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Archive for May, 2011


RSLC Ramps up Redistricting Efforts

From the Washington Post:

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which played a key role in delivering the GOP nearly unprecedented control over the current round of redistricting, is taking on an increased role as an advisory arm for GOP state legislators who are drawing the new congressional lines in key states.

The RSLC’s decision to step forward is growing evidence of the committee’s prominence on the political landscape, as it will take on much of the redistricting role traditionally filled by the Republican National Committee.

The RSLC’s assistance will be available to all states, but will be focused on the 18 states that are adding or losing congressional seats. Only a handful of states have completed their new legislative district maps so far, with plenty of important states who have just started the process or will do so in the months ahead.

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AG Race gets attention in Kentucky

From Courier-Journal.com:

While the Kentucky governor’s race has the highest profile in this year’s election, the contest for attorney general is a not-too-distant second.

The race pits Democratic incumbent Jack Conway against Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool. And it’s the obsession of the state Republican Party.

“There is blood in the water and everyone smells it,” said Ted Jackson, a Louisville businessman who has run Republican congressional and gubernatorial campaigns in Kentucky.

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Governing Magazine: GOP Legislators to Watch

From Governing Magazine:

Who are the players to watch in the nation’s state legislatures? No list will ever be complete, but we’re giving it our best shot in a two-part series: first the Republicans and next week, the Democrats.

We assembled the lists by seeking nominations from our network of sources in the states, as well as national experts on state legislatures. From the pool of nominees, we chose to spotlight more than a dozen legislators from each party.

In seeking nominations, we assumed that ambition was a given. We wanted to feature politicians with a long future, particularly with the possibility of winning higher office at the state or federal level.

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The Case for Voter ID

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach pens a column that appeared in the Wall Street Journal today.

From WSJ.com:

On Thursday, the Wisconsin legislature sent a bill requiring photographic identification for voting to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. This follows the enactment of an even stricter law in Kansas a few weeks ago.

Drafted by my office, Kansas’s Secure and Fair Elections Act combined three elements: (1) a requirement that voters present photo IDs when they vote in person; (2) a requirement that absentee voters present a full driver’s license number and have their signatures verified; and (3) a proof of citizenship requirement for all newly registered voters. Although a few states, including Georgia, Indiana and Arizona, have enacted one or two of these reforms, Kansas is the only state to enact all three.

Other states are moving in the same direction. The Texas legislature sent a photo-ID bill to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk last Monday. And next year Missouri voters will get a chance to vote on a photo-ID requirement.

Immediately after the Kansas law was signed in April, critics cried foul. They argued that voter fraud isn’t significant enough to warrant such steps, that large numbers of Americans don’t possess photo IDs, and that such laws will depress turnout among the poor and among minorities. They are wrong on all three counts.

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KS: Secretary of State Kris Kobach – Kobach’s Column

From Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach:

Governor Sam Brownback signed HB 2240 on May 12, 2011, a bill my office advocated to improve oversight of cemetery trust funds for the benefit of Kansans. The secretary of state’s office has a statutory duty to audit certain cemetery corporation trust funds to confirm that they are financially able to meet required obligations to purchasers over time.

A cemetery must sustain a permanent maintenance trust fund to generate income in order to maintain the cemetery in perpetuity. Otherwise, bankrupt cemeteries go unmaintained, degrading communities and dishonoring those buried there. For those who purchase cemetery merchandise or services before they are needed, cemeteries must keep sufficient funds in a merchandise trust fund to cover the cost of such goods or services at the time of need.

Because of several instances where cemeteries have not complied with the law, we formed a Cemetery Study Group to evaluate the industry and how the law could be improved. Members were cemetery owners, cemetery trustees, industry experts, the Kansas Bankers Association, the attorney general’s office and the secretary of state’s office. The group set the following goals: (1) to secure the statutory trust funds but still allow the cemeteries to generate reasonable income; (2) to give the secretary of state’s office the ability to respond to irregularities quickly and fairly; and (3) to create an efficient but not overly burdensome method of auditing the trust funds.

The result of the Cemetery Study Group’s efforts was HB 2240, one of the biggest overhauls of cemetery laws in the country and a model for other states to consider. This law offers three benefits. First, it gives consumers better assurance that when their loved ones are laid to rest the cemetery lawn will continue to be mowed, and that the headstone they pre-purchased will be provided at the time of need because the cemetery has sufficient funds in trust. Second, this law protects the reputation of good cemeteries that may be damaged by the illegal actions of a few. And third, it enables regulators to monitor cemetery activity more effectively and efficiently.

I call that a win-win-win.



Utah economic outlook is improving

From DeseretNews:

The first economic outlook for Salt Lake County prepared by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce paints a picture of a state that’s on the up and up, economically speaking, but not completely out of the weeds.

“Although improvement has been gradual, Utah is among a handful of states leading the nation’s economic recovery,” the report states.

The report, released Thursday, includes data from state, federal and private entities, as well as analysis from the chamber.

The stable housing market has been a key component to the county’s economic recovery, the report states, though home prices could continue to decline as the market is slow to absorb excess homes for sale.

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TN: Senate Dems Considered Walking out to protest Budget Vote

From Tennessee Report:

Senate Republicans appeared to be barreling toward a vote to approve a $30.8 billion budget Thursday night — until Senate Democrats caucused.

The result: no budget vote in the Senate on Thursday.

Democrats simply weren’t in the mood to be rushed on the matter, as could be heard in the hallway outside the third-floor conference room at Legislative Plaza where they were meeting.

At one point, Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, said the Republicans couldn’t pass the budget without the Democrats present on the Senate floor.

“They can’t convene the session without us,” Haynes was heard telling his colleagues. “They can’t get a quorum.”

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Kentucky Secretary of State Race is set

From courier-journal.com:

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the daughter of a former chairman of Kentucky’s Democratic Party, handily beat incumbent Secretary of State Elaine Walker — who was Gov. Steve Beshear’s choice — to win Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

In November, she’ll face Republican and tea party favorite Bill Johnson, a former U.S. Senate candidate, who narrowly defeated Hilda Legg, a consultant and the former head of the federal Appalachian Regional Commission.

Johnson squeaked by Legg by little more than 1,000 votes in a neck-and-neck race he watched in Louisville

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Senate President Wins GOP Nod for Governor

From Kentucky.com:

Kentucky Senate President David Williams won the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday, clearing the way for an expensive, no-holds-barred brawl with Democratic incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear in November’s general election.

“I expect it will be close and very competitive, falling over into being nasty,” said University of Kentucky political science professor Donald Gross.

Beshear will run on his record of maintaining basic services to Kentuckians during hard times while Williams will argue for a fundamental change in direction for the state, Gross said.

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Redistricting delays 2012 House races

From USA Today:

But the Republican lawmaker has no opponent. His would-be rivals, it seems, are waiting for the Legislature to complete the once-every-decade process of redrawing political boundaries before they decide whether to challenge him in 2012.

Similar phantom campaigns are unfolding in other states where district lines and potential candidates have been slow to emerge. States are in the midst of drawing new political maps for congressional and legislative districts based on the 2010 census. The uncertainty surrounding the final lines is delaying candidates from jumping in to races on the ballot in November 2012.

“I have basically tried to keep whatever options I have open,” says Danny Tarkanian, a tea party supporter who lost the GOP Senate nomination in Nevada last year but is expected to run for Congress.

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