Uber bill vetoed

Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday vetoed an “Uber” bill, that would have set up rules for companies that provide a ride-booking service.

Uber is a transportation service that allows a driver to use a personal vehicle to transport others in pre-arranged rides for money.

The bill set up some rules for Uber drivers, including establishing minimum car insurance coverage and calling for driver background checks.

In his veto message, the governor called the bill “premature.” It was the governor’s first veto this session.

“To overregulate or improperly regulate an emerging industry before the marketplace actors make proper arrangements is to invite more, problems, not less,” the governor said in his statement.

He said this would allow companies like Uber to continue and expand operations in Kansas, where they otherwise would not be able to do so.

“I also applaud the legislature’s interest in protecting the safety of our citizens,” Brownback said in the statement. “I strongly support background checks for ride-sharing drivers. However, the ride-sharing industry believes the background requirement as currently written, weakens rather than strengthens, the level of scrutiny placed on its potential drivers.

“Therefore, I believe more time, more collaboration, and more discussion will ultimately result in a better public policy product for Kansas,” he said. “In the meantime, local municipalities will regulate the ride-sharing industry just as they have always done with traditional passenger transportation companies. At this moment in time, they are better equipped to understand the unique and emerging challenges and opportunities the ride-sharing industry brings to their communities.”

Blue Bell Ice Cream voluntarily pulls all products off shelves

Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, today announced it has widened its voluntary recall, pulling off all the products on the market.

The products include ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks because they have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, or others with weakened immune systems, a spokesman said.

Although healthy persons may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection may cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president. “We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”

Kansas and Missouri are among the states affected by the voluntary recall, the company said.

Today’s decision was the result of findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell which revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015, contained the bacteria. This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for listeria in different places and plants and as previously reported five patients were treated in Kansas and three in Texas after testing positive for listeria monocytogenes.

“At every step, we have made decisions in the best interest of our customers based on the evidence we had available at the time,” Kruse said. “At this point, we cannot say with certainty how Listeria was introduced to our facilities and so we have taken this unprecedented step. We continue to work with our team of experts to eliminate this problem.”

Blue Bell is implementing a procedure called “test and hold” for all products made at all of its manufacturing facilities. This means that all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests show they are safe. The Broken Arrow facility will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate.

In addition to the “test and hold” system, Blue Bell is implementing additional safety procedures and testing, according to a spokesman.

Blue Bell expects to resume distribution soon on a limited basis once it is confident in the safety of its product, the spokesman said.

Consumers who have purchased these items are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information consumers with questions may call 1-866-608-3940 Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST or go to bluebell.com.

Hearing scheduled for Booker

John T. Booker Jr., Topeka, who was indicted April 16 in connection with an alleged plot to explode a bomb at the Fort Riley military base near Manhattan, Kan., will make an appearance in federal court at 9:30 a.m. April 21 in Kansas City, Kan.

At the hearing, Booker will be informed of the charges in the grand jury indictment, which were returned last week.