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.

Questions about a private company’s efforts to win a lucrative prison contract from former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration have lawmakers looking to close a loophole in state lobbying laws.

Current law requires legislative lobbyists to register with the state and report their expenses. But there are no such requirements for those peddling influence in the executive and judicial branches of state government.

On Wednesday, members of the Senate voted 40-0 to pass a bill that would change that.

A crowded race for the Republican nomination for governor in Kansas has candidates looking for ways to stand out.

At a forum held over the weekend in Wichita, the hopefuls signaled how they hope to separate themselves from the field.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants primary voters to see him as the true conservative in the contest.

Kansas congressional candidate Tyler Tannahill is sticking with his planned giveaway of rifle similar to the one used in the mass shooting at a Florida high school.

The Leavenworth Marine veteran running for the Republican nomination in the 2nd District announced the contest for an AR-15 rifle on social media the day before the Florida gunman killed at least 17 people.

When it comes to packing Statehouse hearings, few groups fill a room more reliably than those pushing for Medicaid expansion.

What they’re less good at, at least so far, is convincing lawmakers and a governor to expand Medicaid eligibility to another 150,000 low-income Kansans.

The Republican race for governor remains crowded, but a little less so with Ed O’Malley’s announcement Thursday that he’s ending his campaign.

O’Malley, a former Kansas House member who last fall took a leave of absence from his job as CEO of the Wichita-based Kansas Leadership Center to campaign, said his inability to keep pace on the fundraising front prompted the decision to withdraw.

Jeff Colyer rose to the top of the Kansas executive branch Wednesday with events staged not just around his swearing in as governor, but in concert with his dash to get elected to the office later this year.

Shortly after 3 p.m. in the Topeka Statehouse, he took the oath of office to become the 47th governor of Kansas and became the one person in the race for chief executive who could begin logging time in the role.

Proposed changes to KanCare — the taxpayer-funded health care program that more than 400,000 poor, elderly and disabled Kansans depend on — face increasing resistance from key players in the Kansas Capitol.

A week ago, incoming Gov. Jeff Colyer promised to back off a plan that would have imposed a work requirement and benefit caps on some of the Kansans enrolled in the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Yet the administration he’ll inherit, when he takes over for Gov. Sam Brownback this week, hasn’t retreated from its call for tougher eligibility rules.

Next Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer goes from one of the most anonymous jobs in state politics to its most prominent.

Nursing homes in Kansas find themselves in crisis, say the people who run them.

Where to fix blame or how to remedy things remain matters of debate.

A parade of nursing home operators and their lobbyists pleaded with members of a Kansas House health committee Thursday to fully restore cuts in Medicaid reimbursement rates. They also called for pressure on Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to repair a long-broken Medicaid enrollment system.

Roughly 80 politicians gathered Wednesday for an early morning meeting at the Kansas Statehouse.

The session wasn’t technically mandatory, more encouraged by legislative leaders determined to be seen as doing something in response to the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations.

Several of the women in attendance nodded at what they heard — that four in five women and one in five men have suffered some form of sexual harassment.

A push by the Brownback administration to keep turning to private firms to run its Medicaid program for years to come faces resistance from key Republican lawmakers.

Those legislators have signaled they want existing problems repaired with KanCare — particularly application backlogs, delays in provider payments and disputes over services for Kansans with disabilities. Only then should the state go ahead with Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to launch KanCare 2.0 and its new lifetime limits, work requirements and other policy changes.

CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback effectively said goodbye last night in a State of the State speech that was short on policy recommendations but long on reflection. We get this recap from (KCUR’s) Jim McLean (of the Kansas News Service). 

Brownback’s self-described “swan song” to a joint session of the legislature was less political than his past State of the State speeches.

The White House may have scrapped the controversial national election integrity commission that he was helping to lead, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is still rooting out alleged voter fraud in his home state.

Armed with powers not usually assigned to a secretary of state, Kobach filed a pair of criminal complaints Thursday against two people he said voted when, and more, than they had the right to.

As long as Sam Brownback waits for Congress to approve his at-large ambassadorship for religious freedom for the Trump administration, he’ll continue to meet his responsibilities as governor.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he won’t resign until the U.S. Senate confirms his nomination for a ambassador’s post in the State Department.

Republican legislators have temporarily sidetracked an effort to block the Brownback administration from obtaining federal approval to renew KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Democrats on a joint committee that oversees KanCare wanted the panel’s report to the full Legislature to recommend keeping the current program in place until a newly elected governor takes office in January 2019.

Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder is offering a vigorous defense of the Republican tax cut bill as the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on its version of the controversial measure.

In a lengthy news release posted Thursday that Yoder touted as separating myth from fact, the 3rd District representative said the bill does not favor wealthy taxpayers over middle-class families, as Democrats and other critics claim.

Donald Trump Jr. is topping the bill at a fundraiser on Tuesday night for Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, the perceived front-runner in a crowded Republican field.

Kobach, a conservative in the mold of President Trump, is literally banking on the ability of the president’s eldest son to draw a crowd despite increasing legal scrutiny of his ties to Russians who may have attempted to manipulate the outcome of the presidential election.

Trump Jr. will be the featured guest at a reception and $200-a-plate dinner at an Overland Park hotel.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is a frequent critic of the health care system run by the Veteran’s Administration. But at a recent town-hall meeting, the Kansas Republican made it clear he doesn’t want to replace it.

Moran is a strong supporter of the Choice Program, which gives veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility the option of seeing private providers closer to home.

But he says he is opposed to efforts by some in the Trump administration to do away with the VA health care system.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran candidly discussed his reservations about President Donald Trump’s tax cut bill Wednesday at a town hall meeting in the small north-central Kansas community of Frankfort.

But in response to prodding from some in the crowd of approximately 100, he declined to commit to voting against the bill if Republican leaders don’t address his concerns.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday used a group of like-minded witnesses to attack President Donald Trump’s tax cut plan by comparing it to what they repeatedly referred to as Kansas’ “failed” tax experiment.

State Medicaid officials on Friday formally started the process of renewing KanCare, the privatized Medicaid program launched by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013.

The two state agencies that oversee the private contractors that manage the program released a draft of the plan they intend to submit for federal approval after a public comment period that runs through November.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate are working to delay a vote on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination for a diplomatic post.

The Washington bureau of the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle was the first to report on the effort to delay a vote on Brownback’s nomination as an ambassador for religious liberty.

Brownback’s repeal of regulations protecting state workers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, has Senate Democrats concerned about whether he will stand up for LGBTQ individuals facing religious persecution abroad.

State Medicaid officials on Friday formally started the process of renewing KanCare, the privatized Medicaid program launched by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013.

The two state agencies that oversee the private contractors that manage the program released a draft of the plan they intend to submit for federal approval after a public comment period that runs through November.

A female former legislative staff member is charging that sexual harassment is widespread at the Kansas Statehouse.

Abbie Hodgson, who served as chief of staff to former House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs from 2014 to July of 2016, was one of several women quoted in an article about sexual harassment in Statehouses across the country published Wednesday by The Hill, a Washington, D.C., publication that covers government and politics. 

The state of Kansas is scrambling to regain federal funding for one of its psychiatric hospitals and to prevent the decertification of another.

Officials at the agency responsible for the state’s mental health hospitals say they’re confident that the renovations needed to fix problems at the Larned State Hospital, problems turned up by a recent inspection, will be completed in time to avoid a threatened loss of federal funding in January.

The four teenagers running to be the next governor of Kansas were tested Thursday at a forum organized by their peers at Lawrence Free State High School.

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.

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