Archive for Opinions

Letter to the editor: Compensation for wrongfully convicted individuals

Editor’s note: Alvin Sykes, a human rights activist in Kansas City, Kansas, recently sent this letter to the Wyandotte Daily concerning a bill that would reimburse wrongfully convicted individuals for the years they spent in prison. Sykes and Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., have been working on a bill on this topic for 10 years. Sykes spoke at a legislative hearing on a bill on this topic earlier this week.

To Kansas State Sen. David Haley and to whom else it may concern:

As both a veteran certified human rights worker, with over 40 years experience in the victim advocacy field nationwide, and as a citizen of the state of Kansas, I am writing this letter in vigorous support of SB 336 and HB 2579 (Compensation for the Wrongly Convicted).

I firmly believe it is fundamentally unfair and just plain wrong for the state of Kansas to wrongly convict innocent people, such as Lamonte McIntyre, Floyd Bledsoe and Richard Jones (successfully represented by the Innocence Project) and then put them out on the street after years of incarceration without any financial support or compensation to restart their life!

Furthermore it is a slap-in-the-face irony that they would have received more resources and support from the state of Kansas if they had been guilty!

Even though $80,000 compensation for each year served wrongly in prison is not enough for the injustice inflicted against them, it does represent a good start!

Two years ago the state of Kansas passed a law to significantly change the eyewitness identification procedures for crime investigation by law enforcement to radically reduce the occurrence of wrongful convictions in the future. Now it is past time to justly compensate those who have been wrongly convicted in the past and future!

Therefore I strongly urge passage of this legislation, with all deliberate speed, so that the day will come sooner, rather than later, when all people will come before a bar of justice where truth rules, justice prevails and the community has credible confidence in the courts verdicts of guilt or Innocence for all!

Alvin Sykes
Kansas City, Kansas

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Leavenworth Road Association plans events

Guest column
by Lou Braswell

December and January have been fairly slow months, so I have not been sending out the Leavenworth Road Association updates as frequently.

Also, since those are slow months, I decided to have my cataract surgery done so I will be ready and able to run with the big dogs (as the saying goes).

Besides the LRA meeting Tuesday night, two upcoming events are a Welborn Lake open house and the Wyandotte County Lake opening day breakfast.

At the open house on Thursday, residents may explore ways to clean up Welborn Lake. The open house, in a come-and-go format, will be from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at Christ the King parish Davern Hall, 3024 N. 53rd St.

The Wyandotte County Lake opening day breakfast sponsored by the Leavenworth Road Association will take place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 3 at Davis Hall at Wyandotte County Lake Park. Breakfast will include biscuit and sausage gravy, two sausage patties, coffee, milk or orange juice, for $10 per person, and half-price for those younger than 10. It is a fundraiser for LRA.

Our Leavenworth Road Association meeting is Feb. 13 at Eisenhower Recreation Center, serving Philly Cheese Casserole for the potluck dinner-social hour.

Guest speakers will be from Partners in Primary Care. A potluck dinner begins at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m.

Looking ahead, June will be a busy month with our annual Kids’ Fishing Derby, Summer Youth Program, and then the Teen Team coming from surrounding states to pitch in to help our community residents. Applications for the Summer Youth Program will be available in late May, Teen Team applications are available now by calling the office or emailing LRAKCK@sbcglobal.net .

Along with the stress that comes with all the construction along Leavenworth Road from 38th to 63rd streets, smile a little smile, it is going to be so nice, with turn lanes, sidewalks, underground utilities that you may think you are on State Avenue or Parallel Parkway.

The former Medicalodge Nursing Home is now becoming a Youth Residential Center , with plans of opening mid-March. We at LRA are going to be very supportive of the kids involved, as our entire concern is kids first, safe and sound. We will accept full-size hygiene products, new socks, new underwear, and board games at our meetings and our office to help with the center opening and to welcome these kids.

LRA meetings are always the second Tuesday of each month at Eisenhower Center, 2901 N. 72nd, starting at 6 p.m. with a potluck-social hour, then 7 p.m. meeting. Our meetings are always open to everyone.

Lou Braswell is the executive director of the Leavenworth Road Association. To reach the Leavenworth Road Association, call the office at 913-788-3988 or email lrakck@sbcglobal.net.

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Legislative update from Rep. Pam Curtis

Rep. Pam Curtis


Guest column
Opinion

by Rep. Pam Curtis, D-32nd Dist.

We just completed week 5 of the 2018 Kansas legislative session and are quickly approaching “Turnaround Day,” Feb. 22, which is the last day to consider non-exempt bills in the house of origin.

On Feb. 7, I posted on social media that it was a year ago that I testified in favor of HB 2185 that would allow local units of government the option to incorporate a prevailing wage requirement on public construction projects.

Introduced at my request, a hearing was held in the House Commerce Labor and Economic Development Committee and I remain hopeful that the committee will work the bill this session.

Paying a prevailing-wage supports a highly skilled and safe construction workforce that delivers more cost-effective construction projects and improves the overall economic health of communities. Here is a link to a petition in support of HB 2185.

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I value and appreciate your input on issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 452-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at 785-296-7430 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me. You can also e-mail me.

Last week on the House floor
This week, the House worked several bills on the floor. All of these bills passed through the chamber. They are as follows:
HB 2470: This bill allows microbreweries within the state of Kansas to contract with other microbreweries for production and packaging of beer and hard cider. The contracting Kansas microbrewery would be held to all applicable state and federal laws dealing with manufacturing, packaging, and labeling and would be responsible for payment of all state, and federal taxes on the beer or hard cider.
HB 2502: This bill will provide for newly authorized sales of beer containing no more than 6.0 percent alcohol by volume by cereal malt beverage (CMB) licensees to be subject to state and local sales taxes instead of the state liquor enforcement tax.
HB 2446: This bill adds a designation of ranking minority member to the Joint Committee on Kansas Security and to the Joint Committee on Information Technology. The ranking minority member of the Joint Committee on Kansas Security would be a representative member selected by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives in odd-numbered years and a senator member selected by the Minority Leader of the Senate in even-numbered years.
HB 2438: This bill prohibits state agencies from contracting with a vendor on an information technology project if that vendor prepared or assisted with: 1) The preparation of the program statement; 2) The project planning documents; or 3) Any other project plans prepared prior to approval of the project by the Chief Information Technology Officer of the relevant branch of government.
SB 262: This bill authorizes the Capitol Preservation Committee to approve plans to place a permanent statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Kansas Capitol grounds.
HB 2441: This bill transfers responsibility for procuring independent audits from the Legislative Division of Post Audit (LPA) to the audited agencies.
HB 2492: This bill increases the maximum local sales tax rate that could be imposed by Thomas County from 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent
HB 2469: This bill prohibits local units of government from imposing restrictions or enforcing local licensing or registration ordinances on insurance claims’ handling operations during any catastrophic event threatening life or property.

Colyer addresses Legislature
On Wednesday, newly-inaugurated Gov. Jeff Colyer addressed both chambers of the Kansas legislature for the first time.

Colyer’s speech covered a broad range of topics, which he broke into three categories: reform, jobs, and education. Within these categories, he discussed the need for transparency in state government, his first executive order addressing sexual harassment within the executive branch and state agencies, and school finance litigation.

While Colyer called for an end to the cycle of constant litigation over the funding of Kansas public schools, he gave no specifics on how this might be done. The governor also expressed his wish to be the most accessible governor in the state’s history.

Whether Gov. Colyer delivers the “new day” in Kansas that he has promised is yet to be seen.

Resources:
My legislative Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PamCurtisKCK
My Twitter account, https://twitter.com/pcurtiskck
My website, http://www.curtisforkck.com/
Kansas House Democrats Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/kshousedems/
Kansas House Democrats website, http://www.kshousedems.com/
Kansas Legislature website, http://kslegislature.org/

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