Local and state talking points

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Education advocate to give Black History Month keynote address

K-State’s Black Student Union and Student Governing Association are co-sponsoring a lecture by education advocate Geoffrey Canada.

Canada, a Harvard graduate from a poor neighborhood in the South Bronx, is the founder of the Harlem Children Zone. The nonprofit provides after-school programs, pre-kindergarten care, health care, college planning and classes for soon-to-be-parents.

“Geoffrey Canada is someone who advocates for education to be equal in all communities,” Justice Davis, junior in marketing and K-State Black Student Union president, said in a K-State news release. “In light of what’s relevant in today’s society, bringing in speakers like Geoffrey Canada will expand cultural knowledge and racial consciousness on campus.”

Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone were part of the 2010 documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and inspired President Barack Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods program, which offers grants to programs in 21 cities across the U.S.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 and is free and open to the public.

Bill aims to restrict college job titles in opinion pieces

The Topeka Capital Journal reported that employees of universities and community colleges could soon be prohibited from using their job titles when contributing to newspaper and opinion pieces.

The bill, which currently applies only to opinion pieces and letters to the editor, seeks to prohibit the use of job titles when criticizing or praising an elected official, a candidate or a matter pending before a government body.

Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, said the bill had constitutional problems and would potentially limit public debate. Employees could still use their titles when writing about other topics.

Suspicious package found at Bramlage, not a threat

The K-State Police Department determined that a suspicious package found on the northeast entrance ramp to Bramlage Coliseum at 2:15 p.m. was not a threat, according to a K-State news release.

The item was a flashlight wrapped in duct tape. As part of the safety procedures, foot traffic around the area was rerouted to other gates, members of the Kansas Highway Patrol canine bomb team requested further inspections by X-ray and members of the K-State Riley County police bomb team were dispatched to the area.

Budget cuts impact Kansas’ prized highways

While Gov. Sam Brownback continues to defend his tax cuts and the march to “zero income taxes,” his plans to divert $158 million from highway projects have struck a nerve with many of his supporters according to an article by the Topeka Capital Journal.

Brownback, who sought re-election on the promise of low income taxes and high quality services, has seen revenues fall short of expectations and Kansas’ credit ratings downgraded in 2014.

Kansas has stayed ahead of most other states on road maintenance due to 25 years of investment in projects. The Kansas Department of Transportation said big highway projects scheduled through 2019 would continue, and the cuts would only impact smaller projects.

Lawmakers fight to reduce prison population

With a projected $600 million shortfall looming in the next fiscal year, the Kansas Sentencing Commission has submitted bills that could reduce the state prison population and save the state money, according to the Little Apple Post.

Bills aimed at keeping offenders out of prison for their first two marijuana possession convictions and allowing for early-release for good behavior would save the state $3.6 million and would free up 150 beds in state prison.

That being said, parallel legislation that aims to lengthen sentences for drunk driving, home burglary and theft could stymie the cost-saving measures.

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