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Blue Bell Creameries has signed agreements with health officials in Texas and Oklahoma requiring the company to inform the states whenever there is a positive test result for listeria in its products or ingredients. For one year, Blue Bell ice cream must first test negative for listeria before it can be sold in stores.

The Kansas Senate voted not to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer. The proposal failed on an 11-26 vote. The laws surrounded alcohol sales have been a contentious issue in the Statehouse this year.

Kansas lawmakers say they've reach a compromise that will bring the ride-hailing service Uber back to the state.

The increased sale tax solution to the budget woes of the State of Kansas has been rejected. Legislators will return Monday to work on the issue.

boe.ca.gov

There’s a new tax plan headed for debate in the Kansas House. A legislative committee has advanced a proposal that would focus on sales taxes to fill a budget hole of more than $400 million. 

The bill relies mostly on increasing the Kansas sales tax rate from 6.15 percent to 6.85 percent. It also reduces or eliminates most tax deductions. Republican Representative Kasha Kelley, one of the plan’s authors, would prefer more spending cuts but says sales tax is another option.

Certified Angus Beef

We’ve all heard the phrase it takes a village to raise a child.  The same is true with exporting beef.  From logistics to linguistics, the teams working to export beef add well beyond $300 to the value of each head of cattle annually reports the High Plains Journal.

Here’s a glimpse at the role of three people making it happen.

A judicial bypass is when a judge gives a minor permission to have an abortion without her parent or guardian's consent. The bill is authored by Democratic State Representative Geanie Morrison. She says she wants the judge to see the minor in person without exception. The minor would also need to show a government-issued ID, and would require more time to pass before the judge could consent to the procedure.

KHI News Service

The chairman of the Senate committee working on a plan to address the state’s projected budget deficit is confident that a tobacco tax increase will be a part of the final package.

However, public health advocates are concerned that the increase won’t end up being large enough to significantly lower smoking rates and reduce expenditures on smoking-related illnesses. They continue to favor the proposal that Gov. Sam Brownback announced at the beginning of the session to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack.

Kitchen Gardens

May 13, 2015
mountvernon.org

This year I'm making some changes in my vegetable garden layout, and moving some of it closer to the kitchen door.  On the way, we'll look at a brief history of the term 'kitchen garden' and find out what things usually grow there.  

image via C-Span2

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran has what amounts to a running feud going with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He says the agency is dragging its feet implementing a new law that’s designed to help veterans in rural areas get the care they need.  The new secretary of the VA – Robert McDonald – says Moran’s claims are baseless. We have two reports this morning, the first from Jim McLean of the KHI News Service, who recently sat down with Moran in his Capitol Hill office.

Moran tangles with VA secretary over program for rural veterans

Cattle prices and the possibility of a break in the drought has a Texas Panhandle family changing gears reports the Wall Street Journal. Rex McCloy and his two sons used to focus on growing cotton, corn, wheat, and soybeans. Now the family is betting the recent break in drought conditions will continue, and they’re investing in cattle. McCloy says three years ago there wasn't enough grass to feed a goat, let alone a cow. Now the family is building up the herd to capitalize on high cattle prices and lower feed costs.

The Texas Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill Monday that would protect churches and ministers from being sued if they refused to perform or host a same-sex marriage.

Kansas Legislators are considering undoing the elimination of business income tax cuts. The reductions were part of the 2012 tax cuts pushed by Governor Sam Brownback.

People from nine countries and seed librarians from across the country were busy sowing big ideas about tiny seeds during the first The International Seed Library Forum reports the Daily Yonder. The gathering was held in Tucson last week. The group shared ideas and inspiration for improving local access to diverse seeds. The conference also included discussion of climate change and the role agriculture diversity and seed saving play. Cary Fowler is an agricultural pioneer and a former executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. He says in the past circumstances were adapted for the crops we wants to grow using things like irrigation and pesticides. He says in the future we’ll have to adapt the plants themselves.

A Kansas-based study comparing results on almost 30 years of winter wheat trials across the state points researchers to say global warming will cut wheat yields. Wheat demand is expected to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to meet population demands. A lead author of the study says one way of adapting the world to warming temperatures maybe be to shift wheat farming more toward the poles.

wsj.com

Western Kansas is a semi-arid region, with yearly precipitation at 17-19 inches. Progressive farmers understand their biggest challenge is capturing and holding every drop of moisture they can. A group of Northwest Kansas producers meets regularly to discuss production practices. These growers are firm believers in no-till and planting cover crops whenever it's feasible. While some producers say cover crops unnecessarily sap moisture, members of Living Acres Network are more likely to say that the careful selection of a cover crop leaves residue that helps build the soil for better precipitation infiltration.

North Carolina’s Mandolin Orange have just released their 5th record- it’s called Such Jubilee and it was written on the road over the last year.  Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin say that this record is not actually about being on the road; it’s more about the things that you know are waiting for you at home when you finally get back there.  We will be listening to Such Jubilee this week on High Plains Morning.

HPPR's Songwriters in the Round series continues on Friday, May 15!  This show will be at The Fibonacci, located at 3306 SW 6th Ave, the home base of Chamber Music Amarillo.  The doors will open at 7:00, and the show will start at 7:30.  To make a reservation for this show, give us a call at 806-367-9088 or send an e-mail to music@hppr.org.  We will have the usual great coffee from the good folks at Evocation Coffee Roasters, cookies from Kristy Fuller and a great evening of original music.  Don't miss it!

About the Artists

Rick Branigan

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Scientists say oil and gas activity is probably responsible for the surge in earthquake activity in Oklahoma.  They call the phenomenon “induced seismicity.”  But, researchers are puzzled.  Oil and gas production is nothing new in the Sooner State, and why is there an increase in quakes in Oklahoma, or for that matter Texas, Colorado, and Kansas when it doesn’t seem to be happening in other major players like North Dakota?

musicfog.com

An Amarillo native is the official state musician in 2016.  Joe Ely was one of eight artists appointed by the Texas Legislature according the Amarillo Globe News.  Ely began his musical career in Lubbock.

Ely says he’s humbled, and as a songwriter has always felt extremely fortunate to have grown up in an inspirational place with such a rich, compelling history filled with some of the most fascinating characters in the world.

Ely will serve a one year term.

Lilac Memories

May 10, 2015

Memory triggers include anything from childhood toys,  favorite tunes, or scents that punch the start button on videos of our past that cycle over and over in our heads.  Each spring when lilacs bloom, I get a full two weeks of scented prompts that start those mind movies rolling. 

Lilacs figure into my earliest recollections.  I haven’t checked with my mother, but I suspect their scent wafted into my very first home to imprint on my infant brain.  Every time I smell those lavender blooms, I think of sunshine and gentle breezes combined with motherly and grandmotherly love.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas House on Thursday passed a measure legalizing the use of low-THC marijuana oil for people with persistent seizure disorders.

Rep. John Wilson, a Lawrence Democrat, championed the oil legalization on behalf of Ryan and Kathy Reed, who moved to Colorado to access it for their young son, Otis.

Wilson successfully brought together House colleagues from across the political spectrum on the measure Thursday by emphasizing how much narrower it was than prior medical marijuana bills that never cleared the committee process. The final vote was 81-36. 

Pond Boss

Just a matter of a few short months ago, many farm ponds and private fishing lakes were almost void of water, thanks to several years of sparse rainfall. I live a short distance from some old gravel pits that a few friends and I lease for fishing. I remember five or six years ago, I could launch a my 14-foot aluminum boat and use an electric trolling motor to push me to the very back of the farthest pond, a distance of at least a quarter mile. The fishing lease consists of several deeper pits that, during periods of normal rainfall, are connected by strips of shallow water.

Members of the Texas senate have unanimously approved a bill that legalizes marijuana oil for medicinal purposes. Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports for those who interrupt it to mean that Texas has legalized marijuana, Tyler Republican Sen. Kevin Eltife says he has faced similar challenges educating fellow lawmakers on what exactly is cannabidiol or CBD oil.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The House Tax Committee is considering a plan to raise the sales tax in Kansas to help fill a budget hole. During a hearing Wednesday, no one spoke in favor of the plan and only one person signed up to speak against the bill. The Kansas Policy Institute opposes the tax increase and says lawmakers should instead consider more budget cuts.

The committee’s chairman, Republican Marvin Kleeb, says raising the state sales tax from 6.15 to 6.5 percent would provide a quicker infusion of cash.

jobs.thefuntimesguide.com

Kansas lawmakers this week heard from industry experts about changing the state’s retirement plan from a traditional pension to a 401(k)-style retirement system. Under the proposed “defined contribution” system, employees are responsible for investing their retirement savings. That change would reduce the state's investment risk. Republican Representative Ron Ryckman says lawmakers need to consider all their options.

"We owe it to our employees and our taxpayers to look under every rock, look at every solution. And that’s what today’s about,” says Ryckman.

Calvin Mattheis / The Hutchinson News

Kansas farmers are getting ready to bring in the wheat harvest, they are again being targeted to help make up Topeka’s budget woes reports Amy Bickel for Kansas Agland.

There’s a proposed $3 excise tax on all land- agricultural, residential, and commercial.  The bill is proposed by Sen Jeff Melcher- R-Leawood.

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, Kansas hospital administrators signaled their willingness to talk about increasing a state assessment on their revenues to fund Medicaid expansion.

They anticipated that the state’s deteriorating budget situation would make it impossible for Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders to consider expansion without a way to pay for the state’s share of the costs.

And they anticipated that even with funding options, Medicaid expansion was a long shot to pass.

mayihavethatrecipe.com

Put some new colors in your garden by planting and growing purple asparagus.  This springtime taste treat is guaranteed to be as tasty as the traditional green varieties, and some say it's sweeter and more tender because it has a 20% higher natural sugar content.  Add to that the high levels of anthocyanins that give it the purple color and some great health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties.  It's not readily available in stores, so you might as well listen to this week's show and learn to grow your own.

Bryan Thompson / kansaspublicradio.org

Accountability. It means taking responsibility for an action or result. Lately, it’s taken on a new connotation in the field of health care. The Affordable Care Act provides a way for health care networks to get bonus payments by providing better care, and keeping Medicare patients healthier. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson explains, these Accountable Care Organizations are about to have a larger presence in Kansas.

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