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OUT WEST ROUNDUP | Gay Native American Democrat busts candidate mold in Kansas

Author: Associated Press - August 17, 2018 - Updated: August 30, 2018

AP-Kansas-Congress.jpg
Sharice Davids, center front, Democrat for Kansas' 3rd District Congressional seat, takes a selfie with the crowd of supporters at Breit's Stein and Deli in Kansas City, Kan., Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. Davids, a Democrat, is running for a seat in Kansas' 3rd Congressional District. (Luke Harbur/The Kansas City Star via AP)Sharice Davids, center front, Democrat for Kansas’ 3rd District Congressional seat, takes a selfie with the crowd of supporters at Breit’s Stein and Deli in Kansas City, Kan., Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. Davids, a Democrat, is running for a seat in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. (Luke Harbur/The Kansas City Star via AP)

KANSAS

Gay Native American Democrat busts candidate mold in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kansas — Democrat Sharice Davids of Kansas has added her name to her party’s increasingly diverse slate of candidates advancing to the November ballot.

Davids, who would be the first gay Native American elected to Congress, narrowly won a six-way primary in her eastern Kansas district, shattering the mold for a congressional primary winner in conservative Kansas and embodying the range of ethnicities and sexual orientations of Democratic candidates running throughout the country this fall.

Notably, the 38-year-old lawyer and activist from Kansas City, Kansas, is among a wave of gay, bisexual and transgender candidates running — the vast majority as Democrats — including at the top of the ballot in key states.

“Voters in the 3rd Congressional District have sent a clear message to the nation: Fairness and tolerance are Kansas values,” said Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, a LGBT advocacy organization.

Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin.

In Kansas, Davids will face four-term Republican Kevin Yoder in the 3rd Congressional District, a Republican-leaning swath of urban and suburban eastern Kansas.

In their effort to claim seats in competitive districts now represented by Republicans, Democrats are targeting Yoder’s district, where Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2016 while losing the state overall to Republican Donald Trump. Democrats must gain 23 seats to claim the House majority.

Davids was overshadowed nationally by labor lawyer Brent Welder, whom Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed and campaigned for last month. Preliminary totals showed Davids edging Welder in the crowded field by 2,088 votes out of 61,321 cast.

Though Davids represents a new generation of diverse candidates, the district she’s running to represent has little ethnic diversity. Johnson County, the district’s most populous, is 87 percent white.

OKLAHOMA

Energy companies opposed medical marijuana in the state

TULSA, Oklahoma — Records show that energy companies were the biggest donors to an unsuccessful campaign against medical marijuana.

Oklahoma Ethics Commission records show nearly half of the roughly $1.3 million donated to the committee opposing medical marijuana came from the energy industry, The Tulsa World reported. The committee, titled SQ 788 Is Not Medical, received donations from April 1 to June 30 from companies in Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas.

Oklahoma voters approved the implementation of a state-run legal medical marijuana program on the June 26 ballot despite the well-funded opposition campaign.

Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy and Continental Resources were among the firms that contributed $100,000 or more to the campaign against the state question.

A Devon spokesman said a medical marijuana program would create challenges for employers.

Other donors expressed concerns over the lack of protections for employers. The Tulsa Regional Chamber felt that the state question didn’t properly balance the needs of those using medical marijuana with the needs of employers, law enforcement, schools, landlords and health care providers, said Chairman Steve Bradshaw.

The Yes on 788 campaign supporting the initiative mostly saw small contributions from individual donors. Only two donations surpassed $5,000. New Health Solutions Oklahoma, a cannabis industry group, donated the largest amount overall at about $220,000.

NEW MEXICO

Governor hopefuls vow to help Trinity Test descendants

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico’s gubernatorial candidates are promising descendants of families who lived near the world’s first atomic bomb test to help them receive financial support from the U.S. government to compensate for generations of health problems.

Democrat Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who currently both serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, said they would continue as governor to advocate for descendants to be included in a federal law that compensated families near nuclear test sites.

Descendants who lived in communities near the World War II-era Trinity Test of the bomb are pressuring Congress to include them in the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Descendants say the Trinity Test caused generations of families to suffer from rare cancer and economic hardship.

Currently, the law only covers areas in Nevada, Arizona and Utah that are downwind from a different test site.

“More than 70 years after the Trinity test, the lack of compensation and support for the Tularosa Basin Downwinders is unacceptable,” Lujan Grisham said, referring to the group advocating for the law to be amended.

A Pearce campaign spokesman said Pearce has advocated for the descendants and sponsored legislation to amend the federal law.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, said she was pleased both candidates were promising to help descendants and that she would work with whoever wins the gubernatorial race.

But she said Pearce, whose congressional district represents Tularosa, New Mexico, and other communities affected by the Trinity Test, still has yet to hold a face-to-face meeting with descendants.

Scientists working in Los Alamos, New Mexico, developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, which provided enriched uranium for the weapon. The bomb was tested on July 16, 1945 in a stretch of desert near towns with predominantly Hispanic and Native American populations.

Complaint: New Mexico violated law in vote to cut sports

ALBUQUERQUE — A New Mexico lawyer wants a state judge to toss out a University of New Mexico’s decision to eliminate four sports, claiming the school violated the state’s open meetings law

Maria Touchet of Albuquerque filed a complaint in state district court on Aug. 10, the latest development in a saga surrounding the university’s decision. It accuses the school’s board of regents of disregarding open meetings laws when it voted in July to cut men’s soccer, men’s and women’s skiing and women’s beach volleyball.

“(University of New Mexico) violated the Open Meetings Act by not providing an agenda 72 hours before the July 19 meeting that gave adequate and reasonable notice to the public that it intended to discuss and vote on the elimination and reduction of specific teams,” the complaint said.

That made the board’s vote unconstitutional, court documents said. Touchet is seeking to have the vote voided.

The athletic department overestimated revenues and overspent its budget nine of the past 11 years, resulting in a deficit of nearly $5 million. While it was tasked with reducing its annual spending by nearly $2 million by 2020, officials are still predicting a recurring deficit of $2.3 million in 2019.

The complaint came a day after New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas warned the University of New Mexico he’d sue the school for violating the state’s open meetings law during the sports elimination vote.

The regents voted unanimously July 19 to eliminate the four sports, cut diving from the women’s swimming and diving program and dramatically reduce the men’s track and field roster.

IDAHO

2 drivers cited for going too slow under new law

BOISE — Idaho police are starting to enforce a new law targeting slow drivers using the passing lanes of highways.

Two drivers have been cited as of July 27 for driving too slowly in the passing lane since the law took effect July 1, the Idaho Press reported.

Idaho State Police have given warnings to three other drivers.

Most people expect the general traffic to stay on the right lane and leave the left lanes open for passing, said Lt. Shawn Staley.

“If vehicles are moving slower, it can cause accidents and crashes,” he said.

The law doesn’t specify how much time it should take for slow cars to move over to the right lane. Staley expects it should be within a normal and reasonable time, as determined by troopers.

Drivers who hold up traffic by going below the speed limit in the left lane could face a $90 fine, Staley said.

State Rep. Lance Clow of Idaho Falls sponsored the bill. The Republican doesn’t expect state troopers to actively look for slow drivers, but said they have a new tool if needed.

The law also allows drivers to go 15 mph over the speed limit on a two-lane road to pass a vehicle going below the speed limit.

Those driving the speed limit on the left lanes will not be fined even if they “impede” drivers who want to speed, Staley said.

Associated Press

Associated Press