it must do so only when there is a compelling state interest so to do, it must narrowly tailor its statute to achieve compliance with that compelling state interest.  Kobach hasn't done any of this.

There is no voter fraud of statistically significance in Kansas. As the New York Times reported in the previous six years there has been only one prosecution.  Since Kobach took office he found no widespread voter irregularity.  At one point Kobach said there were 67 cases, then it dropped to 41 cases, and no matter how few instances he can cite there have been zero prosecutions since he took office.  Had Kobach stumbled onto even a small cluster voter fraud cases, he would be strutting around Kansas like a banty rooster.  He didn't, he ain't.
If there is no voter fraud, there is no compelling state interest.  If there is no compelling state interest then this statute needs to be struck down in federal court as an unlawful interference with the right to vote.

Kobach's statute is not providing the least restrictive means nor is it narrowly tailored to achieve the nonexistent compelling state interest.  Kobach's statute requires the citizen to bear the expense of obtaining a certified copy of his or her birth certificate before getting the "free" photo identification card.  Kobach's statute requires citizens to travel out of county to find a state office capable of issuing the "free" photo identification card. 

The law, if it were needed - and it is not- could have made it easier on the citizen to register to vote.  This is why, if you don't have your birth certificate you can go online and get one.  That costs between $20 and $30.  The cost aside for a moment, what happens when you ask the internet site for a birth certificate?  That web site verifies that you are you by having you answer a series of question to which only you will know the answers.  You answer those questions correctly and you pay and you get the certified copy of the birth certificate shipped by USPS, or UPS, or FedEx directly to your door. 

So why go through the middleman?  Isn't the least restrictive means to give all the County Clerks and DMV offices access to that data base.  That way when a citizen shows up at the DMV, the County Courthouse, or its Annex the county or state employee can log on and verify, with the same degree of certitude that gets a person a birth certificate from a web site, that the citizen is who the citizen says they are.  And doesn't it make sense in many of Kansas' rural counties to let local officials look across the counter and see their neighbors, and knowing that their neighbors are who they say they are expedite this process.  And yes, the State of Kansas should bear this cost to correct Kobach's problem which doesn't exist. 

If there was an issue with voter fraud in Kansas, and there is not, Kobach purports himself to be a man smart enough and educated sufficiently to craft legislation that is more Constitutionally compatible.  His failure so to do makes me think his intellectual fraud runs deep.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


My best guess is that if you asked most Americans, or for that matter most Kansans, what the Establishment Clause is that the most common answers would be in the range of "don't know" to "something in the Constitution."  The Establishment Clause is one of two clauses in the First Amendment to the Constitution dealing with religion.  The other is the Free Exercise Clause.

The Establishment Clause says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  The Establishment Clause applies to the States of the Union through the Fourteenth Amendment.   You can effectively read the clause as "Kansas shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" because that's the way a federal judge will read it.

Most folks will begin to remember what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison said in their writings on this topic.  They spoke about a wall of separation between church and state.  Jefferson wrote:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

In 1947 the Supreme Court began to weigh in on the Establishment Clause.  Justice Black used the wall of separation analogy.  The case is called Everson v. Board of Education and the issue was whether reimbursing parents for the cost of transporting school children to and from school violated the Establishment Clause where the students were taken back and forth to parochial schools.  Black said paying the parochial schools directly would be a violation, but that reimbursing the parents furthered a legitimate state secular interest in safely transporting children.

Everson tells us, because all nine members of the Supreme Court told us, that the Establishment Clause reaches far beyond a state adopting a particular religion as that state's religion.  This wall separating church and state is not made of granite.  Think of it as an old plaster wall in a house where the foundation has settled.  There are cracks, sometimes there is light or air moving through the wall. 

Consider prayer and religious education for public school children.  A knee jerk bright line approach would say never, not at all, you can't do that.  Two cases show how the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.  McCollum v. Board of Education, is a 1948 case finding eight justices more or less agreeing (Justice Black delivered the opinion of the Court, Justice Frankfurter delivered a concurring opinion joined by Justices Jackson, Rutledge, and Burton.  Justice Jackson delivered a separate concurring opinion, and Justice Reed dissented).  In McCollum religious instruction was provided in public schools and the Court said this was a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.

The other side of the coin, off premises religious education, gets a different result in Zorach v. Clauson where public school students were given release time to attend religious instruction in the churches and synagogues of their choice.  In a 6 to 3 decision the Court said that public facilities were not being used for the purpose of religious instruction and that "no student was forced to go to the religious classroom." Justice Douglas, who wrote the majority opinion, argued that there was "no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence."  Douglas also said, "Government may not finance religious groups nor undertake religious instruction nor blend secular and sectarian education nor use secular institutions to force one or some religion on any person." (Emphasis added).

Reading those early cases we see that the discussion of the Establishment Clause tended to focus on children and education.  Today we are on the verge of new analysis of the Establishment Clause, that is because the religiously motivated Anti-Abortion forces in Kansas are proposing to excise the language of science in the state laws regarding abortion and replace that language with the language of religion.  This insidious encroachment effectively removes the objective based scientific standards of gamete, zygote, embryo, and fetus with the all inclusive, straight from the Theology in Opposition to Roe v. Wade, term "unborn child."

Justice Stevens' opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Center, in which he concurred in part and dissented in part, gives the Kansas Legislature words to heed.  He said, "Indeed, I am persuaded that the absence of any secular purpose for the legislative declarations that life begins at conception and that conception occurs at fertilization makes the relevant portion of the preamble invalid under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution. This conclusion does not, and could not, rest on the fact that the statement happens to coincide with the tenets of certain religions, see McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 442 (1961); Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297, 319-320 (1980), or on the fact that the legislators who voted to enact it may have been motivated by religious considerations, see Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 253 (1976) (STEVENS, J., concurring). Rather, it rests on the fact that the preamble, an unequivocal endorsement of a religious tenet of some, but by no means all, Christian faiths, serves no identifiable secular purpose. That fact alone compels a conclusion that the statute violates the Establishment Clause. Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 56 (1985)." (Emphasis added).

When it comes to abortion and abortion related statutes, the Kansas Legislature is essentially doing a cut and paste job.  They are intent on cutting scientific language and pasting religious dogma, their insidious encroachment of religious text serves no secular purpose thus violating the Establishment Clause.

The offending bills include House Substitute for Senate Bill Number 34, Substitute for Senate Bill Number 36, House Bill Number 2035, House Bill Number 2218, Substitute for House Bill 2242, House Bill 2292, House Bill 2337, and House Bill 2377.  And do not forget House Concurrent Resolution Number 5029.  Although this ill-conceived constitutional amendment does not use the language of "unborn child" it clearly establishes gametes, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses as "persons" thus making another insidious encroachment, science be damned, of religion into law.

It is one thing to be either pro-life or pro-choice.  It is altogether another thing to be an anti-abortion extremist intent on supplanting the law of the land with a theology developed to counter the Supreme Court's opinion in Roe v. Wade.  Here the anti-abortion forces and their minions in the Kansas Legislature are posed to wreck havoc on women and force the State of Kansas into needless and expensive federal litigation. 

Adequate restraints on abortion already exist without taking the religious views of some Christians and forcing them upon the balance of society.  A July 2011 Gallup Poll found 26% of Americans think abortion should be legal under any circumstance, 51% think abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and a minority view with 20% thinking abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. 
It is time for saner minds and adult thinking to prevail in the Kansas Legislature, it is time to reject these extreme attempts to violate the Establishment Clause with respect to abortion related laws in Kansas.  Will the grown ups please take charge!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


House Bill No. 2330, the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act, is back.  For the third time this medical marijuana bill is trying to get an up or down vote.  In 2012 medical marijuana is not a trivial or a controversial issue. 

It is not trivial because the extremely conservative fiscal note accompanying the bill says the state will reap nearly a million dollars in extra revenue if the H.B. 2330 becomes law.  Specifically the estimate is an increase to state coffers of $971,871. 
This is no longer a controversial measure since about one third of the states of the Union have already passed similar legislation.  Those fifteen states are, in alphabetical order, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island and Washington.

H.B. 2330 was introduced by the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development and it is a well written thorough piece of legislation.  The bill is available online from the Kansas Legislature's web portal @ http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/documents/hb2330_00_0000.pdf.

The bill repeals K.S.A. 79-5210, which says "Nothing in this act [the Marijuana Stamp Act] requires persons registered under article 16 of chapter 65 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated or otherwise lawfully in possession of marijuana or a controlled substance to pay the tax required under this act."  Instead, the person in lawful possession of the cannabis pays, under H.B. 2330, the rates established by K.S.A. 79-5202.  Those rates are

(1) On each gram of marijuana, or each portion of a gram, $3.50;
(2) on each gram of a wet domestic marijuana plant, $.40;
(3) on each gram of a dry domestic marijuana plant, $.90;
(4) on each gram of controlled substance, or portion of a gram, $200; and
 (5) on each 50 dosage units of a controlled substance that is not sold by weight, or portion thereof, $2,000.
           (b) For the purpose of calculating the tax hereunder, an ounce of marijuana or other controlled substance is measured by the weight of the substance in the dealer's possession. The weight of the marijuana or controlled substance includes all material, mixture or preparation that is added to the marijuana or controlled substance.

Those rates appear to be directed at the medical marijuana pharmacy, and not necessarily at the medical marijuana patient.  The Committee will do a better job in crafting this worthy bill if it takes some time to tell Kansans what the pharmacists must pay in taxes and what the patients must pay.  Or will all the taxes be passed forward to the patient?  This refinement will be easy for the Legislature to accomplished because the bill more than adequately defines the useable portions of the marijuana plant.  We shouldn't be taxing the stuff going to the compost pile.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Kansas Proposed Constitutional Amendment is A Really Bad Idea

House Concurrent Resolution Number 5029, called the "Human Life Amendment" by its proponents demonstrates how far the anti-abortion crowd will go to establish their religious view of when life begins, and when that life ought to be considered a person.  These extremists are not only challenging Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make personal and private decisions for herself.  These extremists are also challenging Griswold v. Connecticut.

Connecticut passed a law saying it was illegal to use any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception and that any person who assists, abets, counsels, causes, hires or commands another to commit any offense, under that law, may be prosecuted and punished.  Okay so if you use the pill, especially if you use the pill, you and your doctor, and your doctor's staff, and your pharmacist could all be thrown into jail under a Connecticut style law.

And what is it that the anti-abortion crowd wants written into the Kansas Constitution? They want the first section of the Constitution of Kansas amended to say (and the changes are in italics):

"§ 1. Equal rights. All men are possessed of equal and inalienable
natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Recognizing the authority of the state of Kansas to exercise its police
power and it sovereign right to adopt individual liberties in the
constitution of the state of Kansas more expansive than those conferred by
the constitution of the United States, the state of Kansas shall hereby
guarantee the inalienable rights, equal protection and due process of law
of every human being from the beginning of the biological development of
that human being, including fertilization."

In case you didn't know birth control uses hormones to cause the fertilized egg to detach from the lining of the uterus.  That means that using the pill, among other forms of birth control, will be outlawed in Kansas.

It is ironic that this proposal wants to extend the Constitutional protections of due process of law to gametes, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses.  Why?  Well, as of today the Kansas Constitution doesn't guarantee due process of law to anyone at all.

Justice Blackmun in his dissent in Webster v. Reproductive Health Center, sheds light on the Constitutional infirmity H.C.R. 5029 will eventually face if it is adopted by the state of Kansas.  Blackmun said:

"To the extent that it has substantive impact on the freedom to use contraceptive procedures, it is inconsistent with the central holding in Griswold. To the extent that it merely makes "legislative findings without operative effect," as the State argues, it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Contrary to the theological "finding" of the Missouri Legislature, a woman's constitutionally protected liberty encompasses the right to act on her own belief that -- to paraphrase St. Thomas Aquinas -- until a seed has acquired the powers of sensation and movement, the life of a human being has not yet begun."

That's right, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, did not subscribe to this notion that life begins at conception.  That religious notion is new, it is a theology developed after the opinion in Roe v. Wade was rendered.   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Elitism, cronyism, and an invitation to at least the appearance of impropriety, if not impropriety lies at the heart of Kansas House Bill 2452.  This bill gives the Governor a dozen golden tickets to dispense to his pals for big game hunting in Kansas.

The current fee charged by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism for a nonresident white-tailed deer permit is $322.50.  A dozen of these permits costs $3,870.  If the Governor wants to have his rich buddies, and I hope he goes hunting with former Vice President Dick Cheney, come to Kansas to exchange their big bucks for our big bucks, then he can have them pay their way.  Either way he's going to get their big bucks!
Another bad idea comes in the form of H.B. 2460 which wants to eliminate employer contributions to KPERS for the first year of an employee's contribution.  Currently, the employer is paying 7% of the amount the employee contributes in the first year. 

Elitist Republicans want to nickel and dime KPERS participants, state workers, and give the Governor a dozen big game permits for his cronies. 


The Petroleum Industry enjoys records profits and each and every Kansas School District is scrimping to find enough money to educate the children of Kansas.  So here comes the Kansas House Committee on Taxation riding to the rescue of Kansas' kids, right? Wrong!  The Committee on Taxation comes thundering in like a band of marauders with their proposal, House Bill No. 2264.  This bill wants to eliminate the property tax on the market value of the mineral rights in Kansas.  That is not property tax on the oil rights, the natural gas rights, the fracing rights, even the tax paid by salt mines. 

In another of example of Republican Tax Cut Madness, the Committee on Taxation proposes reducing revenues in the face of burgeoning expenses.  Educating Kansas' kids is not a frivolous expense, rather it is a necessary obligation and the duty of the state.  H.B. 2264 is a bad bill. There is a hearing today at 3:30 p.m. in the Capitol at Room Docking 783.

OPPOSE H.B. 2264.

The Fiscal Note to H.B. 2264 says:

Passage of HB 2264 would decrease property tax revenues by providing a new property tax exemption. The state funds directly affected by this bill are the two building funds, the Educational Building Fund (EBF) and the State Institutions Building Fund (SIBF). The Department of Revenue estimates this bill would decrease revenues to these two funds by $14,722 in FY 2012, with $9,815 attributable to the EBF and $4,907 attributable to the SIBF. The bill would also have an effect on state expenditures for aid to school districts. To the extent that school districts would receive less property tax revenue through the state’s uniform mill levy, the state provides more state aid through the school finance formula. The Department of Revenue estimates the increased state expenditures for aid to schools to be $196,300 in FY 2012. The bill would also decrease revenues to any local government that levies a property tax in a jurisdiction where minerals are severed. Any fiscal effect associated with HB 2264 is not reflected in The FY 2012 Governor’s Budget Report. (Emphasis added).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Quietly, the Kansas House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Utilities is opening the door to hydraulic fracturing, which is known by the variant terms of fracking, fraccing, and fracing.  H.B. No. 2164, AN ACT concerning property; relating to ownership of pore space, should be of interest to everyone, and not just those in the Land Title Industry.  Read the bill online @ http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/documents/hb2164_00_0000.pdf.

Pore Space is the gaps in hard rock, such as tight shale, formations where oil and natural gas have been locked in by nature.  These products naturally move in zones of natural fractures in the rock formation.  In order to get the oil and gas out of these zones Petroleum Companies want to inject fracing fluid into the fracture zones. 

The problem with fracing, as the above video clip clearly demonstrates, is that either the fracing fluid, the petroleum products, or a combination of both can enter the fresh water supplies and pollute drinking water. Employing the standards of the American Petroleum Institute, [API], and using care and thoroughness the freshwater aquifers are supposed to be protected.  This protection is accomplished by housing the well bore in two or three layers of steel tubing and one or two layers of impervious cement, along with packers.  Packers are expanding rings at the bottom of the wellbore cased in cement.

That sounds good, but the problem is apparently not everyone is employing the API standards with care and thoroughness.  Since fracing in other parts of the country have led to ignitable drinking water Kansas must set a firm standard.  Kansas must assure the safety of our drinking water by making fracing operations comply with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, [SWDA].
From American Law and Jurisprudence on Fracing, by Thomas E. Kurth, Michael J. Mazzone, Mary S. Mendoza, and Christopher S. Kulander (© 2010 Haynes and Boone, LLP) @ http://www.haynesboone.com/files/Publication/3477accb-8147-4dfc-b0b4-380441178123/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/195a3398-5f02-4905-b76d-3858a6959343/American_Law_Jurisprudence_Fracing.pdf we learn why opponents of fracing rely on SWDA.

According to The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit
environmental organization, drilling companies are avoiding federal
law and injecting toxic petroleum distillates into wells and threatening drinking water supplies. Opponents of fracing allege that water supplies are threatened because “30 to 60% of the fracing fluid stays in the geological strata and may escape through the existing or new fractures and contaminate surface groundwater.”

What is concerning, opponents claim, is that the additives in fracing
fluids are highly poisonous and carcinogenic. The fluids include, they claim, “potentially toxic substances such as diesel fuel, which contain benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; methanol; formaldehyde; ethylene glycol; glycol ethers; hydrochloric acid; and sodium hydroxide.” The non-profit agency, ProPublica, reported that in July 2008, a hydrologist sampled a water well in rural Sublette County, Wyoming–the home of one of the largest natural gas fields and has thousands of wells that have undergone hydraulic fracing. The test showed that the water “contained
benzene…in a concentration 1,500 times the level safe for people.”

If you find yourself confused by the propaganda spun by the Petroleum Industry and the claims asserted by the opponents of fracing, I suggest you study the EPA's Proceedings of the Technical Workshops for the Hydraulic Fracturing Study: Fate and Transport @ http://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/epa600r11047.pdf.

My gut reaction is that fracing produces additional oil and natural gas from existing wells, and that production drops off quickly in what is called the decline curve.  Therefore the production is short term and care and thoroughness of operators implementing the API standards may give way to corners being cut and groundwater protection receiving short shrift.  The result is that aquifers and groundwater become polluted with carcinogenic chemicals.  I believe that Kansas must enforce SWDA relative to oil and natural gas production in the state and that fraccing wells be subject to strict inspection to insure proper steel casings, impervious cement, and packers are installed in accordance with API standards.
The Petroleum Industry has proved itself, time and again, that they are not able to put safety first.  I do not trust them with the water we drink.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Brownback Family Reunion

The Governor has been making a lot of news recently.  He wants to deny essentially equal access to Kansas school children who do not happen to live in a wealthy county.  Of course if you live in Johnson County, Kansas (the nation's 68th richest county according to city-data. com @ http://www.city-data.com/forum/maryland/1189037-2009-acs-census-data-100-wealthiest.html) then Brownback wants you to be able to tax yourselves for the schools that only money can buy.  If you cross the Kansas River to the North then you're up a creek without a paddle, but in the company of most Kansas counties, because your county doesn't have enough value in its tax base to compete with Johnson County.
Then the Governor wants to lower taxes.  Gee, it is a tax break for everyone, ain't that great.  Well Sam wants to do to Kansas what President George W. Bush did to America.  It is real simple, the largest share of the tax cuts will accrue to the wealthiest Kansans, while the rest of us will be asked to do with less and pay more for it.  The Lawrence Journal World published an excellent report @ http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/jan/12/details-brownbacks-tax-plan-revealed/?kansas_legislature.  So sure, Sam is going to be a hit with the country club set in Johnson County.  The folks who work for a living up there probably aren't as excited about either Sam's School Financing Folly or his Tax Cut Madness. 

It seems to have escaped the attention of the Governor that the state's ledger has two side, both debit and credit.  You'd think by now Sam would realize that the responsible thing is to have Kansas pay its way.  You don't get there by cutting revenue.  But it seems as though Sam comes by this naturally, maybe even genetically.  You see the Brownback Family has been sucking heavily from the Treasury Department.  Here is a little eye opener on the largesse the Brownback Family has enjoyed, courtesy of the taxpayer.  I got this heads up from Cheryl Hudspeth, thanks Lady!  The report is online @ http://farm.ewg.org/addrsearch.php?s=yup&stab=KS&zip&last=brownback&first&i=Search+Recipients&fullname&stab2=AL.

<><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><> <><>
Subsidy Total

Parker, KS 66072

$ 385,187.74
Parker, KS 66072
$ 339,690.58

Mound City, KS 66056

$ 231,237.15
Mound City, KS 66056
$ 73,545.18

Topeka, KS 66610

$ 48,852.00
Mound City, KS 66056
$ 38,608.04

Mound City, KS 66056

$ 25,350.01
Centerville, KS 66014
$ 23,007.40

Centerville, KS 66014

$ 19,760.06
Lyndon, KS 66451
$ 5,684.00

Centerville, KS 66014

$ 3,687.00
Lacygne, KS 66040
$ 2,831.00

Lyndon, KS 66451

$ 2,631.00
La Cygne, KS 66040
$ 1,611.00

Parker, KS 66072

$ 1,337.00
Caldwell, KS 67022
$ 1,199.00

Blue Mound, KS 66010

$ 1,064.00
Parker, KS 66072
$ 594.00

Sam and his clan are getting theirs, but he sure as heck doesn't want you and yours getting a fair shake.