News

Wallethub

How much tax burden do residents of your state carry compared with other states?  

The personal finance website WalletHub has compiled a list of all states, comparing their various tax responsibilities.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

After weeks of momentum, Texas “school choice” was handed a serious setback last week, in what The Dallas Morning News called “a serious, perhaps lethal blow” to the movement.

CC0 Public Domain

Under a proposal added to the Texas House budget last week, funding could go to a program to rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking.

ARS TECHNICA

A federal judge last week moved to dismiss a lawsuit that environmental group Sierra Club filed against Oklahoma energy companies over earthquakes linked to oil and gas activity.

As KOSU reports, the Sierra Club filed the lawsuit last year in hopes the U.S. court would find Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and New Dominion violated federal waste management laws by operating injection wells that contributed to earthquake activity in the state.

FINNEY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Shona Banda, a well-known advocate of medicinal marijuana, pleaded not guilty to drug and child endangerment charges Friday during an arraignment and pretrial conference at the Finney County Courthouse, where two doctors well-known in the field of cannabis also testified.

Proposed bill would designate a state gun in Texas

Apr 11, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Texas may soon have a state gun, joining chili as the state dish, pecan as the state tree, and Guadalupe bass as the state fish.

As The Guardian reports, there are currently three proposals to designate a state gun, one of which passed through a senate committee hearing Thursday that if passed, would make the cannon the official state gun.

Another calls for the 1847 Colt Walker pistol to be recognized as the official handgun of the Lone Star State.

Ancient Playa Lakes

Apr 11, 2017
FROM LOUISE AND VANCE EHMKE / Kansas Geological Survey

VANCE: Hey! I'm Vance Ehmke and we farm in Lane County KS. Today Louise and I are going to talk about playa lakes.

LOUISE: Here in this part of the state we are truly the Saudi Arabia of playa lakes because there are over 23,000 in western Kansas-the most in the world.

VANCE: We have mixed emotions about the playas. I don't know how many times we've had to pull tractors or combines out of them. And I can't count the number of crop failures we've had because of them.

LOUISE: But on most days we're thankful for them. If all we had were flat Harney silt loam soils, we'd lead a pretty plain life. But with the playas,we enjoy a lot of scenic and aesthetic breaks along with a greatly diversified flora and fauna.

Wikimedia Commons

During a three-day operation performed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 75 foreign nationals were arrested in north Texas and Oklahoma last week on fugitive charges.

Fifty-two of the 75 arrested had criminal histories, according to MyHighPlains.com, with almost half of those charges consisting of DUI convictions.

Creative Commons

When it comes to support for Governor Sam Brownback’s ideas about how taxation should work in Kansas, it appears the tides have turned.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, last week Brownback proposed legislation that would have asked every person in the Sunflower State, regardless of income level, to pay a flat tax of 4.6 percent. But when the measure appeared on the floor of the State Senate, it was resoundingly rejected.

Guy Montag / Flickr Creative Commons

Canada’s dairy policies may be hurting rural America,  AgNetWest reports.

In response, some U.S. dairies are lobbying the Trump administration to fight the policies, which they’ve labeled as protectionist.

According to the U.S. dairy farmers, America’s neighbor to the north is not honoring its trade agreements when it comes to milk and cheese, by adding difficulties for American dairy exports.

City of Garden City, KS / Garden City Regional Airport

Small towns like Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal, Hays, Great Bend and Salina, Kansas rely on a federal program that provides a subsidy to airlines that keeps air service from operating at a loss but under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, that funding would be eliminated.

CC0 Public Domain

As farmers face their fourth straight year of declining incomes, soybeans are offering a glimmer of hope.

As Reuters reports, China’s demand for soybeans is providing a narrow path of profitability for U.S. farmers but fierce competition to supply China threatens the bottom line for U.S. growers, and 2017 prices, which are slightly higher than 2016 prices, are still projected to be 50 cents per bushel lower than they were three years ago.

CC0 Public Domain

Two western Kansas men have been charged with killing a golden eagle that was found dead on a Wallace County ranch in December.

DAVID SHANKBONE / Wikimedia Commons

A bill allowing grocery stores, convenience stores, big-box stores and other retailers holding cereal malt beverage to sell beer with 6.0 percent alcohol content passed the Kansas Senate Friday.

As The Hutch News reports, the Senate voted 27 to 11 in favor of the measure, which passed the house by a vote of 80 to 45 earlier in the week.

Waste Not. Want Not

Apr 10, 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS

Welcome to High Plains Radio Readers Book club, an on-air, on-line community of readers exploring themes of Water and Replenishment in our Book Club Series. Rediscovering an epic science fiction title, Dune, written in 1965 by Frank Herbert.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Imagine you’re a farmer and it’s time to decide what to plant. You need information on supply, demand, prices, outlook -- information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, university extension services, even economists at the Federal Reserve.

scgwynne.com

West Texas A&M University and the Center for the Study of the American West are welcoming a luminary of the American literary scene this Thursday night. S.C. Gwynne is the author of one of the most celebrated books ever written about the High Plains: Empire of the Summer Moon, a magisterial history of the Comanches and Quanah Parker.

High Plains Outdoors: Spring turkey hunting

Apr 8, 2017
Luke Clayton

Luke also gives an update on the attempt to use rat poison to kill wild hogs in Texas by Ag Commissioner Sid Miller.

Poisoning the woods and waters of Texas has prompted much opposition, and a bill has been proposed that will ensure measures such as poisoning hogs will first have to be studied by a university.

Luke has also discovered a new catfish bait that is pleasant to use, Catfish Bubblegum.

Ammodramus

Combine past information with storytelling and you get history, which both entertains and offers examples of actions that improve lives. Kansas has experienced thousands of years of learning how to set up functional communities. At least 155 years of those include practice establishing permanent towns operated by local and state governments.

Austin American-Statesman

For 20 years, Texas has granted automatic admission to state universities for all Texas students who rank in the top ten of their graduating class.

But now, as The Austin American-Statesman reports, an Amarillo Senator has introduced a new bill into the Legislature that would do away with the “10 percent law.”

It's the last day of our pledge drive, and we're thrilled to be featuring the community of Hays, KS.

We''ve got a giveaway, thanks to the generosity of High Plains artists MICHAEL JILG and LEON STAAB.

Their show, Eufloria, is from 4/7 - 4/29 at Garden City Arts in Garden City, KS. 

Michael Pearce / The Wichita Eagle

After record-breaking wildfires late last month, Kansas saw another record broken on Saturday.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, southwest Kansas shattered the rainfall record for April first, according to the National Weather Service.

The original record of 1.2 inches had already been broken by six a.m., and the rain kept on coming. By day’s end, Dodge City reported receiving over double the original record, with a total of almost two-and-a-half inches.

Sandra J. Milburn / Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

One attribute that Colby Harner inherited from his father and grandfather is hard work.

The 25-year-old takes pride in this. It’s why he followed in their footsteps and became a farmer. He enjoys the work of raising crops and cattle, then reaping the harvest of his labor. 

But right now, eking out a living on the farm is even harder - especially for the young operator.

KMUW

A Federal judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to produce documents he showed to President Donald Trump in a private meeting.

As The Kansas City Star reports, Kobach was asked by the White House to outline a plan to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security. The district court in Kansas City, Kansas, has requested to see the documents, to determine whether they’re relevant to an ongoing Kansas Voter I.D. lawsuit.

AgWeek

In an opinion piece this week, the editorial board of the weekly agricultural newspaper AgWeek insisted that rural health care has reached a dire state, and must be addressed now.

When it comes to heath care, writes AgWeek, “the worry is greater today than it's ever been.” Hospitals have been closing across rural America at a troubling pace. Many agriculturalists have taken jobs away from the farm, just so they can have health care.

Kansas City Star

This week Democrats in the Kansas House of Representatives attempted to roll back a law that allows concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses across the state.

As The Kansas City Star reports, the effort was ultimately derailed because moderate Republicans decided to side with their colleagues on the right rather than cross the aisle. The law, which was instituted in 2013, allows handguns in most public buildings in Kansas, including college and university buildings.

You might have noticed that community gardening has grown in popularity across the High Plains and the nation in recent years. Home gardeners often feel that coming together with others to nurture shared spaces to benefit one's own community gets at the root of why we love to grow, harvest, and share the bounty. 

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature is gearing up to end the last remaining major wind-energy tax incentive in the state. And, as StateImpact reports, some in the wind industry are calling the move a betrayal.

James Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

The Oklahoma House has voted unanimously to enshrine what’s being called a “crime victim’s bill of rights” into the state constitution.

Soon voters will head to the polls to ratify the bill.

The proposed measure, also known as “Marsy’s Law,” ensures that crime victims receive the same treatment as suspects and perpetrators. Seems simple enough.

Dallas Morning News

In 2015, Texas spent almost half of its budget on healthcare—a total of nearly $43 billion. Now, as health costs spiral out of control, the Lone Star State is trying to figure out how to assure the health of the state’s residents, while still paying for state worker insurance, prison inmate health, and disabled benefits.

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