For those of you who don’t know what this post is about, see DAY 1
K is for:
On April 23rd, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill “nullifying city and county gun restrictions” to ensure that it is legal to “openly carry firearms” throughout the state.
The law takes effect on July 1.
According to cjonline.com, the law will “sweep away restrictions on open carry.” It will also “prevent cities and counties from enacting restrictions on firearm sales or how guns are stored or transported.”
Supporters of the law say it will correct “a patchwork of local regulations [that have] infringed on gun-ownership rights.”
But Melissa Wangemann, legal counsel for the Kansas Association of Counties, believes the law “shows a lack of trust in local elected officials.” She said it takes away the ability of “pro-2nd Amendment counties” to expand concealed carry on their own.
Wangemann also said this law means her counties “can’t enact any regulation,” nor can they tell gun owners, “Keep your safety on, keep the gun on your side, don’t lay it on your desk.”
On March 25th, Breitbart News reported that West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signed a bill eliminating local ordinances against carrying guns in his state as well.
Federal officials must help Kansas and Arizona enforce laws requiring new voters to document their U.S. citizenship, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, in a decision that could encourage other Republican-led states to consider similar policies.
U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita, Kan., ordered the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to immediately modify a national voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about their states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements.
Both require new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other documentation to prove their U.S. citizenship to election officials. The federal registration form requires only that prospective voters sign a statement declaring they are citizens.
Kansas and Arizona asked the federal agency for state-specific modifications, but it refused. The states and their top elected officials – Secretaries of State Kris Kobach of Kansas and Ken Bennett of Arizona, both conservative Republicans – sued the agency last year.
Most voters in both states register with state forms, but their officials said the availability of the federal form created a loophole in enforcement of proof-of-citizenship requirements. Supporters argue the requirements preclude voter fraud by preventing noncitizens from voting, particularly those in the country illegally.
“This is a really big victory, not just for Kansas and Arizona but for all 50 states,” Kobach told The Associated Press. “Kansas has paved the way for all states to enact proof-of-citizenship requirements.”
Arizona enacted its proof-of-citizenship requirement by voter initiative in 2004, and Alabama, Georgia and Kansas followed with similar laws. Kansas’ rule took effect last year.
Critics of such laws view them as suppressing voter participation. They also said the federal National Voter Registration Act, enacted in the 1990s, was meant to simplify registration across the country and allowed federal officials to reject a modification of the national form.
Jonathan Brater, legal counsel for the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice, said Melgren’s ruling, if it stands, would erode Congress’ power to protect voting rights. The center represented the national League of Women Voters and its Arizona and Kansas chapters, which intervened in the lawsuit.
“There is a concern that other states could move to pass some of these misguided laws,” Brater said. “There can be a copycat effect.”
Melgren said the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to set voter qualifications, and Congress has not pre-empted it, even in enacting the 1990s law.
The federal commission and the national League of Women Voters were reviewing the decision Wednesday and not saying whether they’d appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
But league President Elisabeth MacNamara said: “Our first impression is that it’s a harsh decision and it’s a decision that will harm voters.”
The federal commission also had rejected a request for a state-specific change in the national form from Georgia, and Jared Thomas, chief of staff to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, said his state will ask the commission to reconsider.
“We applaud Judge Melgren’s decision and the good work of Kansas and Arizona in litigating this important issue,” Thomas said in an email to the AP.
The proof-of-citizenship laws are part of broader attempt by Republicans nationally to tighten up state voting requirements in the name of fighting election fraud.
“We must ensure citizens are the only ones who vote if we are to have honest elections,” said Republican Alabama state Sen. Scott Beason.
But critics contend it can be difficult for some poor, minority and elderly voters to obtain copies of their birth certificates or other citizenship documents.
Brater said college students registering to vote away from their previous homes also may have trouble finding the necessary papers quickly. And Democratic Arizona state Sen. Steve Gallardo, who joined the lawsuit on the side of the federal commission, said a proof-of-citizenship requirement is designed to weed out progressive voters, particularly college students.
“These are new voters that are getting active,” Gallardo said. “They tend to be a lot more progressive and liberal… particularly when it comes to issues like medical marijuana, same-sex marriage, more progressive-type issues.”
In Kansas, the registrations of nearly 15,700 prospective voters – enough to decide a close statewide race – remained on hold Wednesday because they hadn’t yet complied with the proof-of-citizenship requirement.
Kobach said the state has found “20 or so” noncitizens on its voter registration rolls, but he believes that’s only a fraction of the potential number. Kansas has about 1.73 million registered voters.
In Arizona, Attorney General Tom Horne, another conservative Republican, said election officials learned they had more than 200 noncitizens on their rolls when court officials forwarded the names of people who sought exemptions from jury duty because they weren’t citizens. Arizona has 3.25 million registered voters.
“There’s been a cover-up by the media of the extent to which voter fraud is a problem,” Horne said.
Someone picked the wrong house to break into. Via Gateway Pundit
GunsSaveLives reports the following:
A suspect in several burglaries, car thefts and car jackings led police on a chase lasting over an hour yesterday morning.
The suspect managed to elude police by stealing multiple vehicles in short succession.
According to KCTV5, one homeowner fought off the suspect by hand,
With police in pursuit, the suspect abandoned the third stolen vehicle, and confronted Vince Frew in his driveway as Frew was loading items he needed for his day into his work van.
The suspect then attempted to steal his vehicle. Frew said the intruder wanted his keys but he didn’t have them.
“He approached me, and I just kind of shoved him off of me,” he said. “He found something in my car and threw it at me.”
“After I got done with my 911 call, I came back outside, and probably within the next three to five minutes, I heard a gunshot come from down the street and then a second one right after that,” Frew said.
The shots that Frew heard would be the shots that ended the early morning crime spree.
The next home that the suspect broke into was the wrong one. The homeowner, sleeping at home with his wife and 18 month old child, wasn’t taking any chances when he heard someone kicking in a garage door.
The homeowner’s wife and child hid in the house while the homeowner took a shotgun to investigate the sounds.
Kansas signed the Second Amendment Protection Act (SB 102) into law last month. The bill protects gun owners from from new federal gun control laws and would actually make it illegal to enforce those laws within the state of Kansas.
Eric Holder threatened Kansas last week calling the new state law unconstitutional.
In response Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, fired back. The general gist of the message was,
“You’re wrong. You don’t understand the Constitution. Bring it on.”
Via Guns Save Lives:
Kobach insisted the State of Kansas was determined to restore the Constitution to protect the right of its citizens to keep and bear arms.
So far, Holder has not responded.
Calling drug addiction a “scourge in Kansas,” Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law Tuesday a bill to test welfare and unemployment recipients suspected of using illegal drugs.
“This is a horrific thing that hits so many people,” he said. “What this effort is about is an attempt to get ahead of it and, instead of ignoring the problem, start treating the problem.”
The drug testing bill lets the Department for Children and Families require urine tests of any welfare recipient suspected of using illegal drugs. That could be triggered by a person’s demeanor, missed appointments or police records.
Opponents of the bill said that may leave the decision open to people’s biases. But the bill was swiftly approved by the House 106-16 and backed by the Senate on a 29-9 vote.
Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, called it “the most treatment-focused drug testing bill in the entire country.”
Any person who is tested and failed, can request a second test and be reimbursed for that test, which runs about $50, if they test clean.
Welfare recipients who fail the test will lose their benefits until they complete a drug treatment and job skills program. That’s paid for by federal welfare funds. A second failed test will result in a year-long loss of benefits. A surrogate can apply for benefits on behalf of children whose parents fail a drug test and lose benefits.
Senate Bill 149, effective July 1, also bans anyone convicted of a drug-related felony from getting welfare for five years. Those convicted a second time lose benefits for life.
The testing program for unemployment recipients is similar, although Department of Labor officials will require employers who usually drug test job applicants to submit a list of people who applied and didn’t get a job because they failed a pre-employment drug screen.
The testing, already required of the governor and several other top state officials, now also extends to House and Senate members suspected of illegal drug use.
The tests will not look for alcohol use.
Officials acknowledged they have no precise number of how many people getting welfare or unemployment use drugs or how many people will require government-funded treatment and job training.
“I’ve not found a piece of legislation I’ve been around yet that is perfect,” Brownback said. “But this starts to address a significant issue.”
King said about 8.5 percent of those applying for welfare fail substance abuse screening.
Kansas is one of dozens of states that have been considering such drug tests. Florida required all new applicants to take such tests, as opposed to Kansas’ plan that hinges on “reasonable suspicion.” Data showed that program provided no direct savings to the state and only 2.6 percent of those tested failed tests, usually for marijuana use.
Marijuana, which is now legal for recreational use in two states and for medicinal use in several others, tends to be detectable in standard urine drug tests for much longer after use than drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine that cycle out of the body faster.
Kansas officials have yet to decide on the details of how the testing and treatment will be done. Testing would begin by Jan. 1. Anyone convicted of a drug-related felony after July 1 would lose welfare benefits for five years.
The state estimates it will need to hire four more employees to deal with drug testing and treatment management under the bill. The drug testing program and treatment is estimated to cost about $1 million the first year, after any savings from people losing benefits.
Brownback and King pointed to a program called Partners in Change at Neosho County Community College as a model for job skills training.
Neosho college president Brian Inbody, who attended the bill signing, said the six-week program was started by businesses who couldn’t find a steady flow of skilled workers. So they started a program to assist the “chronically unemployed.”
He said the first three weeks is about crisis management and attitudes toward the workplace. It then focuses on resume writing, math and English. He said 72 percent of those who completed the program kept a job for a year or got an industry certification to get a job.
“They went from unemployable and constantly churning in the system to employed and from a tax consumer to a taxpayer in just a few weeks,” he said.
Kansas is set to enact one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation which defines life as beginning “at fertilization” and imposes a host of new regulations.
The Kansas House of Representatives passed the bill 90-30 on Friday night, a few hours after the Senate backed it on a 28-10 vote. Strongly anti-abortion Republican Governor Sam Brownback is expected to sign it into law. Republicans hold strong majorities in both houses.
In addition to the provision specifying when life begins, the bill prevents employees of abortion clinics from providing sex education in schools, bans tax credits for abortion services and requires clinics to give details to women about fetal development and abortion health risks. It also bans abortions based solely on the gender of the fetus.
The Kansas bill comes on the heels of anti-abortion measures passing in states across the country, including one in Arkansas banning abortions in the 12th week of pregnancy and a law in North Dakota that sets the limit at six weeks.
The Kansas language stating that life begins “at fertilization” is modeled on a 1989 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, said Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director of Kansans for Life, anti-abortion group.
Ostrowski said the language protects the rights of the unborn in probate and other legal matters.
If the bill is signed into law, Kansas will become the eighth state declaring that life begins at fertilization, said Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager of the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, which researches abortion-related laws nationwide.
While it would not supplant Kansas law banning most abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy, it does set the state up to more swiftly outlaw all abortions should the U.S. Supreme Court revisit its 1973 ruling making abortion legal, Nash said.
“It’s a statement of intent and it’s a pretty strong statement,” Nash said. “Should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade or should the court come to some different conclusion, the state legislature would be ready, willing and able to ban abortions.”
States that already have such language are Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, North Dakota and Ohio, Nash said.
The Kansas bill prohibits use of public funds, tax preferences or tax credits for abortion services. It prevents state-provided public health-care services from being used in any manner to carry out abortions, according to a summary.
Taking away tax benefits would amount to 12 tax increases for abortion providers, women and their families, said Elise Higgins, Kansas coordinator for the National Organization for Women. Even abortions to save a mother’s life would not be a deductible cost, she said.
Higgins also criticized the bill’s requirement that women be told of possible connection between abortion and later risk of breast cancer. “It’s an obvious intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship by making them get this inaccurate information,” Higgins said.
Ostrowski said the bill merely requires that patients be referred to online and other material about abortion and breast cancer. It does not steer them to misinformation, she said.
The bill bars school districts from letting abortion providers offer, sponsor or furnish course materials or instruction on human sexuality or on sexually transmitted diseases. Higgins said that creates an unfair stigma for employees of abortion providers.
Another portion of the new law would prevent women from deciding on an abortion solely because of the gender of the fetus. It is unclear how many women terminate pregnancies for that reason.