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

Sen. Pat Roberts says the level of federal subsidies for crop insurance will dominate this years farm bill discussion. Roberts, who chairs the Senate agriculture committee, talked about the issue on Friday.

At a farm convention in Kansas City, Roberts said a federal budget deal that included protections for dairy and cotton farmers against catastrophic losses could make passing a farm bill simpler.

Callie Richmond / The Texas Tribune

In Texas, you can vote in either party’s primary. Could that affect who ends up on the general election ballot?

From The Texas Tribune:

If you’re loyal to a particular political party, have you – or a fellow Democrat or Republican – at least thought about voting in the opposing party’s primary? Maybe for a person you think would be a weaker candidate in the general election? Or maybe just to mess with the other team?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it wants feedback on how to get a certain segment of Americans out of poverty and off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.

Starting Friday, the public — as well as states and other stakeholders — will have 45 days to comment about possible changes to SNAP benefits for recipients who are between the ages of 18 to 49 and don’t have dependents. They make up about 9 percent of the SNAP recipients, the USDA says.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr Creative Commons

Early voting began yesterday in Texas, ahead of the state’s March 2 primary, which is the earliest in the nation.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, state electoral officials are warning residents to know ahead of time what is needed to make your voice heard.

In a statement, Secretary of State Rolando Pablos said, “It is imperative that all Texans wishing to cast a vote start early and undertake the necessary preparations to be able to vote.”

Questions about a private company’s efforts to win a lucrative prison contract from former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration have lawmakers looking to close a loophole in state lobbying laws.

Current law requires legislative lobbyists to register with the state and report their expenses. But there are no such requirements for those peddling influence in the executive and judicial branches of state government.

On Wednesday, members of the Senate voted 40-0 to pass a bill that would change that.

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Oklahoma’s seemingly endless budget woes continue.

As KFOR reports, the state is facing down a potential $167 million budget shortfall for the 2019 fiscal year. However, that number is a marked improvement over the $900 million budget gap for the current fiscal year, or the $1.3 billion the year prior.

Gov. Mary Fallin seemed optimistic.

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Voting in the Texas primary elections is underway, and the Texas Panhandle is already seeing remarkably heavy turnout.

In fact, as The Amarillo Globe-News reports, Potter and Randall Counties are seeing more primary voters than in either the 2016 or 2014 primary elections.

Potter County Elections Administrator Melynn Huntley expressed surprise that this year was beating 2016, as that year featured a presidential primary with big-name Texas candidates like Ted Cruz vying to occupy the oval office.

From Texas Standard.

Bump stocks are back in the news now that President Donald Trump has made a move to ban them. These devices, which basically turn a semiautomatic gun into an automatic gun, were not used in the latest mass shooting at a Florida high school, but were used in the deadly Las Vegas concert shooting in October.

This story was updated at 4:12 p.m. to include the comments of Planned Parenthood Great Plains' president and CEO.

Kansas improperly sought to end Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, rejecting the state's claims that the organization illegally trafficked in fetal parts and committed other wrongdoing.

Kansas lawmakers have forged a compromise to allow more access to video from police body cameras and vehicles.

Legislation debated in the Kansas House Wednesday followed recent shootings by police in the state.

The bill says people in the videos or their families must be given access to the recordings within 20 days.

In the past, it could take months for families to see a video and find out what happened in a fatal police shooting.

Republican Rep. Blaine Finch said this plan would give families a definite timeline.

Alayna Nelson, a sophomore at Wichita Northwest High School, grew up hearing stories of repeated mass shootings on the news.

“Every single time this happened I always wanted to do something about it,” Nelson said.

Now, Nelson and other students in her generation are taking action against gun violence.

"I feel like I’m finally getting to the age where people will start listening to me,” she said. 

A crowded race for the Republican nomination for governor in Kansas has candidates looking for ways to stand out.

At a forum held over the weekend in Wichita, the hopefuls signaled how they hope to separate themselves from the field.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants primary voters to see him as the true conservative in the contest.

From Texas Standard:

As Texans head to the polls for early voting, a new Texas Tribune report has found that state campaigns have raised $67 million so far– and $57 million of that went to Republican candidates.

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A recent poll reveals that Texas voters overwhelmingly support criminal background checks on gun purchases.

According to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, more than half of Texas voters “strongly support” mental and criminal background checks, while another quarter of respondents said they “somewhat support” them. Only 17 percent of voters say they oppose background checks.

Public Domain

Oklahoma’s Health Department is still struggling to gain its footing after being racked by scandal and turmoil in recent months. In the most recent development, the Health Department’s interim commissioner abruptly resigned this month, after allegations of domestic violence surfaced.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Board of Health unanimously accepted Preston Doerflinger’s resignation. Specific details for Doerflinger’s resignation weren’t given.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say Kansans wrongly convicted of crimes deserve to be compensated by the state. The panel amended and advanced a bill Monday that would do that using more than just cash.

Right now, Kansas pays nothing automatically to people imprisoned on botched convictions. People in that situation can use lawsuits to seek payments, but the bill in the legislature would create a system for compensation without a legal fight.

Kansas congressional candidate Tyler Tannahill is sticking with his planned giveaway of rifle similar to the one used in the mass shooting at a Florida high school.

The Leavenworth Marine veteran running for the Republican nomination in the 2nd District announced the contest for an AR-15 rifle on social media the day before the Florida gunman killed at least 17 people.

If you want to help pick Democratic and Republican candidates for the November elections, it's time to head to the polls.

The Kansas Medicaid program sets too many barriers for patients to receive a potentially life-saving, if extremely costly, drug regimen, a lawsuit filed Thursday contends.

The class action filed in federal court argues that KanCare should cover the cost of medications that have proven effective in treating hepatitis C without subjecting patients to a lengthy list of conditions.

Since its inception over a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security has had authority over the $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, under construction on the campus of Kansas State University.

A new study of civic activity in Texas finds some of the reasons behind the state's notoriously low voter-turnout rate, but shows glimmers of hope for more political participation.

All Things Considered host Nathan Bernier spoke to Susan Nold, director of The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas, which conducted the study.

No restricting free speech, no matter the perspective. A bill backed by Republican lawmakers intends to send that message to college campuses in Kansas.

The Campus Free Speech Protection Act would insist that universities make clear that all of their outdoor spaces, not just “free speech zones,” embrace political outlooks and events regardless of how they fit with trends in academic thought.

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The Oklahoma Legislature’s plan to fix the state budget failed spectacularly this week, sending lawmakers scrambling to defend themselves from widespread criticism.

The Step Up Oklahoma plan had seemed to many like it held promise.

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It was difficult enough when Velma Donahue lost her husband, Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue in 2016, but to make matters worse, when her daughter got sick a few days later, Donahue was informed that they no longer had health insurance.

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President Trump unveiled his plan to overhaul the U.S.’s infrastructure this week, and the initiative is raising some big questions on the High Plains.

The plan essentially calls for local municipalities to pay for their own upgrades. And this in turn would mean that cities and counties would be forced to turn to borrowing, taxing, tolling or cutting budgets at the local level. For states like Oklahoma, which has been struggling beneath the weight of a massive budget crisis for years, finding room in the budget for a huge infrastructure overhaul simply isn’t feasible.

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There’s a debate swirling in Texas Panhandle political circles about whether a conspiracy is afoot in the race for Kel Seliger’s State Senate seat.

Tom Harper / Wikimedia Commons

A nonpartisan Oklahoma political group has recommended that the state get rid of the current political primary system.

Partisan politics may meet its match in the 2018 farm bill.

The massive legislation, versions of which will be introduced this spring in the U.S. House and Senate, is shaping up to be less about political affiliations and more about finding common ground.

A push to make more divorcing Kansas parents split custody evenly could, some critics contend, make the break-ups harder for children. What’s more, they worry a shift to a 50/50 custody standard could prevent a spouse’s escape from an abusive relationship.

A bill creating a new equal custody standard would significantly raise the standard needed for a judge to give one parent more time with the children than the other.

Robin Jerstad / The Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is preparing Texas Republicans for a turbulent election year amid super-charged Democratic enthusiasm — including in his own re-election campaign.

From The Texas Tribune:

NEW BRAUNFELS — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is preparing Texas Republicans for a turbulent election year amid super-charged Democratic enthusiasm — including in his own re-election campaign.

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