Letters to the Editor

March 3, 2013

Letters to the editor on wind energy, sustainability, aiding victims, retaining readers, drug testing lawmakers, gun control

I recently attended a hearing on House Bill 2241 to roll back the renewable portfolio standard. I was very impressed when Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, asked supporters of the bill why it was only out-of-state organizations trying to change a successful Kansas energy policy.

Wind energy is working for state

I recently attended a hearing on House Bill 2241 to roll back the renewable portfolio standard. I was very impressed when Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, asked supporters of the bill why it was only out-of-state organizations trying to change a successful Kansas energy policy.

From this Kansan’s perspective, wind energy is working for my state.

More than $3 billion was invested in Kansas in 2012 wind projects. More than 13,000 jobs have been created by the wind industry in Kansas since the first utility-scale wind farm was built in Kansas in 2001. Kansas landowners receive $13 million in annual payments. Wind developers’ donation agreements to cities, counties and schools total more than $10 million in annual payments.

Billions of dollars are revitalizing our rural economy with this new kind of crop, which gives farmers a dependable, weatherproof income.

In Hutchinson, we have been fortunate to have new jobs from the Siemens nacelle plant. Even with the plant slowdown, the jobs are a big deal for us.


Executive director

Climate and Energy Project


Don’t censor

A bill in the Legislature would prohibit the use of state funds for a long list of “sustainable development” activities, including teaching and the purchase of teaching and research materials. When I first learned of this bill, I thought that it was surely a hoax. It is not.

Reasonable people regard teaching sustainability, which views preserving the world for future generations, as a commendable endeavor. If this bill is enacted, teaching sustainability principles would suddenly be forbidden at any state-supported school or university.

This bill is censorship. It is difficult to imagine how Kansas educational institutions could maintain national accreditations if this bill were to become law. The House bill censoring sustainability should be defeated.

I have been involved in creating and teaching a graduate-level course, Sustainable Energy, in the College of Engineering at Wichita State University for the past five years. In earlier years, I directed wind-energy research projects at WSU sponsored by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy. Virtually every university across the land has courses and programs of study that deal with sustainability issues, and many new textbooks and research opportunities are appearing. To ban sustainability education would certainly brand Kansas as being in the backwater of world-class education.

To our legislators: Censorship is not sustainable.


Valley Center

Help for victims

I am honored to have helped construct legislation that will amend the statute of limitations for rape and other sexually violent crimes. This bill would allow victims who were raped or were victims of other sexually violent crimes to have up until they turn 28 years of age to come forward and identify their abusers.

I, along with Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, listened last summer to constituents who are a part of the Sunflower Justice for Survivors group. They shared how they were abused at young ages and had a taped confession but could do nothing because of the statute-of-limitations law in Kansas. The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously last week.

I appreciate and want to thank the women who came forward to tell their story of how the current law needs to change. Not only is the change important to my constituents but also to many other victims in Kansas who have suffered horrendous acts against them.


District 103


Blaming kids

It would appear that Sen. Jeff Melcher, R-Leawood, would like to return to the days when students wore dunce caps for their failures in the classroom (“Senate panel rejects reading plan,” Feb. 27 Local & State). He is speaking about 6-, 7- and 8-year-old children who face reading challenges.

Melcher supported Gov. Sam Brownback’s “retention” bill that would hold back third-graders who were not proficient in reading. He thinks it is important to deal with students’ reading troubles by giving them the motivation of a consequence. “There’s nothing more motivating than having a dead certain consequence,” he said.

Apparently he thinks children choose not to learn to read the same way they might choose not to eat vegetables or pick up their toys.

I am appalled that an adult would choose to bully or threaten children with reading challenges. He wants retention to be their punishment for their lack of motivation? It would seem to me that poverty, hunger, learning challenges and lack of resources should not be the fault of children, and that adults should know better than to blame them.



On drugs?

One can only wonder at the absurdity in government today.

First, we have the Legislature wanting to drug test welfare recipients – but only the ones they choose. Hmm, no grounds for abuse there.

Then, and rightfully so, Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, wanted to include the lawmakers in this scheme (Feb. 28 Local & State). Kudos to her.

Now, of course, Sen. Jeff Melcher, R-Leawood, does not like this idea. But with all these idiotic bills, we should find out what some of the folks are on. What are they afraid of?



Uneasy thought

Is anyone else uneasy of the thought of someone as clueless of self-defense laws as Vice President Joe Biden influencing our gun laws? If his wife, Jill, followed the advice he said he gave her to “walk out on the balcony” and “fire two blasts outside of the house,” she would have broken numerous laws and gone from defending herself to being the perpetrator.

But I know Biden wants us to obey the laws and wants to create as many laws as possible for us to obey – even though laws won’t stop the mentally challenged or criminals.



‘But’ is dead

Regarding Kansas Views (Feb. 18 Opinion): Until November, a frequent phrase in Kansas was “passed by the House but died in the Senate.”

Poor “But” is dead.

Also known as “Moderate,” “But” resided across the state for 40 years and fought valiantly before dying in the polls. His extended family, including Democrats, was known for common sense. For that reason, their claims of foul play ring true. “But” often blocked extremists’ plans to defund education and social services, politically appoint judges, ban abortion, or burden working-poor and middle-income families.

Few in Kansas government remain to mourn him. “But” was replaced by a host of single-term state representatives, unschooled in basic Senate procedures. Some are now chairing committees they never served on; some expect the Kansas Legislative Research Department to provide only supportive data. Tragically, Institutional Knowledge, Fairness and Fact also died when the 2013 session began.

Alive last year, “But” died in the Senate, but will not rest in peace.


Overland Park

Find solutions

Sixty-two years and 12 administrations later, the Kansas congressional delegation finally got President Obama to agree to award the Medal of Honor to Father Emil Kapaun (Feb. 23 Eagle).

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he got his “close friend,” former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, to get Obama to do the award. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, said he helped get the award for Kapaun and that former Rep. Todd Tiahrt shouldn’t have released the story.

The members of the Kansas delegation can work with Obama to get an award for Kapaun, who has really deserved it for 62 years, but they can’t compromise or find solutions to the problems we face today.



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