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In a somewhat surprising move, the chairman of the state House Public Education committee says lawmakers will try to tackle the state’s school finance system this legislative session. That’s even while they await a ruling from the state Supreme Court on whether the finance system is constitutional.

A panel of House lawmakers discussed a proposal to change how marriage licenses are issued in Texas, giving that power to one appointed official.

Boat launch fees and permits waived at Lake Meredith

Mar 26, 2015
Michael Schumacher / Amarillo Globe News

In a story from Amarillo Globe News reporter Kevin Welch, fees and permits for Lake Meredith are to be waived for the next three years as of April 1st 2015.

According to a news release from the National Park Service; the fees, which were established decades ago for maintenance costs, are no longer necessary due to upgrades and decreased visitation due to drought conditions.

cookingwithrosetta.com

There are lots of reasons, pro and con, for living in California, but perhaps one of the best reasons for putting down roots has to do with a citrus treat called the Meyer lemon.  A cross between a lemon and an orange, they came to the U.S. by way of China in the early 1900s.  They have soft skins and lots of juice, and because of that they were never developed as a commercial lemon, capable of being shipped across the country.  Instead they became a homeowner's favorite, growing in backyards and providing flavorful fruit on nearly a year-round basis.  Rarely seen at inland stores and markets, they are one of many things that make travelling to sunny California so enjoyable.   

Who owns the water? Can you pump as much as you want? Can a private company pump groundwater from one city and pipe it to other communities? The answer could affect the entire Lone Star State.

You've seen the headlines, there are some things you need to keep in mind when it comes to Roundup.

There's a deadline looming for Kansas lawmakers. If a bill hasn't passed both chambers in some form, it won't survive the midweek deadline.

It's springtime on the High Plains, and in Texas that means it's wildflower season.

New data shows Oklahoma lost about 500 mining jobs last year reports KGOU. About 97 percent of these jobs are related to oil and gas drilling. Lyn Gray is the chief economist for the Oklahoma Employment Commission. She says this year could be worse.

Predictions that the drought is coming to an end in much of Kansas are getting skeptical responses from some weather officials reports the Wichita Eagle. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center indicates drought conditions will ease across the state disappearing in central Kansas and easing significantly in most of western Kansas. Janet Salazar is a hydrologist for the Wichita Branch of the National Weather Service. She says she doesn't know what’s driving the prediction. Larry Ruthi is the meteorologist in charge of the Dodge City branch of the weather service. He says he’s reluctant to declare the drought outlook is wrong. Jeff Hutton agrees if the present pattern continues the map is probably pretty close. The warning coordination meteorologist says even with near or above rainfall, the drought in southwest Kansas won’t be eliminated.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

There's a push to repeal a program that allows more than 600 undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Kansas colleges and universities, but a bill aimed at doing that faltered in a House panel. The bill failed to make it out of the House Education Committee after a debate Thursday. 

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

State officials told legislators Thursday that the state's share of Medicaid expansion costs could start at $100 million per year and increase from there, and those costs could double if the federal government required full funding of waiting lists as a condition of expansion.

One day after her predecessor testified in favor of expansion under the Affordable Care Act, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier provided neutral testimony that warned legislators of potential fiscal pitfalls.

Mosier said there were "moral implications" of expanding Medicaid to "able-bodied adults" while Kansans with disabilities were still awaiting some services, likening it to "cutting in line."

Texas lawmakers are considering a policy known as a “parent trigger” law. The goal of the legislation is to prompt parent involvement and quicken turnarounds at struggling schools reports the Texas Tribune. The bill allows parents of students at underperforming public schools to campaign for school changes. That includes hiring new staff, contracting with a charter school operator to take over management, or closing the school altogether.

The month of March

Mar 20, 2015
aimperfectreason.wordpress.com

If you live on the Southern High Plains and you like to grow things, then you know what a gamble spring planting dates are.  Just when you think you'll have some early goodies to gather in a few weeks, a blizzard can rear its ugly head down in the Southwest and sweep across our part of the world in nothing flat, leaving us with seedbeds under a foot or two of snow.  In our part of the world, March comes in like a lion and often leaves with another mighty roar.  

Brown Creeper Therapy

Mar 19, 2015

The months after Christmas until mid-to late March are the most difficult of the year in my opinion.  Spring and summer have always warmed my heart as well as my back as I bend over tomato plants in the garden or flowers in their beds. Over time, I have learned to love fall with all its color and pre-cold weather symphonies even though I know what comes next.  But winter—I struggle with.  It takes effort to celebrate long, colorless days.

kansasagnetwork.com

The declining Ogallala aquifer is front and center in the state of Kansas.  But one south-central farmer wants to make it clear that water woes don’t grip the whole state reports Kansas Agland.

John Janssen is a farmer in Kinsley.  He’s also a board member of Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5.  He says not to throw the whole state in with the Ogallala. 

When you think of Bonnie and Clyde, does southwestern Kansas ever cross your mind? The couple actually lived in Hugoton for several months using the aliases of Blackie and Jewell Underwood reports Kathy Hanks for the Hutchinson News. The two came to town in an old Model A drawn to the area because of the flourishing gas industry. Hugoton was a mecca in a time when the rest of the country was in the depths of the Great Depression.

A bill easing restrictions on carrying a concealed gun is making headway in the Kansas Legislature. The proposal would allow most Kansans over the age of 21 to carry a concealed gun without a license. Currently, training and a permit are required.

Robert Moser headlines list of 150 Medicaid expansion proponents from business, medical and religious realms. The former cabinet secretary says providers need it, and the people of Kansas need it.

The Kansas Aqua-Not

Mar 17, 2015
Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 3

The $19 billion aqueduct to pump water uphill from northeastern Kansas to the water-short west has a bunch of negatives reports Tim Unruh for Kansas Agland.

Some of those discouraging issues are:

  • Indian tribes and neighboring states have voiced concern
  • The aqueduct would cost $1 billion a year to operate
  • The transport price tag of water would be over $450 a acre foot.  That’s hard to pencil out with current prices.
  • Pumping water uphill in an open ditch would result in significant loss to evaporation 

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A bill that scraps the school funding system is heading to the Kansas governor’s desk.  It would temporarily create a block grant system while lawmakers write a new funding formula. 

Supporters of the bill say it has $300 million in new funding and gives Kansas schools more flexibility.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle says the bill lets them start over and ditches a school funding formula she calls “broken.”

Climate patterns from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have magnified the Texas drought, but that could be changing. A word of caution, the next drought could be worse.

The city of Denton put a bulls eye on the friction between local control and the oil and gas industry when the city banned hydraulic fracturing last fall, Now, lawmakers are weighing in, and it looks like local control is headed for a beating report Jim Malewitz for The Texas Tribune.

A special enrollment period for health insurance through the federal marketplace started Sunday. But, not everyone's eligible.

Kansas lawmakers try to get handle on hookah

Mar 16, 2015
Andy Marso

Kansas legislators are trying to determine what they should do, if anything, to regulate hookah.

But first, several of them have to determine exactly what hookah is.

“Having lived a very sheltered life in southeast Kansas, I had to Google this to even find out what it was,” Rep. Jim Kelly, a Republican from Independence, said during an information hearing on the subject last week.

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco.

To Hani Chahine, they’re also a focal point for social gatherings and commerce.

Three Kansans have died from an outbreak of listeriosis. The patients had been hospitalized for unrelated causes and the CDC says four of them consumed milkshakes made with a single-serving of Blue Bell Creameries' ice cream product called "Scoops."

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering online registration to increase voter turnout.

Shamrocks, leprechauns, pots o’ gold make me think instantly of St. Patrick’s Day, a joyous spring celebration.  As a child, I was sure the old stories must be true and anyone lucky enough to stumble upon the rainbow’s end would find a leprechauns’ pot of gold. I was also certain that mortals rarely, if ever, find that arc’s end.

Luke Clayton

Did you know that there are big bore air rifles on the market shooting over 500 foot pounds of energy which is more than ample for harvesting any animal in North America?

I've been shooting and hunting with air rifles for the past couple years and highlights this week what I considers to be the perfect air rifle for hunting hogs, predators and exotics. It's an easy to handle 45 caliber carbine sporting a 20 inch barrel. 

Widespread agreement, no action yet on increasing overpumping penalties in Kansas.

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