HPPR Government and Politics

Marijuana in Colorado
8:15 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Developing pot industry in Colorado causes regulations to adjust

A medical dispensary in Denver.
Credit CPR / Irvin Coffee

Do federal regulations allow banks to deal with marijuana dispensaries? And how high is too high to drive?

These are two of the questions pressed by a developing recreational marijuana industry in Colorado.

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Kansas Election 2014
8:00 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Pat Roberts: A Kansas Senator reinventing himself to win re-election

Pat Roberts is a three-term Republican senator from Kansas.
Credit theadvocate.com

Senator Pat Roberts is working to renew ties in his home state reported Jonathan Martin for the New York Times.  Tea Partly influences have changed his long Washington, D.C. history to a liability, and the 77-year old senator is working to adjust his position to better his chances at re-election say his aides.

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Education
8:00 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Study gives High Plains fourth graders reading report card

Credit pennsbury.k12.pa.us

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released a report, “Early Reading Proficiency in the United States.”  According to The Dodge City Daily Globe a majority of Kansas children are not reading proficiently by fourth grade.

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Texas Election 2014
5:16 am
Wed February 19, 2014

7 primary candidates seek 3 open seats on Texas criminal court

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Three of the nine seats on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are up for grabs, and a fourth seat will be if its current judge succeeds in being elected to the Texas Supreme Court.

Seven Republican candidates are vying for those seats.

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Making KS redder
8:00 pm
Sun February 16, 2014

Brownback asserts a “Kansas Purpose” in NYT interview

Credit Kansas Office of the Governor

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is quoted as avowedly pursuing “a strategy that builds a strong state in the future on the red state model,” in a recent New York Times article on his administration to date.  According to the article, Brownback has delivered on his promise of a “conservative revolution” but the results and benefits to the state aren’t yet clear. 

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Farm Bill & Housing
6:02 am
Thu February 13, 2014

A Kansas influence to the Farm Bill may change the housing market

Garden City, KS
Credit Adam Vos / HPPR

The southwestern Kansas housing market may benefit from a small portion of the Farm Bill signed into law Friday. The trillion-dollar piece of legislation that is largely associated with agriculture also has something to say about who gets USDA home loans in rural America.

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Criminal Law
5:27 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Exonerations in Texas at record high

Watchtower at Huntsville Prison.
Credit Caleb Bryant Miller / KUT News

Texas exonerated more people than any other state last year.

13 Texans who were wrongly convicted of crimes were officially absolved of wrongdoing in 2013, for crimes ranging from murder to drug possession. They spent a matter of months to more than a decade in prison, the Texas Tribune reports.

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Energy, Politics & Environment
5:00 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Anti-regulation politics affects the energy industry in Texas

A natural gas compressor station located near La Grange, Texas.
Credit Spencer Selvidge / Texas Tribune

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state agency responsible for issuing permits for greenhouse gas emissions in the state, has refused to issue the permits until recently, leaving industry in the state in a difficult position.

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Historical perspective on farm bill
8:00 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

The uneasy marriage of farm bill and food stamps

For decades, government agriculture policy has tied farm programs to federal food aid. Grocery displays like this one were common in the wake of the creation of the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation in the 1930s.
National Archives

Both farmers and food stamps advocates sighed in relief Friday when President Obama signed the  long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014 – the $956-billion farm bill – into law on Friday during a visit to Michigan State University.  The farm bill process was fraught with ups and downs and the loose coalition tying nutrition and farm programs seemed barely able to survive.

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Farm bill analysis
8:00 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

New farm bill changes U.S. ag policy

President Obama signed the long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014 – the $956-billion farm bill – into law on Friday, February 7, 2014.

Not everyone likes the farm bill signed into law on Friday, but at least farmers will be able to start making informed decisions.

The biggest change in the 2014 farm bill is that the subsidies known as direct payments are gone. Instead of the government paying a known amount to farmers each year—at a fixed budget of $5 billion—the new system of subsidies will fluctuate, partly with market forces. That makes it really hard to predict how much the program will cost each year, says Iowa State University ag economist Chad Hart.

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Healthcare
8:00 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Kansas Corrections Department helping county jails gain access to Medicaid

Credit wibwnewsnow.com

The Kansas Department of Corrections, KDoC, is working with local law enforcement officials to help county jail keepers bill Medicaid for part of their inmates’ health care costs according to the Kansas Institute of Health.  

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Education
8:00 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Gov. Brownback’s proposed budget restores Fort Hays State University funding

Credit fhsu.edu

Last year the Kansas Legislature took money from universities, but Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget restores the ‘salary cap’ reductions that cost Fort Hays State University $276,176 according to a press release from FHSU University Relations.

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Kansas State Government
8:00 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Bill would require counting and reporting undocumented public school students in Kansas

State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza
Credit jcpost.com

State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza recently filed a bill requiring the state to count and report how many undocumented children are in Kansas public schools reported the Lawrence Journal-World.  

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Texas Election 2014
8:00 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

The biggest race in Texas is... for a seat on the U.S. Senate

Credit The Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a two-term Republican senator has 20 competitors for his senate seat.  The pack consists of seven Republicans, five Democrats, four independents, three Libertarians, and one Green Party according to a recent article from the Texas Tribune.

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Oil & Gas
8:00 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Reducing Oklahoma oil and gas tax breaks could be a key to a balanced state budget

Tax breaks for certain kinds of oil and gas production will cost Oklahoma millions this year.
Credit OU

Energy production tax breaks will cost Oklahoma $307 million in 2014, and $304 million in 2015.  This year state leaders expect $170 million budget shortfall.  In other words, the expected budget shortfall is about half what the state gives away in tax breaks to oil and gas companies reported Matt Trotter for Public Radio Tulsa.  

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Advanced practice registered nurses
8:00 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Kansas nurses press for more practice independence

Rep. Peggy Mast — a Republican from Emporia and the House Speaker Pro Tem — speaks with Merilyn Douglass, a advanced practice registered nurse from Garden City and chair of the Kansas APRN Task Force.
Credit Phil Cauthon / Kansas Health Institute

The solution to the physician shortage in Kansas could be allowing nurses with advanced skills to become more independent of physicians say advocates of changing state law in a recent article from the Kansas Health Institute.  Under current regulations, an advanced practice registered nurse, APRN or nurse practitioner, has to work under a “collaborative practice agreement” with a supervising physician.

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EPA asks for input
8:01 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Texas regulators weigh in on proposed greenhouse gas rules

Texas power plant
Credit Andrea Parker / Cory Maluski / The Texas Tribune

President Obama instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to revise greenhouse gas limits for existing power plants.  The suggested changes are to be proposed by June 2015, and Texas regulators have already weighed in according to The Texas Tribune.

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Kansas State Government
8:00 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Brownback pushes for all-day kindergarten

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback visited Roesland Elementary School in Roeland Park recently to promote his plan to fund all-day kindergarten programs. Kindergartener Wren Hillburn is cutting out a Kansas Jayhawk, and Aidan Dulya, left, watches. Shawnee Mission is one of 20 districts in the state that charge for full-day kindergarten.
Credit RICH SUGG / The Kansas City Star

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wants to fully fund all-day kindergarten.  Brownback proposes spending $80 million for the nearly 40,000 children across the state.  He calls it a strategic investment to ensure children are better positioned to succeed in school. 

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Agriculture
12:58 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

The farm bill passes the House, no thanks to Kansas legislators

A lone tractor with grain wagon must keep up with several combines in this Kansas field of Hard Red Winter wheat.
Credit kswheat.org

The farm bill was passed by the House and sent to the Senate.  The compromise farm bill totals almost $100 billion a year, and contains a small cut in food stamps and preserves most crop subsidies according to a recent article in the Washington Post.

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The Kansas Children's Cabinet
8:00 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Kansas: When the tobacco money’s gone, what will fund children’s programs?

Credit watchdog.org

Tobacco settlement funds were earmarked for children’s programs in Kansas.  The money was to be vetted by the 15-member Kansas Children’s Cabinet.  The intent was to channel the funds toward “innovative” new programs that would supplement, rather than supplant, those already paid for by the state general fund according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

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Texas Election 2014
8:00 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Lt. Gov. Candidates Debate in Dallas

Clockwise, the four GOP Candidates for Lt. Gov.: incumbent David Dewhurst, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples; Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson; and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
Credit Bob Daemmrich / texastribune.org

The four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor debated this week in Dallas.  They took on end-of-life issues and border security, but there wasn’t much to distinguish one from another on policy according to The Texas Tribune.

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Texas Education
8:00 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Texas: December STAAR testing results aren’t good

A sample English I writing question, released from the 2011 STAAR test.
Credit Texas Education Agency / kut.org

Students are having trouble passing the English I writing exam of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test.  As a matter of fact, 85 percent did not pass the December test, and most of them were taking the test for the second time according to a recent article from KUT.

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Kansas State Government
8:00 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Kobach Voter Registration Update: Kansas Birth Certificate Comparison Reduces Number of Ineligible

Credit theusconstitution.org

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach recently said comparing voter registration applications against Kansas birth certificates reduced the backlog of registrants whose voting rights are on hold because they don’t meet the new proof of citizenship requirement according to the Wichita Eagle.

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Affordable Care Act
8:00 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Colorado Medicaid Expansion Could Result in More ER Visits

Credit sostadiumstatus.blogspot.com

Colorado has expanded the Medicaid program, as part of the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  That means tens of thousands of new Medicaid patients will have access to healthcare.  Proponents of the Affordable Care Act say that getting more people insured will cut down on emergency room visits, but a recent study shows that is not what happened in Oregon according to a recent conversation on Colorado Matters from Colorado Public Radio.

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Kansas State Legislative Session 2014
8:00 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Western Kansas Legislator Says Family Focus Guides His Voting

Representative John Ewy, R, District 117
Credit votesmart.org

John Ewy is the legislator from the 117th district in the Kansas House of Representatives.  He says one focus guides his voting.

“I think about that every time I sit down and there’s a bill to vote on,” Ewy said. “Number one, how is it going to affect the 117th district? How is it going to affect families?”

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Kansas State Government
8:00 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Kansas Chief Justice Responds to Criticism and Funding in State of the Judiciary Address

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.
Credit John Milburn / Associated Press

Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss seemed to respond to Gov. Sam Brownback’s remarks pointed at the Supreme Court in his State of the Judiciary address reported Bryan Lowry for the Wichita Eagle.

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Kansas State Government
8:00 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Kansas Home Inspectors No Longer Regulated

Kerry Parham warns homebuyers and sellers to verify certifications of potential inspectors now that a law regulating the industry has ended.
Credit Mike Hutmacher / The Wichita Eagle

The Kansas law regulating home inspectors expired in 2013.  Gov. Same Brownback vetoed a measure allowing the law to continue, saying he didn’t see evidence that large number of Kansans were being ripped off by home inspectors according to the Wichita Eagle.

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Kansas Election 2014
8:00 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Kobach Leads The Fundraising Race for Kansas Secretary of State

Jean Schodorf, left and Kris Kobach, right.
Credit cjonline.com

Campaign finance records show Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has fundraised more than twice the amount of Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf according to the Wichita Eagle.

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Texas Panhandle
8:00 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Amarillo has a new—and Official—City Logo

The new City of Amarillo logo designed by Mitchell Tyler
Credit amarillo.com

The city of Amarillo unveiled their new logo this week.  The logo was approved by the city council, and designed by Tyler Mitchell according to a recent article in the Amarillo Globe-News.

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HPPR Government and Politics
8:00 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Davis Claims Fundraising Victory—Republicans Question Math

Credit Laura Buckman / Bob Daemmrich / texastribune.org

The race to be the next governor of Texas is heating up, and this time the competition is about who has raised the most money in the last half of 2013.  Democratic contender, Wendy Davis claims to have raised $12.2 million, while Republican Greg Abbott reported $11.5.  Simple logic says that Davis won that lap, but the Republican camp is saying Davis is employing “fuzzy math” to inflate her total and create positive momentum reported Jay Root for The Texas Tribune.

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