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 representative for community colleges in Kansas is warning the state Board of Regents that a federal tax overhaul could make higher education less affordable.

The 2017 Kansas election is officially in the books, as counties finished most of the work finalizing their results Thursday.

This was the first election since local races were moved to the fall, and voter turnout was up in many areas. Shawnee County saw turnout of around 19 percent, a jump of about 5 percentage points compared to recent local elections.  

Wikimedia Commons

Yet another Democrat has pulled off an upset victory in deep-red Oklahoma.

As NBC News reports, Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman defeated Republican Brian O’Hara in Tuesday’s special election for the Oklahoma’s Senate District 37. Ikley-Freeman is the fourth Democrat this year to flip a Republican seat in Oklahoma special elections.

At The Texas Capitol, Victims Of Sexual Harassment Must Fend For Themselves

Nov 15, 2017
Shelby Tauber / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Interviews with more than two dozen current and former lawmakers and legislative aides indicate sexual harassment regularly goes unchecked at the Texas Capitol. And sexual harassment policies rely on officials with little incentive or authority to enforce them, particularly in cases of harassment by lawmakers.

Disgust overwhelmed her when she felt his tongue on her hand.

fourprice.org

Texas Panhandle Congressman Four Price announced this week that he will seek re-election next year, the Amarillo Globe-News reports.

Price has proven a popular candidate in the 87th district that includes Potter, Sherman, Moore, Carson and Hutchinson counties. He ran unopposed last year, and in his 2014 re-election bid he took 85% of the vote. 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas have found themelves in a sticky position in recent days, as they continue to be peppered with questions about their support for Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore.

Late Monday afternoon, Cornyn officially withdrew his support of Moore after a fifth woman charged the Alabama judge with pursuing her sexually as a teenager.

The new allegations would, if true, unquestionably constitute violent sexual assault. Moore has been accused of initiating sexual conduct with a 14-year old girl.

Phillip Ingham / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives fell five votes shy of passing a tax bill that would have shut down the Special Legislative session and prevented the need for steep budget cuts.

As KGOU reports, the plan was supported by advocates from the health care, education, and public policy sectors. But the widespread support of nurses and teachers wasn’t enough. The tax plan would have eased the state’s budget woes by raising taxes on gasoline, tobacco products, beer, and oil and gas wells.

Pi Ying Huang / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

A blast of retirements and a grim political climate for the GOP could dramatically reshape the future of the Texas Republican delegation.

WASHINGTON – For those closely watching the Texas delegation in Congress, Tuesday night provided lots to chew on.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

The 2018 election season has officially begun in Texas. This weekend marked the neginning of the filing period for all Lone Star candidates who plan to run for public office.

Texas Voters Approve Seven Constitutional Amendments

Nov 9, 2017
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Texans on Tuesday night voted in favor of seven constitutional amendments.

As The Texas Tribune reports, as of late Tuesday evening, about 85 percent voted in favor of a proposition authorizing tax exemptions for certain partially disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. It was a similar outcome for a proposition authorizing property tax exemptions for surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.

One of the Democrats on the president’s Commission on Election Integrity is suing the group and Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach is vice chair of the controversial panel, created by President Trump to study election issues.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he hasn’t been receiving information about what the group’s doing.

“Secretary Dunlap has been, and continues to be, blocked from receiving commission documents necessary to carry out his responsibilities,” the lawsuit says.

CC0 Creative Commons

Texans are still reeling from the worst mass shooting in state history, but some in the Texas Legislature want to take action to prevent future massacres.

As The Texas Tribune reports, a number of Democrats and at least one Republican in the Texas Legislature are launching an effort to investigate the state’s gun laws. Ar a news conference at the capitol on Wednesday, state Reps. Poncho Nevárez, and Nicole Collier urged state leaders to declare gun violence a public health issue.

Public Domain

The Texas Panhandle has a long tradition of going its own way when it comes to politics. Now that State Sen. Kel Seliger is in the midst of a pitched re-election battle, he may pay for his legislative independence. Last session Seliger voted with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick 30 times, but he voted against the Senate leader twice. Those two “no” votes were enough to ignite the wrath of Patrick, according to Lubbock Avalanche-Journal columnist Jay Leeson.

Spencer Selvidge/Laura Skelding / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

"It has been a tough cycle to recruit candidates," former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro said Sunday about the challenges for Texas Democrats in 2018.

With 36 days until the filing deadline for Texas' 2018 primaries, concerns about Democrats' statewide ticket are coming into public view.

CC BY-SA Nick Youngson

Oklahoma has become the poster child for a wider national trend of states experiencing budget problems, as reported on Governing.com.

The news site notes that Oklahoma proves that one-party states are not immune to major budgetary problems. As it stands now, Oklahoma Republicans are gridlocked about how to deal with a $215 million budget shortfall left by the collapse of a cigarette fee earlier this year. The $1.50-a-pack fee, a one-time fix which was supposed to plug the gap, was rejected by the state Supreme Court.

house.gov

Two more powerful Texas Republican lawmakers announced their retirements last week, reports The Texas Tribune.

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, the influential chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, announced he will not run for re-election, sparking a flurry of conjecture over who will run for Lamar’s central Texas seat. Lamar has been in Congress for over 30 years.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

A package of bills to improve and reform livestock disaster programs have been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, respectively, by Congressman Roger Marshall, R-KS, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, respectively.

This from the High Plains Journal.

Are You Ready To Vote Tuesday?

Nov 2, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

Texans will be deciding on seven state propositions in Tuesday’s election, while local elections will be taking place in other High Plains states.

According to Ballotpedia, seven propositions will appear on Tuesday’s ballot in Texas, including two that authorize tax exemptions for partially disabled veterans and surviving spouses of first responders, as well as propositions related to home loans, banking and gambling.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday used a group of like-minded witnesses to attack President Donald Trump’s tax cut plan by comparing it to what they repeatedly referred to as Kansas’ “failed” tax experiment.

Public Domain

The head of Oklahoma’s state health department has resigned amid questions about mishandling of funds.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Oklahoma State Board of Health accepted the resignations of Health Commissioner Terry Cline and his top deputy late Monday night.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is calling for a public education campaign to help deflate claims by President Donald Trump and others that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a disaster for the U.S.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the chair of the Senate’s agriculture committee said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that trade inspired by NAFTA had been a powerful economic force for Kansas agriculture and export markets in Canada and Mexico were essential for preventing further price deterioration in the crop and livestock markets.  

Updated 12:30 p.m. Nov. 2 — Sam Clovis, who ran President Donald Trump's campaign in Iowa, has withdrawn his nomination to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientist position. Clovis was linked this week to the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Clovis sent Trump a letter, dated Nov. 1, that says the political climate "has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position" during his Nov. 9 Senate confirmation hearing.

State Medicaid officials on Friday formally started the process of renewing KanCare, the privatized Medicaid program launched by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013.

The two state agencies that oversee the private contractors that manage the program released a draft of the plan they intend to submit for federal approval after a public comment period that runs through November.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate are working to delay a vote on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination for a diplomatic post.

The Washington bureau of the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle was the first to report on the effort to delay a vote on Brownback’s nomination as an ambassador for religious liberty.

Brownback’s repeal of regulations protecting state workers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, has Senate Democrats concerned about whether he will stand up for LGBTQ individuals facing religious persecution abroad.

edwards.af.mil

Texas lawmakers are considering changing the way the state punishes residents who default on payments for furniture and merchandise rentals.

As The Texas Tribune reports, the law currently allows companies to pursue felony charges against furniture rental defaulters.

That means not making your payments on that sectional sofa could land you in prison—and critics say that punishment is overly harsh.

Public Domain

The State of Oklahoma’s health department is in the midst of a financial crisis, reports Oklahoma Watch.

The department laid off a number of employees this month and announced further job cuts in an attempt to shore up the unexpected cash crunch. The state has also requested a special audit of health department finances by State Auditor Gary Jones. The cash shortfall is so severe that the department has activated a state of emergency normally reserved for public health crises such as disease outbreaks.

State Medicaid officials on Friday formally started the process of renewing KanCare, the privatized Medicaid program launched by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013.

The two state agencies that oversee the private contractors that manage the program released a draft of the plan they intend to submit for federal approval after a public comment period that runs through November.

A U.S. Senate committee has given the green light for the full chamber to proceed with a vote on Gov. Sam Brownback’s confirmation to an ambassador-at-large position.

Approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the position relating to international religious freedom was the first hurdle after President Donald Trump picked Brownback for the role in July.

Gun Debate At Center Of Colorado's Gubernatorial Race

Oct 26, 2017
CCO Public Domain

Colorado’s debate over guns is set to play out during next year’s race for governor.

As the Denver Post reports, activists on both sides of the debate are poised to magnify even the smallest differences among Democratic and Republican candidates in their stance on gun control.

Could Pot Be Closer To Legalization In Texas?

Oct 26, 2017
CHUCK GRIMMETT / CREATIVE COMMONS

Legalized pot has taken great strides in Texas over the past couple of years, thanks in part to a surprising ally – a conservative lawmaker and fundamentalist Christian who actually used the Bible to make the case for legalizing weed.

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