HPPR Government & Politics

state government (executive, legislative & judicial)
local government (city & county)
regional agencies & authorities
budgets & taxes
laws, rules & regulations

district-level and statewide office campaigns
legislative proposals
voting patterns

Amy Bickel / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

MANHATTAN – Stakeholders gathered to hear about Kansas’ efforts to preserve water – but Gov. Sam Brownback admitted he was a little distracted with world issues.

Not that water wasn’t discussed at Brownback’s fourth annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas. Nor did Brownback minimize the topic.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Blake Hurst rides ten feet above his soybean field in northern Missouri, looking more like he’s playing a video game than driving a $350,000 high-tech piece of machinery.

David Scott Holloway / CNN/EPA

An editorial in The Guardian posed an interesting question last week. Most Hispanics vote Democrat, so why are so many Hispanic politicians Republican? Cindy Casares, a columnist for the Texas Observer, says it sometimes comes down to nationality.

Kansas Faces Continuing Budget Crisis

Nov 23, 2015
Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas’s budget crisis continues to dog Governor Sam Brownback, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. And the problem can be traced to one issue: After drastically cutting taxes, the state government failed to adequately cut spending as well. In fact, the state of Kansas set a record for general fund spending last year. The Capital-Journal says the problem would have been solved by a one-time 8.5 percent reduction in state government expenditures.

OK Dems to Allow Independents to Vote in Primaries

Nov 20, 2015
Theresa Thompson / Creative Commons

Oklahoma is finalizing plans to allow independents to vote in its 2016 Democratic primaries, reports KOSU. The state’s Democratic Party Chairman formally notified the Election Board on Monday that independents will be welcome to vote with Democrats in any primary over the next two years. That includes Oklahoma’s presidential primary, which will be held on March first.

humbertomoreno / Creative Commons

A group of leaders from cities in Southwest Kansas traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with congressional leaders earlier this month. The group, known as the Southwest Kansas Coalition, consists of representatives from Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal. The coalition was formed to increase awareness of issues important to Southwest Kansas, reports the Dodge City Daily Globe.

Most High Plains States Oppose Syrian Refugees

Nov 19, 2015
Santi Palacios / AP photo

Opposition to the U.S.’s plan to accept Syrian refugees continues to grow. As of this writing, more than half of U.S. governors say Syrian refugees are not welcome in their states, reports CNN. As might be expected, resistance to Obama’s plan to accept refugees falls almost completely along party lines. All but one of the 31 opposing governors are Republicans.  

In Integrity Rankings, Every State Scores Poorly

Nov 16, 2015
Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity has released its 2015 State Integrity Investigation, reports The Rural Blog. The rankings are based on various measures of legislative integrity, transparency, and accountability. And the news isn’t good. No state scored higher than a C overall.

Hart van Denburg / Colorado Public Radio

Despite a booming economy in Colorado, the state is experiencing a $373 million budget gap, reports Colorado Public Radio. The gap is between what the state will owe and what it will bring in starting in July 2016.

Lars Baron / Getty Images

Texas Governor Greg Abbott's office appears to be backing out of its support for Formula One racing in the Lone Star State, reports Car & Driver.

Confederate Flag to Fly at Texas Veterans Day Parade

Nov 9, 2015
VANKUSO / Creative Commons

Veteran’s Day is this Wednesday the 11th, and as they have in years past, veterans will parade around the Texas State Capitol in Austin. And just like in years’ past, the Confederate Flag will make its appearance at the parade, reports Austin member station KUT. The symbol of the Confederacy will be seen at the parade despite attempts by Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt to ban the flag.


Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was accused last week of speaking to a group of white nationalists, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. The accusation came from The Southern Poverty Law Center, after Kobach spoke at an event hosted by The Social Contract Press.

Jennifer Huffman Jaxon Huffman, who experiences spasms and seizures daily, receives in-home therapy services covered by Medicaid. Texas lawmakers, who have tried to cut $350 million from therapy reimbursements for kids like Jaxon, want more state control / Texas Observer

An impassioned editorial in The Texas Observer this week asked the question, is there anyone less qualified to manage Medicaid than the Texas Legislature? The editorial challenged the Legislature’s view of Medicaid as a potent threat to Texas liberty.

Eva Hershaw / Texas Tribune

While Texas Governor Greg Abbott has agitated many on the left with his hardline stance on immigration, he has also managed to upset the right wing of his own party by being too lenient, reports The Texas Tribune.

There are seven constitutional amendments up for vote today in Texas. They address issues ranging from highway funding and homestead exemptions to tax exemptions for spouses of disabled veterans and letting professional sports teams use their charitable foundations to hold raffles.

Tim Gruber / New York Times

The New York Times reported last week on a growing problem in the US: States are struggling with what to do with sex offenders once they are released from prison. Minnesota has been detaining its sex offenders in a treatment facility after releasing them from prison, but a federal judge recently found the practice unconstitutional.

A Reminder That Texas Voters Must Show ID

Oct 27, 2015

Elections are just around the corner, and here’s a friendly reminder that Texas voters must show a photo ID to vote in Texas elections. The Canadian Record reminded Texans this week that registered Texas voters who do not have the required photo ID to cast a ballot in the upcoming election will have an opportunity to obtain and Election Identification Card in select area locations.

The following photo IDs will be accepted:

Kansas Health Institute

Sen. Jeff King says private-sector expansion plan could help fix health care system that’s failing ‘hard-working Kansans.’

Kansas Senate Vice President Jeff King is taking issue with Gov. Sam Brownback’s reasons for opposing Medicaid expansion.

New Koch Book Yields Few Political Secrets

Oct 22, 2015
Bo Rader / Wichita Eagle

Readers who open Charles Koch’s second book hoping to find information about the CEO’s extensive political operation will be disappointed, reports The Wichita Eagle. Koch, along with his brother David, is one of the Republican party’s biggest donors and most powerful behind-the-scenes influencers. The Koch brothers’ efforts to impact elections nationwide have been the subject of much chatter among politicos and pundits.

OK Capitol Removes Ten Commandments Monument

Oct 20, 2015
Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

Late last Monday night, workers came to the Oklahoma Capitol Grounds and quietly removed a massive stone monument depicting the Ten Commandments, reports The New York Times. The move came at the 11th hour; the state was facing a court-ordered deadline of Monday to remove the monument.

The voter registration debate continues with Kris Kobach and Hillary Clinton.

John Hanna / AP

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is following through with his promise to enforce the proof-of-citizenship requirement on the state’s voter registrations, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. In less than two weeks, Kansas has seen its number of incomplete voter registrations decline by nearly 6,700—a decline of nearly eighteen percent. A 2013 law required new voters to provide proof of their U.S.

Documentary Examines Religion and Governance in Texas

Oct 16, 2015

The Texas Tribune has produced a  documentary on the role of faith in the Texas legislature. While 23 percent of Texans to don profess to be Christians, in recent years mentions of the Christian God on the floor of the Texas Legislature have increased. The film investigates the causes--and effects--of increasing faith-based lawmaking.

A western Kansas man is charged with voting in multiple Sherman County elections between 2012 and 2014 without being qualified. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is also charging Lincoln Wilson with committing election perjury. Two Johnson County residents are accused to voting in the 2010 general election without being lawfully registered Kansas voters. Few details have been released, but court documents show Kobach has worked with officials in surrounding states.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

After years of work, U.S. negotiators on Monday announced agreement on a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations that is expected to expand export opportunities for U.S. farmers.

In Texas, Property Tax Relief Comes at a Cost

Oct 13, 2015
Peoria Public Radio

Texan voters are likely to approve a constitutional amendment next month that will provide a bit of relief from property taxes, according to The Texas Observer. The measure is expected to save homeowners’ property an estimated $126 per year on average—but it comes with its own price tag.


In the current Kansas political climate, it’s tough to be the Supreme Court Chief Justice.

How does one stay motivated when the judicial branch seems at odds with the legislative branch over school funding, selection of local chief judges, and the  division's budget is at risk if the selection law is struck down?  Add to that the judicial branch, comprised of 1,800 people, hasn't seen a raise in seven years.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas’s pension system has been underfunded for some time now. Governor Sam Brownback and other state leaders have been working to get the program back on track. However, state leaders may have set themselves a false benchmark for restoring the pension system, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

$200 million dollars vetoed by Texas Governor Greg Abbot at the end of the least session remain in limbo, reports The Texas Tribune. The money was part of a rider intended to give raises to the State Securities Board. This specific rider is different than the others Abbot vetoed, the measure’s proponents say.


In regional news, one Kansas lawmaker is looking to benefit from the turmoil following House speaker John Boehner’s resignation. Following the news that the speaker was stepping down, Kansas 1st District Congressman Tim Huelskamp hailed the announcement. Huelskamp and Boehner had repeatedly butted heads, reports Wichita member station KMUW.