Legislature lacks guts to address budget
We have been hearing for months now about the Kansas state budget shortfall, and the blame almost totally falling on the shoulders of our governor. Though that blame may be fundamentally justified, I was woefully disappointed to read further in the Sunday Eagle about Senate Bill 249, SB 149 and House Bill 2456, which together demonstrate a total lack of priorities and accountability.
It seems that our Kansas government is in a state of euphoria with SB 149 (assisting farmers’ efforts to repair or replace pasture fences lost in grass fires) and HB 2456 (banning teens from tanning beds) while essentially kicking the can down the road with regard to a budget by adopting SB 249 (“delay” of a $99 million payment to the state’s pension fund until 2018).
As I see it, SB 149 is a purely politically driven vote-getter, and HB 2456 is another pathetic step toward release of parental responsibility. While all this continues, the budget spirals further into oblivion. It is obvious that our elected representatives simply do not have the tools or political guts required to address the budget issue.
Not to worry, though – the cows will remain fenced and the pretty little girls will be safe from those gruesome tanning beds.
Mark Carter, Wichita
I am appalled by recent legal efforts across the nation, and within our own state with House Bill 2737 and Senate Bill 513, to criminalize and vilify transgender people. I was so upset to read that in a speech urging Kansans to “bring God into politics,” evangelist Franklin Graham endorsed North Carolina’s anti-transgender bill – to some of the loudest cheers from the crowd in Topeka (April 29 Eagle). For shame!
I believe God-inspired politicians and politics will be known by their fruits, as Jesus told us in Matthew 7:15-17, and the fruits of the Spirit include love, kindness, goodness and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). But these transgender bills are rotten. As my beloved retired pastor said recently, “People whom God has created are being hurt.”
Transgender individuals are some of the most vulnerable people within our community, at higher risk for abuse and suicide than the general population. We do not need these punitive and paranoid laws. What we need are prayers that people’s hearts will be moved to love their transgender neighbors and welcome them in our community.
For more on understanding transgender issues, finding welcoming churches, and how to make your own community of faith more inclusive: The Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests has a wonderful compilation of resources at www.bmclgbt.org. Please be a voice for the vulnerable.
Katie Mitchell-Koch, Wichita
Mistaken on tax cuts
I found it interesting when Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted to first extend and then later make permanent most of the Bush tax cuts. After saying for more than a decade that those tax cuts were only for “the rich,” they admitted that the tax cuts benefited all taxpayers by enabling them to keep more of their own money in their own pockets for their own use.
There was a vote last week to end Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax exemption to about 330,000 Kansas business owners, which has enabled them to keep their own money in their own pockets for their own use.
About half of the Kansas House Democrats, including House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, joined 62 Republicans in voting against the repeal of the tax exemption.
I guess this will stop Kansas liberal Democrats – especially those who’ve written vitriolic letters to the editor calling Brownback vile names and ridiculing those who voted for him as ill-informed – from continuing to blame only Brownback and Kansas Republicans for the state budget issues.
Who knows? Maybe the other half of Democratic lawmakers who voted to repeal the exemption will learn that they too are mistaken.
Kevin Henderson, Halstead
ABCs of safe sleep
The following letter was submitted by Estephan Zayat, Stephanie Kuhlmann, David Grainger, Rebecca Reddy, Larry Hund, Zachary Kuhlmann, Brian Pate, Christy Schunn, Cari Schmidt and Jon Rosell:
During the first four months of this year, seven Wichita infants died because of unsafe sleep-related causes. Typically, infant sleep deaths claim about seven babies each year, an unacceptable number in itself. Sedgwick County already has infant mortality rates that exceed state and national averages.
These high and sad statistics drive home the need for health care providers, caregivers, parents, baby sitters and others to know and communicate the essentials of safe sleep. These are evidence-based rules that keep babies safe and reduce the likelihood of sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related deaths.
The ABCs of safe sleep are:
▪ Alone: No form of “co-sleeping” is safe. The rule is “same room, separate bed.” Soft grown-up beds, couches, recliners and blankets are dangerous to babies, as is the risk of a grown-up rolling onto and smothering a child.
▪ On the back: Babies sleep safest on their backs, on a firm mattress.
▪ Clutter-free crib: Toys, stuffed animals, blankets and crib bumpers can be deadly and should not be placed in the safety-approved crib.
If you are a parent or parent-to-be, talk to your doctor or other health care provider to learn more. The KIDS Network (kidsks.org) and the Sedgwick County Health Department, with its Healthy Babies program, are excellent resources. Safe sleep requires a community-wide effort.
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