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Niger Prime Minister Brigi Rafini Authorities in Niger have ordered all schools around the capital Niamey to be closed until Monday in its fight against Meningitis which has killed at least 85 people.Niger’s prime minister Brigi Rafini ordered the vaccination of all children aged 2 up to 15 years against the disease which kills.More than 900 cases of the disease have been diagnosed since January, resulting in 85 deaths.The government says its in need of more than 1 million doses of meningitis vaccine but only about half of that is available.He appealed to Niger’s allies and the World Health Organization to help make up the shortage.The meningitis virus attacks the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It could lead to deafness and severe brain damage. About half the cases are fatal.
by Ed Trimmer, Kansas State Representative, District 79 (Northwest Cowley and Northeast Sumner Counties) â€”Â The Kansas Legislature has completed the 2013 Legislative Session.Â As expected, it was another difficult year filled with complicated and controversial issues.Ed TrimmerAfter working into the night, we adjourned at around 2 a.m. on the 99th day of the session.Â The Speaker of the House had predicted an 80-Day session, due to the overwhelming majorities of Brownback supported conservatives in both the House and Senate.Â Because the session ran nine days over the traditional 90-day session, I will be donating my additional salary to high school student councils in my district which includes Belle Plaine, Oxford, Udall and Winfield.I will be conducting my bi-annual listening tour in July.Â The tour will be at several locations in each of the communities in our district.Â I will spend a few hours at each location.Â I want to meet you and listen to what you have to say.Â A tour schedule is included in this newsletter.Here is what I consider the most important issues of the wrap-up session.Common Core Education Standards:For many years, the American public has demanded more accountability for public education.Â Â Â In response, the National Governorâ€™s Association and the Council of Chief State Education Officers began creating common core standards as early as 2003, during the Bush administration.Â Since then, at least 45 states have worked cooperatively for over 10 years to establish standards that are common and more rigorous for each grade level.Â Each state sets their own set of standards using the common core as a bench-mark and each school has the freedom to decide textbooks and curriculum to meet the standards.This session, legislation was proposed to abolish common core standards.Â Many proponents based their arguments on a wide variety of misinformation.Â Many more people representing educators, administrators, state school board members, local school board members and businesspeople testified against the ban and for the standards.Â The bill failed in the House Education Committee on a bi-partisan vote of seven (Republicans) for and 11 (six Republicans and five Democrats) against.Â I actively opposed the bill.On the last day of the session, a few House members demanded that the Senate pass a bill to de-fund common core standards not already adopted or they would not vote for the budget and push the wrap-up session into its 100th day.Â The Senate passed a bill and sent it to the House but it failed to get the 63 votes it needed to pass.It is important to note, that common core standards are not a federal mandate, would not cost Kansas tens of millions of dollars and do not involve increased data collection by federal officials.Â These standards are supported by many Fortune 500 companies, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Army. The Army likes the idea that military families can move from state to state and their children will be educated with the same standards for each grade.Â For complete information and a list of standards, concerned citizens can consult the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas State Board of Education web sites.The 2014 and 2015 budget bill:The state budget is more than just a list of expenditures.Â It is an expression of our values.Â I voted against the budget bill because it goes against the values we hold as Kansans.Â The self-inflicted budget crisis in which we find ourselves, threatens education, public safety, early childhood programs and employment.Kansas colleges and universities are cut by nearly $66 million over the next two years.Â This will threaten the overall quality and stature of our colleges and universities while forcing higher costs onto Kansas families in the form of higher tuition rates.The budget raids funds for early childhood education taking $9.5 million from the childrenâ€™s initiatives fund.Â This fund uses money awarded to the state as part of the settlement with tobacco companies.This budget fails to address K-12 school funding.Â Our public schools were cut drastically in recent years and a Kansas Appeals Court ruled back in January that school funding was over $400 million short of where it should be.Â Instead of addressing this, legislators chose to give more tax breaks to the wealthy.The state highway fund is raided for another $300 million over the next two years to cover state general fund obligations.Â This means less money for important safety improvements for our Kansas roads and highways.Cuts to the Department of Corrections will threaten supervision of sex offenders as well as parole supervision, mental health and substance abuse treatment for inmates.Â According to Brownbackâ€™s Secretary of Corrections, with these cuts â€œwe will be spending far more than we save with the potential for increased victimization of Kansans due to an increased rate of untreated, unsupervised offenders in our communities.â€Much like the budgets we see coming out of Washington D.C., under this budget Kansas borrows heavily from bonded projects or adds new bond indebtedness.Â The State is projected to spend $628 million more than it brings in through revenue over the next five years.Even with $777 million in new taxes, the budget will be $23.7 million in the hole by FY 2018, assuming no new expenditures for the next five years if only to keep pace with inflation.The tax plan:Last year, the legislature eliminated almost all business income tax, which I voted against.Â During his 2013 â€œState of the Stateâ€ speech, the Governor again pushed for additional income tax cuts with the stated goal of eliminating the personal income tax altogether.Â To pay for the income tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy, the Governor sought to shift the tax burden to the working poor and middle class Kansas families.Included in the final tax plan was a permanent extension of the temporary sales tax increase passed in 2009.Â Raising the sales tax generates $1.1 billion dollars over the next five years and results in more than $145 million in higher taxes on food.Kansans pay the ninth highest combined local and state sales tax rates in the United States. The average Kansan pays $868 in sales taxes each year. This is 15 percent higher than the national average and 39 percent higher than a five state region including Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.The tax plan also raises taxes on Kansans by cutting standard deductions on single heads of households and married couples filing jointly by $311 million and reduces itemized deductions for items such as home mortgage interest and property taxes paid by an additional $664 million.Â Only the very wealthy will see any income tax benefit.The legislature isnâ€™t required to pass a tax plan before adjourning, but it is necessary to pass a budget.Â Senate Republicans refused to hold a vote on the budget without first passing a tax plan, effectively forcing negotiations on a tax plan before the 2013 legislature could adjourn. In the end, this resulted in a $777 million tax increase on low to middle income working families over the next five years.I voted against the tax plan because it fails to fix the budget crisis created by last years business income tax elimination, forces cuts to public safety and education, and forces the working poor and middle class Kansans to pay for tax breaks that benefit the wealthy.Washington style politics in Kansas?In 2010, Brownback Conservatives, the Kansas Chamber, and the Republican Assembly as well as tea-party groups, criticized Kansas Democrats for voting for the three-year (temporary) sales tax, calling it the largest tax increase in state history.In 2012, these same groups blamed Moderate Republicans in the Senate for gridlock in Topeka. and criticized them for voting for the 3-year (temporary) sales tax.This year, with the Brownback Conservatives in control of the House and Senate, there was still gridlock, resulting in 9 extra days in session at taxpayerâ€™s expense.Â Instead of the sales tax reverting back to 5.7 percent on July 2013, it will remain at 6.15 percent indefinitely.When the national economy was bad and Kansas needed the temporary sales tax, those voting for it were criticized.Â Today, Kansas suffers from a self-inflicted budget crisis caused by last yearâ€™s tax plan.Â Those who criticized the sales tax increase before now support it.Â Confused?Â Me, too!Listening tour schedule:Â I will buy the coffee and listen.Â I want to hear what you think.Thursday, July 11,Â Belle PlaineCaseyâ€™s 6:30 – 11 a.m.Senior Center 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.Friday, July 12,Â OxfordAngie Dâ€™s Cafe 6:30 – 9 a.m.COOP 9:30 – 11 a.m.Senior Center -Â 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m.Monday, July 15th, Â WinfieldCollege Hill Coffee 7:30-11 a.m.Tuesday, July 16th, Â WinfieldBiedermanâ€™s 6:30 – 10 a.m.Wednesday, July 17, Â UdallPhillips 66 6:30- 9 a.m.Eagle Convenience Store 9-10 a.m.1.Â Should alcohol be sold at retail food outlets in addition to liquor stores?YesÂ 30, NoÂ 127Â Â I did not support the concept.2.Â Should the one-cent sales tax be extended beyond the promised elimination date of July 1, 2013?YesÂ 68 , NoÂ 88Â Â Â Â I voted not to extend of the sales tax.3.Â Would you favor a system that allows the Governor to select court of appeals judges directly?YesÂ 17, NoÂ 138Â Â Â I voted no on this issue.4.Â Do you favor the elimination of the Home Mortgage Interest Exemption?YesÂ 22, NoÂ 130Â Â Â I voted not to cut or eliminate the exemption.5.Â Should the issue of where concealed weapons are carried be decided at the state level not the local level?YesÂ 71 , NoÂ 82Â Â Â Â I voted to keep local control.6.Â Should adults with conceal/carry permits be allowed to carry weapons in public schools?YesÂ 57 NoÂ 98Â Â Â Â I voted to prohibit anyone but law enforcement, unless the local district decided Â otherwise, which is current law.7.Â Should adults with conceal/carry permits be allowed to carry weapons on college campuses?YesÂ 64 NoÂ 96. Â I voted to leave it up to the college.8.Â Should adults with conceal/carry permits be allowed to carry weapons in government offices and court houses?Yes Â 45 Â NoÂ 110Â Â Â I voted to leave it up to the local entity.9.Â Should investor owned corporate farms be allowed in Kansas?YesÂ 25 Â NoÂ 127Â Â Â The issue did not come to the House floor.I deeply appreciate the contact I received from so many constituents in recent months.Â I worked hard to ensure the interests of our district were addressed under the Dome.Â If I can ever be of assistance to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me at my Capitol office 785-296-7122 (when we are in session) or at home 620-221-7146. You can e-mail me at [email protected]Â If you would like frequent e-mail updates during the session, just let me know and I will add you to my update list. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (2) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +2 Vote up Vote down OurVotes Rlost · 373 weeks ago I miss having our representative in Wellington………….. Report Reply 0 replies · active 373 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down MJE · 373 weeks ago Mr. Trimmer, Let’s set aside the fact that the Common Core standards were developed by corporate interests, not classroom educators, and look at the standards themselves. Do you honestly feel that “Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency,” and the “Invasive Plant Inventory,” by California’s Invasive Plant Council, are good reading texts to use in schools? Do you see any significance in the fact that James Milgram, the only mathematician on the validation panel, refused to sign off on the math standards, stating that they are actually two years behind those of other advanced nations? Keep in mind that the Common Core standards are subject to copyright and states that adopt them are very limited in the changes and additions that can be made. Do you feel the product placement is appropriate that has been reported in the tests Pearson has developed to comply with Common Core? Report Reply 0 replies · active 373 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. 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