Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: Kansas State Representative on Glendale Case



Kansas State Representative on Glendale Case

By May 18, 2007

As the public’s outrage over Glendale Community College Professor Walter Kehowski’s plight continues, Kansas State Representative Benjamin Hodge joins the call for the school district to reinstate Kehowski in a statement released yesterday.

Hodge, a trustee of Kansas’s Johnson County Community College, wrote:

As the Daily News Record indicated, this is not an isolated incident. It is no secret that one of the least diverse places in Western culture, and that one of the places least tolerant to a diversity of ideas, is the American government college campus. Under the guise of ‘speech codes,’ faculty members have created environments that are intolerant to ‘unacceptable’ speech. College board members and college presidents allow ‘positive feedback’ to occur on campuses, but criticisms can quickly become ‘unacceptable behavior.’

The first amendment should apply equally to “unpopular” speech as it does to “popular” speech. I have witnessed enough of this personally at JCCC, in a “red state” like Kansas, that I can only imagine the climates created by college administrators in other states. I applaud FIRE for providing assistance to Professor Kehowski.

Academic freedom is a meaningless concept without the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of conscience guaranteed under the first amendment. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have not died fighting for our freedoms, so that leftist government faculty can use the taxpayer’s money to create their own Utopias where our nation’s laws are ignored, and where “contrary opinions” are censored. I fully support the concept of tenure—but what is the point of tenure if PhDs do not respond to one thought with another thought, but rather engage in prior restraint of the unwelcomed speaker?

Unless there are additional details about which I am unaware and that are highly significant, with regard to Professor Kehowski’s situation, I ask Maricopa to immediately re-instate Professor Kehowski as a tenured professor. Furthermore, if Kehowski does not regain his job, I will object to any working relationship that Johnson County Community College has with MCCCD, and I will object to JCCC belonging to any larger educational group that recognizes MCCCD as a credible academic institution.

We applaud you, Representative Hodge. As we advocate for the rights of students and faculty all over the country, we are always excited to hear from others who enthusiastically support individual rights on campus. Even more commendable is an individual who is willing to publicly denounce a school system and refuse professional affiliation with an institution that fails to adequately fulfill its constitutional obligations to its students and faculty.

PDF – FIRE – Kansas State Representative on Glendale Case


Operation Rescue – KS House Speaker’s Failed Leadership Lets Abortionist Off The Hook


KS House Speaker’s Failed Leadership Lets Abortionist Off The Hook

May 24, 2007 By  3 Comments

Neufeld blocked every effort to bring abortionist Tiller to justice

Topeka, KS — House Speaker Melvin Neufeld’s failed leadership on life issues has allowed late-term abortionist George R. Tiller to continue to flout Kansas law that bans abortions after the 21st week of gestation. After blocking efforts by pro-life groups and legislators to take meaningful action to insure that Kansas abortion laws are enforced, Neufeld proposed a series of ineffective and inadequate plans that served to essentially paralyze the House on the Tiller matter. Continue reading

CJ Online – Abortion foes putting pressuring on Neufeld

Posted: Friday, June 01, 2007
By Tim Carpenter
House Speaker Melvin Neufeld dismisses criticism of his political leadership on the abortion issue as theatrics by attention-starved legislators and money-hungry lobbyists.

More than a dozen House members and the group Operation Rescue are engaged in a relentless campaign to pressure Neufeld to unleash powers held by the House to investigate Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita physician who has drawn state scrutiny in the past for performing late-term abortions.

Neufeld rejected the proposed formation of a special House committee with subpoena power to go after records and testimony that might implicate Tiller in wrongdoing. The Ingalls Republican also blocked a House resolution capable of compelling Attorney General Paul Morrison to file criminal charges against Tiller.

“They wanted to raise that issue in the press. Not necessarily to be successful on the Tiller thing,” Neufeld said in an interview with The Topeka Capital-Journal. “It probably has to do with fundraising for the (Operation Rescue) organization, which is not one of my goals.”

He expressed similar frustration with House members who condemn his approach to abortion policy.

“I believe if you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it for results and make things happen, and not waste your time trying to get your name in the newspaper,” he said.

Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue, said positions on abortion taken by Neufeld raise questions about the speaker’s ability to lead the House.

“We think members of the House need to seriously consider whether they can move forward with the current leadership,” she said. “When the majority party is frightened into paralysis by the minority party, it is time to make some changes.”

Neufeld can be forcibly removed by a vote of the Republican-dominated House, which appointed him in January to a four-year term as speaker that assumes he would win re-election in 2008.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the friction was more about a power struggle in the Republican Party than a reasonable debate on abortion policy. Hensley said Neufeld was correct to leave Tiller to the criminal justice system.

“I don’t know why the Legislature needs to get involved in the judicial process,” he said.

Tiller has been the central target of anti-abortion forces in Kansas for more than a decade. Election in 2002 of anti-abortion Republican Phill Kline as attorney general raised expectations Tiller would be prosecuted.

Kline did pursue Tiller, but his case became mired in legal wrangling.

Kline eventually charged Tiller with 30 misdemeanors for allegedly performing 15 illegal late-term abortions in 2003 on patients 12 to 22 years of age without reporting proper details to the state. Attorneys for Tiller convinced a Sedgwick County District Court judge to dismiss all counts on procedural grounds.

Kline, defeated for re-election in November by Morrison, appointed a special prosecutor to appeal the district judge’s ruling. When Morrison assumed office in January, he fired the special prosecutor and asked the Kansas Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal.

Morrison launched his own investigation of Tiller’s medical practice, which is ongoing.

“I can assure you that if I find evidence that a crime has been committed, I will file new charges against Dr. Tiller,” Morrison said.

In March, skeptical legislators on the House Federal and State Affairs Committee voted 12-8 to approve a resolution designed to force Morrison to reinstate all 30 counts against Tiller.

Neufeld, who sets the debate agenda in the House, forbade a vote on the resolution by the full House.

The resolution was a waste of time, he said, because the criminal charges would have been dismissed again.

A coalition of vocal anti-abortion House members met with Neufeld on the final day of the 2007 session in May to persuade him to create an investigative committee with power to obtain testimony and records related to alleged misconduct by Tiller. Again, Neufeld declined. He said it was improper to instigate an open-ended investigation by the House. He suspected the committee would try to subpoena judges.

“If there was a defined goal and we knew what this committee was supposed to do, that’s one thing,” Neufeld said. “I don’t think it’s the speaker’s job to authorize witch hunts, which is what they were asking for.”

Five members of the rebel GOP faction protested by asking Neufeld to remove them from the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. After speaking behind closed doors, all but one withdrew the committee assignment request.

Only freshman Rep. Ben Hodge, R-Overland Park, insisted on being dropped from the committee.

“Our judicial system is covering up crimes,” said Hodge, who subsequently appeared on the Fox News talk show hosted by Bill O’Reilly to speak about the controversy. “Our attorney general is ignoring crimes, and I think it is our job to expose crimes.”

Neufeld said it was childish for a legislator to bail out of a committee responsible for an issue so important to that individual. Neufeld said it was the equivalent of announcing: “I’m not getting my way today. I don’t want to be a player anymore.”

Neufeld said he supported a measure adopted by the Legislature this session requiring more detailed reporting to state agencies by physicians aborting fetuses capable of surviving outside the womb. However, the proviso was vetoed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. A Senate override of her veto failed on the final day of the session.

The speaker said the Legislature should work in the 2008 session to broaden abortion reporting to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

“It’s always important to remember in politics, as in the rest of life, intimidation is not a winning strategy,” Neufeld said.

Tim Carpenter can be reached at (785) 296-3005 or

College trustees vote to reject state maintainance initiative

The following article appeared in the Johnson County Sun.

“College trustees vote to reject state maintainance initiative”
Elaine Bessier
Johnson County Sun

The Johnson County Community College board rejected an invitation to join the other 18 Kansas community colleges and universities in a statewide initiative to address deferred maintenance on the campuses. Continue reading

Capital Journal on Rep. Benjamin Hodge’s 1% budget cut – “We are not being responsible with our taxpayers’ money.”

House advances budget containing pay raise
State employees would receive 1 percent increase and a $1,450 bonus,br> By Tim Carpenter
The Capital-Journal
Published Friday, March 16, 2007

The House tentatively endorsed a $12.4 billion state budget Thursday containing a salary plan for state employees and excluding proposals for broader financing of all-day kindergarten programs and health care for uninsured children. Continue reading

Trustee Hodge uses post to blast triangle tax plan

Johnson County Sun, April 25, 2007

Trustee uses post to blast triangle plan
BY: Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, Editor

Less than three hours after the triangle bill signing, a conservative Kansas House member who holds a second elected position as a Johnson County Community College trustee, Ben Hodge, used the college board meeting as a forum to oppose the triangle. Continue reading

“First-years talk about Legislature” – Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, Editor of JoCo Sun

“First-years talk about Legislature”
Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, Editor
Johnson County Sun

Rep. Ben Hodge said he wants to cut the ties that bind Kansas public schools to federal funding, Rep. Sheryl Spalding said her constituents want more school funding and Rep. Cindy Neighbor identified health care as a major concern for lawmakers this year. Continue reading

Hodge letter to the Star – Property taxes are about to go up all over Johnson County

Printed in the Kansas City Star.

JoCo taxes, spending

Property taxes are about to go up all over Johnson County

Local politicians wouldn’t tell you this. And you won’t discover this tax increase through the mainstream media. While newsrooms are generally sympathetic to moral relativism, reporters do provide philosophical immunity to the perceived necessity of continual government growth, elevating the idea to the status of an absolute truth. Continue reading

KC Star – Gambling measures in Wyandotte County: Opposition scarce as vote looms on casino – The plans, which voters will consider Tuesday, have not stirred the usual passionate debate.

Kansas City Star; July 25, 2007
Gambling measures in Wyandotte County: Opposition scarce as vote looms on casino – The plans, which voters will consider Tuesday, have not stirred the usual passionate debate.

As Wyandotte County voters prepare for Tuesday’s election on whether to legalize casino gambling — a historic and possibly defining moment for the county — the opposition seems to have gone AWOL. Continue reading

The Star on minimum wage vote

Kansas City Star; February 26, 2007
Ugly side of enacting laws – Discovery of a possible loophole in an eminent domain law creates an awkward situation.


Discovery of a possible loophole in an eminent domain law creates an awkward situation.

TOPEKA – It is said that enacting laws is a lot like making sausage — not very pretty.

What’s really ugly is when nobody seems to know what’s going in the grinder.

A case in point is Senate Bill 316, which could help Olathe build a professional soccer stadium. The bill, approved last week by the Senate Commerce Committee, was supposed to be debated by the full Senate on Thursday, but something strange happened on the way to the Senate floor.

Sen. Tim Huelskamp, a Fowler Republican, started reading the bill and discovered something that disturbed him — a possible loophole in an eminent domain law that prohibits taking private property for commercial business purposes.

He found a section that might provide an exception in that law for blighted property. And, “of course, we really haven’t come up with a good definition for blighted areas, so it could be anything,” said Sen. Phil Journey, a Haysville Republican.

Huelskamp confronted leaders of the Commerce Committee about the blight section, and they didn’t seem to know anything about it.

After a brief moment of embarrassment, Senate leaders decided to pull the bill from the debate calendar. Sen. Karin Brownlee, an Olathe Republican and the committee’s co-chairwoman, said she wasn’t certain the bill created that loophole but added that she would investigate Huelskamp’s concerns.

House Democrats have long argued that the state’s minimum wage of $2.65 — the lowest of all states that set a minimum hourly rate — should be raised to match the federal level. Last week they tried unsuccessfully to add an increase to a bill. Their proposed amendment sparked some of the best debate so far this session.

The vote was 63-56 against it.

Democrats and a few Republicans argued the wage was an embarrassment to the state and an insult to the 19,000 Kansans whose jobs pay less than the federal minimum wage because they don’t involve interstate commerce.

But most Republicans countered that businesses are best able to set wages, and that an increase in the minimum wage could cause a rise in prices and a reduction in jobs. They said there were better ways of helping low-income workers than raising the cost of labor for small businesses.

Here’s how Kansas City area lawmakers voted on the amendment. A yes vote supported the increase.

Republicans voting yes: Anthony Brown, Eudora; Tim Owens, Overland Park; and Judy Morrison, Shawnee.

Republicans voting no: Colloton; Jeff Colyer, Ben Hodge, Ronnie Metsker, Sheryl Spalding and Kevin Yoder, all of Overland Park; Kay Wolf, Prairie Village; Owen Donohoe, Shawnee; Terrie Huntington, Mission Hills; Mike Kiegerl, Lance Kinzer, Rob Olson and Arlen Siegfreid, all of Olathe; Ray Merrick, Stilwell; Stephanie Sharp and Ron Worley, both of Lenexa; and Kenny Wilk, Lansing.

Democrats voting yes: Tom Burroughs, Stan Frownfelter, Broderick Henderson, Margaret Long, Mike Peterson and Valdenia Winn, all of Kansas City, Kan.; Marti Crow and Candy Ruff, both of Leavenworth; Cindy Neighbor, Shawnee; and Gene Rardin and Sue Storm, both of Overland Park.

To reach Jim Sullinger, call 1-(785) 354-1388 or send e-mail to To reach David Klepper, call 1-(785) 354-1388 or send e-mail to

Author: JIM SULLINGER and DAVID KLEPPER Continue reading

The Star – Casino bill goes to Senate – Drawing 21 or more — votes — is the game plan for supporters.

Kansas City Star; March 27, 2007
Casino bill goes to Senate – Drawing 21 or more — votes — is the game plan for supporters.

GAMBLING IN KANSAS – House gives final approval to measure

TOPEKA – After narrow approval in the House, a bill authorizing a casino in Wyandotte County moved to the Senate on Monday, where odds of passage are anyone’s guess. Continue reading

The Star – Maintenance plan clears final hurdle – Universities to get less than they want, but it’s “the best that we can do.”

Kansas City Star; May 1, 2007

KANSAS LEGISLATURE – Five-year plan approved: Maintenance plan clears final hurdle – Universities to get less than they want, but it’s “the best that we can do.”

TOPEKA Lawmakers knew the cost — a $663 million maintenance backlog at state universities and colleges. Continue reading

Transcript: Hodge Interview with O’Reilly

Kansas City Star; June 15, 2007

Transcript: Hodge Interview with O’Reilly

O’REILLY: Now for the top story tonight, reaction to the Sebelius veto. Joining us now from Kansas City is Kansas Representative Ben Hodge. You know, I can’t believe in a state like Kansas, not San Francisco, OK it’s not Madison, Wisconsin, it’s not Boulder, Colorado, that politicians there in both parties continue to allow this doctor in Wichita to kill these late-term fetuses. Continue reading