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The biggest fight to pass open-carry legislation in Texas could be among advocates of the Second Amendment. The New York Times and Texas Tribune report that conflicts are emerging over how big the changes to the current state law should be. Gun rights supporters say the divide could sink efforts to lift handgun restrictions in the next legislative session.

United States Senator Ted Cruz opposes taxes for both internet access and internet purchases. It's not a position that's popular with schools. libraries or Main Street merchants, as reported in this article from the The Texas Tribune.

kansaspublicradio.org

Premiums in the federal health insurance Marketplace are slightly higher, on average, compared to last year, but not in Kansas.  KPR's Bryan Thompson reports Kansas is bucking the trend.

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture isn’t just for farmers. It also supports school lunches, broadband internet access in rural areas, and inner-city farmers markets. As Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports, that diverse mandate fits with the man running it all, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who’s now been on that job longer than anyone since the Nixon administration.

Transcript of audio story:

uniandi.com

Three Amarillo education leaders are visiting the White House this week reports the Amarillo Globe News.

BO RADER / kansas.com

Republicans may have gained enough seats in the Kansas House to end the state’s renewable energy standard in the last election.  Activists on both sides of the issue are preparing for a fight in the next legislative session reports the Wichita Eagle.

Stephen Koranda / kpr.org

Kansas House Republicans have reelected Ray Merrick to a second, two-year term as speaker. Kansas Public Radio reports the representative from Stilwell was challenged by fellow conservative Virgil Peck, but Merrick easily won in an 80-16 vote.

Kansas Health Institute

Over 125 years of experience will be leaving the state of Kansas Insurance department this month.  Four division directors are leaving as Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger concludes her third and final term reports KHI

Kansas Department of Revenue

President Obama’s executive action to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could lead to some unauthorized immigrants having the necessary identification to obtain a Kansas driver’s license.

Stephen Koranda / kpr.org

Governor Sam Brownback is staying tight-lipped about his plans to fix a hole in the state budget. Kansas Public Radio's Stephen Koranda reports, Brownback says he's looking at all the options.

Following a recent meeting at the Statehouse, Brownback gave few details to the media about what he'll propose. He says all options are on the table, including tax increases or slowing future scheduled decreases.

Stephen Koranda / kpr.org

Kansas lawmakers are studying whether local elections should be moved from the spring to the fall. Stephen Koranda reported for Kansas Public Radio that the idea is to move the local races into the traditional election season.

dankalal.net

Kansas lawmakers may dip into highway funding to help balance the state’s budget. Kansas Public Radio’s Stephen Koranda reports the state Senate’s top budget writer says transportation money could help fill the gap.

State government agencies under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s direction aren’t yet changing their policies on recognizing marriages.

Derek Schmidt, Kansas Attorney General, says gay marriage is legal in the state now, but same sex couples can't be sure their unions will remain so.

www.dmschools.org

A program called Breakfast in the Classroom has added Kansas and six other states to the list of those eligible for the grant-funded program reported Bryan Thompson for Kansas Public Radio.

hrc.org

The Human Rights Campaign is a gay civil rights group.  The group recently issued a report card ranking city policies toward lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people. 

The Affordable Care Act open enrollment period is underway.  KUT reported one of the barriers stopping people from getting coverage can be summed up in three words: health insurance literacy.  Here are the cliff notes for health insurance terms:

A HMO requires you to pick a primary physician.  That person will become your health home, and any services you want have to be approved by that physician.

Stephen Koranda / kpr.org

Because of the standard waiting period in Kansas, Monday was the first day many same sex couples would be eligible to get married. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reported about two hundred people were present for the first same sex wedding at a Lawrence church.  Gerlado Sousa and David Bergeron were married by Reverend Peter Luckey.

The merger of Fort Hays State University and the Dodge City Community College failed.  The DCCC Board of Trustees voted 3-3 to continue the merger process reported Hutch News.  Mira Martin is the president of FHSU.  She issued an official statement saying Fort Hays State University was prepared to continue exploring the merger, but the decision to proceed or not was always the responsibility of the Dodge City trustees.

Last week analyst admitted that previous Kansas budget projections had been overly optimistic and agreed on a lower forecast that leaves a gap of $279 million dollars to be filled by June. It’s already a grim situation but an analysis by the Upshot from the New York Times contends the new forecast may still be overly optimistic. It projects this year’s remaining shortfall could be over $300 million dollars higher.

Gambling wasn’t viewed as a moral issue in need of prohibition under the state constitution when Kansas joined the union in 1861.  It wasn’t until the Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives brought hundreds of cowboys to Kansas railheads in the 1860s and gambling became part of the colorful life of cowtowns such as Dodge City that it became a matter of public concern.  In 1868 Kansans acted to outlaw all games of chance for money.

Elise Hu / texastribune.org

Texas lawmakers filed 365 bills on the first day of pre-filing.  Panhandle representatives made a number of contributions.  

The Amarillo Globe News reported State Senator Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, filed proposals to fund 64 construction and renovation projects at public universities, and address high-stakes testing at high schools.  State Representative Four Price filed three bills.  One requiring public colleges and universities to post mental health information on their website. 

mspbwatch.org

Same sex marriages have the green light in Kansas.  The U.S. Supreme Court is not going to block the marriages while the state’s lawsuit is in appeals court.  Earlier a federal district judge stopped the state from enforcing its ban.. staying in line with an a federal appeals court ruling that struck down bans in Oklahoma and Utah.

Michael Ciaglo / The Colorado Springs Gazette

Last year two Colorado lawmakers who supported stricter new gun control laws were recalled out of office.  This year is a different story.  The pair of pro-gun Republicans were defeated by Democratic candidates.  Analysts say the seesawing results are due to increased voter participation using a new mail-in ballot process reported the New York Times.

commons.wikimedia.org

The keys to winning an election in Kansas when the pivotal issue is abortion are: voting guides in churches, fliers on car windshields in church parking lots, telephone calls, and knocking on doors.  

nathansnews.com

Revenue estimates for the state of Kansas are in, and the projections have a lot of red ink reported Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.  To balance the books for the current fiscal year, which is half over at the end of December, $279 million needs to be cut.  $435 million in reductions needs to be made to balance the upcoming fiscal year. 

Stephen Koranda / kpr.org

Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he’ll keep pushing for the power to prosecute voter fraud cases reported Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.

ivn.us

What drove the tide of GOP victories in Kansas and proved many pollsters wrong?  Political Science Professor Chapman Rackaway of Fort Hays State University believes the answer is simple -- Republicans just turned out in greater numbers.  

In an interview with Stephen Koranda of Kansas Public Radio, Rockaway explained that the GOP accomplished that by using sophisticated data models and tools that helped them contact the right people, in the right way, and get them to vote.

stripes.com

The V-A has begun mailing cards to veterans who may need medical care outside the V-A health care system. The cards are called Veterans Choice Cards.  They’re intended for veterans who live more than 40 miles from the nearest V-A health care facility—or who have faced excessive wait times for appointments reported Bryan Thompson for Kansas Public Radio.

Stephen Koranda / kpr.org

Disagreements between President Obama and Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate will surely continue after Republicans take control of the chamber.  But, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts says maybe they should try to find a middle ground where they can see eye-to-eye reported Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.

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