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

Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appears to have made a good number of enemies within the agency he’ll soon helm, and he hasn’t even started the job yet.

As The New York Times reports, employees of the Environmental Protection Agency mounted an organized campaign to call their senators and plead that they vote against Pruitt to head the agency.

Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle

Texas has become the first state to actively throw its support behind President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, reports The Houston Chronicle.

On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief with the 9th circuit court of appeals. The brief formally affirms  Texas's support of Trump’s White House and the U.S. Department of Justice.

KCUR

  The Kansas House approved a tax bill Wednesday that would raise Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax cuts.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the proposed bill would include an end to a tax cut for roughly 330,000 business owners and generate more than $1 billion over the next two years, according to state estimates.

But Brownback said he won’t sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

KGOU

Oklahoma lawmakers continue to struggle with how to lessen the state's onerous budget shortfall.

As KOSU reports, Oklahoma's budget gap is inching back up toward the billion-dollar mark. Governor Mary Fallin has suggested a dramatic change to the state sales tax to eliminate certain exemptions, in hopes of turning the ship around. She says her long-term goal is to change the tax system to better fit the modern world.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

After hundreds of arrests of undocumented immigrants by immigration police, the Trump administration’s increased focus on immigration enforcement has some of the country’s largest farm groups worried.

Oklahoma State Legislature

Yesterday the Oklahoma legislature brought a bill to the floor that would make abortions illegal unless approved by the mother’s male sexual partner.

Creative Commons

Several people were arrested in southwest Kansas last week as part of the national immigration crackdown that netted more than 600 arrests by immigration authorities.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, 31 of the more than 600 people arrested by immigration authorities last week were picked up in Kansas, about three-quarters of which were picked up in southwestern Kansas, near Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal. Nearly all were citizens of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or Mexico.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

*Correction: A previous version of this story was incorrect. A former accountant of the Oklahoma Beef Council is being investigated for allegedly embezzling $2.6 million from that board. This is a corrected version of the story.*

Federal authorities are investigating the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million dollars from an obscure Oklahoma board that promotes the beef industry, reports KOSU.

Citing weak economic trends and structural budget pressures, S&P Global Ratings revised the outlook on Kansas’ AA-minus credit rating from stable to negative Wednesday.

As Reuters reports, the credit rating agency faulted the state for its continuous use of one-time revenue measures to shore up operational spending. For the upcoming biennial budget, nonrecurring measures include a plan to sell bonds backed by Kansas' share of a nationwide settlement with U.S. tobacco companies, liquidation of a capital reserve, and pension underfunding, S&P said.

Al Drago / The New York Times

An offhand remark President Donald Trump made on Wednesday has Democratic lawmakers in Texas fuming.

As The New York Times reports, Trump was speaking with a group of sheriffs from around the country when a Texas sheriff asked the president about a state senator who was proposing a law that would not allow Texas to seize a suspect’s assets until that suspect had been convicted by a court.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

A watchdog group is suing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is currently President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, The Tulsa World reports.

Wikimedia Commons

Controversial Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos was confirmed on Tuesday, and all but one of the ten Senators from the High Plains region helped her win the seat.

As The New York Times reports, the vote came down to a historic 50/50 tie, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tiebreaking vote. This is the first time in history that a Senate vote on a cabinet-level position has ended in a tie.

Randall Killian thought he was investing in his new retirement property in Colorado when he received a mail-in ballot in 2012 asking if he would like to legalize marijuana in that state.

“When I saw that on the ballot, it's like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s something I’ll never get a chance to vote for again. So bam! I vote on it,” Killian says. “Voted in Ellis County (Kansas), just like I’d done for 25 years.”

Bbean32

Many refugees in Greeley, Colorado are Muslims from Somalia or other parts of East Africa, who, like those in Garden City Kansas, work in the meatpacking industry.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Burmese refugee Sultan Ahmed thought he would be seeing his family in less than a year, but President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration halted all that and Ahmed was told it would take two or more years to bring his family to Greeley.

aviper2k7 / Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday A Kansas senate panel moved to cut $128 million from K-12 education and $23 million dollars from higher education to help fill the state’s three hundred and ten million dollar budget shortfall.  

As The Hutch News reports, the Senate ways and Means Committee approved the cuts, which would take place this fiscal year, as part of a larger budget bill that also reduces funding to state agencies.

Creative Commons CC0

Even though many farmers are stewing over President Donald Trump’s moves to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, House Agricultural Chairman Mike Conaway thinks Trump could get the agriculture industry a better deal.

Creative Commons CC0

A Kansas lawmaker is expected to introduce two marijuana-related bills this year – one allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana and the other to legalize recreational use.

It took many by surprise, but the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee passed out a bill Tuesday that would cut $154 million out of the budget by July 1, the vast majority coming from education.

Of the proposed cuts, education shoulders 98 percent of the total. More than $127 million of the cuts would come from K-12 and another $23 million from higher education. 

In Johnson County, the plan would result in millions of dollars in cuts:

A Senate committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would repeal an income tax exemption for more than 300,000 business owners. The bill, which could go before the full Senate on Thursday, also would increase income tax rates overall.

Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican, said she supported the measure because the Legislature needs to make some progress on tax issues.

Creative Commons

Ag experts are expecting a revised farm bill this year, as a new administration takes control in Washington.

As Politico has noted, employees from the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation have begun to exert heavy influence over the young administration.

Creative Commons CC0

A proposed bill that would allow law enforcement officials to train armed teachers, principals and other school personnel advanced last week in the state Senate, despite objections that it will just invite more gun violence in Colorado’s schools.

Currently, as Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert told The Denver Post, at least 25 out of the Colorado’s 178 school districts use school personnel with conceal-carry permits and Senate Bill 5 simply offers handgun training to that personnel.

Astrid Westvang / Creative Commons

In Texas, foster care providers have clashed with court judges over a senator’s proposal to privatize foster care.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the debate centers around whether private contractors in Texas should be allowed to completely take over supervision of abused and neglected children.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Martin do Nascimento / Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has cut off funding to Travis County, home to the state’s capital, after the county sheriff refused to back down from offering sanctuary to immigrants.

An irrigation system waters soybean plants in a field near Larned, as seen in this file photo from 2011.Credit Sandra J. Milburn / The Hutchinson NewsEdit | Remove

TOPEKA – Garden City Mayor Chris Law wasn’t in Topeka Tuesday, but he would have liked what was said.

Creative Commons CC0

On Monday, a Republican lawmaker announced a bill that would allow victims of certain crimes committed by illegal immigrants to sue politicians who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

As The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/30/crime-victims-sue-politicians-sanctuary-cities/ reports, the proposal targets “sanctuary cities” like Denver, Boulder and Aurora, where police and other officials have said they won’t enforce federal immigration laws.

Creative Commons CC0

Military retirees in Colorado could enjoy a lot more financial security in the future if a tax relief bill heard at the statehouse today keeps moving forward.

As the Prowers Journal reports, Senate Bill 75, authored by Senator Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, eliminates current caps on how much military retirees are able to deduct from federal taxable income.

Feed & Grain

Many in the ag sector were cheered by Donald Trump’s selection of former Georgia Governor sonny Perdue to head the USDA. But now, as The Guardian reports, there is growing concern that Perdue will focus on global agribusiness to the detriment of American family farms.

Perdue’s history suggests he will prioritize the exporting of commodity crops for global markets. But this presents a couple of questions.

KFOR

An Oklahoma lawmaker is hoping to bring the Earned Income Tax Credit back to the Sooner State.

Until last year, the credit was a welcome relief for many low-income Oklahomans, by preventing them from paying more than their share of income tax. But, as KFOR reports, the Earned Income Tax Credit was abolished last year as part of an effort to plug the state’s $1.3 billion budget gap.

Wikimedia Commons

A bill being proposed in the Nebraska Legislature would protect Nebraskans from being sued over just a few hundred dollars in debt.

As ProPublica reports, a Nebraska lawmaker has introduced a bill that would curb what collectors can take from debtors after filing suit and obtaining a court judgment.

Federal court blocks Texas' fetal burial rule

Jan 31, 2017

A federal court has blocked Texas’s controversial fetal burial rule from going into effect.

As The Texas Tribune reports, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks ruled last week that Texas cannot require health providers to bury or cremate fetuses, delivering another blow to state leaders in the reproductive rights debate.

In his ruling Friday, Sparks wrote that the Texas Department of State Health rule’s vagueness, undue burden and potential for irreparable harm were factors in his decision.

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