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

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

15 hours ago
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. 

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A Kansas lawmaker is pushing to make fantasy sports legal in Kansas. Republican Representative Brett Hildabrand has introduced a bill that would change state law to specifically allow fantasy sports. He says the state is not currently enforcing the ban on fantasy football and similar games, and he wants to prevent future enforcement.

“I want to make sure on down the road in this growing industry that we do not begin prosecuting average law-abiding citizens who are just trying to participate in a friendly pastime,” says Hildabrand.

The abortion procedure where instruments are used to grab and remove a fetus in pieces advanced from a Kansas House committee. The full Kansas House will now consider the bill.

Texas State lawmakers are hearing testimony this week on a controversial bill aimed at limiting the type of ordinances and rules that city councils can pass.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

 An effort to repeal a 10-year-old law that gives the children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition is alive in the Legislature. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, the measure remains bottled up in a committee. 

KHI News Service

News that Gov. Sam Brownback has softened his position on Medicaid expansion wasn’t exactly racing through the Statehouse on Thursday.

But it certainly had some legislators buzzing.

In remarks Wednesday to conservative lawmakers in Missouri, Brownback said if the Kansas Legislature presented him with a budget-neutral expansion bill, he would likely sign it, according to a report in the Missouri Times.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Republican leaders in the Kansas Legislature have unveiled a plan to toss out the current school funding formula and go to a block grant system for the next two years.

Republican Ty Masterson chairs the Senate’s budget writing committee. He says the bill would increase spending by $300 million for Kansas K-12 schools.

John Hanna / The Topeka Capital-Journal

When it comes to Kansas universities and the budget, there are winners and there are losers.  This report from The Topeka Capital-Journal.  A Senate subcommittee took $9.4 million from the budget of the University of Kansas main campus in Lawrence, and gave $7.4 million of it to the KUMC expansion program in Sedgwick County.  $2 million must be diverted to medical student scholarships.

Three legislative bills before the Nebraska Unicameral are being called "a corporate assault on family farmers and rural communities." They lift the ban on packer ownership for hogs, replace county zoning of livestock facilities with a statewide matrix, and provide infrastructure grants to "livestock friendly" counties to facilitate large-scale livestock development.

Agriculture seems to be under attack by the Kansas legislature reports Amy Bickel for Hutch News. Bickel says in the last two weeks two ag taxation bills could generate more than $900 million combined. That could mean a big difference in the budget gap. But, it would increase agriculture land values by an average of 473 percent.

A Texas state senator says, "when you fail to invest in your infrastructure, your infrastructure deteriorates." The Lone Star state is seeing that up close and personal.

protecttheharvest.com

Right-to-farm has made its way to the Sooner State.  It’s a topic that puts agriculture at odds with environmentalists and animal rights advocates reports StateImpact Oklahoma.

The right-to-farm amendment recently passed by a narrow margin in Missouri. 

Now there’s a similar bill in Oklahoma.  Rep. Scott Biggs is sponsoring the measure.  He’s a Republican from Chickasha. 

If it passes it will add this to the state constitution:

http://cjonline.com/

Twice as many Kansas children would be in poverty without government aid reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.  Data just released from Kids Count shows government programs have kept over 100,000 Kansas kids out of poverty the past few years.

The Kansas child poverty rate would double to 30 percent without assistance.

The data measures the time period of 2011 to 2013.

More of the story, including reactions to the data from Shannon Cotsoradis, president of  Kansas Action for Children is available from the Topeka Capital-Journal. 

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill that would allow Kansans to carry a concealed gun without a permit. Currently, residents must go through training and pass a background check before they are issued a permit to carry a hidden weapon.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle voted in favor of the bill but with reservations. She says she has heard “legitimate concerns” from Kansans.

The latest poll from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune shows the federal government isn't winning any popularity contest with Texans.

Kansas said Nebraska used more than its fair share of water out of the Republican River in 2005 and 2006. The Supreme Court agreed, and ordered Nebraska to pay up.

According to a recent survey, Kansas is the only state with an increased number of uninsured.

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