Archive for Opinions

Legislative newsletter from Rep. Pam Curtis

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

It was a big week in the House, with both a tax bill and a school finance bill hitting the floor for debate. A budget bill has yet to be addressed on Day 101 of the 2017 session.
It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I both value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 452-S, Kansas Statehouse, 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. Additionally, you can email me at

School finance

As previously covered, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state was not adequately funding schools. In its ruling, the court charged the Legislature to write a fair funding formula and to fund that formula based on constitutional requirements by June 30, 2017. On Wednesday, the House voted on HB 2410, a bill meant to address the court’s ruling. The debate was spirited and amendment-heavy, lasting four-and-a-half hours.

The underlying bill provided woefully inadequate funding and Democrats made an attempt to substantially increase that funding. Unfortunately, the attempt failed to pass. At the end of the debate, the amended bill resulted in good policy for the formula, but did not provide adequate funding for the formula. The bill will now go to the Senate floor for debate.


Monday evening, a tax package was offered on the House floor. SB 30, in this version, repealed the LLC exemption, removed the glide path to zero, and instituted a third tax bracket. Those falling into the highest income tax bracket would be Kansans earning $60,000 or more, rather than the current $100,000 threshold. Tax rates on the three brackets would have been raised to 5.7 percent for the top bracket, 5.25 percent for the median bracket, and 3.1 percent for the lowest income bracket. Monday’s plan would have also altered the low-income exclusion threshold from single filers earning less than $2,500 to a threshold of $5,000.

After thorough debate on the House floor, that version of SB 30 failed to pass, with a final vote of 53 – 68. An amended version of SB 30 will potentially be debated in the coming days.

Bills passed through the House

Sub HB 2277: An act concerning alcoholic liquor; creating common consumption areas designated by cities and counties; authorizing common consumption area permits; relating to club memberships.


District attorney’s job more than prosecution

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

It is important that the Wyandotte County District Attorney be proactive and also focus on crime prevention.

That was the message from Mark Dupree, who became the Wyandotte County District Attorney Jan. 9 of this year. He defeated the Democrat incumbent, Jerry Gorman, last August after a spirited election contest. Dupree spoke at the monthly meeting of the Congressional Forum Friday, May 19, at the Sporting Kansas City soccer stadium.

Mark Dupree

Dupree said his office has the responsibility to prosecute violent adult and juvenile criminal cases. However, it is also important for the district attorney to be very visible in the community and take advantage and work with the various community resources that can prevent crime.

Dupree works closely with all law enforcement units in Wyandotte County including the Kansas City, Kansas, Bonner Springs and Edwardsville police departments, the Wyandotte County Sheriff and the campus police officers at the Kansas City Kansas Community College and the Kansas City, Kansas, School District.

Dupree said he has a staff of 60 persons in his office including 26 lawyers. He has high praise for his staff, but said he needs more personnel to handle all the cases in his office.

He said one of the challenges of his office is handling cases involving those who are mentally ill. He said it helps that most of the law enforcement officers in Kansas City, Kansas, have been trained so they know how to deal with mental patients. Unfortunately, there are not adequate places to house these patients, so they may end up with the general population in the Wyandotte County Jail.

Dupree said another important aspect of his office is assisting the victims of crime and explaining to them how the criminal process works. Working to protect abused children is another important aspect of his office.

Dupree, the first black district attorney in Wyandotte County, is a graduate of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and the Washburn School of Law, Topeka. He and his wife Shanelle are the parents of four children. He is also an ordained clergyman.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.


Haley re-considers run for mayor

Window on the West
Opinion column

by Mary Rupert

Sen. David Haley

State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., said last week he is thinking again about running for mayor.

It’s not because he wants to, Sen. Haley said, it’s because he just doesn’t see anyone he would like to vote for among the four candidates who have filed. If there was someone else he could support, he would like to. His comments are reminiscent of a voter dissatisfaction held by many before last year’s presidential election.

The four candidates who have filed are incumbent Mayor Mark Holland, and challengers David Alvey, D. Keith Jordan and Janice Witt.

“I’d like to have a candidate to run, to encapsulate the true hopes and possibilities of a broader Wyandotte County,” Sen. Haley said.

Explaining his comment, he said in a very broad sense, the county is now the beneficiary of ancillary revenue being generated by the Kansas Speedway and Village West area. At the top of the agenda would be what the county could do with additional resources from Village West, and how could the community share in the bounty of it. That includes the reduction of taxes.

While he is aware of the healthy campus proposal, the northeast redevelopment plan and the SOAR initiative to address blight, he said he just didn’t have faith in any of the four candidates to follow through on them.

The UG’s charter also needs to be redone, he said, and there needs to be a provision in it that ensures that vacant positions will be filled in a timely manner. It also needs to be examined to make sure that commissioners from all UG districts can run for mayor without giving up their positions.

“I’m not alone, I need someone to vote for,” he said. So far, he has no announcement that he will run, but he is considering it, he added.

Sen. Haley has worked with colleagues in his party and across the aisle in the Kansas Senate in order to get several bills passed during his tenure.

Filing deadline for the city and school board offices is at noon June 1.

To contact Mary Rupert, editor, email