Hawver: Wailing and Rending of Garments

Martin Hawver
Martin Hawver

After a week’s wailing and rending of garments, we’re going to find out whether Republicans can make a big enough deal out of the four line-item vetoes Gov. Laura Kelly inflicted on their third try at passing a budget to give them what they can call a political win.

Kelly’s vetoes last week are relatively low-dollar, and there’s not a lot of outcry from anyone affected by them except for legislative Republican leaders. Democrats have been largely silent on the line-item vetoes which are worth a total of about $54 million from the multibillion-dollar budget.

Only significant spending cut accomplished with a ballpoint pen is $51 million in accelerated repayment of money borrowed in earlier (Republican Govs. Sam Brownback/Jeff Colyer) era from the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS).

That $51 million? It would be atop a $115 million pay-back to KPERS that lawmakers and the governor made earlier this year which most state retirees are still celebrating.

The objection to that KPERS veto? Mostly formulaic, with Republicans generally saying that Kelly is punishing the retirees, that she plans massive “grow the government” spending increases in the next years—you rarely go politically wrong by tossing money at KPERS.

For Democrats, well they are relatively quiet on their Democrat governor’s KPERS veto, mostly citing that earlier $115 million and the need for the state to hold down spending so that there is less need for tax increases in future years.

All stuff we’ve heard before from both parties. No adrenaline rush here…

The whittled-down income tax bill that Kelly vetoed? So far, hall talk puts override success as unlikely, but that’s the biggie for Republicans. Win that one, and few will notice the budget bill’s line-item vetoes. But if the GOP can’t beat Kelly on taxes, then it’s time to talk about KPERS, and those other, smaller cuts she carved into the Legislature’s budget.

And who is going to be politically excited by overriding a $705,000 cut from a Board of Pharmacy program, or $1.8 million from the Department for Aging and Disability Services or $1.2 million for Department of Education for a reading research program? Oh, they are all probably nice programs, but the majority of Kansans have never heard about them. Angering voters about those line-item vetoes would take longer than most politicians want to spend on the effort.

At this point, just a year away from the House and Senate standing for reelection, it might be politically valuable for conservative lawmakers to scratch up the paint on Kelly’s official state SUV…just to show that they’re still in the game.

It’s all about Medicaid expansion that Kelly lost this session by a handful of votes and clever parliamentary maneuvering in the Senate and the possibility that the tax bill she vetoed might be overridden and become law.

If it comes down to a scrap over the line-item vetoes, we’ll know that the politics of the session remain up in the air. For Kelly, win on taxes, lose on Medicaid expansion. For the GOP legislature, lose on taxes, win on Medicaid expansion…or so it seems. The Medicaid battle is mostly GOP leadership with thin margins that Kelly hopes to overcome this summer.


Chances look good that nobody’s going to claim a real victory this session. Not the new governor, not the still-Republican (but moderating) legislature, and probably not Kansans.

Hard to consider this session just a warm-up for the real fight ahead, but at least that will make the upcoming 2020 session worth watching…


By Martin Hawver

Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com

Unknown Object

Over the past year, area resident, Jeff Kramer, Wellsville, has been trying to find out what an object was. Perhaps “trying to find out,” is the wrong words.  Maybe, confirming would be a better choice.  Kramer described the object, in a series of emails,

The object was found connected by wires to 9-volt battery that also had been burned.
The object was found connected by wires to a 9-volt battery that also had been burned.

The object is “pear” shape and size.  It is composed of molted/charred plastic presumably TPU thermoplastic polyurethane (grey in color), a stainless steel spring can be seen in the second and third picture and an insulated wire extending from top to bottom curving around the spring.  The third picture shows the object in its entirety:  two separate copper wires coming out of the top; 13ft of copper wire that is intertwined with its self; and one end of the wire is crimped with a small “L” copper connector and the other may have the same but is covered in molted/charred plastic.

Fall from the Sky

Before getting into all that, let’s back up. It was January 14, 2018, a snowy evening, when Kramer and his wife Barbara seen a fiery object falling from the sky.  A few days later, Kramer found a burned object in his backyard.  What was it?  Was it from Tiangong-1, the Chinese space lab that crashed on April 1, 2018? Sure this piece landed in mid-January, two-and-a-half months before the space lab crashed.  Still, though, could it be that a piece fell from the lab weeks ahead of its own fall? It had been disabled for a while before that eventual and expected fall.

These were questions, that Kramer, himself was asking.  According to LiveScience.com, if a piece of this space station, or any other rocket or satellite you should not touch it.

So, what should you do if you find a piece of what you think is space debris? “The best thing to do is to contact your local authorities,” Pearlman said. “They will contact the federal authorities and arrange for the proper collection and appropriate return to the Chinese government.” – LiveScience.com

Reporting and Investigation


Using a dental x-ray machine, Kramer and his dentist attempted to view inside the object.
Using a dental x-ray machine, Kramer and his dentist attempted to view inside the object.

He did that, but the Miami County Sheriff did not contact the federal authorities. Over the course of the past year, Kramer as contacted numerous people to inquire about the object.  He contacted former Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, Congressman Roger Marshall, and even Vice-President Mike Pence.  Some have written him back,  some did not respond.  Kramer was undeterred, he wanted to know what it was.  He had to find someone that would take it seriously and tell him what this object was.  Was it from Tiangong-1?  As Kramer told the Gazette (January 27, 2019) there is plenty of hypotheses, but still no validation.



HIs determination, to figure out what the object was led him to his dentist who agreed to take images of the object.  There were six x-rays that were taken and then stitched together. Inside the object, one can see more wires and springs.  Still though, not any definitive proof as to what the object may be.

Since then, he has located a chiropractor that agreed to take digital x-rays of the object, which shows a somewhat clearer image of the inside, including previously unseen springs. Still, the question remains is it space junk?  Why hasn’t anyone from NASA or the Federal Government, in general, come to look at it?   For Kramer, his search for answers continues.



Wichita Woman Pleads Guilty to Medicaid Fraud, Related Charges

WICHITA –– A Wichita woman pleaded guilty May 17, to Medicaid fraud and related charges, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Jessica Jo Washington, 32, pleaded guilty in Sedgwick County District Court to one count of Medicaid fraud and one count of felony mistreatment of a dependent adult. The charges stemmed from an investigation by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division, which revealed that Washington mistreated a resident while working as a Certified Nurse Aide in a Sedgwick County nursing facility. The crimes occurred in July 2018.

As a condition of the plea, Washington has agreed to voluntarily surrender her certification with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. District Judge Terry Pullman accepted the plea and scheduled sentencing for July 9 at 8:45 a.m.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Meghan Markey of Schmidt’s office.

Kansas filed the case as part of a sweep of Medicaid Fraud enforcement actions involving misconduct by health care providers. As part of that effort, the Kansas attorney general filed criminal charges against ten individuals. Four of those individuals have now been found guilty. Six additional cases remain pending.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly Veto’s Tax Reform Bill

On Friday, May 17, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a tax relief bill known as House Bill 2033.  The veto was not a surprise as she had promised that would be what she would do.  In a press release, the Governor said that she had a long record of supporting responsible, commonsense tax policy. However, she said,

“Unfortunately, that is not what House Bill 2033 represents. It will decimate the state’s ability to pay our bills and invest in our people. Just as Kansas begins to stabilize after years of senseless fiscal crisis, House Bill 2033 will create a $1 billion deficit within three years.”

Governor Laura Kelly
Governor Laura Kelly

She further stated that one of her top priorities, as Governor was to lower Kansas’ unacceptably high tax on food. We must first provide relief for those who need it most and then ultimately for all Kansans. We need stability so our tax code can offer certainty to businesses and families. “This,” she said, “all must go hand-in-hand with rebuilding our state’s rainy-day fund so we can weather economic downturns without putting our schools and children at risk. Kansas is also long overdue for a thorough, nonpartisan study of how we can ensure our tax code is fair and truly incentivizes economic growth – in urban and rural communities alike. Our state has not conducted such a study since 1995.”

Her press statement continued by saying,

“Kansans deserve a plan. Successful tax reform must be shaped by a thoughtful, big-picture vision – not by a rushed attempt to achieve an immediate political victory. To that end, my administration recently began outlining a plan to help build this vision, which I look forward to sharing in the weeks to come.”

“Pro-business, pro-growth, pro-family tax policy can absolutely reshape Kansas for the better, but only if it fixes the failures of the past, not repeats them. I was elected to rebuild our state; House Bill 2033 is not the way to do it.”

Concluding her statement, she said,

Therefore, under Article 2, Section 14(a) of the Kansas Constitution, I hereby veto House Bill 2033.


Following Governor Kelly’s veto of HB 2033, the tax bill that would ensure Kansans keep more of their hard-earned money, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas State Director Jeff Glendening released a response saying,

“Kansas families deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money. This bill would save taxpayers millions by reversing the unintended state-level tax bump for folks who saw tax relief from federal tax reform. Now Kansans are facing a tax hike on top of an already heavy tax burden. We urge lawmakers to override this veto.”


Baker Sweeps Regular Season and Tournament Titles with 3-1 Win over Grand View in Championship

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – For the first time in program history, the number one Baker University softball team won the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament title. The Wildcats defeated number two Grand View, 3-1 in the championship game on Saturday afternoon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

With the win, Baker improves its overall record to 45-7, while Grand View falls to 44-10. The Wildcats and Vikings have both earned an automatic bid into the 2019 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round, which will be played May 13-15 on ten opening round campus sites across the country.

For the fourth time in the last seven days, the Wildcats and Vikings would do battle. The first time was last Sunday at Cavaness Field, where Baker earned the doubleheader sweep over the Vikings to claim the conference regular season championship on, senior day.

Baker would see the Vikings again in the conference semifinals on Thursday, May 3, defeating Grand View by a score of 1-0 to advance to the championship game. Grand View fended off elimination with a 3-0 win over number six Benedictine on the same day, setting the stage for the top two teams in the conference to battle once again.

Both teams remained scoreless through the first three innings of play. The Wildcats would strike first in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring three runs on four hits. First Team All-Conference catcher Makayla Stromenger led off with a double to deep left-center field. Two batters later, senior Megan Porche doubled to deep left field to bring Stromenger around to score for the first run of the game.

After a fly out to, center field, sophomore Gold Glove award recipient Eva Gonzalez singled to shallow left field to score pinch runner Tiana Tinari from second base, pushing the Wildcat lead to 2-0. Senior first baseman Rachel Wheeler added the final run of the inning for Baker, crushing a double to deep left-center field, bringing Gonzalez around to score.

However, Grand View would battle back in the final inning of play. After a pop out to the pitcher’s mound, Lauren Poortinga doubled down the left field line to put the Vikings in position to bring their first run across the plate. Two batters later, Kaylee Watson would single to shallow center to put runners at first and third with two outs.

A single by Kelsey Winnett would bring the runner home from third base and cut the BU lead to 3-1. That was all that Grand View could do against Baker, as the next batter would fly out to Mackenzie Chinn in right field, solidifying Baker’s first conference tournament title in program history.

Senior ace Olivia Brees pitched for the fourth straight day and the fourth consecutive time against Grand View. The NAIA strikeout leader shut down one of the top offenses in the Heart, pitching a complete game with nine strikeouts and allowing only one earned run on four hits. Brees earned her 33rd win this season and 98th win of her career.

As a team, the Wildcats recorded six total hits in the championship game compared to Grand View’s four. Meaghan Grah started for the Vikings the second-straight day against Baker, giving up five hits and three earned runs in the loss.

The Vikings entered the tournament ranked number one in the conference in runs scored (7.20/game), RBI (6.57/game), slugging percentage (.555) and home runs (61). In four games played this season against Grand View, Baker held the Vikings to only two runs on 11 hits.

Six different Wildcats collected a hit in the championship including; Stromenger, Hannah Flynn, Porche, Gonzalez, Wheeler, and Chinn.

The ‘Cats will find out where they will next play in the 2019 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round, which will be announced on Tuesday, May 7 at 4 p.m. EDT on the NAIA Facebook page. You can watch the NAIA selection show live, by clicking here.