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This year the Texas legislature did not pass a measure prohibiting texting, but Amarillo passed a city ordinance a year ago prohibiting all use of hand-held devices while driving according to the Amarillo Globe-News. 


Kansas legislators wrapped up the special session in two days. 

Here are the highlights:

  • Approval of a bill repairing a law allowing convicted murderers to be sentenced to at least 50 years in prison.
  • Approval of multiple appointments by Gov. Sam Brownback, including the appointment of chief counsel Caleb Stegall to the Kansas Court of Appeals.


Politics are polarizing in traditionally moderate Colorado.  Colorado has been a swing state for a long time with basically an even split between Democrats, Republicans, and the “unaffiliated.”  However the divide is widening mostly due to the rightward drift of Republicans reported the Economist.


Ness County, Kansas, has less than 3 people per square mile and is rich in oil, yet enrollment in the food stamp program is up 480 percent according to a recent Wichita Eagle article.  The increase is not unique to Ness County.  In 2008, national food stamps cost $34.6 billion, and last year that total was $75 billion. 

New Texas Law: Bison are Protected

Sep 1, 2013

As of September 1, bison have been added to the list of possible “estray livestock” protected by Texas law reported the Texas Tribune.  That means if they get loose, whoever finds them has to try and locate their owner.  If they cannot, local authorities have to hold the animals.  If the animal(s) are unclaimed for two weeks, they can be sold at public auction.

Back in Kansas: Senator Pat Roberts

Aug 27, 2013

It’s the season.  Representatives are back at home, getting in touch with their constituents.  The Salina Journal reported Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, was recently in Salina speaking about the gridlock in Washington, and sharing his stance on the following:

·        Immigration

·        Economic stimulus

·        The suicide pact


  Kansas and Arizona

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, and Ken Bennett, Arizona Secretary of State, are joining forces to save laws requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote reported the Wichita Eagle


State representative Ken King, R-Canadian, authored a bill to encourage a mixture of online virtual learning and traditional classroom learning reported The Texas Tribune.  King said he added language limiting the number of tuition-free online classes students can take to three per year because of concerns that the legislation might lead to more full-time online schools in the state.

ACT Scores: lowest in five years

Aug 22, 2013

ACT scores are the lowest they’ve been in five years reported Inside Higher Ed.  The composite average was 20.9, and the biggest drops were in the English and reading sections. 

51st State: North Colorado Update

Aug 21, 2013

Weld County commissioners recently voted unanimously to place the succession issue of North Colorado on the November ballot reported the Huffington Post.  The ballot initiative will read, “Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51st state of the United States of America?"


Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the population in Kansas. Nationally their voting influence is being felt, as reported by the Wichita Eagle.  However, only 37% of the Hispanic population in Kansas were eligible to vote in 2012 compared to 77% of the state’s white population, according to a complete profile of eligible Hispanic voters in Kansas prepared by Pew Research.


It’s too early to know the impact of the new Texas law requiring DNA testing of all biological evidence death penalty cases, but the New York Times recently reported there is concern about the timeliness of the testing.

If you missed it this morning on Morning Edition, here's another chance.


In 2010, Congress passed a law that made major changes to school lunches. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act mandated that each meal include a serving of vegetables. It also increased the serving size so that meat made up a smaller portion of the plate and vegetables a larger one.

Schools across the high plains are addressing that requirement in different ways. 

New High for High School Graduation Rates in Texas

Aug 13, 2013

The graduation rate for the Class of 2011 was one of the best in the country, and set a new Texas record- until the Class of 2012.  The Amarillo Globe-News reported 87.7% graduated on time in 2012, which is 1.8 points higher than 2011.  This is the fifth consecutive year the rate has increased. 

Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams said, “All those working in Texas education should be proud of our strong numbers and the strides we continue to make as a state.”


Whether you agree with them or not, two High Plains legislators stand for what they believe-- even when they’re standing alone.  They are: Representative Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, 1st District, and Texas State Senator Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, State Senate District 31.


Legislatures in states including Kansas could soon find themselves considering legislation allowing utilities to satisfy renewable energy standards by purchasing credits from out-of-state, rather than generating or buying the power in-state.

Will Kansas Move to a Two-Class System for Voters?

Aug 1, 2013

As legislators gather this fall to rewrite the Hard 50 sentencing law, Wichita Democrats may try to amend the proof-of-citizenship voter registration law according to a recent article in the Wichita Eagle.

Perry Calls Texas Roads Back to Bat... Again

Jul 31, 2013
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Governor Rick Perry called a third special session immediately after the second ended.  The Amarillo Globe-News reported legislators reconvened with one item: the transportation bill.

Third Strike and Texas Road Funding is Out?

Jul 30, 2013
Liang Shi, KUT News

The third attempt to pass funding for road infrastructure failed reported KUT News.  The proposed bill would have redirected oil and gas revenues from the Rainy Day Fund to the state highway fund.  It fell 16 votes shy.  The reason?  Legislators wanted a minimum amount of money to be in the fund before any dollars were removed.


Mike Pompeo is supporting legislation for government safety inspections of natural gas storage fields.  The bill was introduced by Pat Roberts,R-Dodge City, and Jerry Moran, R-Hays in April.  It would allow the Kansas Corporation Commission to resume inspections.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Negotiations may be on the horizon for higher education spending, but the Wichita Eagle reports agreement seems a long way off.

The Farm Bill: Everybody has an Opinion

Jul 23, 2013

The farm bill is fraught with opposition.  Some want the bill to stay intact, some want nutrition separated, some want stricter requirements to obtain nutrition assistance, and one blogger wonders if misperception is what’s driving the SNAP debate. 

The Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas, may be restricting pedestrian and vehicle traffic due to a USDA directive.

Texas Report Links Medicaid Enrollment to Education

Jul 14, 2013

Is an educated person happier, healthier, more productive, and less likely to go on Medicaid than one who is not?  Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education says yes in a recent piece by KUT News.


Texas democratic lawmakers have introduced two bills that would change health and sex education curriculum.  KUT News reported the bills are in response to State Bill 1- the bill restricting abortions.


Charles Koch and the Texas Public Policy Foundation are narrowing their focus to city government.

Perry Not Running: Panhandle Reacts

Jul 9, 2013

Rick Perry announced that his hat will not be in the ring for the race to be the next Governor of Texas.  The Amarillo Globe reported mixed reactions to the declaration. 

Kansas Department for Children and Families

More than 200 workers in the Child Support Services
Division of the Kansas Department for Children and Families will be laid off by September 20, 2013, as the state moves to privatization of child support enforcement.  The Kansas Health Institute reported most of the affected workers are expected to accept positions with the contractor for their area.  Theresa Freed, spokesperson for the DCF says she is confident that everyone who wants a job will have one.  

Quentin Hope

  Kansas ranks second overall in a comprehensive annual report on state highway performance.  Texas ranked 11th, up from 17th place in 2007.  Oklahoma and Colorado trailed far behind at 38th and 41st, respectively.