HPPR Government & Politics

Government:
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local government (city & county)
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Politics:
district-level and statewide office campaigns
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Kansas Lawmakers moved Tuesday to make a bill to release information about the deaths of children in state custody more transparent.

In response to several high-profile cases where a child had been brought to the attention of the Department for Children and Families and later died, the bill requires the agency to release information about kids who die as a result of abuse or neglect.

This story was updated at 5:26 p.m. to include the comments of Planned Parenthood Great Plains' regional director of public policy. 

The state of Kansas wants the United States Supreme Court to review a decision preventing it from terminating its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood.

In a petition filed on Thursday, it argues that a federal appeals court was wrong when it decided that Medicaid patients have a right to challenge a state’s termination of their Medicaid provider.

Kansas lawmakers are considering creating a watchdog based outside the state’s child welfare agency, but with access to inside information.

A bill to create a child advocate to review the Department for Children and Families comes after years of horror stories of abused children who ended up injured, missing or dead.

50states.com

Last week, a bill that would raise hunting and fishing fees in Colorado passed the Colorado Senate.

As The Denver Post reports, the Senate unanimously passed the measure, which would allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife to raise fees – as well as the price for park passes - to support conservation programs and chip away at a $45 million maintenance backlog on 11 dams owned by the division.

A Kansas House committee on Thursday recommended the legalization of medicinal supplements containing cannabidiol, CBD, a marijuana extract used by some to control seizures and pain.

It also moved to keep an herbal stimulant, kratom, legal in Kansas.

USDA

Farmers are going to attempt to appeal to President Donald Trump about his trade policies via television.

As Politico reports, the 30-second ad is sponsored by  Farmers for Free Trade, an advocacy group that wanted to make the case that foreign retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and other pending trade restrictions will have a potentially devastating impact on their exports, if China and other trading powers decide to boost tariffs on soybeans, wheat and other farm goods.

An effort by conservatives to protect what they see as an assault on free speech on college campuses fell to defeat by the narrowest of margins Thursday in the Kansas Senate.

The bill — inspired by the canceling of conservative speakers’ appearances at some elite schools across the country in recent years — would eliminate “free-speech zones” designated for demonstrations. Some critics have seen such zones as a way of moving politically unpopular perspectives out of view.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tossed out a set of proposed changes this week that would have redefined living conditions for dairy and beef cattle, sheep, lamb, poultry and egg-laying chickens on certified organic farms.

A panel of three appellate judges ruled Tuesday that most of the state’s immigration enforcement legislation, Senate Bill 4, can remain in effect while the case plays out, handing a victory to Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican supporters of the legislation.

CC0 Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Senate has passed a law that would make it legal for adoption companies to refuse services to same-sex couples.

As The Tulsa World reports, the measure passed by a vote of 35-9 and now heads to the House for consideration. LGBTQ advocacy groups decried the Senate vote.

The mere threat of launching debate on Medicaid expansion in Kansas has caged up a measure to suspend, rather than terminate, coverage for people while they’re locked up.

Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma lawmakers are looking at expanding the state’s Stand Your Ground law to include places of worship.

As KOSU reports, the law known as Stand Your Ground gives people who kill or seriously wound someone in self-defense immunity from prosecution — even if they didn’t try to evade the danger first.

Legislators are looking to expand the law to cover churches, synagogues and mosques and any other “building, structure or office space … used for worship services.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is defending Kansas' strict voter registration laws in federal court in a trial that has now entered its second week.

From Texas Standard.

In the 2016 presidential election, evangelical voters were some of President Donald Trump’s most stalwart supporters. But new data from the Pew Research Center indicates that his support among white evangelical women has dropped about 13 percentage points, to 60 percent, compared with about a year ago.

From Texas Standard.

In the middle of all of the hype surrounding South By Southwest, the European ambassador to the U.S. has landed in the Texas capitol city.

Ambassador David O’ Sullivan is representing the EU at SXSW’s Cities Summit.

Kansas politicians are closely watching developing trade policies with an eye to whether they could start a trade war that might hurt industries in the state that rely on exports.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been in talks with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

“NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere,” Trump said while campaigning for office, “but certainly ever signed in this country,”

Texas City Prairie Preserve / Wikimedia Commons

During the primary elections in the Texas Panhandle this year much was heard about a heavily funded far-right group called Empower Texans, and how the group was trying to meddle in Panhandle elections. Republicans like State Congressman Four Price and State Senator Kel Seliger were targeted by the group, who funded primary challengers to try to torpedo these lawmakers’ re-election bids.

This wasn’t just happening in the Panhandle, either—Empower Texans employed their hardball tactics in races across the state. And they came up mostly empty-handed.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has enough support to pass his “Fix NICS” gun control bill without the possibility of a filibuster, his office said Friday morning.

It’s unclear when the bill might get a vote, but a staff member said there are now 62 sponsors of the bill — a significant milestone. The bill would hold government agencies accountable for failing to properly document individuals’ criminal histories in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Ryan Cavanaugh has a vision for downtown Topeka: a restaurant and pub called Brew Bank, where customers can access a wall of 20 electronic, self-serve beer taps as a way to mingle and try local brews.

“It’s just about a community experience,” he said. “For the patrons to be able to try all of these beers and try them responsibly in small amounts is just an exciting thing.”

The devices let customers use an electronic card to dispense brews.

“Let’s face it,” Cavanaugh said, “the technology’s just really cool.”

Kansas lawmakers, increasingly skeptical that tax breaks deliver economic wins, looked closely this week at economic incentive programs.

Senators on the Commerce Committee spent several days discussing bills that would add new requirements to sales tax revenue bonds, known as STAR bonds.

STAR bonds allow local governments to borrow money for a building project, and tax collections created by the development are diverted to pay off the loans.

(An earlier version of this story mistakenly suggested Doll was removed from committees. He actually gave up those posts.)

State Sen. John Doll, a one-time Democrat, started the week as a Republican holding leadership posts on influential legislative committees.

Then he agreed to be a candidate for lieutenant governor running in the second spot on an independent ticket with Johnson County businessman Greg Orman.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush won the GOP primary Tuesday and avoided a runoff against his predecessor.

World Travel & Tourism Council / Wikimedia Commons

The dust continues to settle from Tuesday night’s Texas primary elections, and there were some expected results as well as a few surprises, both regionally and statewide.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, State Senator Kel Seliger successfully fended off challenges from former Midland Mayor Mike Canon and Amarillo restaurateur Victor Leal. Seliger just barely squeaked over the 50% margin to avoid a runoff, winding up with 50.41% of the vote.

50states.com

Colorado’s gubernatorial race is pretty much a free-for-all, based on Tuesday’s caucus.

As The Denver Post reports, a significant number of Democratic and Republican voters appeared undecided about their favorite candidates and remained split on which offers their party the best chance to win in November.

Caucuses are held across the state in places like schools, churches and community centers to give candidates the opportunity to qualify for the June primary ballot.

Creative Commons

A measure from the Trump administration that allows ICE to deputize local police officers has emerged as one of the most effective in cracking down on undocumented immigrants – especially in Texas.

During early voting in the primaries, a theme developed around what was happening in Texas. The narrative became that Democrats ­– perhaps improbably – were outpacing Republicans at the polls. Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz sounded the alarm to Republicans.

(Daily developments below. Click here to jump to the most recent day's reporting. Or you can click here to read coverage of the contempt hearing that happened on Tuesday, March 20.)

How far must people go to prove they’re really Americans when they register to vote?

Does simply swearing to the fact — at risk of perjury, prison, fines and deportation — protect democracy from non-Americans subverting an election?

Or are cheaters common enough that only documents — say a birth certificate or a passport — go far enough to protect the integrity of the ballot box?

Independent candidate for governor Greg Orman picked a running mate Wednesday with middle-of-the-road credentials who balances the ticket geographically.

Orman’s choice is state Sen. John Doll. He’s a former mayor of Garden City who lost a bid for Congress in 2006 running as a Democrat. He later changed parties and won a seat in the Kansas House as a Republican.

Doll advanced to the Senate in 2016 by narrowly defeating conservative incumbent Larry Powell in the GOP primary before swamping Democrat A. Zacheria Worf in the general election.

townmapsusa.com

The tiny Texas Panhandle town of Cactus is being featured in a Washington Post article that questions President Donald Trump’s claims that immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans.

In 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted a surprise raid on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Cactus that resulted in 300 immigrants being taken into custody.  

From Texas Standard.

There’s not much more politicking left in the 2018 Texas primary elections. The mailers have been sent, the town halls have been held, the donations have been deposited. There’s not much left to do but wait for the returns – and vote on Tuesday, if you haven’t yet. You can be sure that political journalists across Texas are already writing outlines for Wednesday’s news, gaming out possible outcomes and wondering about what it all means.

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