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

Industrial Hemp Could Be Legalized ... Finally

17 hours ago
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This could be year that Congress legalizes industrial hemp.

According to The Cannabist, a bipartisan group of lawmakers are again calling for industrial hemp to be legally separated from marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act.

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Texas lawmakers are preparing to adjourn from their special legislative session on Tuesday night.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, Greg Abbott is extremely displeased with the progress made on his agenda, and the Governor is even threatening to call another special session until he feels his priorities are being addressed. Of the 20 items on Abbott’s agenda, not a single one has yet received a simple up or down vote.

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President Donald Trump may soon announce an Oklahoman to lead NASA.

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

A decade after Kansas unveiled plans to migrate its driver’s license records from an aged mainframe to modern information technology infrastructure, the effort remains incomplete and, auditors say, troubled.

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The special session of the Texas Legislature is drawing to a close, and child advocates are concerned about a major issue that lawmakers have yet to resolve.

Two years ago, Texas legislators cut more than $300 million to therapy services for disabled children.

And now, as KXAN reports, educators and therapists worry that Texas may one day have a sizable number of disabled adults if lawmakers don’t take action.

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Oklahoma’s efforts to plug its massive budget gap were dealt a serious blow this week by the state Supreme Court.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a $1.50 per-pack cigarette fee that was supposed to bolster the state’s finances.

But last week, the state Supreme Court ruled that the fee was unconstitutional.

Teenaged Gubernatorial Candidate Appears On Kimmel

Aug 14, 2017
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16-year-old Jack Bergeson may already have a leg-up in the Kansas gubernatorial race.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the Wichita high school student appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” from his bedroom via video on Wednesday night, explaining his reason for running – that he is hoping to engage younger voters, even though he himself, cannot vote.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas says local governments should enact hate crime laws to give law enforcement more options when protests and demonstrations turn violent.

Kansas’ senior senator called the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, a “terrible tragedy.”

He said cities should enact ordinances on hate crimes so that law enforcement could step in ahead of violence, which he said was not done in Charlottesville.

There’s a crowded field of candidates running or considering the race for Kansas governor in 2018, and that means they’ll need to find ways to set themselves apart.

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The national media was consumed this weekend by news of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent. The news hit close to home in Texas, which holds more hate groups than any other state.

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An abortion bill sponsored by an Amarillo Republican is close to becoming law, reports The Texas Tribune.

State Rep. John Smithee of Amarillo authored a bill that would require women to buy a separate health insurance plan to cover abortion.

Opponents say the measure hurts low-income Texas women, especially those who are experiencing fetal abnormalities or who have been the victims of rape and incest.

A year from now, Kansans could be in the middle of the biggest primary battle for governor in recent history.

With Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer poised to finish the second term of Gov. Sam Brownback — likely to leave office soon for an ambassador job — candidates are lining up for the 2018 contest.

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Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that would require special registration fees to be paid by owners of electric and hybrid vehicles.

But now, as The Oklahoman reports, the Sierra Club of Oklahoma is challenging that law in court. The environmental watchdog organization insists that the payment amounts to an arbitrary fee, that would require environmentally conscious drivers to pay more than their share for use of the road.

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With seven days remaining, the special session of the Texas Legislature appears thus far to be a bust. Gov. Greg Abbott convened the session in hopes of furthering his own legislative agenda, after a contentious and mostly fruitless regular session.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, not a single bill has made it through both houses and advanced to the Governor’s desk during this special session.

Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer announced Tuesday that he will run for Kansas governor in 2018, ending speculation that he would enter the race.

The Kansas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking information about communication between state attorney general Derek Schmidt and the federal government over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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The Texas legislature this year has been defined by a contentious battle between the far-right Tea Party conservatives led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and the more moderate business-minded conservatives of House Speaker Joe Straus.

Kansas lawmakers in both parties are calling for higher pay for the state’s corrections officers after several recent incidents at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

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One of the overarching struggles in Texas this year has been a pitched battle between cities and the state over who should have the right to make laws for local municipalities. This battle has manifested in myriad ways, from heated debates over bathroom usage and “sanctuary cities,” to arguments over property taxes, school vouchers, and texting-while-driving laws.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is also vice chairing a presidential commission on elections, was due in federal court Thursday morning to give a deposition in an ongoing voter registration case.

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With President Donald Trump’s hard line on immigration, as the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/us/prosecutors-dilemma-will-conviction-lead-to-life-sentence-of-deportation.html reports, it may pose difficulties for prosecutors looking to strike plea deals, as a potential repercussion for at least some immigrants could be deportation.

Kansas Tax Collections Come In Above Projections

Aug 3, 2017
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In the first month since a retroactive tax increase took effect, Kansas tax collections came in ahead of expectations.

According to a press release issued by the Kansas Department of Revenue Tuesday, revenue collections in the first month of the new fiscal year exceeded last year by $28.41 million.

The morning he was due in federal court to give a deposition in an ongoing voter registration case, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach tweeted his support for President Trump’s proposal to curb legal immigration.

Trump announced Tuesday a plan to limit legal immigration to highly skilled workers able to pay their own way. Kobach, who is the vice chair of a White House commission on election integrity, praised the president for placing the interests of Americans ahead of “the aliens.”

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A number of new laws will take effect in Texas next month, reports KTRK.

This September, Texas will become the 47th state to ban texting while driving. The law has drawn criticism from Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, as it preempts Amarillo’s stricter texting-while-driving law.

Texas Senator Kel Seliger also called the law an example of state legislative overreach.

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In 2010, then U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, during his Topeka gubernatorial campaign, told voters they should use five policy objectives to evaluate his performance – something he called the “Road map for Kansas.”

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Big Oil has now added its voice to the chorus of those who oppose the controversial “bathroom bill” that would legally require trans Texans to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificates.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, this week more than 50 oil-industry executives, including top brass from BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Halliburton, signed a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott pleading with him not to sign the legislation.

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback – and his soon-to-be successor Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer - have been in the national spotlight since last week’s announcement that Brownback had been nominated by the Trump Administration to serve as the ambassador for international religious freedom.

The New York Times ran stories on both men last week – one highlighting Brownback’s legacy and another describing who Colyer is.

The president’s advisory commission on election integrity has heightened talk about voting issues and election security. Two of the loudest voices in the discussion come from Kansas and Missouri, and they’re clashing over the issue.

Former Democratic Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander crossed the border and stopped recently in Douglas County, Kansas. He aimed some of his comments at Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kander has been touring and talking voting policies, and he believes some of the rules pushed by Kobach are a bad idea.

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As the special session continues in Austin, lawmakers in the Texas Capitol passed a number of bills last week aimed at restricting access to abortions for Texas women.

As USA TODAY reports, in just one week, four anti-abortion bills passed the Senate and another passed the House. Texas has frequently made national news over the past few years with its repeated attempts to limit access to abortion.

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