HPPR Government & Politics

Government:
state government (executive, legislative & judicial)
local government (city & county)
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policies
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Politics:
district-level and statewide office campaigns
legislative proposals
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National Archives

Both farmers and food stamps advocates sighed in relief Friday when President Obama signed the  long-overdue Agriculture Act of 2014 – the $956-billion farm bill – into law on Friday during a visit to Michigan State University.  The farm bill process was fraught with ups and downs and the loose coalition tying nutrition and farm programs seemed barely able to survive.

Not everyone likes the farm bill signed into law on Friday, but at least farmers will be able to start making informed decisions.

The biggest change in the 2014 farm bill is that the subsidies known as direct payments are gone. Instead of the government paying a known amount to farmers each year—at a fixed budget of $5 billion—the new system of subsidies will fluctuate, partly with market forces. That makes it really hard to predict how much the program will cost each year, says Iowa State University ag economist Chad Hart.

wibwnewsnow.com

The Kansas Department of Corrections, KDoC, is working with local law enforcement officials to help county jail keepers bill Medicaid for part of their inmates’ health care costs according to the Kansas Institute of Health.  

fhsu.edu

Last year the Kansas Legislature took money from universities, but Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget restores the ‘salary cap’ reductions that cost Fort Hays State University $276,176 according to a press release from FHSU University Relations.

jcpost.com

State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza recently filed a bill requiring the state to count and report how many undocumented children are in Kansas public schools reported the Lawrence Journal-World.  

The Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a two-term Republican senator has 20 competitors for his senate seat.  The pack consists of seven Republicans, five Democrats, four independents, three Libertarians, and one Green Party according to a recent article from the Texas Tribune.

OU

Energy production tax breaks will cost Oklahoma $307 million in 2014, and $304 million in 2015.  This year state leaders expect $170 million budget shortfall.  In other words, the expected budget shortfall is about half what the state gives away in tax breaks to oil and gas companies reported Matt Trotter for Public Radio Tulsa.  

Kansas nurses press for more practice independence

Jan 30, 2014
Phil Cauthon / Kansas Health Institute

The solution to the physician shortage in Kansas could be allowing nurses with advanced skills to become more independent of physicians say advocates of changing state law in a recent article from the Kansas Health Institute.  Under current regulations, an advanced practice registered nurse, APRN or nurse practitioner, has to work under a “collaborative practice agreement” with a supervising physician.

Andrea Parker / Cory Maluski / The Texas Tribune

President Obama instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to revise greenhouse gas limits for existing power plants.  The suggested changes are to be proposed by June 2015, and Texas regulators have already weighed in according to The Texas Tribune.

Brownback pushes for all-day kindergarten

Jan 29, 2014
RICH SUGG / The Kansas City Star

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wants to fully fund all-day kindergarten.  Brownback proposes spending $80 million for the nearly 40,000 children across the state.  He calls it a strategic investment to ensure children are better positioned to succeed in school. 

kswheat.org

The farm bill was passed by the House and sent to the Senate.  The compromise farm bill totals almost $100 billion a year, and contains a small cut in food stamps and preserves most crop subsidies according to a recent article in the Washington Post.

watchdog.org

Tobacco settlement funds were earmarked for children’s programs in Kansas.  The money was to be vetted by the 15-member Kansas Children’s Cabinet.  The intent was to channel the funds toward “innovative” new programs that would supplement, rather than supplant, those already paid for by the state general fund according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Lt. Gov. Candidates Debate in Dallas

Jan 28, 2014
Bob Daemmrich / texastribune.org

The four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor debated this week in Dallas.  They took on end-of-life issues and border security, but there wasn’t much to distinguish one from another on policy according to The Texas Tribune.

Texas: December STAAR testing results aren’t good

Jan 27, 2014
Texas Education Agency / kut.org

Students are having trouble passing the English I writing exam of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test.  As a matter of fact, 85 percent did not pass the December test, and most of them were taking the test for the second time according to a recent article from KUT.

theusconstitution.org

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach recently said comparing voter registration applications against Kansas birth certificates reduced the backlog of registrants whose voting rights are on hold because they don’t meet the new proof of citizenship requirement according to the Wichita Eagle.

sostadiumstatus.blogspot.com

Colorado has expanded the Medicaid program, as part of the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  That means tens of thousands of new Medicaid patients will have access to healthcare.  Proponents of the Affordable Care Act say that getting more people insured will cut down on emergency room visits, but a recent study shows that is not what happened in Oregon according to a recent conversation on Colorado Matters from Colorado Public Radio.

votesmart.org

John Ewy is the legislator from the 117th district in the Kansas House of Representatives.  He says one focus guides his voting.

“I think about that every time I sit down and there’s a bill to vote on,” Ewy said. “Number one, how is it going to affect the 117th district? How is it going to affect families?”

John Milburn / Associated Press

Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss seemed to respond to Gov. Sam Brownback’s remarks pointed at the Supreme Court in his State of the Judiciary address reported Bryan Lowry for the Wichita Eagle.

Kansas Home Inspectors No Longer Regulated

Jan 23, 2014
Mike Hutmacher / The Wichita Eagle

The Kansas law regulating home inspectors expired in 2013.  Gov. Same Brownback vetoed a measure allowing the law to continue, saying he didn’t see evidence that large number of Kansans were being ripped off by home inspectors according to the Wichita Eagle.

cjonline.com

Campaign finance records show Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has fundraised more than twice the amount of Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf according to the Wichita Eagle.

Amarillo has a new—and Official—City Logo

Jan 22, 2014
amarillo.com

The city of Amarillo unveiled their new logo this week.  The logo was approved by the city council, and designed by Tyler Mitchell according to a recent article in the Amarillo Globe-News.

Laura Buckman / Bob Daemmrich / texastribune.org

The race to be the next governor of Texas is heating up, and this time the competition is about who has raised the most money in the last half of 2013.  Democratic contender, Wendy Davis claims to have raised $12.2 million, while Republican Greg Abbott reported $11.5.  Simple logic says that Davis won that lap, but the Republican camp is saying Davis is employing “fuzzy math” to inflate her total and create positive momentum reported Jay Root for The Texas Tribune.

Phil Cauthon / Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Agricultural Growth and Rural Investment Initiative was introduced last session.  It’s goal was to allow any agricultural business to operate anywhere in the state, but lobbyists say they will not attempt to change the law this year according to The Kansas Health Institute

ksn.com

Governor Sam Brownback said the number one item in the state budget is education in his recent State of the State speech according to a recent article from the Kansas Health Institute.  

ocpathink.org

Gov. Sam Brownback says Kansas has the best tax environment in the nation for small businesses, however 57% of business owners say state and local taxes are too high despite state tax cuts reported Bryan Lowry for the Wichita Eagle.

forward-now.com

Jennifer Winn is a Republican and a co-owner of a family landscaping business in Wichita.  She also wants to be the next governor of Kansas according to a recent article in the Wichita Eagle.  

What the Kansas Legislature Is Facing This Session

Jan 13, 2014
khi.org

Here are the issues facing Kansas legislature according to the Wichita Eagle:

  • Abortion.  State lawmakers have passed some of the most stringent laws, and there is little left to add without being in direct conflict with the Supreme Court.  The Wichita-based Kansas Coalition for Life is expected to push again for a law to outlaw abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about five to six weeks into a pregnancy.

texasescapes.com

Challenges to create the Santa Fe Railway Historical Museum became too much for the board behind the effort, and they recently voted to disband according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

Todd Wiseman / texastribune.org

Kinky Friedman, singer, humorist, novelist, and hawker of tequila, is trying to the third time to add “elected official” to the list.  The 69 year old has tossed his black cowboy hat into the ring to become agriculture commissioner according to an article in the Texas Tribune.

Legislative Scorecards: Voter Beware

Jan 12, 2014
motherjones.com

A recent article from the Texas Tribune offers a word of caution to voters.  Political scorecards are to politicians what consumer and auto review magazines are to car makers.  So voters, just like buying a car, it’s buyer beware.

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