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From the Reference Desk...

This blog provides links to current resources to help you find what is new and noteworthy in the state of Kansas. State Library staff will highlight a topic of specific interest and supply links to important news and services in the state of Kansas.

Jul 28

Presidential Election Resources

Posted on July 28, 2016 at 1:00 PM by Brian Herder

The office of the President has been inevitably shaped by the forty-four personalities who have occupied the position. Even entire historical periods are often identified by the serving presidents who dominated them such as the “Age of Jackson,” the “Lincoln years,” the “New Deal era” of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the “Reagan Revolution” – a reflection of the power of the office and the influence of the individual occupying it. (Michael Nelson, Guide to the Presidency and the Executive Branch)

As we move to the post-convention phase of the presidential election, the following SAGE reference books make excellent resources. Continuing the tradition of CQ Press's other major reference works, the material is descriptive, factual, unbiased, and easy to understand. For readers who want to delve further into the scholarly literature, included notes and selected bibliographies show the way. Here’s a short description of several works that may be beneficial in the coming weeks.

These books can be found in SAGE Knowledge, and on the main Online Resource page under Stats & Government.

To view these books, paste the DOI into the SAGE Knowledge search bar.

Hershey, M. R. (Ed.) (2014). Guide to U.S. political parties Washington, DC: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781483346465

“Parties are not only the most durable features of modern democracies but also among the most despised.” doi: 10.4135/9781483346465.n1

This one-volume reference presents the major approaches to the study of U.S. political parties and the national party system, describing the organization and behavior of U.S. political parties in thematic, narrative chapters that clarify party origins, historical development, and current operations. Thematic chapters explore how and why the U.S. parties have changed over time, including major organizational transformations and behavioral changes among candidates and party activists.

Nelson, M. (Ed.) (2012). Guide to the Presidency and the Executive Branch, 5th Ed. Washington, DC: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452234298

By design and execution, Guide to the Presidency and Executive Branch reflects the importance of the individual lives of the presidents. The book is laced with descriptions of every president's accomplishments and failures, virtues and foibles. Even a quick glance will attest to the detailed information the Guide provides on each president. Illustrated biographies of every president, vice president and first lady are presented. The Appendix section (called Back Matter in the SAGE database) supplements the text with documents, tables, and charts. Included are excerpts from more than forty documents highly significant to the presidency, with explanatory headnotes. The tables list, among other things, electoral votes for all presidential elections and cabinet members from the administration of George Washington through that of Barack Obama.

Peters, G., Woolley, J. T. & Nelson, M. (Eds.) (2013). CQ Press: American Government A to Z Series: The presidency A to Z Washington, DC: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452234311

The Presidency A to Z is an invaluable tool for understanding the presidency, both historically and today and for appraising how it and the executive branch have responded to the challenges facing the nation. It provides readers with quick information and in-depth background on the presidency through a comprehensive encyclopedia of more than 300 easy-to-read entries. Readers will find: biographies of every president and many others important to the office; explanations of broader concepts and powers relating to the presidency; and discussions of relations with Congress, the Supreme Court, the bureaucracy, political parties, the media, interest groups and the public.

Ragsdale, L. (2014). Vital statistics on the presidency Washington, DC: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452299914

This book presents a comprehensive statistical description of the American presidency. It offers a perspective on the presidency that de-emphasizes the uniqueness of individual presidents and focuses instead on the presidency as an institution. The author highlights continuities and patterns that can be observed from one president to the next. These patterns characterize the presidency as an elected office and offer an explanation of the organization of the Executive Office of the President, its relations with the public, its policy decisions, and its dealings with other institutions. Chapter 2 covers the presidential selection process: party convention history, nomination methods, television coverage, and convention results (10.4135/9781452299914.n3). Chapter 3 focuses on how money, the media and polling have shaped contemporary campaigns (10.4135/9781452299914.n4). From Chapter 4 to the end of the book, the presidency post- election is covered: policymaking, diplomacy, public perception and interaction with other institutions.

Jul 20

Cities in Kansas

Posted on July 20, 2016 at 9:57 AM by Brian Herder

Weeks ago we discussed the nature of counties in Kansas. For this blog post we will discuss cities.

Cities are different than counties in that they are not specifically intended to carry out local operations of the state government, although they still do this to some extent. For example, city police may arrest suspects of a state crime, which can then be prosecuted by the state via the local court district.

Kansas statutes Ch. 12, Article 1 outlines basic city powers and responsibilities in Kansas. Incorporated cities are legally recognized as having certain powers of a corporation, such as a business, summarized in KSA 12-101. They are also permitted powers of zoning, taxation for city purposes and certain powers of law enforcement.

Article Twelve of the Kansas Constitution addresses corporations, which includes cities. Since a 1960 amendment to the Kansas constitution, Kansas cities function under home rule principles, which empowers cities "to determine their local affairs and government, including the levying of taxes, fees , charges, and other exactions." If one peruses Kansas legislation from the late 19th and early 20th century, one can see many state laws passed specific to one city. With the enactment of home rule, the state legislature can spend more time dealing with issues of a statewide nature, and leave many of the most local issues to the cities' power of home rule.

The state of Kansas recognizes three classes of cities depending on population size. While all cities have to follow some of the same laws and rules, other laws and rules are specific to the city's class. First class cities have populations of more than 15,000, Second class cities between 2,000 and 15,000, and Third class cities of less than 2,000. Growing second class cities are legally allowed to remain second class cities until they reach 25,000, while growing third class cities are allowed to remain third class cities until they reach 5,000.

City voters may choose between being governed by the City-Manager plan, or the Modified Mayor-Council Form of Government

It is important to note that one city, Kansas City, has consolidated its city government with the Wyandotte county government. This is the only consolidated city-county government in Kansas.
Jun 14

Special Session

Posted on June 14, 2016 at 1:31 PM by Brett Rurode

A Special Session has been called and will begin on June 23rd.  The Legislative Procedure Manual states “the Governor may call a special session if the legislature whenever the Governor believes it warranted.”  They usually are called to address one or two important matters.  This year, the governor has called a Special Session to address school finance.

Important things to know:

  1. There is no specific time limit on a Special Session, but they typically take 2 to 3 days.
  2. New bill numbers will be introduced.  It is possible that the subject matter of a previous bill could come up, but the bill number will be different.
  3. Even though the Special Session is called to address school finance, other topics can come up.
  4. Legislators will not have office staff to answer questions and take messages. 
  5. During Special Session, the legislators are not allowed to accept campaign contributions.

KSA 25-4153a  

If you have any questions, please contact the State Library’s Legislative Hotline at 1-800-432-3924 

Special Sessions are permitted by the Kansas Constitution under Article One, Section 5:



State Library of Kansas Reference
Reference: 785-296-2149
Legislative Hotline: 1-800-432-3924