HPPR Government & Politics

state government (executive, legislative & judicial)
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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.

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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.

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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.

From Texas Standard:

On March 6, Texas will hold the first primary contests in the nation this year. If patterns emerge in the statewide results, the primaries could set the tone for contests in the rest of the country.

When it comes to congressional races, a number of retirements among Texas Republicans has resulted in packed fields of candidates vying to replace them. And campaign committees from both national parties have been hesitant to endorse candidates.

Kansas sits in a shrinking pool of states with the strictest marijuana and hemp laws, surrounded by a wave of decriminalization and legalization that’s swept most of the U.S.

So it’s no surprise that the topic of cannabis keeps cropping up in the Kansas Statehouse, where some lawmakers and lobbyists want the Free State to jump on the bandwagon.

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Oklahoma’s Chief Executive Mary Fallin gave her State of the State address last week, in which the Governor detailed her plans to fix the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

As KFOR reports, the speech made headlines as much for Fallin’s words as for the interruption at the end of the address by protestors, who hung a sign from the gallery that read “State of Despair” and shouted the word “liar” at the Governor.

Kansas legislators under the of age 45 have banded together with the goal of addressing issues important to young people. The Kansas Future Caucus is a new bipartisan group in the Statehouse.

Republican Rep. Stephanie Clayton, one of the leaders, says young people often are disconnected from government officials.

“We are opening the conversation because that’s the best place to start and often this is just a group that’s largely ignored and disrespected in some ways by government officials," Clayton says. "We want to change that.”

The Kansas Supreme Court could soon decide whether there’s a right to abortion in the state constitution.

Gov. Jeff Colyer wants lawmakers to consider amending the constitution to establish that such a right doesn’t exist.

In his first address to lawmakers this week, the Republican governor called for amending the state constitution to help protect Kansas abortion restrictions.


Some Colorado lawmakers are trying to clear the backlog in the state’s driver’s license program for people living in the US illegally.

As The Denver Post reports, a proposal introduced last week would allow applicants to use a Social Security number as part of their application instead of just an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, because allowing only the latter, advocates say, has cut out a host of otherwise eligible applicants.

From Texas Standard.

The Texas primaries are less than a month away, with many officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, up for reelection. Abbott announced on Tuesday what some are calling a big campaign push – it’s a “preventing, protecting, punishing” proposal aimed at rape kit testing backlogs, sexual misconduct in the State Capitol, and stronger penalties for human trafficking and prostitution.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

In a speech to a joint session of the Legislature Wednesday, Gov. Jeff Colyer said he will make it easier and cheaper for Kansans to get information about their government.  

Click on the article to access audio of Colyer’s entire address. 

Kansas lawmakers may once have thought stiffer penalties for marijuana made sense, but in recent years crowded prisons forced them to take another look.

One of the changes, made in 2016, reduced the crime of being caught with marijuana a second time from a felony to a misdemeanor.

But on Tuesday, the Kansas Sentencing Commission said that change overlooked state law that still keeps harsher penalties on the books for getting caught with pot residue than for possession of marijuana.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he plans to continue his crusade to curb what he calls an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas, reports The Texas Observer.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General remains under felony indictment for allegedly violating state securities law. Paxton sent a letter to the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Election Integrity this week, in which he outlined his plan to purge voter rolls of non-citizens and to ensure that voters aren’t registered in multiple states.

Texans have the privilege of being able to vote for dozens and dozens of offices throughout state and local government. The whole country gets to elect a governor, but a justice of the peace? Not everyone has that honor.