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Stories From Around the State
By: Tim O'Brien
The League and its allies were successful in keeping voter ID bills from passing in a number of states including Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia. Only Kansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have passed voter photo ID laws that are currently in effect. In retrospect, thanks to the Leagues ongoing work, we are better off than we had anticipated when the legislative sessions began!
By: Cynthia Padera
A new publication from the League of Women Voters Education Fund, "From Theory to Practice: A Grassroots Education Campaign," shares lessons learned by the state and local Leagues in Kansas and South Carolina that participated in "Safeguarding Democracy: Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary" from 2009-2012. The publication is intended as a resource for Leagues and partner organizations that seek guidance for the implementation of successful grassroots education campaigns.
Date: 7 PM, May 1
Location: Lyon County Courthouse, Emporia, Kansas
Event: Panel Discussion
Partners: Lyon County Law Library; Emporia Public Library
In honor of Law Day, the League of Women Voters of Emporia, Kansas, will present a panel discussion on the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines at 7 PM on Tuesday, May 1, in the Jury Assembly Room, 2nd floor of the Lyon County Courthouse. Chief Judge Merlin Wheeler, District Judge Jeffry Larsonm and Magistrate Judge Doug Jones will address questions such as: “How do we determine who is placed on probation and who goes to prison,” “who makes the rules regarding length of sentences,” and “do prison populations/overcrowding factor into sentencing decisions?” The 2012 Law Day theme, “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,” underscores the importance of the courts and their role in ensuring access to justice for all Americans.
Light refreshments will be served following the one-hour program, which is free and open to the public.
By: Jessica Jones
Local Leagues across the country have responded to recent attempts in Congress to allow employers and health plans to block contraceptive services and discriminate against women.
On February 28, Ernestine Krehbiel, president of the Kansas League of Women Voters, took a family friend, 20-year-old Chris Lawless, to vote in a Wichita election. Because Lawless has no government-issued ID, he filled out a provisional ballot after waiting for elections officials to decide if he could vote.
Krebhiel reported “He's so frustrated he's almost given up,” and noted that the League is “concerned with a lot of people like this, when they run into difficulty, they just give up.” Read more here.
Since 2010, foes of merit selection in Kansas have pushed a bill that would eliminate the nominating commission for the Court of Appeals and give the governor the power to appoint those judges directly, pending federal-style Senate confirmation. The measure passed in the House in 2011, but stalled in the Senate. The League of Women Voters has been carefully monitoring its status, and on February 24, 2012, the Senate finally revisited the bill, under pressure from advocacy group Kansans for Life.
Facing bipartisan opposition, the proposal failed on a 17-22 vote, with legislators citing concerns about maintaining the separation of powers. Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, "Make no bones about it, if we pass this bill and give this authority to the governor or any other governor, what we are doing is giving the executive branch control of the third branch of government." Others, such as Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, pointed to the federal system as an unenviable, gridlocked mess. Still others argued that the new method would not, as suggested, further the pro-life cause: one anti-abortion senator noted that the federal process appointed the judges who ruled in Roe v. Wade.
The League of Women Voters of Kansas applauds the Senate for considering the impact of the decision on judicial independence.