HPPR Government & Politics

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

district-level and statewide office campaigns
legislative proposals
voting patterns

Over 30,000 Kansas voter registrations are on hold because they don't include citizenship documents. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach put a new rule in place cancelling those incomplete registrations after 90 days. Paul Davis, who was the Democratic candidate for governor last year, is heading up the lawsuit.

Brownback Seeks to Refocus Poverty Fight

Sep 30, 2015
Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute: 

Gov. Sam Brownback sought to refocus Kansas’ anti-poverty programs this week, hosting a group of regional experts to bring in new ideas and convening a new policy council to decide what to implement in the state.

feinburgconsulting.com / Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The health law’s upcoming enrollment period may be its toughest yet, with federal officials promising a vigorous outreach campaign to enroll millions of eligible yet hard-to-reach Americans who have yet to sign up for health insurance.

Ilana Panich-Linsman / New York Times

In an election cycle where immigration is front and center, officials on the Texas border have been enforcing some very strict rules. The New York Times recently reported on regulations in Texas that limit the types of IDs parents can show to receive copies of birth certificates. As a result, many immigrants have been unable to receive birth certificates for their children who were born in the US legally.

JD Lamb / Texas Tribune

The Texas Nationalist Movement is attempting to get a non-binding vote onto March’s GOP primary ballot over whether Texas should secede from the United States. To reach this goal, the Nederland-based group has been circulating a petition. The group’s aim is to obtain 75,000 signatures from registered voters by Dec. 1.

KU Prof and Kobach Wrangle over Voter ID Law

Sep 18, 2015
Chris Neal / Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas adopted a voter ID mandate in 2011, requiring all voters in the state to show a picture ID. But not everyone is pleased with the measure, notes The Topeka Capital-Journal. Last week a law professor from the University of Kansas and Secretary of State Kris Kobach clashed over the measure. The two sharply disagreed over the likelihood that illegal immigrants would come out of hiding and risk arrest in order to vote.

Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle

The battle in Kansas between the Republican leadership and the state courts has entered a new phase, reports The Kansas City Star. Four district court judges are now suing the state of Kansas. They’re upset about a 2014 law enacted by Governor Sam Brownback and the legislature, which took the power to appoint chief district court judges away from the state supreme court and handed it over to local judges.

2016 Presidential Race Lacks Rural Focus

Sep 11, 2015
Shawn Poynter

With all the hullabaloo surrounding the 2016 presidential race, The Daily Yonder wondered why so little was being said about rural issues. The blog noted that only Hillary Clinton has released any version of a rural platform. In the face of so much silence, the blog asked several prominent advocates for rural life what they believed to be important in the election.

Kansas Narrowly Escapes Judicial Funding Disaster

Sep 9, 2015
John Hanna / AP

The budget battle in Kansas has spilled over into the judicial branch. And as reported by The Atlantic Monthly, the state narrowly avoided disaster last week.

In regional news, state and public college employees in Texas now have a new gauntlet to pass through during the hiring process, reports The Texas Tribune. As of September 1st, state hires will have their information run through a verification system managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Texas Secessionist Movement Continues Its Push

Sep 3, 2015
Glyn Lowe / Flickr Creative Commons

The Texas Nationalist Movement made trips to 31 Texas cities last week to drum up support for the state’s secession from the United States, reports Reuters. The group is attempting to gather the necessary 75,000 signatures to get the question onto the primary ballot next spring.

Federal Government Squanders Food Safety Bill

Aug 31, 2015
Neil T / Flickr Creative Commons

We all remember the Blue Bell ice cream recall from earlier this year. But most don’t know that congress passed a White House bill in 2010 that would have prevented the deadly Listeriosis outbreak. However, according to a POLITICO investigation, congress and the Obama administration have yet to put the law into effect 5 years later.

A how-to recipe from the Huffington Post on how to create a teacher shortage following the Sunflower State example.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

State contracts for campaign to compel employers to follow federal law.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Two Kansas government agencies are teaming up on a $50,000 ad campaign urging employers to follow federal child support law.

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

For years, the state of Kansas has partnered with a network of regional prevention centers to alert and connect people to mental health programs and those that prevent substance abuse, suicide and problem gambling.

But that network appears to be unraveling as state officials work toward implementing what they call a more holistic, data-driven approach.

Scala, Johnson, and Rogers 2015

A new study has found that rural voters don’t vote as universally Republican as it may seem, reports the Daily Yonder. Under the surface, things are a bit more complicated. But you have to know where to look for blue voters. And even in the areas where Democrats vote more heavily, they still lose.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting in September, Texas will have one set of procedures for politicians and bureaucrats and another set for everybody else.

Executive Office of the President of the United States

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Ceremony in Independence, Mo., marks golden anniversary of government-sponsored health coverage.

Advocates of government-sponsored health coverage gathered Thursday at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., to mark the anniversary of legislation that’s both a local story and a milestone for medical care in the United States.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

When the director of the state’s Legislative Budget Board recently questioned the legality of some of Governor Greg Abbott’s vetoes in the state budget, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick took issue. The Texas Tribune reports that Patrick has called for a review of all legislative agencies—agencies which he himself oversees.  Patrick claims he wants to see “what reforms are needed, what guidelines are needed and what changes need to be made.” In reality, this could mean replacing current administrators with those of his own choosing.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Republican leaders in Texas take pride in how often they have sued the Obama administration. The state has filed 34 lawsuits against the executive branch, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. Most of the lawsuits were taken up by former attorney general Greg Abbott, who is now the governor. Ken Paxton, the current AG, has mounted three suits since January, with more to come. The total cost of the lawsuits amounts to $4.8 million.

When it comes to the budget, Kansas tax collections have come up short of estimations ten times in the last year. Four of those occurrences were at least $20 million below expectations. Shawn Sullivan is the state's budget director. He says he doesn't know if there's something his department should be doing differently. But, he plans on talking with colleagues in other states to learn how their processes work in the coming months.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on Thursday announced $63 million in changes to the state budget.

Much of that comes from increases in federal aid, cost-cutting measures and some services costing less than initially projected. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, outlined the plan in a Statehouse news conference.

Mike Hoff / Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kansas officials have decided against participating in the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a federal initiative that could have generated millions of dollars for behavioral health programs throughout the state.

Texas Debates Plan to Battle Future Droughts

Jul 28, 2015
Cynthia Mendoza / Flickr Creative Commons

The current drought in Texas began in 2010. Though the situation has improved somewhat, the drought is still with us—and so are the conditions that caused it, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of local public media and NPR.

Dole Leads Effort to Build Ike Memorial

Jul 28, 2015
Public Domain

Efforts to build a national Dwight Eisenhower memorial have stalled, and Senator Bob Dole is spearheading the effort to get them back on track, the Washington Post reports. The former Republican presidential candidate served under Ike in World War II, and he has called Eisenhower “one of the great Americans.” Both Dole and Ike hail from Kansas.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

The State of Kansas would like to dismiss a federal lawsuit taken up by the ACLU last year, in which several gay couples have sued for equal treatment under the law, alleging discrimination from religious organizations in the state. 

Abbot Campaign Takes in Massive Nine-Day Haul

Jul 19, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Potential challengers to Governor Greg Abbot in the 2018 elections will be in for a fight, reports the Texas Tribune.  Last month, Abbot raised $8.3 million over a period of nine days.

In the first six months of this year, Abbot’s campaign has spent $2.5 million, leaving him with a war chest of almost $18 million dollars—a daunting sum for even the most well-heeled of opponents.

KHI News Service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The three companies that administer KanCare have donated more than $50,000 to the campaigns of current Kansas legislators since the $3 billion Medicaid program began in 2013.

Creative Commons

President Obama visited Oklahoma on Wednesday, and stopped by Durant to speak to the Choctaw Nation about expanding economic opportunities, reports KFOR. The president gave a speech focusing on improving conditions for all kinds of American communities, including the Choctaw Nation.

Rick Perry Speaks Frankly on America's Race Problem

Jul 9, 2015
Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Last Thursday, Rick Perry spoke before the National Press Club in Washington and surprised many by his frank remarks on race, reports The Washington Post. He began by recounting the horrific lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas, in 1916, before going on to address America’s difficulties in grappling with its racist past.