News

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A state audit is critical of a Kansas program where some convicted sex offenders are sent for treatment after they serve their prison sentences. The audit says the involuntary program doesn’t offer individualized treatment and most people don’t complete it. Kari Bruffett is secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which runs the Sexual Predator Treatment Program. She says the audit doesn’t take into account recent improvements they’ve made.

The companies managing Kansas' privatized Medicaid program continued to lose money in 2014. Amerigroup, Sunflower Health Plan and United Healthcare cut their losses from the year before, but still took a loss of $52 million. Losses totaled $116 million in 2013.

The Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain announced this week that it has taken food products derived from genetically engineered crops off of its menu.

Mapping Migration in the United States

Apr 29, 2015
Gregor Aisch and Robert Gebeloff / New York Times

The New York Times has generated a series of interactive maps that details the human migration patterns of each state. The maps show the percentage of residents born in each state, other states as well as outside the U.S.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Once a regular dining option, a mix of cultural and economic factors pushed lamb off the American dinner table. To put the meat back on the menu, ranchers and retailers are being encouraged to reach out to a more diverse set of consumers, specifically American Muslims and Latinos.

cbsnews.com

The National Teacher of the Year is an educator from Palo Duro High in Amarillo.  Shanna Peeples is the first Texas teacher to win the award since 1957. 

Peeples works in an environment where 85 percent of students live below the poverty line and where more refugee children are enrolled than in any high school in the district reports the Amarillo Globe News.

The landscape of southwestern Kansas is colored mostly shades of brown… dotted with circles of green…. with the distinct interruption of feedlots. But, in the small town of Ulysses, there’s a place that nurtures creative souls. Some call it “brush storming.” Local artists gathering around a table working on projects while they chat about life and ask each other for artistic advice. It’s like an old-fashioned quilting bee. The Main Artery also showcases the work of artists, but it’s more than a gallery says Tracy Teeter. She purchased the business in January. It’s also a creative workspace.. a place to perfect your skills… and gather with friends. The gallery started with 11 members over a decade ago. Today there are 21 different artists from a 100 mile radius.

William C. Johnson

McPherson County landowner Dale Schmidt bought ground he intended to farm, but often it was too wet to plant, or to harvest. He's pleased he enrolled the land as a perpetual wetland easement. Schmidt and his NRCS District Conservationist Blake McLemore discuss the improvements made to the parcel.

Survey says…. most Kansas voters believe it’s wrong to discriminate against gay and transgender people, but they also value religious faith.  A recent survey by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University reveals Kansans also reject attempts by some to push their beliefs onto others.

According to a press release from FHSU:

Dr. Chapman Rackaway, a Docking Fellow and an FHSU professor of political science, found that Kansans are largely divided on support for gay marriage, civil unions or neither.

Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins emphasized the role of women in community leadership when she delivered the Dole Lecture at the University of Kansas this weekend. Jenkins is a high-ranking Republican in the U.S. House. She also highlighted some of the challenges of a career in public office.

If you see smoke on the horizon, it could be deliberate. Some farmers burn their fields to get rid of plants that are there, and help those that are coming up.

Feds Warn, Use It or Lose It

Apr 27, 2015
Kansas Health Institute

An ultimatum has been laid down by the federal government that Kansas and Tennessee officials need to expand Medicaid or risk losing hospital funds.

These states could be jeopardizing special funding to pay hospitals by not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Area Homes Sell at Brisk Pace

Apr 27, 2015
Amarillo Globe News

Texas Panhandle towns experience their best first quarter in real-estate since before the recession in 2008.

Separate analyses of the Amarillo Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service data shows that single-family home sales are up 12.5 percent to 14.7 percent, when compared with results from the first quarter of 2014.

Sharks in Kansas

Apr 26, 2015
thefossilforum.com

Sharks swimming in Kansas waters? Looking for dorsal fins cutting through waters where I fish, wade, and swim gives me goose bumps. I’d already spent too much time focusing on such worries as a teenage body surfer in Huntington Beach, California.

biggamehunt.net

Howdy Folks!

I tell you what, I have just had a conversation with Milo Hanson about the day he shot his world record whitetail buck.  I feel like I've just been on the set of The Red Green Show.

Milo is from Biggar, Saskatchewan.  He tells the story of that day better than any radio theater.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee, lean back, and listen to Milo.

Rural hospitals struggle to stay afloat

Apr 23, 2015
Bryan Thompson / Kansas Health Institute

There are a lot of small, rural hospitals in Kansas. Without them, many Kansans would have to travel long distances for care. What’s more, in many small towns, the hospital is one of the largest employers — making it vital to the local economy.

But declining populations, combined with changes in the way hospitals are paid for their services, are making it more difficult for many small hospitals to survive.

CHRIS NEAL / THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

The Kansas state highway fund will fall to nearly nothing in two years projects the Kansas Department of Transportation.  This report is from the Topeka Capital-Journal.  

A KDOT spreadsheet predicting cash flow through 2020 for the highway fund predicts the department will have an ending balance of only $6.9 million when ending balances typically exceed $100 million. 

The required ending minimum balance is $56 million.

Kent Olson is the director of KDOT’s division of fiscal and asset management.  He says there should be no practical impact to the agency’s work.

Last week brought some severe weather to the region. A video from social media shows the twister on Thursday in the Texas Panhandle. There were 11 tornado reports submitted to the National Weather Service on Thursday afternoon. Four in the Texas Panhandle and far western Oklahoma.

http://stateimpact.npr.org/

The Oklahoma state seismologist said disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry are ‘very likely’ responsible for the recent surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma at the recent Oklahoma Geological Survey.  This report is from State Impact Oklahoma.

Austin Holland says the rates and trends in seismicity are very unlikely to represent a naturally occurring process in a joint statement with agency interim director Richard D Andrews.

The agency’s acknowledgement follows years of peer-reviewed research linking disposal wells and earthquakes.

Report: Potential Health Effects of Changes to the Kansas Corporate Farming Law

Apr 22, 2015
KHI News Service

Potential Health Effects of Changes to the Kansas Corporate Farming Law:  Impacts related to a possible increase in the number of large-scale swine and dairy operations 

Senate Bill 191 (and its House version, HB 2404) was proposed to amend the Kansas Corporate Farming Law. Among other provisions, the bill would have removed restrictions for agribusinesses with certain forms of ownership structure (e.g., corporation, trust) to operate in Kansas. Furthermore, the bill would have removed some requirements that farms be owned by families or that family members be active in the operation of the farms. This bill did not pass during the 2013 session, but the issue continues to be discussed and similar bills may be introduced in the future.

gardening-forums.com

A new sensation is sweeping the nation of niche gardeners, and  this week's show looks at the popularity of fairy gardens. We'll cover the background of fairies and why people decided to open their homes and gardens to them.  We'll also look at some basics of plant selection and care of these minature landscapes.  

Oklahoma schools have the same budget as 2008, but 40,000 new students. That has schools dipping into their savings and running out of space.

khi.org

The case of a medical marijuana activist in Garden City who lost custody of her son after the boy spoke up at a school anti-drug event has stirred legalization advocates. 

Sue Ogrocki

A new process for administering the death sentence in Oklahoma was signed into law recently.

The practice of lethal injection has been traded for a new process involving an inert gas that replaces the inmate’s available oxygen with nitrogen and is delivered via mask or a bag placed over the face.

Education Bill Draws Praise & Criticism

Apr 21, 2015
Mollie Bryant

It's a double edged sword for education in Texas, Senate passed a bill that legislators say should improve educator training but critics argue that it could reduce teacher’s ability to earn to higher wages.

Senate bill 893, authored by state Senator Kel Seliger of Amarillo would allow Texas Education Agency to create an annual evaluation system that includes students’ academic performance data to measure a teacher’s effectiveness.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

  A group of state officials and economists will met this week to put together a new estimate of Kansas tax collections. That information is critical for lawmakers as they build the state budget.

Kansas legislators decided to wait to do the final work on the budget until after their spring break.

Recent rains helped Kansas wheat fields, but one rain isn't going to save this year's wheat crop.

Lowest Score in 5 Years for Rural Mainstreet

Apr 20, 2015
Ag View

The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for March slipped drastically from February’s already weak numbers. According to Creighton University, "The stronger U.S. dollar is undermining the farm and energy sectors by weakening agricultural exports, crop prices, livestock prices and energy prices.

Rural Mainstreet businesses dependent on export, agriculture or energy are experiencing pullbacks in economic activity," said Ernie Goss, Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business. 

Consumers are eating this stuff up.

Apr 19, 2015
File Photo / AP

In 2002 the U.S. government began certifying organic products, since then it has turned into an almost $40 Billion dollar a year industry.

Consumers are eating this stuff up, sales of organic goods has leapt 11% since last year and the number of organic producers in the U.S. has grown by 250% since 2002.

The industry estimates that organics now make up almost 5% of total food sales in the United States.” According to Kansas AgLand reporter Mary Clare Jalonick.   

Governor Sam Brownback recently signed a “welfare reform” bill that his administration is calling the most comprehensive in the nation. Brownback signed the measure despite a wave criticism from those who say it punishes the poor.

Pages