Jim McLean

Jim McLean is an editor and reporter for KCUR 89.3. He is the managing director of KCUR's Kansas News Service, a collaboration between KCUR and other public media stations across Kansas. 

Jim was previously news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He has received awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

Phyllis Gilmore, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, is coming under increasing fire because of problems in the state foster care system.

Former legislator and current Republican candidate for governor Mark Hutton is calling on Gov. Sam Brownback to fire Gilmore. He says revelations about missing foster children are the latest in a “near endless stream of failures.”

In a recent interview, he also expressed frustration about reports of children having to spend the night in the offices of the state’s foster care contractors.

Kansas gubernatorial candidate Ed O’Malley came out swinging Tuesday at a campaign launch event in Overland Park.

The former Republican legislator from Johnson County, who for the last decade has served as president and CEO of the Wichita-based Kansas Leadership Center, swung for the policy fences by pledging that his primary goal as governor would be to make Kansas public schools the “best in the world.”

Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder is joining fellow Republicans in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shootings in calling for a ban on a device used to increase the firing power of semi-automatic rifles.

Yoder, who represents the state’s 3rd District, said in a statement Thursday that he “will support measures to regulate or ban” so-called bump stocks, conversion kits that turn semi-automatic rifles into weapons capable of firing 400 to 800 rounds per minute.

Members of Congress might want to familiarize themselves with the story of Kansas' failed tax-cutting experiment as they begin deliberations on President Donald Trump's tax-reform plan.

It could serve as a cautionary tale because some elements of the president's updated proposal mirror pieces of the tax-cut plan that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback pushed through the state legislature in 2012, promising it would deliver a "shot of adrenaline" to the Kansas economy.

Democrat Josh Svaty says Kansans want a problem solver as their next governor. That’s the takeaway message from his just-concluded tour of all 105 Kansas counties.

Svaty, a 37-year-old former legislator who headed the state Department of Agriculture under former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, says Kansans recognize that state government isn’t working as well as it used to. He says they vented about budget cuts, canceled road projects and diminished services under the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas is in a familiar position. He’s one of several Republican senators under pressure to vote for the latest Obamacare repeal bill. However, Moran remains undecided.

Moran, who surprised many by opposing some earlier Obamacare repeal bills and supporting others, says he’s studying the so-called Graham-Cassidy amendment.

He says he still favors repeal but wants to know more about the new bill.

The maximum-security unit at Kansas’ Lansing prison was on lockdown on Friday afternoon following a fight earlier in the day in the prison lunchroom.

A fight between what state officials are describing as “two offender groups” broke out shortly after noon on Friday as inmates lined up for lunch.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Corrections says there were no serious injuries in the altercation, which took guards about 40 minutes to bring under control.

Low-income Kansans are less likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in other states, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop, but not as fast as those in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs.

New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the uninsured rate in Kansas dropped to 8.7 percent in 2016 from 9.1 percent the year before. That is not a statistically significant change.

Approximately 249,000 Kansans lacked health coverage in 2016, down from about 261,000 the previous year.

The uninsured rate in Missouri declined to 8.9 percent from 9.8 percent the previous year.

The head of the Kansas Department of Corrections says he sees no connection between last week’s riot at a prison in Norton and disturbances earlier this summer at the state’s El Dorado prison.

But some lawmakers are charging that mismanagement of the state’s prison population is contributing to the unrest.

Facing what could be a tough race for re-election, Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder appeared determined to strike a bipartisan tone Tuesday night in his first in-person town hall meeting since last year’s election.

He stressed the importance of civility and working across the aisle several times during the meeting sponsored by the Kansas City Star, touting his work with Democrats to expand child-care tax credits and strengthen privacy laws.

News of White House strategist Steve Bannon’s resignation broke Friday afternoon during U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s town hall meeting in Topeka.

The second-term Republican was fielding questions about President Donald Trump’s fitness for office when a man in the back of the American Legion hall reading the news on his cell phone shouted that Bannon was out

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced immediate pay increases for corrections officers during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the state prison in El Dorado. 

Brownback said all officers will receive an immediate 5 percent salary increase, and starting pay will be increased across the corrections system. The hourly pay rate for entry-level corrections officers will climb from $13.95 to $14.66.

At El Dorado, where the staff vacancy rate is 47 percent, the hiring hourly rate will go from $13.95 to $15.75, he said.

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

Kansas lawmakers had some tough questions Thursday for Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood about staff shortages that recently contributed to several violent incidents at a state prison in El Dorado.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, took Norwood to task for withholding information about inmate unrest at the prison located just north of Wichita.

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s long-rumored move to a position in President Donald Trump’s administration is no longer rumor.

One of the least popular governors in the country is leaving his post to take a new position with the Trump administration.

President Trump announced Wednesday that he would nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a social conservative with deep religious convictions, to head the Office of International Religious Freedom in the U.S. State Department. As ambassador at large, Brownback's mission would be to monitor and respond to threats to religious freedom around the world.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:20 a.m. July 26.

Despite misgivings about the closed-door process used to write a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact on rural health care providers, Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran joined his Kansas counterpart, Pat Roberts, in voting Tuesday to begin debate on the legislation.

But a short time later, Moran was one of nine GOP senators who voted against a replacement bill backed by Republican leaders.

Staffing shortages at the El Dorado Correctional Facility are creating unsafe working conditions, according to the head of the union that represents state workers.

For a public official unaccustomed to the limelight, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran can’t seem to avoid it when it comes to the national healthcare debate.

UPDATE: In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran issued a statement saying that he would support President Donald Trump's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.  That news quickly turned the mood of a demonstration at Moran's office in Olathe where opponents of the now failed replacement bill had been thanking the senator from Kansas for standing firm against it.

Kansas state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald says he’s running for Congress in the 2nd District to keep the seat in Republican hands.

Five-term Republican Lynn Jenkins now holds the seat, but she is not running for re-election

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s silence Thursday on the GOP’s revised bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act prompted one Capitol Hill reporter to refer to him as a “mystery man.”

Several Republican senators who either opposed or had concerns about an initial draft of the bill commented on changes unveiled Thursday by GOP leaders in an effort to gain votes.

But not Moran.

The number of Native Americans without health insurance would increase sharply if Republicans in Congress succeed in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report.

The head of an organization that represents Kansas state employees is criticizing Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration for using a state agency to deliver a political attack on the Legislature.

Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said it was inappropriate for the administration to send an email to employees of the Kansas Department for Children and Families that criticizes lawmakers for raising taxes.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

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. 

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran will have his first town hall meeting Thursday since announcing his opposition to the Republican Obamacare replacement bill.

Opponents of the bill have been working to generate a big crowd for the meeting, scheduled for 11 a.m. at the McKenna Youth and Activity Center in Palco, a small town just north of Hays in northwest Kansas.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. June 27.

Disability rights advocates are among the strongest opponents of the Obamacare replacement legislation that Republicans are attempting to push through Congress.

If anything resembling the bill that the U.S. House approved in May or the one the Senate is considering passes, they say it will roll back decades of progress. 

U.S. SEN. PAT ROBERTS WEBSITE

Kansas U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is not enthusiastic about the Senate’s version of the Obamacare replacement bill.

Nevertheless, he supports it.

Recent Republican victories in several special congressional elections – including this week’s in Georgia – have raised doubts about whether Democrats can gain control of the U.S. House next year. To erase those doubts, they’re focusing on several swing districts, including one in Kansas.

Republican Kevin Yoder has represented Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District since 2011.

But for a dozen years before that, Democrat Dennis Moore held the seat.

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