Monday, October 22, 2012

Kansas Elections

After a sweltering summer it’s finally late October and election season is upon us. It’s also a Leap Year, which means stakes are particularly high – the state of Kansas will be voting on all of its state and US representatives, all of its state senators, as well as many judges, State Board of Education members, district attorneys, and of course President of the United States.

The Kansas Office of the Secretary of State administers elections in Kansas and they have done an excellent job at providing detailed but easily accessible election information to the Kansas public. Much of their website is geared to the concerned and curious voter and can be found here:

Kansas Office of the Secretary of State

As an executive level state office, the Secretary of State is nonpartisan, meaning voters who wish to find their candidates’ positions on issues need to look elsewhere.
In Kansas, voter registration is suspended 21 days before an election and resumes afterwards, meaning those who have not yet registered in Kansas will have to sit out the Nov. 6th election and then register to be eligible to vote in future polls.

However, on the day following the general election, November 7th, voter registration will resume. County election offices usually make official voter registration forms available at banks, schools, libraries, and government offices.  Forms are also online and can be printed, filled out, and mailed to your county election office. Faxed and electronically submitted forms are not accepted by the State of Kansas. Voter registration forms are also available in Spanish.
Modern society is mobile and many people are relatively new to their neighborhoods and may not always be clear where they go to vote. The Secretary of State directs voters to contact their County Election Officer who can then tell them where their local polling station is. Information on how to contact your County Election Officer can be found on the Secretary of State’s FAQ page:
KSSOS FAQ Elections

 Many of us consider ourselves educated about our elected representatives at the federal level, as well as concerned and opinionated about the direction of state public policy. However it is not uncommon for even concerned citizens to be unsure of who their district’s elected state officials are on an individual level until it is time to vote. If this is the case, the following link may be helpful:

KU Institute for Policy & Social Research

 From this web page you can enter your county and street address to find out what your various districts are and which officials currently represent you in state government.
One issue that will be on the Kansas ballot that is infrequent is a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution, specifically Article 11, Section 1. The Kansas Legislature can propose Constitutional amendments by passing a concurrent resolution; by law it must then go to the public as a referendum to be approved or rejected. The proposed amendment, House Concurrent Resolution 5017, concerns property taxation.  Presently “watercraft” in Kansas such as boats are taxed the same as other forms of property; the amendment to be voted on is whether or not to make watercraft a separate category of taxable property. The amendment in its entirety will be printed on the ballot verbatim; fortunately it is Kansas law to have an explanatory statement in lay terms visible at the polling place when proposed Constitutional amendments are addressed.

For those who would like to learn more about the specifics of the election season calendar in Kansas, you can also find that at the Secretary of State’s website. Even if you are already prepared with your election plans, it makes for some interesting reading:

 Secretary of State 2012-2013 Election Calendar
Article contact: Brian Herder

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fire Prevention Week October 7-13, 2012

The Great Chicago Fire of October 8 and 9, 1871 destroyed more than 17,400 structures and claimed at least 250 lives.  In addition to the obvious effects on the city of Chicago, the fire also changed the way people saw fire safety. 

Forty years later, the Fire Marshals Association of North America suggested observing the anniversary of the Chicago Fire as a reminder to the pubic of the importance of fire prevention.  Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation in 1920, and Calvin Coolidge expanded that to Fire Prevention Week in 1925.  National Fire Prevention Week is observed during the week (Sunday to Saturday) during which October 9 falls.

The theme of National Fire Prevention Week this year is “Have 2 Ways Out.”  The emphasis is on having an escape plan that includes at least two means of escape from each room, making sure everyone in the home knows the plan, and practicing the plan at least twice a year. 

U.S. Fire Administration on Fire Escape Plans:

National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week Site:

The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Fire Prevention Division site has information on fire safety for homes and businesses:
Article contact: Peter Haxton