Thursday, March 31, 2011

Radiation and your government

With the disaster in Japan, Kansans can't help but think of the effects it may have upon themselves and their neighbors. We're concerned for our Japanese friends we look to see how we can help. We Kansans don't need reminders how nature can throw us curve balls and we know how to pick up after a natural disaster; yet the scale and the subsequent nuclear effects of this disaster leaves us scratching our heads and worrying. Learn more about the effects of radiation and our own nuclear reactor, Wolf Creek here.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management, an arm of the Kansas Adjutant General's Office, manages natural or man-made disasters.

See the Division's statement regarding radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant:

Find out more ways in which Kansas responds to radiation from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment:

Learn more about radiation and its effects from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency:

Read the news on nuclear safety from the Unites States Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Learn about levels of exposure and the health effects of radiation:

Learn more about the safety features of our nearest nuclear plant, Wolf Creek:
Safety Plan:

Read studies of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Protecting your identity

It’s amazing how much of our personal information is floating around out there. Between what Google gleans from our online searches, to our shopping preferences on Amazon, and any information we share intentionally via blogs, Facebook or Twitter, the Internet is filled with our personal information. Help ease your fears- look to see how your government helps to protect your online and offline identity.

Educate yourself:
Tools available from the Kansas Attorney General for citizens to keep safe on the net:

Tips for parents to teach their children about staying safe online:

Educate yourself on the different types of Internet crimes with information from the FBI:

Learn about mail and Internet fraud with information from the United States Postal Service, Division of Inspection Service:

Keep on top of scams:
Internet crime alerts from the FBI:

Use the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) tools to keep safe and keep alert on scams:

Watch the Internet fraud alerts:

What to do:
File a complaint for Internet fraud and crimes with the FBI:

Report online or offline child exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

Remember the rules of “THINK BEFORE YOU POST,” a campaign of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

Teach others how to keep their identity safe with safety curriculum and lesson plans from the U.S. Congress:

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, use the FTC’s tools for getting back on track:

Article contact: Kim Harp

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2010 US Census and Kansas

Last Thursday, the US Census Bureau released the first set of numbers from the 2010 Census for sub-state areas. The data set is called PL 94 data, because it is release in accordance with Public Law 94-171, which basically says that the Census Bureau has until one year after the census to send redistricting data to the states. This data will be used to update Kansas’ legislative districts to reflect the changes in the state’s population since 2000.

As this set is intended for redistricting purposes, it is limited in scope. It contains the total population count, count by race and Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit counts down to small levels of geography.

Although there were no real surprises in the data, it is interesting, and somewhat disconcerting, to see what most people thought was true. Kansas, on the whole, grew over the decade by about 6%. However, most individual counties (79 out of 105) lost population while only 26 counties gained people. Most incorporated cities (432 out of 627) lost population as well. This map shows the population change in counties. The green counties gained population. The yellow counties lost less than 5% of their population, the orange counties lost 5-11.5%, and the red counties lost 11.6-22.1% of their population.

The next batch of numbers to be released is scheduled for this summer, sometime between June and August. Those will include all race groups, all ages, sex, and housing ownership. The 2010 Decennial Census did not ask any questions about income, those stats can be found in the American Community Survey.

You can find more data at:

State Data Center of Kansas

American FactFinder

U.S. Census Bureau

Article contact: Peter Haxton
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Legislative deadlines

The Kansas legislative process is nearly halfway over for the 2011 session. The House and Senate have adopted rules to conduct business in a timely fashion. Last Friday was "Turn around day", a deadline in which bills must have passed from one chamber to the next. Bills that did not make it out of their original chamber must wait in committee until 2012. The next deadline in which bills are supposed to have passed their second chamber is called "drop dead day."

There are certain legislative committees which are exempted from the deadlines: House Appropriations, Senate Ways and Means, House and Senate Federal and State Affairs, House Taxation, and House Calendar and Printing.

Aside from the omnibus and mega bills which appropriates monies to state agencies, any bills introduced after deadlines cannot be acted upon until 2012.

After the 90th calendar day of session only governor vetos and the omnibus bill may be considered in either chamber.

An exception: bills can be considered past deadlines if there is a constitutional majority (2/3) vote within either chamber.

If you have a concern that you would like your Representatives or Senators to hear, you can find their contact information at

If you do not know who your representative or senator is go to, enter in your county and address and it will show you the names and districts of your legislators.

If you would like to know if there has been a bill introduced on a topic you are concerned about , call the Legislative Hotline, staffed by the State Library of Kansas' reference librarians, at 800-432-3924.

After you have been given the bill number for your topic, you can see which chamber the bill is in, whether it has come to a vote, and where it stands now at

If you have any trouble navigating the legislature's website call the Legislative Hotline.