Kansas Senate Scuttles Tax Debate and Leave for Holiday Weekend
May 21, 2015

Lawrence Journal World:

Topeka — Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate called off a scheduled debate and vote on a $496 million tax package on Thursday, then adjourned for an extended Memorial Day weekend.

Lawmakers will return Tuesday for what will be the 96th day of the 2015 session, leaving a number of Lawrence-area legislators frustrated at the lack of progress in solving the state’s looming budget crisis.

Senate Republican Leader Terry Bruce of Hutchinson said the debate was postponed because of “a plethora of amendment requests” that legislative staff had not had time to draft.

“It just shows you how bad the work product is right now,” said Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, the ranking Democrat on the tax committee that put together the bill that was to be debated Thursday.

Kansas Senate Poised to Toughen Abortion Law
February 20, 2015

(AP) – The Kansas Senate is expected to approve a national group’s model legislation banning a procedure used in 8 percent of the state’s abortions.

The bill up for a vote Friday in the Senate outlaws the dilation and evacuation procedure and redefines it in state law as “dismemberment abortion.”

Twenty-five of the Senate’s 40 members sponsored the bill. The measure would go next to the House.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is a strong abortion opponent and already has promised to sign the bill should it clear the GOP-dominated Legislature.

The National Right to Life Committee drafted the measure and unveiled first in Kansas.

Abortion rights supporters say the targeted procedure is often the safest method for second-trimester abortions and that even some earlier abortions could be banned.

Kansas Considered Dumping Considers Weapons Permits, No CCP At All
February 12, 2015

(AP) – Gun-rights groups in Kansas are telling legislators that the state should allow its residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit.

The Kansas Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony Thursday on a bill ending a requirement for people wanting to carry concealed to get a state permit. The panel took no action.

A permit costs $132.50, and a person must undergo eight hours of training to get one.

Lobbyists for the National Rifle and Kansas State Rifle associations noted that Kansas law has long allowed the open carrying of weapons and said people shouldn’t need a state permit to exercise gun-ownership rights protected by the state and federal constitutions.

But Salina resident and NRA member David Nichols says he doesn’t want untrained people carrying concealed weapons.

Kansas Senate Sets Stop Gap Budget vote for Thursday
February 5, 2015

(AP) – Republicans who control the Kansas Senate expect their chamber to approve a stop-gap plan for closing Kansas’ current budget deficit so that it goes to GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

GOP senators planned to discuss the bill Thursday morning, with a vote on it by the full chamber scheduled later in the day.

The House approved the measure Wednesday on an 88-34 vote.

Republican leaders believe lawmakers need to pass the bill by Feb. 13 to ensure that the state keeps paying bills on time.

The measure attacks a projected $344 million shortfall in the current budget, mostly by diverting money from highway projects and special funds to general government programs.

But tax collections fell short of expectations through January, and a deficit of $800,000 would remain on June 30.

Orman & Roberts Clash in Debate III
October 16, 2014

(AP) – Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts called independent candidate Greg Orman’s support of abortion rights “unconscionable” during their last debate Wednesday and suggested that helping fellow Republicans recapture a Senate majority was the top issue in their race.

Orman countered by saying he trusts women to make decisions about their reproductive health care and accused the three-term GOP incumbent of spreading “falsehoods” about him in his campaign as a centrist. Orman said that if voters believe Washington is working well, “I’m not your guy.”

Republicans have won every U.S. Senate race in the state since 1932, but this year’s race has received national attention since Democrat Chad Taylor dropped out last month, making Roberts more vulnerable and jeopardizing the GOP’s drive to win a Senate majority.

Roberts continued his attempts to unify the party by portraying Orman as a close ally of President Barack Obama and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both Democrats.

“What this boils down to is: A vote for Pat Roberts is a vote for a Republican majority in the Senate,” Roberts said in his opening statement. “The No. 1 thing is to get a Republican majority in the United States Senate to end the gridlock and stop the Obama-Reid agenda.”

Orman responded that Roberts’ campaign is “making up facts” in tying him to Obama and Reid and said “numerous Republicans” have endorsed his campaign.

“I think we need to look past those falsehoods and pay attention to what the truth is,” Orman said.

The candidates sparred on numerous issues, including immigration and the economy, but one of their sharpest exchanges came over abortion.

Orman noted the decades of debate over abortion and said, “It prevents us from talking about other important issues, and what I’d like to see us do is start focusing on some of the big problems that we absolutely need to get our arms around if we’re going to preserve the American dream and our financial futures.”

Roberts, a strong abortion opponent, took issue with Orman’s remarks. “Get past the rights of the unborn?” Roberts said.

Later, he told Orman, “I think that’s unconscionable, Greg, I really do.”

In reply, Orman acknowledged abortion is an important issue. “I just think we’ve spent a lot of time as a country debating it, and it’s time to start debating other important issues as well,” he said.

At one point during the debate, Roberts lost his place. He also stumbled on several responses and appeared fixated on touting his endorsements.

On the issue of immigration, Orman said the country needs a policy that secures the border but is practical. He noted that many industries rely on immigrant labor and said the U.S. can’t just deport 11 million people.

Roberts, who has accused Orman of supporting amnesty for people living in the U.S. illegally, seemed to nonetheless agree with Orman, saying he never suggested the country deport 11 million people.

The two candidates had their third joint appearance in the studio at Wichita station KSN.

Afterward, Orman told reporters he hopes to send the message to other independents that they should run for public office.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to regain control of the Senate, and it has always counted on the 78-year-old Roberts winning re-election. Orman is a wealthy 45-year-old Olathe businessman and co-founder of a private equity firm who touts his business experience.