News

There is an upside to lower oil prices. StateImpact Texas takes a look at consumer trends. Lower prices at the pump might mean more tourists for gems like Palo Duro Canyon.

http://cjonline.com/

Twice as many Kansas children would be in poverty without government aid reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.  Data just released from Kids Count shows government programs have kept over 100,000 Kansas kids out of poverty the past few years.

The Kansas child poverty rate would double to 30 percent without assistance.

The data measures the time period of 2011 to 2013.

More of the story, including reactions to the data from Shannon Cotsoradis, president of  Kansas Action for Children is available from the Topeka Capital-Journal. 

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill that would allow Kansans to carry a concealed gun without a permit. Currently, residents must go through training and pass a background check before they are issued a permit to carry a hidden weapon.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle voted in favor of the bill but with reservations. She says she has heard “legitimate concerns” from Kansans.

The latest poll from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune shows the federal government isn't winning any popularity contest with Texans.

The Perfect Houseplant

Feb 25, 2015
greenacres4u.com

A trip to the supermarket produce section can result in great beginnings for growing your own bromeliads.  This week's Growing on the High Plains looks at a popular tropical plant that doesn't take a lot of care and pays off with beautiful blooms for weeks on end.

Kansas said Nebraska used more than its fair share of water out of the Republican River in 2005 and 2006. The Supreme Court agreed, and ordered Nebraska to pay up.

According to a recent survey, Kansas is the only state with an increased number of uninsured.

Josh Davis / rollingstone.com

Sometimes you’ve got to leave home… to see home.  That’s how Rolling Stone says it was for Ryan Culwell. 

Rolling Stone’s Andrew Leahey writes:

Wickipedia Creative Commons

The Sierra Club is calling on Kansas lawmakers to protect Kansans from earthquakes and pollution linked to fracking.  

The environmental group is backing two bills at the Statehouse. One would set new requirements for wells using hydraulic fracturing. The other would make drillers provide a risk pool to pay for damages caused by the industry. Until that pool is established, there would be a moratorium on new injection disposal wells in Harper and Sumner counties, where earthquake activity has been unusually high. The Sierra Club’s Joe Spease says the KCC has passed the buck to the legislature—which has shown no interest in taking action.

According to the Kansas Insurance Department, members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and other Blue organizations were also affected by the security breach.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / texastribune.org

Retired Texas state district Judge John Dietz made his first public appearance this weekend.

Deitz spoke at the Association of Texas Professional Educators in Austin.

He says a solution to the state’s unequal and ineffective public education system should come from the Legislature. This report from the Texas Tribune.

He says, "We are dooming a generation of these children by providing an insufficient education, and we can do better."

MIKE GUNNOE / THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Longtime University of Kansas professor and artist Elden Tefft passed away last week at the age of 95.

He leaves behind an important legacy. 

Elden Tefft is probably best known for his bronze sculpture of Moses that sits on KU’s campus. But in the art world, Tefft was a giant. He created the first non-commercial bronze foundry in the United States on KU’s campus, which led to a boom in the craft.

John Hachmeister is a sculpture professor at KU. He came there first as a student in 1969 and spent many years working with Tefft.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The top Democrat in the Kansas Senate says lawmakers haven’t accomplished enough so far this session reports Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.

Legislators are facing a significant deadline this week, which marks the midpoint of their scheduled time in Topeka. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley believes they’re not making enough progress solving problems like a budget shortfall.

What Are Playas?

Feb 23, 2015

 We grew up on the High Plains thinking of those occasionally muddy pasture depressions as "buffalo wallows," "rainwater basins" or "mud holes." Turns out, scientists are learning those playas play a significant role recharging aquifers such as the Ogallala.

Is it time for Midwest exports to Cuba?

Feb 22, 2015
USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it’s time for the U.S. to engage with Cuban markets. But some Republican leaders remain skeptical.

Vilsack, who was in metro Kansas City on Tuesday, says increasing U.S. exports to Cuba could help Midwest farmers.

“The reality is we used to do roughly $600 million of business in that country. It’s about a $1.7 billion dollar market. Wheat is certainly one area, poultry is another area, soybeans is another area.”

Ribbons of Birds

Feb 22, 2015

One of my favorite parts of wrapping presents is creating pretty designs with all kinds of ribbon.  The  paper corners may not be so sharp as one might wish, but I love using  scissors to stretch skinny little green or red Christmas trim into dangling sausage curls.  Somehow sparkly spools of foil, scissors, and tape bring out the creative in me, and I find myself making loop de loops and fleur de lis on my loved one’s gifts.  I’m not sure skill matches imagination, but I love playing with strands of fabric and paper.

Luke Clayton

I recently wrote about how much there is to do in the outdoors this time of year. Well, last week, I took my own advice and brought my words to fruition by first joining goose guide Rick Hrncir with Family Affair Guide Service for a Conservation goose hunt south of Corsicana and later in the week, did some fishing down in east Texas. So, relax in your easy chair and let me recap both outings with you. Hopefully you can find time this week to get out and enjoy some late winter activities.

Dr. Mark Peterson is chair of the political science department at Washburn University, but we may soon get in trouble for telling you this fact. Peterson is a guest commentator for Kansas Public Radio. He offers his thoughts on a bill before the legislature limiting free speech rights of university employees.

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant were married Thursday morning in Austin. The county clerk issued the couple a marriage license based on a court order. Theirs is Texas' first same-sex marriage. The order, the county clerk's office confirms, will only apply to this one couple, one of whom is "medically fragile."

schiffner.com

Obamacare enrollment grew by nearly 70 percent in both Kansas and Missouri during the most recent sign-up period, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of Kansans enrolled in health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act marketplace increased to 96,226 from 57,013. Missouri enrollment jumped to 253,969 from 152,335.

texastribune.org

Texas State Senator Kel Seliger is working to fast-track a bill giving school officials the option to graduate high school students who have failed state exams.  This report from the Texas Tribune.

Seliger says students who are doing well in school shouldn’t be kept from getting a high school diploma because of a standardized test.

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts met privately with more than a dozen industry groups recently. He says over-regulation is a common theme regardless of the organization. He also said reducing trade barriers and improving federal assistance for ag research are priorities.

Ryan E. Poppe / tpr.org

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spelled out six critical items that needed to be tackled immediately during his first State of the State address on Tuesday. Those agenda items ranged from fixing Texas’ school finance system to funding border security at the highest level in the state’s history. These items are actual bills that Abbott has assigned to various lawmakers and is hoping to have fast tracked through the legislative process. 

deschutesswcd.com

The Department of Agriculture has improved the federal Conservation Stewardship Program, offering $100 million to landowners taking steps to conserve soil and natural resources.  But, they’re doing a poor job of telling farmers about it reports Bruce Knight for Agri-Pulse.

Knight says high profile initiatives like providing habitat for the lesser prairie chicken or conserving the Ogallala Aquifer are getting all the attention because of political priorities.  He says what excites him are the enhancements embracing modern precision agriculture technology, soil health, cover crops and fertilizer management.

bearlyvisible.net

Keeping it all in the family, Skip takes a short trip back in time and learns how to keep her mother's violets alive.  And in doing so she develops her own keepsakes for the future.

USDA

Agriculture drinks up 80 percent of the freshwater in America every year.  Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports just how much that is, for what crops, and at what cost reports the National Geographic.

The latest survey shows corn is still king, using 14 percent more irrigation than the last report. 

wikipedia.org

The most common jobs are changing.  Across the high plains, truck drivers dominate. 

Why?  NPR reports there are a few reasons:

kansaspublicradio.org

Hundreds of LGBT activists held a rally outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka Saturday. They were protesting Governor Sam Brownback for withdrawing protections for state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The group Equality Kansas led the rally, where several state lawmakers and activists spoke. Micah Kubic (Mike-uh Cubic) of the Kansas branch of the ACLU told the crowd that Brownback’s actions have set the entire state back.

HPPR welcomes Don Conoscenti back to Amarillo for a Living Room Concert on Saturday, February 21, 7:30pm, at The Chalice Abbey, 2717 Stanley Street (across from Hastings on Georgia) in Amarillo.

To make a reservation for this show, call us at 806-367-9088 or send an e-mail to music@hppr.org. This is Don's 2nd appearance for HPPR; don't miss it!

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994, but has not yet executed anyone in last 20 years. Opponents of the death penalty are hoping to replace the option with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Anti-death penalty advocates are renewing their push to change the law reports Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.

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