HPPR Government & Politics

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

Politics:
district-level and statewide office campaigns
legislative proposals
voting patterns

Jim McClean / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The 2016 election could be a tough one for some Kansas lawmakers hoping to return to the Statehouse.

Polls, editorials and reader comments on news websites indicate that voters are paying attention to what’s happening in Topeka, and many don’t like what they’re seeing.

Kansas City Star

Last week was a rough week for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. First, the governor was forced to slash another $97 million from the budget. Those cuts came on top of an additional $185 million diverted from highway funds. Brownback also had to delay a $100 million payment into Kanas public employees’ pension plans.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has a portentous new book out that tackles some of the biggest issues in America. Included a proposal for a convention of the states to change the U.S. Constitution. So, The Texas Tribune wondered, what’s the Texas exec up to? Abbott claims he’s not using the book as a springboard to position himself for higher office.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Last week Reuters found that Oklahoma state officials tried to protect oil companies from blame after earthquakes shook the state. Now StateImpact Oklahoma reveals via Reuters that the state’s fracking boom created new oil millionaires.

Jim Malewiitz / Texas Tribune

The election for Texas Railroad Commissioner is often a high stakes race. That’s because the agency isn’t just in charge of railroads, as the name indicates. The commission also regulates the oil and gas industry and gas utilities in the Lone Star State. But this year’s race has become especially rancorous, notes The Texas Tribune.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the job of protecting the state’s beautiful rivers has long been the domain of the Scenic Rivers Commission. But on July 1st, reports StateImpact Oklahoma, the state will say goodbye to the agency. With a 1.3 billion budget hole, Oklahoma simply can’t afford to support the commission anymore.

On May 11 Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill disbanding the small state agency.

Hutchinson News

If you live in Kansas and you’re planning to switch your party affiliation and vote in the August 2nd primary election, you’d better hurry. The Hutchinson News reports that the deadline for Kansas voters to change political party affiliation comes earlier than ever this year. Those who wish to switch must do so before noon on Wednesday, June 1.

KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Gov. Sam Brownback’s office announced Tuesday he has signed into law a bill allowing the executive branch to suspend indefinitely the water rights of Kansans who fail to file annual water use reports.

David Zalubowski / AP photo

The Colorado legislative session ended last week, and it was a period of missed opportunities, says Colorado Public Radio. The two parties agreed on what the problems facing Coloradans were. The trouble is, they couldn’t agree on the solutions. The result: the state’s residents still face many issues going forward.

Kansas Highway Patrol / Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill into law that aims to fill vacancies in the state’s Highway Patrol service, reports The Kansas City Star. As a result, Kansas motorists should expect to pay higher vehicle registration fees beginning in July. The extra fees will go toward providing funds for the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

As fracking activity in Oklahoma proliferated, the frequency of earthquakes in the state began to skyrocket. And as the quakes increased, so did the tension between federal and state researchers about the causes of the rumbling. So StateImpact Oklahoma decided to take a closer look at that feud. What they found was unsettling, though perhaps unsurprising to many. As earthquake activity spiked, federal scientists with the U.S.

Wichita Eagle

North Carolina gained national attention this month for its transgender bathroom law. Texas has moved to support the Carolinians by passing its own bathroom law. But now, Kansas is looking to get in on the act, reports The Wichita Eagle. A new Kansas law would bar transgender people from updating the sex on their birth certificates. Currently, trans people are allowed to change the gender on their birth certificate after completing gender reassignment surgery.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Texan members of the GOP are gathering in Dallas this week for their state convention. And leaders have called on the Texas Republican Party to unify behind Donald Trump, reports The Texas Tribune. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick spoke to the GOP convention Thursday morning. “We must come together, he said. “We must support our Republican nominee for president: Donald Trump.”

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Texan members of the GOP are gathering in Dallas this week for their state convention. And leaders have called on the Texas Republican Party to unify behind Donald Trump, reports The Texas Tribune. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick spoke to the GOP convention Thursday morning. “We must come together, he said. “We must support our Republican nominee for president: Donald Trump.”

KFOR.com

In light of the state’s $1.3 billion budget shortfall, Oklahoma legislators have been forced to find creative ways to climb out of the hole. This week, GOP leaders decided part of the state’s economic burden should fall on the backs of the poorest Oklahomans, reports KFOR.

To bring in new revenue, Oklahoma lawmakers have approved a bill that would do away with a tax credit intended to help the most destitute citizens of the state.

hungerfreecolorado.org

Colorado has an exceptionally low enrollment rate for people eligible for food stamps, reports Colorado Public Radio. And now, because of the lack of response, the state’s food stamp administration is receiving close scrutiny from the federal government. Colorado has even drawn sanctions from Washington for its low enrollment rate.

Hutchinson News

The campaign for a Kansas seat in the US House of Representatives is heating up, reports The Hutchinson News. U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s seat is up for grabs in November, and both he and challenger Roger Marshall issued statements last week accusing the other candidate of lying.

Callie Richmond / Texas Tribune

Providers of early childhood intervention programs in Texas are deeply troubled by budget cuts, reports The Texas Tribune. In-home therapy providers have been warning that the work they do for families and children could be in jeopardy because of severe budget cuts. The cuts were ordered last year by Republican lawmakers in the Texas Legislature.

Wocintech Chat / Flickr Creative Commons

A new rule in Texas prohibits prisoners from having any access to social media, reports member station KUT. The order also families, loved ones, or advocates on the outside from maintaining social media accounts on their behalf. Critics say the rule goes too far in censoring inmates.

USDA.gov

The US Department of Agriculture has launched a new fund that will invest millions in rural agriculture businesses, reports The Rural Blog. The Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund has the potential to pour as much as $100 million into rural food and agriculture. The fund also has high growth potential, the USDA said in a press release.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma criminal prosecutors are angry over a recent ruling by the state’s highest criminal court, reports KGOU. The decision states that Oklahoma’s forcible sodomy law doesn’t apply when the victim is intoxicated or unconscious. The ruling goes against a nationwide trend toward stricter enforcement of sexual assault laws.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Favorability ratings for the Republican Party continue to crater, and it remains to be seen how much that will affect the deeply conservative High Plains region in November’s elections.

According to a new Pew Research Center poll, the party is now the most unpopular it’s been in almost a quarter century. 62% of those surveyed now say they have an unfavorable view of the GOP. The favorability  number has dropped four points since October, reports GateHouse Media.

KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The Kansas Legislature approved additional restrictions on people who receive government assistance but removed one proposal that would have required women to return to work shortly after giving birth.

The changes, passed late Sunday as part of Senate Bill 402, reduce the lifetime limit for cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from three years to two years. There is a one-year hardship extension.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas brought in more tax revenue than expected last month, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. The state exceeded projections by $2.6 million. However, the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as the state has scaled back projections twice during the current fiscal year.

Abby Livingston / Texas Tribune

US House Speaker Paul Ryan recently announced that he raised $17 million in the first three months of this year. What he didn’t mention was that twenty percent of that money came from one state: Texas. The Texas Tribune notes that the money will go toward the re-election for Ryan’s fellow GOP incumbents in the House.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma continues to support wind-generated electricity. But, as StateImpact Oklahoma reports, that support is drawing criticism as the state’s budget balloons and crude prices remain at historically low levels. 

msnbc.com

Texas looks to be the next battleground in the debate over whether transgender Americans should be allowed to use the bathroom associated with the sex they claim, rather than their birth sex. The Texas Tribune recently published an analysis of the political context surrounding the controversy.

cfrb.org

This week the Oklahoma legislature passed a resolution to ask the United States Congress to consider adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As The Claremore Daily Progress reports, the proposal requests that Congress convene a national convention to consider the measure.

politico.com

This week Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced he’s pulling out of the federal government’s refugee resettlement program. The move comes after Brownback expressed repeated concern about the program for months. The governor said he had failed to get satisfactory answers, so the state is done, reports The Washington Post. The resettlement program has placed more than 2,000 global refugees in Kansas over the past four years.

Texas Tribune

In Texas, all state agencies must win legislative permission every 12 years to remain open. But who decides if these agencies stay alive? The task is handled by what’s known as the Sunset Advisory Commission, reports The Texas Tribune. It’s the commission’s job to periodically recommend changes in how agencies operate.

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