The Wichita Eagle, on abortion debate in Wichita:
Nobody asked Wichitans whether they wanted their community to become ground zero for the abortion issue — or the “bull’s-eye of the abortion industry,” as one local anti-abortion activist regrettably puts it in the film documentary “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”
But the city and the controversial medical procedure became entangled, because Wichita was George Tiller’s home and he was one of a shrinking number of physicians in the United States willing to perform abortions and especially late-term abortions.
Among U.S. cities, Wichita has uniquely felt the consequences of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. ...
Over time, abortion also redefined the Kansas Republican Party from the precincts up and influenced the outcome of elections statewide, especially for attorney general and the Legislature. ...
Then ... Tiller was fatally shot while ushering at his Wichita church. At least briefly, people of good will on both sides of abortion could agree on something — that the murder was a monstrous act.
Is it too much to hope that people now might learn something from Tiller’s death and act accordingly? Any chance we can communicate about abortion civilly and productively, in ways that both promote life and respect women?
Might we find a path down the middle, and stop casting those who are pro-choice as pro-abortion and those who are anti-abortion as anti-women? Can’t we work together to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and support unwed mothers?
If a fight is what we want, how about getting up in arms about the 300-plus infants who die annually before reaching their first birthdays in Kansas? Or the 22.7 percent of women who receive inadequate prenatal care? Or the 58 girls younger than 15 in Kansas who were in a position to have abortions last year?
Tiller often wore a button saying, “Attitude is everything.” In the wake of his murder, a new attitude on abortion is sorely needed in Wichita and beyond.
Lawrence Journal-World, on state budget situation:
Considering the state’s current financial status, it only makes sense for officials to carefully examine just about every expenditure of state funds.
Although the state has closed prisons and cut funding for social services and education and still is being forced to delay scheduled fund transfers, legislators still saw fit this year to approve $38 million in bonds to keep the Statehouse renovation project going. That may be a prudent move, but as House Majority Leader Ray Merrick said this week, “We owe it to ourselves and the people of this state” to make sure.
At Merrick’s request, the Legislative Coordinating Council has agreed to consider hiring a Kansas City, Mo., management firm to review the Statehouse renovation, which now has grown into a $285 million project.
By all reports, the restoration work being done is beautiful and of high quality. When they approved the additional bonds, legislators also pointed out that it made no sense to delay the project when it was about three-fourths done and that stopping the project and restarting it in a few years would only raise the price tag.
They also speculated that the state could benefit from lower labor and materials costs that have resulted from the slumping economy. It’s true that bids for many government construction projects are coming in under the estimates, but will that really help the state on the specialized Statehouse project? It seems that legislators already have sent the message that they are willing to appropriate about any amount of money contractors say is needed to do this project “right.”
Yet, while legislators were approving $38 million in bonds for the Statehouse project, the Kansas Board of Regents had to fight to claim $7.7 million for maintenance projects on all of its state university campuses. That amount is appreciated, but it will hardly make a dent in the maintenance backlog, which has grown to an estimated $825 million.
It’s too late to go back and limit the scope of the Statehouse project, so perhaps the state has no reasonable option but to spend the money and move ahead but, as Merrick said, we “owe it to ourselves” to make sure.
The Hays Daily News, on George Tiller’s death:
Whether the news of abortion doctor George Tiller’s death leaves you sad, overjoyed or indifferent, it is at least worth examining the cultural environment in which the murder took place.
Tiller was gunned down while serving as an usher at his Wichita church. His wife was present, although upstairs in the choir loft. The alleged shooter, Scott Roeder, appears to have been motivated by his dislike of Tiller’s practice of late-term abortions. ...
State and national pro-life groups were quick to distance themselves from both the suspect and the murder. That is to their credit, although it appears to be a public, political move. ...
It is a black-or-white issue for those who believe abortion is murder. Unlike the courts, which recognize variables such as a woman’s health or the circumstances under which conception took place, the pro-life movement condemns all abortions. And that is their constitutional right. The ability to peacefully assemble, express an opinion and petition the government for redress of grievances is not limited to either the pro-choice or pro-life movement.
How close one comes to inciting riots or violent behavior can limit one’s First Amendment protection, however. As Tiller is not the first abortion provider to be murdered, as this wasn’t even the first time somebody attempted to murder Tiller himself, it strikes us the widespread rhetoric being espoused by many in the pro-life camp has crossed that line. ...
George Tiller should serve as a reminder that the rhetoric and promoted culture of the pro-life movement has gone too far. Even if the killer is determined to suffer any mental illness, even if there is no direct connection with any particular group, the venomous tone used by so many in the debate clearly sets the stage for action. Abortion is far from settled as an issue in America. But it is long overdue that the argument settle down.
The Hutchinson News, on incentives for alternative energy:
New federal and Kansas incentives for residential and other small-scale wind generation likely won’t cause a rush of homeowners to start erecting their own wind turbines, but that now is a more feasible possibility.
Installing a small wind turbine to generate electricity for a home or small business is more cost sensible now. For one, federal economic stimulus legislation has removed the cap on a 30 percent tax credit for installation of renewable energy systems — not only wind generation but also solar water heaters, photovoltaic cells, fuel cells and geothermal heat pumps.
A separate federal grant and loan program, meanwhile is available for commercial and agricultural industries that install renewable energy systems.
And the big Kansas development is the enactment of net metering. This allows a homeowner to receive credit from his power company for excess electricity generated from a wind turbine. ...
So, the picture has changed significantly. ...
While this is progress, the environment for residential wind generation still leaves more to be desired.