News

washingtonpost.com

The population in the United States is rapidly growing.  It’s expected to expand by 49 million people by 2030 reports the Washington Post.

More people along with Baby Boomers retiring will dramatically alter the age demographics of many communities, leaving some with larger burdens of social services and fewer workers to help fund them. 

Luke Clayton

"What's for supper tonight, Luke?"    Give me twenty minutes and we will be eating gumbo!

This week, Luke tells divulges his quick and easy method of making  "Instant Gumbo"!

Begin cooking a couple gallons of gumbo stock which contains all the baiscs, ie.  tomaotes, okra, celery, bell pepper and onion. This can be preserved by canning in quart jars or freezing in quart freezer bags.

The Texas Tribune's Ben Philpott talks with experts to help make the Texas budget understandable.

Raising money to promote the beef business seemed like a good idea, so a law was passed, and everyone chipped in. Billions of dollars later, a couple Kansas cowboys are raising questions- and a commotion- about the program. Their cries are as old as the Boston Tea Party: "taxation without representation."

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is defending the state’s system for selecting Supreme Court justices.

Governor Sam Brownback last week said the system should be changed to be, as he called it, more “democratic.” His proposals would allow the governor to pick nominees or have voters directly elect justices.

eia.gov

Have you ever wondered how much energy your state produces, consumes, and expends?  The U.S. Energy Information Administration has created a series of state level maps detailing these facts. 

Here are some quick facts:

COLORADO

wikipedia.org

Bonsai is an ancient, living art form that never is completed.  It requires focus, balance, and composition.  Bonsai live for a hundred years, so many times plants are passed from one generation to the next.  Bonsai are never centered, but always placed to one side or another.  The plants are trained to an asymmetrical balance. 

This kind of gardening teaches patience, introduces the glories of solitude, and opens the mind to thoughts about size and scale, and the importance of a single leaf or action.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Kansas Secretary of Transportation Mike King is asking lawmakers not to touch one of KDOT’s funding sources. Lawmakers will be looking for ways to fill a budget gap, and the money could be attractive. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports four-tenths of a percent of the state sales tax goes to KDOT for road projects.

Secretary King says the sales tax funding is a steady source of income, which is important when they’re borrowing money.

MOSE BUCHELE / StateImpact Texas

The shock of lower gas prices has probably worn off by now, but have you noticed the small, unbranded gas stations are often the first to lower their prices?  Many of them stay competitive even when the name-brands cut their prices. 

KUT News is helping explain why stations offer different prices for essentially the same product by taking us on a trip from the pump back to the pipeline to see how gas is bought, sold and transported.

In about a year and a half, we’ll be electing a new president.  The Texas Tribune is off to a running start with a brand new presidential election page.  They’re tracking the candidates. 

Today, they’re featuring the Texas delegation’s reaction to the State of the Union speech.  Their responses were unsurprisingly split along party lines.

Here’s your link to the Tribune’s ongoing 2016 Presidential Election page.

KUT News

A national advocacy group ranked Texas as the worst state for nursing home quality last year.  The Texas Senate is taking action this session according to KUT News.  A bill filed would revoke the license of any nursing home with three or more violations.

State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, is sponsoring the bill.  It requires the Department of Aging and Disability Services to revoke a nursing home’s license if the facility has three or more serious health and safety violations.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing to ditch the state’s K-12 funding program reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. 

Brownback is recommending lawmakers abolish the K-12 funding formula and replace it with more than $3 billion in block grants while the Legislature writes a new formula.

Bruce Baker is a school finance professor at Rutgers University.  The former Kansan says it could be a legal maneuver to escape litigation.  Baker says giving something a new name, calling it a different formula, even when it’s not can be presented in court as an argument to dismiss a case. That forces plaintiffs to file a new lawsuit in a lower court because the formula specified no longer exists.

randallcounty.org

Texas Panhandle commissioners agreed to give a big tax break to Chermac Energy reports the Amarillo Globe-News.  Randall County commissioners recently voted to allow the proposed wind farm to pay about half of what it would in property taxes over the next ten years.

Chermac Energy gets a 100 percent tax abatement in exchange for paying $3.4 million over the same ten year period.

A couple more steps have to be taken before the decision is final.  The county has to send notification of the agreement to other taxing entities, and then a final vote will be held.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Humans have been growing hemp for centuries. Hemp-based foods have taken off recently. So have lotions and soaps that use hemp oil. There’s evidence that different compounds in cannabis could be used as medicine and hope that its chemical compounds could hold keys to treatments for Parkinson’s disease and childhood epilepsy.

Scientists studying industrial hemp say the plant holds a tremendous amount of promise. But to unlock its potential there’s very basic scientific research to be done.

kabc

    A Lawrence-based nursing home watchdog organization has released its annual report on the best and worst-performing nursing homes in Kansas. It’s based on inspection reports for the last three survey periods—roughly the last three years. KPR’s Bryan Thompson asked Mitzi McFatrich, of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, what differentiates the higher from the lower-performing institutions?  Listen to the conversation to discover the answers, or follow the links to read the report from the advocates.

kgou.org

The ban on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last October.  Since then more than 3,200 marriage licenses have been issued reports KGOU.  About 2,200 of those have been issued in the state’s most populous counties of Oklahoma and Tulsa.  Another spike has been in counties bordering Texas.  

KUSA

It’s National Western Stock Show time on the high plains.  The stock show, rodeo, and horse show drew a record crowd opening day in Denver.  Over 47,000 people were in attendance.  That’s the biggest first-day crowd in the show’s century plus history reports 9 News.

The stock show was started by some forward thinking men with the goal of demonstrating better breeding and feeding techniques to area stockmen.  It’s the world’s largest according to Colorado.com.  It’s grown to be more than a stock show.  This year’s events include a parade in the streets of downtown Denver, including a herd of longhorns; daily rodeos, a western art exhibit and sale, and more than 15,000 animals competing for top awards.

Photo courtesy of the Kansas Geological Survey / kansaspublicradio.org

The recent drop in oil prices is translating into fewer tax dollars collected by the state of Kansas. That comes as lawmakers are already facing budget deficits reaching hundreds of millions of dollars. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, oil producers pay a so-called severance tax based on the price of crude oil.

When economists met in November to create a new revenue estimate for Kansas, they used a crude oil price of $80 per barrel.

texasescapes.com

The Amarillo City Council recently voted to purchase Roberts and Ochiltree county water rights for about $1.5 million reports the Amarillo Globe-News.

The final purchase price will be based on how much water is found says City Manager Jarrett Atkinson.

The 5,000 acres of water rights were sold by the McCattle Company and the M&D McLain Family partnership.

The council also voted to pay $116,000 to Lee Wilson & Associates to complete a hydrological survey of the property.

The city owns about 10,000 acres of rights near the proposed purchase. 

lawnpatiobarn.wordpress.com

Thank goodness for houseplants. Without them, gardeners might have a hard time making it through the hard times of winter.  Jade is a natural-born houseplant perfect for busy people who want a bit of winter greenery, but don’t want to take on a major houseplant commitment.  

Several red-state governors have recently dropped their opposition to Medicaid expansion reports the Kansas Health Institute.

Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Tennessee are pursuing expansion options that use billions in additional federal Medicaid dollars.  The increase helps low-income adults purchase private coverage or create health savings accounts.

16 states, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas are not discussing the issue.

kansaspublicradio.org

The 2015 session of the Kansas House and Senate started this week.  Anxious members are uncertain how to resolve budget deficits driven by steep tax cuts reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

The projected shortfall for the next 18 months totals more than $700 million.  Budget debates could escalalte if the Kansas Supreme court mandates significant state funding increases for k-12 schools.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s 50-year water plan is moving forward.  A statewide conservation panel is being selected.  The panel will investigate solutions for Kansas as a whole, while regional teams will look for local answers.

Hays is a success Brownback hopes to duplicate across the state reports the Kansas Health Institute.  The north central community’s wells went dry in 1991.  A comprehensive water-saving plan was developed.  Fewer, more efficient wells were dug.  Incentives for low-flow toilets, shower heads, high efficiency washing machine were provided by the city.  New construction codes changed to include water conservation mandates.  City leaders went into schools education the kids about water conservation.  Now the community of 21,000 people uses about the same amount of water it did in 1970 when the population was about 15,000.

HPPR's Songwriters in the Round series continues this Friday night January 16!  This show will be at the Fibonacci, located at 3306 SW 6th Ave.  The doors will open at 7:00, and the show will start at 7:30.  We will have the usual great coffee from the good folks at Evocation Coffee Roasters and fresh cookies from Kristy Fuller.  To make a reservation, give us a call at 806-367-9088 or send an email to music@hppr.org. Don't miss it!  

texaschllicense.com

In Texas this session will be unremarkable.  All the new people at the top will get along, and those wringing their hands about change are manufacturing drama reports the Texas Tribune.

Of course, there is the other side where the mix of new personalities, the split in the Republican party, and a Legislature easily stampeded by noisy outside partisans will provide drama to keep the worriers busy.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Governor Sam Brownback highlighted what he calls a “crisis of the family” during his inauguration speech Monday reports Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.  

The governor was sworn in to office for a second term, he said building stronger families will be one of his main goals. Brownback says stronger families will lead to more economic growth and less poverty in Kansas.

oklegislature.gov

The Oklahoma Legislature has over 230 bills to consider at this point.  The proposed legislation ranges from a prohibiting agency heads from making new hires to the screening of emergency patients for transport reports KGOU.

Some of the other draft bills include: allowing victims of domestic violence to bring evidence from relevant cases; eliminating four government agencies; preventing family members or caregivers convicted of neglect, abuse, exploitation, or other crimes against the elderly or disabled from inheriting any portion of the victim’s estate; banning texting while driving; allowing multi-religious symbols in school for winter celebrations, and allowing legislators to carry firearms after completing a CLEET course.

Lori Potter / Kearney Hub

The NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program targets funds to priority resource concerns such as a lack of wildlife habitat, erosion control, water quantity, and water quality. Partners, like water conservation management districts, submit proposals to help producers install and maintain conservation activities in select project areas. These proposals often included innovative or experimental approaches.

Luke Clayton

Hello Folks!

The last buck of the season brought a big surprise to this ole boy.  I was set up in my ground blind, the last day of deer season, the last hours of the day, when movement caught my eye.  And, there was a big ole tom bobcat.  I thought he'd just look around, and then go on his way, but the rascal headed right for the door of my blind.  He was about six feet away when I shut the door.  There simply was not enough room for ole Luke and that cat in the blind.

That really got me going!

Every now and then things just seem to fall in to place. Yesterday I came into work to prepare for today’s show, and I was concerned because I didn’t know what the featured CD for the week would be. I opened the mail and there it was in my hand.

Lyal Strickland’s new record is called ‘Balanced On Barbed Wire’ and it is a beautiful work; instantly captivating and engaging.

We will listen to ‘Balanced On Barbed Wire’ this week on High Plains Morning. 

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