News

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Kansas and Texas are among 12 states that Microsoft aims to bring broadband Internet to within the next five years.

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Four states in the HPPR listening area are among the top 10 states to start a business, according to a new study.

The personal finance website Wallethub compared several key metrics, including business environment, access to resources and business costs.

In the analysis, Texas was found to be the second best state in America for new businesses, while Oklahoma was number four, Nebraska number five and Colorado number seven.

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Texas ranks 41st among states when it comes to child educational achievement. That’s nothing new; Texas has hovered near the bottom in this category for years.

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When it comes to safety in the workplace, the State of Oklahoma has been given a grade of F. The failing grade, delivered by the National Safety Council, sent shockwaves through the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

As The Oklahoman reports, the finding received harsh criticism from State Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston.

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There’s an estimated backlog of 11,000 applications for Colorado’s driver’s license program for people living in the U.S. illegally and efforts to fix and better fund the program have been caught in partisan gridlock.

As The Denver Post reports, the program was started about three years ago as a means of making Colorado’s roads safer by ensuring that drivers living in the U.S. illegally have insurance and know the rules of the road.  

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Billions of dollars for farmers and nutrition programs may have been saved last month behind closed doors.

As Politico reports, while lawmakers didn't disclose specifics about their handshake agreement, that was when House aides and agriculture lobbyists say House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway was able to stave off billions in proposed spending cuts to agriculture and nutrition programs.

The agriculture committee was initially facing around $70 billion in proposed cuts, but ended up closer to $10 billion, which came after Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black lowered her original goal for total mandatory spending cuts by roughly $300 billion, and Conaway made the case that cutting programs under his watch would imperil the 2018 farm bill.

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The pheasant population in Kansas has returned to pre-drought conditions and the whistling quail population is the highest in the history of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s annual pheasant crowing survey.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism conducts the survey between April 25 and May 15 each year and this year’s survey showed a 30 percent improvement in the pheasant population over last year’s numbers.

Nebraska's Solar Power Generation On the Rise

Jul 10, 2017
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Nebraska’s solar power generation has increased from around one megawatt at the start of 2016 to over 13 megawatts by mid-2017.

That is what David Bracht of the Nebraska Energy Office recently told NET Nebraska.

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The depressed prices for wheat, corn, milo and other commodities - caused by a global glut of grain - is pushing some farmers further into debt.

As The Hutch News reports, net farm income for last year averaged $43,100, which while much better than last year, is significantly lower than record farm income farmers reaped from 2010 to 2014, when the average ranged between $130,000 to nearly $170,000 - thanks to high commodity prices for both crops and cattle.

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In 2012 Ted Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas, largely on a platform of demolishing the newly enacted Affordable Care Act.

Five years later, Cruz is doing his level best to fulfill that promise, despite the fact that the political landscape has shifted beneath his feet.

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The proliferation of wind farms in the western part of Oklahoma has been causing headaches for the U.S. military’s aeronautical operations in the region, reports The Tulsa World.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

This week The New Yorker published an extended essay about Texas, calling the Lone Star State “the nation’s bellwether” and pondering if the future of the United States might look something like the current situation in Texas. The author of the essay is Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and long-time Texan.

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Oil rigs in Oklahoma are being taxed through a dual-rate structure that may not be the best method of insuring that oil and gas profits are benefiting the state in the most effective way possible.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, oil rigs are taxed at a much lower rate during their first three years. But half of a well’s lifetime oil and gas production usually occur during those first three years.

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Two more farmer’s markets recently got underway in the Texas Panhandle, according to The Amarillo Globe-News. All kinds of treats and vegetables will be available this summer in Amarillo and Canyon—from locally produced clothing and art to locally grown produce.

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As Britain continues its faltering attempt to extricate itself from the European Union—a process better known as “Brexit”—some Texans may be wondering whether the same thing could happen in the Lone Star State.

Is a “Texit” possible?

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Last December an Amarillo woman claims she was raped in Canyon, Texas, while working as an Uber driver. Eight months later, she’s still waiting for justice. After the incident, it didn’t take long for the Randall County District Attorney’s office to present their evidence to a grand jury. But the jury decided to hold off on making a decision until the results of the victim’s rape kit came in.

Luke Clayton

In this weeks High Plains Outdoors, Luke visits with Guide Seth Vanover and discusses patterns for catching crappie during the warm weather months.

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Add a bucket, crank, rock salt, ice, canister, milk, cream, vanilla, sugar, eggs, and arm strong power to take any summer celebration over the top. As a kid, I loved arriving at a gathering where men sat or knelt circled around a good size wooden or plastic bucket and each took a turn cranking a long metal handle. Oftentimes, a child perched atop the bucket to stabilize the turning device. I knew when I saw this, it didn’t mean the guys were just telling good stories. It meant we’d soon be eating homemade ice cream.

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U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is opposed to a bill crafted in secret by Republican leaders to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 
But speaking to an overflow crowd at a town hall meeting Thursday in northwest Kansas, Moran said he is open to supporting a revised version if GOP leaders can address his concerns. 
“I would be anxious to see if that bill can get to the point in which I think it’s beneficial for Kansas,” Moran said. 

Kansas wheat yields continue to vary greatly

Jul 6, 2017
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The wheat harvest in Kansas is about three-quarters of the way done and yields continue to be highly variable.

According to the Day 15 Kansas Wheat Harvest report issued Wednesday, yields in north central Kansas are ranging from anywhere between 20 and 80 bushels per acre, but Dell Princ, manager of Midway Coop in Osborne estimates most yields are hovering around the 40-bushel-per-acre range.

Eric Sperber, manager of Cornerstone Ag, LLC, in Colby, said yields have been all over the board there, as well.

Kobach defends committee's request for voter data

Jul 6, 2017
STATE OF KANSAS OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE

On Wednesday, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and Vice Chair of President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission, defended the committee’s request for state voter roll data.

The commission sent letters to all 50 states last week requesting voter information including names, addresses, party affiliation, electoral participation history and the last four digits of social security numbers. Vox reported that as of Wednesday, 44 states had rejected the request, including Kobach’s office in Kansas.

You might have noticed that our recent High Plains showers have brought forth a few amphibious fellows into yards and gardens across our region.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll give a little advice on how to greet these tubby-tummied pals if you see them hopping and flopping about.  

Despite their grumpy countenance, you should be happy to see them, as they can be a boon to any summer garden.

People of the Plains: A lesson for the future

Jul 5, 2017
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“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”- Ann Landers

From The Dust Bowl to World War II, Eufemio Velasquez has had his hands in a whole lot of life and a whole lot of history. In the five years since he welcomed me into the family, I have learned more about the history of this nation than I ever could have possibly learned from textbooks in school and more about life than I could have ever realized at my own age.  

NY - HTTP://NYPHOTOGRAPHIC.COM/

The issue of immigration is of great economic significance to the High Plains region, as much of the population in the area consists of immigrants, many of whom work in agriculture-related fields.

WWW.NM.NRCS.USDA.GOV

The lesser prairie chicken population in the High Plains is stable.

As the Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the latest aerial survey by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies points to stability in the breeding population of lesser prairie chickens at a time when numbers of the birds concentrated in parts of five U.S. states expanded most notably in northwest Kansas’ short-grass prairie region.                    

Kansas Legislature

House Majority Leader Don Hineman of Dighton defends the Kansas Legislature’s move to reinstate tax cuts in a July 3 Topeka Capital-Journal editorial.

Hineman writes that overturning Gov. Sam Brownback’s “overly aggressive 2012 tax cut” was a return to common sense tax policy, resulting from lawmakers fulfilling promises they made to their constituents during 2016 campaigns.

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Overcrowding in Oklahoma’s prisons is still a major problem as the dog days of summer approach, and state Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh says he’s expecting an uprising or other serious event at some point.

And a recent editorial in The Oklahoman insists Director Allbaugh isn’t being dramatic.

“It's going to happen one way or the other,” Allabaugh said. “You can't keep packing people into facilities that are decrepit and expect everybody to behave.”

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As HPPR recently reported, the rivalry between California and Texas has grown more heated since the election of Donald Trump.

California has banned all official state travel to Texas, in protest of the state’s law allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples. In turn, Texas lawmakers have embraced anti-sanctuary city legislation and taken up the rally cry “Don’t California our Texas!”

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One of the world’s most prominent international publications has published a look into the peculiar politics of southwest Kansas.

The English newspaper The Economist this week released a special report on Kansas, which it calls “the birthplace of populism.” In particular, the paper delved into the unique local political flavor of Liberal, Kansas. Despite its name, the town went for Donald Trump in a big way last November.

Mountain lions in Kansas? Possible but not likely

Jul 4, 2017
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By now, everyone has heard about a sighting of a mountain lion in the anything but mountainous terrain of Kansas, it probably wasn’t a mountain lion.

While a trail camera in Rawlins County in the far northwest corner of the state confirmed the existence of a mountain lion in September 2016, as the Wichita Eagle reports, it’s one of only a few confirmed sightings of the large cat in the Sunflower State over the past 100 years.

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