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

There’s a crowded field of candidates running or considering the race for Kansas governor in 2018, and that means they’ll need to find ways to set themselves apart.

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The national media was consumed this weekend by news of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent. The news hit close to home in Texas, which holds more hate groups than any other state.

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An abortion bill sponsored by an Amarillo Republican is close to becoming law, reports The Texas Tribune.

State Rep. John Smithee of Amarillo authored a bill that would require women to buy a separate health insurance plan to cover abortion.

Opponents say the measure hurts low-income Texas women, especially those who are experiencing fetal abnormalities or who have been the victims of rape and incest.

A year from now, Kansans could be in the middle of the biggest primary battle for governor in recent history.

With Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer poised to finish the second term of Gov. Sam Brownback — likely to leave office soon for an ambassador job — candidates are lining up for the 2018 contest.

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Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that would require special registration fees to be paid by owners of electric and hybrid vehicles.

But now, as The Oklahoman reports, the Sierra Club of Oklahoma is challenging that law in court. The environmental watchdog organization insists that the payment amounts to an arbitrary fee, that would require environmentally conscious drivers to pay more than their share for use of the road.

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With seven days remaining, the special session of the Texas Legislature appears thus far to be a bust. Gov. Greg Abbott convened the session in hopes of furthering his own legislative agenda, after a contentious and mostly fruitless regular session.

But, as The Texas Tribune reports, not a single bill has made it through both houses and advanced to the Governor’s desk during this special session.

Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer announced Tuesday that he will run for Kansas governor in 2018, ending speculation that he would enter the race.

The Kansas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking information about communication between state attorney general Derek Schmidt and the federal government over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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The Texas legislature this year has been defined by a contentious battle between the far-right Tea Party conservatives led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and the more moderate business-minded conservatives of House Speaker Joe Straus.

Kansas lawmakers in both parties are calling for higher pay for the state’s corrections officers after several recent incidents at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

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One of the overarching struggles in Texas this year has been a pitched battle between cities and the state over who should have the right to make laws for local municipalities. This battle has manifested in myriad ways, from heated debates over bathroom usage and “sanctuary cities,” to arguments over property taxes, school vouchers, and texting-while-driving laws.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is also vice chairing a presidential commission on elections, was due in federal court Thursday morning to give a deposition in an ongoing voter registration case.

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With President Donald Trump’s hard line on immigration, as the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/us/prosecutors-dilemma-will-conviction-lead-to-life-sentence-of-deportation.html reports, it may pose difficulties for prosecutors looking to strike plea deals, as a potential repercussion for at least some immigrants could be deportation.

Kansas Tax Collections Come In Above Projections

Aug 3, 2017
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In the first month since a retroactive tax increase took effect, Kansas tax collections came in ahead of expectations.

According to a press release issued by the Kansas Department of Revenue Tuesday, revenue collections in the first month of the new fiscal year exceeded last year by $28.41 million.

The morning he was due in federal court to give a deposition in an ongoing voter registration case, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach tweeted his support for President Trump’s proposal to curb legal immigration.

Trump announced Tuesday a plan to limit legal immigration to highly skilled workers able to pay their own way. Kobach, who is the vice chair of a White House commission on election integrity, praised the president for placing the interests of Americans ahead of “the aliens.”

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A number of new laws will take effect in Texas next month, reports KTRK.

This September, Texas will become the 47th state to ban texting while driving. The law has drawn criticism from Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, as it preempts Amarillo’s stricter texting-while-driving law.

Texas Senator Kel Seliger also called the law an example of state legislative overreach.

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In 2010, then U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, during his Topeka gubernatorial campaign, told voters they should use five policy objectives to evaluate his performance – something he called the “Road map for Kansas.”

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Big Oil has now added its voice to the chorus of those who oppose the controversial “bathroom bill” that would legally require trans Texans to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificates.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, this week more than 50 oil-industry executives, including top brass from BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Halliburton, signed a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott pleading with him not to sign the legislation.

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback – and his soon-to-be successor Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer - have been in the national spotlight since last week’s announcement that Brownback had been nominated by the Trump Administration to serve as the ambassador for international religious freedom.

The New York Times ran stories on both men last week – one highlighting Brownback’s legacy and another describing who Colyer is.

The president’s advisory commission on election integrity has heightened talk about voting issues and election security. Two of the loudest voices in the discussion come from Kansas and Missouri, and they’re clashing over the issue.

Former Democratic Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander crossed the border and stopped recently in Douglas County, Kansas. He aimed some of his comments at Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kander has been touring and talking voting policies, and he believes some of the rules pushed by Kobach are a bad idea.

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As the special session continues in Austin, lawmakers in the Texas Capitol passed a number of bills last week aimed at restricting access to abortions for Texas women.

As USA TODAY reports, in just one week, four anti-abortion bills passed the Senate and another passed the House. Texas has frequently made national news over the past few years with its repeated attempts to limit access to abortion.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday touted his credentials and passion for helping the Trump administration mitigate religious persecution around the globe.

The prospective ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom said he does not know how long it might take for the U.S. Senate to consider his nomination by President Donald Trump, and he hasn’t yet decided when to turn over the reins to his lieutenant governor, Jeff Colyer.

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The number of Colorado voters who have canceled their registrations since President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission, headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requested voter information earlier this month, is now up to 5,000.

As The Denver Post reports, there is no evidence that any were ineligible to vote.

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A Kansas farmer testified earlier this week before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry about the importance of growers having access to a strong safety net and risk management system.

According to Kansas Wheat, David Schemm, who is also president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said farmers are facing “the toughest economic conditions they have faced since the 1980s.”

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s long-rumored move to a position in President Donald Trump’s administration is no longer rumor.

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A host of prominent Texas law enforcement officials came out this week in opposition to the controversial “bathroom bill” being re-introduced into the state Legislature.

As The Texas Tribune reports, police chiefs from three of Texas’s largest cities appeared at the Capitol in Austin this week to add their voices to the chorus of those resisting the legislation.

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It appears that Donald Trump isn’t the only person in the Trump Administration who’s been making frequent trips home.

As The Hill reports, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, spent almost half of the time from March to May in his home state of Oklahoma. Pruitt reportedly traveled back to his home state for at least 43 of the 92 days during that span.

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In Texas, the biggest political battle of this generation may not be between Democrats and the GOP, but between Centrist Republicans and their far-right counterparts. And the contentious bathroom bill being re-introduced to the legislature this week is the battlefield upon which that war is being waged.

The Los Angeles Times this week published an overview of the bathroom bill and the internecine struggle for the soul of the conservative movement in the Lone Star State.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:20 a.m. July 26.

Despite misgivings about the closed-door process used to write a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact on rural health care providers, Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran joined his Kansas counterpart, Pat Roberts, in voting Tuesday to begin debate on the legislation.

But a short time later, Moran was one of nine GOP senators who voted against a replacement bill backed by Republican leaders.

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Agriculture, water, transportation, growth and economic development are all being discussed at city halls across West Texas. So why not better communicate ideas?

That, according to The Amarillo Globe News, is the reasoning behind a coalition of sorts that mayors – including Amarillo’s Ginger Nelson – recently formed.

The group, which also includes mayors from Lubbock, Big Spring, Midland, Odessa and San Angelo, met in a closed meeting Wednesday.

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