HPPR Government & Politics

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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.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer used his first executive order Monday to tighten sexual harassment rules for thousands of state workers.

Accusations of sexual misconduct have surfaced around the Kansas Legislature in recent months, much like the #MeToo movement that’s swept the country.

Colyer’s order requires that executive branch employees under his control undergo annual sexual harassment training.


Approximately one-quarter of rural Colorado households have no access to broadband internet, making it difficult to compete for residents or businesses, but a proposal to help bridge that gap is gaining traction in the legislature.

Oklahoma Legislative Service Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

The Oklahoma Legislative Session for 2018 began yesterday. Here are some facts about the Sooner State’s legislative body, courtesy of The Tulsa World.

The regular legislative session begins each year on the first Monday of February.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

A prominent policy expert wrote an editorial in The New York Times this week predicting that the recently passed Republican tax plan could result in a Democratic wave in 2020, if not this November.

From Texas Standard:

There’s a shakeup going on at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department after a Dallas Morning News investigation revealed widespread allegations of different types of abuse. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this week he's replacing the chief of the independent office that investigates safety complaints by youth in the department's custody. The new person in the office, JD Robertson, is a retired Texas Ranger.

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According to recent polls, Texans are for the most part no great fans of President Donald Trump. But, as the online statistics blog fivethirtyeight.com notes, Trump’s abysmal polling numbers in the Lone Star State don’t necessarily signal a Democratic wave in Texas’s upcoming November elections.

From Texas Standard:

2018 could shape up to be a big year in the fight over partisan and racial gerrymandering. Cases involving redistricting are on the docket in the Supreme Court as well as other federal courts. And if you've ever looked at a map of Texas congressional districts, you know these court decisions will have implications in the Lone Star State.

The two federal agencies tasked with enforcing the nation’s food safety laws agreed this week to collaborate better, update biotechnology regulations and implement new safety inspections on produce farms.

The biggest change from the agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, however, could come from a review of how food processing facilities currently are regulated by both departments. Experts say that could lead to less paperwork for food manufacturers and more streamlined reports of recalls and other food safety issues.

A telemedicine bill aimed at improving health care access for Kansans, particularly in rural areas, may get bogged down in abortion politics.

The legislation would mean insurance companies can’t refuse to pay for services provided long-distance that they would cover at an in-person office visit.

More controversially, the bill would not allow drug-induced abortion or other abortion procedures through telemedicine.

The Republican race for governor remains crowded, but a little less so with Ed O’Malley’s announcement Thursday that he’s ending his campaign.

O’Malley, a former Kansas House member who last fall took a leave of absence from his job as CEO of the Wichita-based Kansas Leadership Center to campaign, said his inability to keep pace on the fundraising front prompted the decision to withdraw.

Lowering the Kansas sales tax on food is as popular as it is difficult in a state scrounging for every nickel to balance its budget.

On Thursday, supporters of a plan to cut taxes on groceries sounded off at the Kansas Statehouse with a plea to a Senate committee to advance a constitutional amendment that would reduce the rate.

From Texas Standard.

Despite an economy that is reportedly continuing to grow, the state’s budget chief is looking ahead to the next legislative session and warning lawmakers that some bills with hefty price tags are set to come due – and that revenue will be tight.

Public Domain

Proposed legislation in Colorado would establish a pilot program that would allow for medical and recreational cannabis to be delivered to homes. 

As The Cannabist reports, a similar proposal last year caused Gov. John Hickenlooper to express concerns that marijuana delivery could be a hazard and draw fire from the federal government.

Kansas has repeatedly dipped into its highway fund in recent years to balance the budget for all of state government.

Now lawmakers are contemplating a task force to study what that’s meant for the state’s roads and bridges.

Following the borrowing, road projects saw delays across the state. The task force would study the sidelined projects and suggest long-term transportation strategies for Kansas.

Don't miss LIVE NPR COVERAGE of Trump's first State of the Union AddressTONIGHT at 8:00 p.m. CT on High Plains Public Radio. 

This live event will include commentary and fact checking by NPR political correspondents, and the Democratic response by Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts will follow the address. 

For full schedule details, visit NPR.

The Kansas Secretary of State’s office took a trove of public records offline Thursday after a technology website discovered that they reveal partial Social Security numbers for potentially thousands of state officials.

mollyktadams / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas may soon throw a monkey wrench into the works of a deal to save DACA recipients from deportation.

Some relief came last week for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants across the United States who came to this country as children, as President Donald Trump said he would consider a deal to let these so-called “dreamers” stay in the country if Democrats meet his demands for a border wall and work to restrict future “chain migration.”

Next Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer goes from one of the most anonymous jobs in state politics to its most prominent.

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The League of Women Voters will be hosting registration events in the Texas Panhandle Saturday reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The events will be held at the United Supermarkets in Amarillo and Canyon, as well as the Amigos Supermarket in Amarillo, between 10 a.m. and two p.m.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

Despite testimony about loved ones who have died in car crashes caused by distracted driving, a proposal to ban the use of cellphones for all Colorado drivers was rejected by the state’s Republican-led Senate committee Wednesday.

As The Denver Post reports, the measure would have prohibited the use of hand-held mobile devices for talking and texting without a hands-free device but failed in a 3-2 vote by the Senate committee.

From Texas Standard.

Bacon, blue jeans and beer: three commodities that many Texans take for granted are at stake as Mexico, Canada and the U.S. resume talks about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, this week.

New York Times Reporter Ana Swanson writes that the outcome of these talks may have a more serious impact on Texans’ everyday lives than many realize.

Over the decades, Republicans and Democrats both made it hard for the public to know what goes on in the Statehouse. But in the wake of a Kansas City Star series highlighting the lack of transparency, some members of both parties are pushing for change.

Recent days have seen a flurry of activity.

Austin Lamar Allison / Wikimedia Commons

ABC News recently profiled the Texas town of Miami, calling the small West Texas hamlet “the most pro-Trump town in America.” Miami, a ranching community of 600 near Pampa, went all in for the New York billionaire during the 2016 presidential election.

Out of 550 who voted in the town, 524 went for Trump.

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The 2018 session of the Oklahoma Legislature begins in just over two weeks, and one particular bit of potential legislation is already garnering a good deal of attention, reports KFOR.

A federal judge has ruled Texas will continue to need oversight of how it cares for vulnerable children, even after sweeping legislative changes last year.

In a 116-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Janis Jack ruled on Friday afternoon that Texas leaders will remain under the watchful eye of federal special masters for three years as they implement more policies for how abused and neglected children are protected. She wrote in her ruling that “the system remains broken and DFPS has demonstrated an unwillingness to take tangible steps to fix the broken system.”

jpalinsad360 / Flickr Creative Commons

As of yet, the shutdown of the Federal Government is having a limited effect on the Texas Panhandle.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas congressional delegation was hard at work this weekend, trying to help broker a deal to end the shutdown.

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The national men’s health and fashion magazine Esquire took an acerbic tone this week as it lambasted a “rising star” in the Sooner State’s Republican Party.

Ryan Dahm, a GOP State Senator from Broken Arrow, Okla., gained national notoriety this week after submitting a bill to the state Legislature that would officially designate Oklahoma’s wildlife as “the property of Almighty God.” 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday isn't the only holiday this week for state employees in Texas. They can also take off Friday for a state holiday that has been a source of controversy: Confederate Heroes Day.

Roughly 80 politicians gathered Wednesday for an early morning meeting at the Kansas Statehouse.

The session wasn’t technically mandatory, more encouraged by legislative leaders determined to be seen as doing something in response to the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations.

Several of the women in attendance nodded at what they heard — that four in five women and one in five men have suffered some form of sexual harassment.