HPPR Government & Politics

Government:
state government (executive, legislative & judicial)
local government (city & county)
regional agencies & authorities
policies
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Politics:
district-level and statewide office campaigns
legislative proposals
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Governor Sam Brownback recently signed a “welfare reform” bill that his administration is calling the most comprehensive in the nation. Brownback signed the measure despite a wave criticism from those who say it punishes the poor.

Kansas state budget cuts are prompting school districts to take steps to save money. The Smoky Valley school district is the third school planning on closing early to save money. The school will close a week early to save about $10,000.

It's east versus west says Fort Hays State University professor. Chapman Rackaway is a political science professor. He says it the Kansas Legislature has gone from trying to keep western Kansas to showing it the door.

Texas Panhandle No Longer High and Dry

Apr 15, 2015
Amarillo Globe News

Half of the dry counties in the state of Texas have been in the Panhandle; however this number has dropped significantly over the past decade. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission began tracking Texas counties that allow alcohol sales in the late 30’s, back then only 8 out of the 26 counties in the Panhandle were “Wet”.

kscourts.org

Many Kansans may not know the faces that sit upon the bench of the Kansas Supreme Court.  HPPR's Cindee Talley had the pleasure of speaking with Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss.

Nuss is a fourth generation Kansan from Salina. As a senior in high school he never dreamed of landing a seat in Supreme Court. After graduation, Nuss served four years in the United States’ Marine Corp. After discharge he continued his education in law school at the University of Kansas and graduated in May 1982.

Ghost County

Apr 13, 2015
Kansas AgLand

I’m sure you’ve heard of a ghost town, but how about a ghost county? In 1887, the clash between Ravanna and Eminence for county seat was a heated one and left behind a number of unresolved issues.

Gov Sam Brownback signed a bill into law that restricts the most common abortion technique. A similar bills looks like it will pass in Oklahoma. Missouri, South Carolina, and South Dakota has proposed similar bills.

Rep. Don Hill, a Republican from Emporia, introduced a bill last year that would have raised the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack.

The bill died in the House Taxation Committee, where the chairman, Rep. Richard Carlson, a Republican from St. Marys, did not deem it worthy of a hearing.

RJ Sangosti / Denver Post

Colorado requires oil and gas companies to restore all sites completely to reduce erosion, loosen compacted soil, prevent dust storms, and control invasions of noxious weeds.  But, the state doesn’t set a timetable for getting the job done reports the Denver Post.

The land around about half of the inactive wells has yet to be restored, and 72 percent of these sites have been in process for more than five years.

Unlike many other states, Colorado doesn’t require companies to submit a reclamation plan prior to drilling.

If you’re factoring in property tax rates when choosing where to live, Hawaii has the lowest real estate taxes in the United States according to a survey from WalletHub

A Colorado Legislator is taking issue with the high school mascot in the southeastern community of Lamar. State Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, finds the name “Savages” repugnant reports the Denver Post. Salazar is co-sponsoring a bill that would require schools with American Indian names or mascots to get approval from a panel of tribal members or face steep fines. If the measure survives the Democratic-controlled House, GOP members say it won’t make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.

Kansans rally for repeal of Brownback tax cuts

Apr 3, 2015
Kansas Health Institute

About 100 people rallied Wednesday within earshot of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s office to demand the repeal of income tax cuts they say are crippling the state according to the Kansas Health Institute, reported by Jim McLean 

Kansas Health Institute

From Kansas Health Institute; a conference committee agreed Wednesday to adopt a budget bill that cuts $378,000 from a grant program that supports safety net clinics throughout the state.

“We’re greatly disappointed,” said Denise Cyzman, executive director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, an organization that represents the 43 safety net clinics in Kansas.

A Democratic representative is under investigation for comments she made in a committee meeting. Representative Valdenia Winn is accused to using "inflammatory" language according to the complaint lodged by nine Republican lawmakers in the Kansas House.

Walkers trek to Topeka hoping to get lawmakers and voters to pay attention to public school funding. This is the third year people have walked from Kansas City to the Capitol. The group wants increased education funding, not the newly approved block grant funding.

Americans Divided on Fracking

Mar 31, 2015
Gallup

From recent data collected by a Gallup Poll, reporter Art Swift reveals that Americans are split fairly evenly on the issue of fracking for oil and natural gas.

According to Swift, "Fracking has helped contribute to a substantial increase in natural gas and oil production across the U.S., and now in other parts of the world, and is credited with helping lower its price for the average consumer."

The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill that would allow most Kansans over age 21 to carry a concealed gun without a permit. Current law requires training and a background check before a person can carry concealed. The Senate concurred to the House amendments on this bill. That means it's now headed to the governor for consideration.

A panel of House lawmakers discussed a proposal to change how marriage licenses are issued in Texas, giving that power to one appointed official.

Boat launch fees and permits waived at Lake Meredith

Mar 26, 2015
Michael Schumacher / Amarillo Globe News

In a story from Amarillo Globe News reporter Kevin Welch, fees and permits for Lake Meredith are to be waived for the next three years as of April 1st 2015.

According to a news release from the National Park Service; the fees, which were established decades ago for maintenance costs, are no longer necessary due to upgrades and decreased visitation due to drought conditions.

There's a deadline looming for Kansas lawmakers. If a bill hasn't passed both chambers in some form, it won't survive the midweek deadline.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

There's a push to repeal a program that allows more than 600 undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Kansas colleges and universities, but a bill aimed at doing that faltered in a House panel. The bill failed to make it out of the House Education Committee after a debate Thursday. 

A bill easing restrictions on carrying a concealed gun is making headway in the Kansas Legislature. The proposal would allow most Kansans over the age of 21 to carry a concealed gun without a license. Currently, training and a permit are required.

Robert Moser headlines list of 150 Medicaid expansion proponents from business, medical and religious realms. The former cabinet secretary says providers need it, and the people of Kansas need it.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A bill that scraps the school funding system is heading to the Kansas governor’s desk.  It would temporarily create a block grant system while lawmakers write a new funding formula. 

Supporters of the bill say it has $300 million in new funding and gives Kansas schools more flexibility.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle says the bill lets them start over and ditches a school funding formula she calls “broken.”

The city of Denton put a bulls eye on the friction between local control and the oil and gas industry when the city banned hydraulic fracturing last fall, Now, lawmakers are weighing in, and it looks like local control is headed for a beating report Jim Malewitz for The Texas Tribune.

Kansas lawmakers try to get handle on hookah

Mar 16, 2015
Andy Marso

Kansas legislators are trying to determine what they should do, if anything, to regulate hookah.

But first, several of them have to determine exactly what hookah is.

“Having lived a very sheltered life in southeast Kansas, I had to Google this to even find out what it was,” Rep. Jim Kelly, a Republican from Independence, said during an information hearing on the subject last week.

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco.

To Hani Chahine, they’re also a focal point for social gatherings and commerce.

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering online registration to increase voter turnout.

Widespread agreement, no action yet on increasing overpumping penalties in Kansas.

A bill that barely passed last fall in Missouri is one step closer to November 2016 ballots. The bill is to amend Oklahoma's state Constitution.

Millions of veterans nationwide now have a card that's supposed to improve their access to health care.  But, there are doubts about whether the VA is really serious about the new Veterans Choice program.

The Choice program is meant to let veterans get care from private providers if they live at least 40 miles from a VA healthcare facility, or if they face longer than a 30-day wait for an appointment. At a recent hearing, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran told Secretary Robert McDonald the VA seems to be putting its own welfare ahead of what’s best for veterans. 

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