Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Census Day!

April 1, 2010 is Census Day. This is the reference date for the Census and a reminder date to complete and mail in Census forms.

As you probably know by now, the Census is used to enumerate the population for apportionment of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Kansas legislature. In other words, filling out your form will help insure that you are represented in Washington and Topeka.

Census data is also used to apportion federal funds. Over 400 billion dollars each year are distributed based on Census data. For Kansas, this comes to a little over $1,000 per person per year. Keep in mind these are not handouts from D.C., these are your tax dollars being spent in your state.

If you have not received a Census form, or you simply need a new one, there are Census Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Centers all over Kansas. Use this map to find one near you:

You can also use the map to track response rates. As of today, March 31, Kansas has a 56% response rate, compared to the 50% rate of the nation as a whole.

So, what happens if you don’t send in your form? The Census will send an enumerator to your house. Sound expensive, with the enumerator’s salary, mileage reimbursement . . . it adds up. It is significantly cheaper (that is, fewer of your tax dollars) to complete the form and mail it in.

If someone knocks on your door saying they are from the Census Bureau, how can you tell if they are the real deal? First, they will have an official Census Bureau ID. Second, they will never ask to come inside your home. If you are still not convinced, call the Census Bureau hotline: 866-872-6868.

Article contact: Peter Haxton

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kansas says no smoking, please

The Kansas Legislature has passed a ban on smoking in public places and workplaces. House Bill 2221 was signed by the governor on 3/12/2010. You can find the full text of this bill at

You can learn who introduced the bill and who were the proponents and opponents from the Supplemental Note available at . The bill would ban smoking and make the act of smoking in the following places a cigarette or tobacco infraction:

Public places;
Taxicabs and limousines;
Restrooms, lobbies, hallways and other common areas in
public and private buildings, condominiums and other
multiple-residential facilities;
Restrooms, lobbies, and other common areas in hotels
and motels and in at least 80 percent of the guest sleeping
quarters within a hotel or motel;
Access points of all buildings and facilities unless the
building or facility is exempted by the bill; and
Any place of employment.

The smoking ban goes into effect July 1, 2010.

Article contact: Kim Harp

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kansas Secretary of State

On Tuesday, March 16th, Governor Mark Parkinson named Kansas Securities Commissioner, Chris Biggs, as the new Kansas Secretary of State. Biggs, the 30th Kansas Secretary of State, replaced Ron Thornburgh, who resigned to take a job in an Olathe-based business.

Below is information on what the Secretary of State does. We’ve also included links to information on the naming of Chris Biggs as well as some information on former Secretaries of State.

Chris Biggs’ appointment as Secretary of State is a process of government laid out in our State Constitution:
“When the office of secretary of state or attorney general is vacant, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment for the remainder of the term.”
(From Article 1, Kansas State Constitution)

Kansas Secretary of State home page

The Office of Secretary of State has many differing duties covering a wide area of Kansas government:
(The Secretary of State oversees the administration of all national and state elections in Kansas)
---Voting and Voter Registration
(Kansas elections are conducted by the counties with oversight by the Secretary of State's office)
---Kansas Business Filing Center
(The Secretary operates the Business Filing Center, which registers business entities, trademarks, trade names, and liens made pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code. Also provided is a Business Entity Search database)
---Filing and Forms
(The Secretary of State is a filing agency for many different entities and activities, among them: Business Entities, Uniform Commercial Code, Notary Public, Elections & Legislative, Cemeteries & Funeral Homes and Miscellaneous)
---Finance Rates
(The Secretary provides online finance rates covering usury rate, Kansas code mortgage rate and judgment rate on his website)
---Official State Publications
(These resources range from a directory of public officials in Kansas to a Legislative Directory to the Official state newspaper (Kansas Register) to a handbook that explains the corporate code)
---Legal Publications
(Publication and issuance of several state legal publications is overseen by the Secretary of State: Kansas Statutes Annotated, Kansas Administrative Regulations, Session Laws, House and Senate Journals, Election Laws, Election Standards and the Kansas/U.S. Constitutions)
---Safe At Home Program
---Informed Charitable Giving in Kansas
(The Secretary of State oversees registration of nonprofits in Kansas and offers this website and database, along with the Attorney General and Secretary on Aging, as a service in locating and verifying groups for charitable giving)
(Kansas is one of several states that offers an address confidentiality program. Safe at Home (SaH), enacted in 2006, provides a substitute address for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking or stalking, as well as a free mail forwarding system for all first-class mail)
---Census Adjustments
(Census information is used for a variety of purposes, the most important being redistricting. The Census Adjustment to the 2000 U.S. Decennial Census is available through the Secretary's office)
---Kansas Lobbyists Directory
(All lobbyists register with the Secretary of State. )


Kansas Secretaries of State List
(A list of territorial and state Secretaries of State with terms of office and vitals. Provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)

ATLAS Catalog Search
Library material held by the libraries of the ATLAS Online Catalog about or by the Kansas Secretary of State
---Kansas Secretary of State (as an author)
---Kansas Secretary of State (as a subject)
---Secretaries of state -- State governments -- Kansas -- Biography
(The ATLAS Catalog includes holdings of the State Library of Kansas, Kansas State Historical Society, Kansas Supreme Court Law Library and the Washburn University Libraries)

Corporation/Business Entity Filings & Annual Reports
(The Kansas State Archives has some records of the Secretary of State. The collection above is available to researchers on microfilm at the Kansas State Historical Society's Reearch Center in Topeka)

Kansas Memory Project
(A few primary resources on Kansas secretaries of state entered online by the Kansas State Historical Society)


Parkinson Names Biggs as Secretary of State
(Wichita Eagle)

Parkinson Names Biggs SOS
(Topeka Capital Journal)

Securities chief named Secy. of State
(Pittsburg Morning Sun)

Article contact: Bill Sowers
(Check out recent additions to our collection here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eyes on the Road

We all do our best to be good drivers, but the cell phone screams at us from the passenger seat and it is tempting to pick it up and respond. Be careful! Let it ring until you can pull over to pick it up; besides, the Kansas government may be giving you a new reason to ignore your phone. The Kansas Senate is currently working a bill, Senate Substitute for House Bill 2437, which would prohibit text messaging while driving a motor vehicle. Many other states have either introduced or passed bills on the same subject with intention of reducing the number of distracted-while-driving accidents.

You can find the full text of Senate Substitute for House Bill 2437 at
Click on "full text of bills" from the menu along the top of the page, then type in 2437.

You can find a list of states that either ban or limit cell phone use or texting while driving at:
List from the National Conference of State Legislatures

List from the Governors Highway Safety Association

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has banned texting while driving for school bus drivers and commercial truckers:

Secretary LaHood has instituted a non-profit organization to raise awareness of the problems derived from distracted driving:

Learn more about the facts and figures regarding distracted driving:

A study at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute funded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration produced a report that has the most recent stats and figures:

If you text, you are 23.2 times higher a risk for a crash or near-crash than non-distracted driving. So do yourself a favor: put your phone in the glove box or your purse until you get to your destination!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kansas Judges

How Kansas selects, elects and/or retains judges has been a topic of much discussion of late. Below are links to some basic resources on judges and the courts within our state:

Kansas Courts: General Information
(A short look at the different levels of courts in Kansas and what kinds of cases they handle. Provided at the Kansas Judicial Branch website)

Kansas Court System Chart
(A visual description of the levels of courts provided at the Kansas Judicial Branch website)

Becoming a Judge
(A short explanation regarding selection, appointment and retention of judges in Kansas. Provided at the Kansas Judicial Branch website)

Kansas Commission on Judicial Performance
(The Kansas Commission on Judicial Performance was created in 2006 by the Kansas Legislature to improve the performance of individual judges and the judiciary as a whole. The Commission's evaluations of all of the state court trial and appellate judges are provided to the judges and justices for self-improvement. In addition, for judges and justices who are subject to retention elections, the Commission's evaluations are disseminated to the public to help voters make informed decisions about whether to continue those judges and justices in office)

Other Helpful Sites at the Judicial Branch Website:
--Annual Reports for the Courts of Kansas
--Judicial Branch Open Records Requests
--Judicial Complaint Procedure
--Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinions
--Rules Adopted by the Supreme Court
--Supreme Court Nominating Commission

Kansas State Constitution: Article 3
The Judicial Branch
(From the State Library of Kansas website)

Judicial Selection and Retention FAQs
(A comparative look at the selection/election of judges in U.S. states at the National Center for State Courts website)

Resources Available via ATLAS, the Online Catalog of the State Library, Washburn Univeristy, Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas State Historical Society:
Courts -- Kansas
Judges -- Kansas
Judges -- Selection and appointment -- Kansas
Judicial districts -- Kansas

Article contact: Bill Sowers
(Check out recent additions to our collection here)