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

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

While a new law significantly increases the fine for texting and driving violations in Colorado, it also makes texting and driving legal, as long as it isn’t done in a “careless or imprudent manner.”

rainbow / Wikimedia Commons

The Texas Legislature will meet next month in a special session, and LGBT advocates are gearing up for battle once again.

As The San Antonio Current reports, champions of LGBT rights have already named the 2017 Texas legislative session “The Session of Oppression.”

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new service in the State of Oklahoma hopes to ensure that voters never miss another election.

As KOSU reports, the new alert system from the Oklahoma State Election Board will send out notices to interested voters whenever an election is around the corner. The service will also remind voters when it’s time to renew their annual absentee ballot requests.

The issue of vehicle inspections gained some attention earlier this year, after the Texas Senate approved a bill that would make the necessity for inspections a thing of the past.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle says she’s considering a run for either Kansas governor or for the 4th District congressional seat in the Wichita area.

Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran says he doesn’t support the health care overhaul bill in the U.S. Senate. Leaders in the Senate announced Tuesday that they are delaying a vote on the bill over concerns that it didn’t have enough support.

Moran initially was one of the undecided lawmakers. That changed when the vote on the GOP plan was delayed: Now, he says the Senate bill “missed the mark” for Kansas and he would not have supported it.

Moran says he's glad the vote was delayed and says the full legislative process should be used to develop a better proposal.

Erika Rich / Texas Tribune

Texas’s controversial “sanctuary cities” law is set to take effect on Sept. 1 and this week marks the beginning of a series of hearings to determine whether the law is actually legal.

As The Texas Tribune reports, some Texas communities began fighting the bill almost as soon as Gov. Greg Abbott signed it.

With Houston signing onto the lawsuit last week, the largest cities in the state are all lodging protests to the immigration enforcement law.

Michael Stravato / The New York Times

The New York Times recently spoke with immigrants in Texas who had fled repressive regimes, and many of them noted unsettling similarities between the countries they left and the current administration in Washington.

More than one of the immigrants mentioned the recent cabinet meeting where President Donald Trump had members of his cabinet go around the room, praising him.

Republican U.S. Senator Jerry Moran visited Wichita Friday to bring attention to what he calls a “damaging” proposal to privatize air traffic control operations.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. June 27.

Disability rights advocates are among the strongest opponents of the Obamacare replacement legislation that Republicans are attempting to push through Congress.

If anything resembling the bill that the U.S. House approved in May or the one the Senate is considering passes, they say it will roll back decades of progress. 

Kansas lawmakers met briefly Monday for the ceremonial end of the legislative session. They considered overriding some vetoes issued by Gov. Sam Brownback but ultimately took no action.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle ended that chamber’s meeting quickly because she said some lawmakers were gone and overrides simply weren’t going to be possible.

Jerry Lara / San Antonio Express News

The State of Texas is putting the brakes on the idea of debtors jail, reports The San Antonio Express News. For decades, the Lone Star State has been tossing people in jail when they were unable to pay fines.

Last year, over half a million Texans served time for unpaid parking tickets and the court fines. But beginning in September, judges will begin considering the economic status of defendants before sending them to jail.

Gov. Sam Brownback denounced the level of spending in the Kansas budget, but he still chose to sign the bill into law over the weekend.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday signed a bill creating a task force to examine the Kansas foster care system.

The number of children in the Kansas foster care system has set records in recent years, passing 7,100 in April. The death of an abused boy in Kansas City, Kansas, also raised concerns about whether the system was protecting children. 

U.S. SEN. PAT ROBERTS WEBSITE

Kansas U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is not enthusiastic about the Senate’s version of the Obamacare replacement bill.

Nevertheless, he supports it.

Recent Republican victories in several special congressional elections – including this week’s in Georgia – have raised doubts about whether Democrats can gain control of the U.S. House next year. To erase those doubts, they’re focusing on several swing districts, including one in Kansas.

Republican Kevin Yoder has represented Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District since 2011.

But for a dozen years before that, Democrat Dennis Moore held the seat.

Gov. Sam Brownback has until Sunday to take action on the Kansas budget approved by lawmakers. His decisions could prompt action on the ceremonial last day of the legislative session.

It’s likely Brownback will sign the budget, but he can block specific items with his line item veto power. Lawmakers also have the power to override those decisions with a two-thirds vote.

Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley says some line item vetoes could draw override attempts. Those would come on the ceremonial last day of the session, which is Monday.

Erika Rich / Texas Tribune

Since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill into law, several Texas communities have signed onto a lawsuit in hopes of stopping the law before it goes into effect.

The suit was originally brought by Maverick County and the West Texas City of El Cenizo. But now, El Paso County and the cities of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas have also signed on to the suit.

NY - HTTP://NYPHOTOGRAPHIC.COM/

‘I need more Mexicans.’

Several southwest Kansans are featured in a June 20 Bloomberg Businessweek article with that headline – a message the article reports Kansas farmers are sending to President Donald Trump.

According to Blooomberg, arrests of suspected undocumented workers have jumped 38 percent since Trump signed a pair of executive orders targeting immigration in January. This has some in the state worried about the impact on the rural economy.

50states.com

Political strategists from both parties are expecting the 2018 governor’s race in Colorado to shatter state campaign spending records.

Fueling this belief, as The Denver Post reports, is the entry of one – possibly two – wealthy candidates who could take advantage of Colorado’s campaign rules to overwhelm the opposition with money from their own pockets.

JIM MCLEAN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jim Barnett is throwing his stethoscope into the ring.

Again.

The 63-year-old doctor and former state senator is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Again.

Barnett, who represented an Emporia-centered district in the Kansas Senate for a decade, won the 2006 GOP primary over a relatively weak field but lost in a landslide to incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the general election.

Four years later he came up short in a race against Tim Huelskamp for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

In voting for a $1.2 billion tax increase to bolster the budget for the next two years, the Kansas Legislature avoided a projected $900 budget hole and began restoring past cuts to the mental health system.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Yesterday HPPR reported on a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll that showed Gov. Greg Abbott outperforming Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus among Texas voters. Today, we’re going to see how Texans are feeling about some of the state’s other lawmakers.

Jacob Villanueva / Texas Tribune

According to a recent poll, Gov. Greg Abbott remains the most popular politician in Texas.

The latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll shows Abbott with a 45 percent approval rating, while 38 percent of the electorate disapproves of the job he’s been doing. However, Abbott’s disapproval rating has risen five points from 33 percent since the last poll, which was taken in February.

Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on Congressional redistricting that could have future implications for the balance of power in the Lone Star State.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the case centers on a redistricting effort in Wisconsin that resembles in many ways the attempts by the Texas GOP to redraw district lines to favor their own party, a process known as "gerrymandering."

San Antonio Express News

Tourism officials in Texas are decrying funding cuts made by the statelLegislature and approved by Gov. Greg Abbott as part of the official state budget.

As The San Antonio Express-News reports, state lawmakers slashed the tourism budget in half this year, dropping funding levels from $68 million down to $34 million.

Jacob Villanueva / Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Republican voters in the Lone Star State remain staunch in their support of the President, despite the Russian fog that has descended over the White House.

As The Texas Tribune reports, while only five percent of Democrats believe Donald Trump has the right temperament to occupy the Oval Office, more than two out of three self-identified Republicans say Trump is the right kind of person for the job.

Texas Tribune

In the state of Texas, it’s now legal for child welfare officials to use their personal religious beliefs to decide who will be allowed to adopt.

Kobach featured in New York Times article

Jun 15, 2017
State of Kansas Office of the Secretary of State

Kansas Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach was featured in a New York Times piece this week that touches on his plans to remake America through restrictive voting and immigration laws.

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