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

The Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas, may be restricting pedestrian and vehicle traffic due to a USDA directive.

Texas Report Links Medicaid Enrollment to Education

Jul 14, 2013
flickr.com/nodivision

Is an educated person happier, healthier, more productive, and less likely to go on Medicaid than one who is not?  Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education says yes in a recent piece by KUT News.

wbur.org

Texas democratic lawmakers have introduced two bills that would change health and sex education curriculum.  KUT News reported the bills are in response to State Bill 1- the bill restricting abortions.

businessweek.com

Charles Koch and the Texas Public Policy Foundation are narrowing their focus to city government.

Perry Not Running: Panhandle Reacts

Jul 9, 2013
rickperry.org

Rick Perry announced that his hat will not be in the ring for the race to be the next Governor of Texas.  The Amarillo Globe reported mixed reactions to the declaration. 

Kansas Department for Children and Families

More than 200 workers in the Child Support Services
Division of the Kansas Department for Children and Families will be laid off by September 20, 2013, as the state moves to privatization of child support enforcement.  The Kansas Health Institute reported most of the affected workers are expected to accept positions with the contractor for their area.  Theresa Freed, spokesperson for the DCF says she is confident that everyone who wants a job will have one.  

Quentin Hope

  Kansas ranks second overall in a comprehensive annual report on state highway performance.  Texas ranked 11th, up from 17th place in 2007.  Oklahoma and Colorado trailed far behind at 38th and 41st, respectively.

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

    Farmers work at the mercy of three big forces that are largely outside their control: the weather, the markets and the government.

In many parts of the country the first two are doing pretty well these days, but government remains the wild card. Congress can’t seem to pass the farm bill, a huge package of legislation setting food policy for years to come.

britannica.com

The U. S. Supreme Court recently struck down sections of the Voting Rights Act.  The portions eliminated required some states, including Texas, to obtain preapproval from the federal government before changing election laws. 

KUT reported it is uncertain how the Supreme Court decision will affect two current Texas issues:

KUNC / Google Maps

What do you get when you mix rural counties, urban legislators and a whole lot of animosity?

In Colorado, you get an increasingly ambitious secession plan.

Weld County, Colo., commissioners have been meeting for weeks on the idea to break away from the rest of the state, citing a string of newly signed policies, including stricter gun control regulations and high standards for renewable energy for rural electric cooperatives.  

Fork in the road for the farm bill?

Jul 1, 2013
BigStock image /Harvet Public Media

Déjà vu may be a lighthearted way of looking at it, but it feels like 2012 all over again for the farm bill.

Pot Industry Not Welcome in Prowers County

Jun 27, 2013

  At a recent Prowers County, Colorado, Commissioner meeting, The Prowers Journal reported unanimous approval was given to an ordinance prohibiting marijuana cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores within the unincorporated portions of the county.

What you should know about the food stamps debate

Jun 27, 2013
Beautiful Lily/Flickr

  The U.S. House defeated the farm bill last week, after the Senate passed its version of the bill in early June. Both bills include about $500 billion in spending over five years. Few pieces of legislation can produce such sharp divisions, even by Washington standards—but few could have such immediate, significant impact on so many Americans.

As the new health insurance exchange begins October 1, The Kansas Health Institute reported much of the Affordable Care Act will bypass Kansas.  However, some are working to educate Kansans about how the new law applies to them.

BRANDON THIBODEAUX/TEXAS TRIBUNE

State Impact Texas reported Governor Rick Perry recently vetoed a bill, that would have made it easier for the small town of Blue Mound, Texas, to obtain the right to control its own water system.   Water services are currently provided by a private company, Monarch Utilities. 

U.S. Supreme Court: Ethanol Over Oil

Jun 25, 2013

The United States Supreme Court decided not to hear a challenge to the 2010 Environmental Protection Agency approval of the use of fuel containing up to 15% ethanol.  The challenge was from The American Petroleum Institute and several other groups.  Impact Oklahoma reported Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, called the move, "a true victory for the American biofuels industry."  Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association,  said the Supreme Court's decision, "ends a long and drawn out petroleum industry effort to derail the commercialization of E15."

A New State? Reactions to North Colorado

Jun 25, 2013
Huffington Post/Getty

Opinions and analysis abound after commissioners from Weld County earlier this month unveiled a proposal to break away from Colorado and form a new state.

A growing group of Republicans across the country are working to repeal their states’ income tax, using Texas’ economic success to make their case (e.g., Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas proclaiming “Look out, Texas. Here comes Kansas.”). In Texas, however, the state’s tax system is not universally beloved as explained in this background article by Aman Batheja of the Texas Tribune that appeared in the Amarillo Globe-News.

salina.com/Salina Journal

As Kansas' new concealed-carry law goes into effect on July 1, many cities, counties and educational institutions across the state are choosing to operate under exemptions from the law.

tilrc.org

In the midst of conference committee negotiations, with dozens of bargaining items on the table, Representative and House Appropriations Committee Chair, Marc Rhoades, presented a $12 million grant program earmarked for Educational Design Solutions.  Dave Ranney reported in a  recent article by the Kansas Institute of Health the Senate agreed to this addition partially out of desire to end the drawn out session to a close. 

Leaders in higher education struggle operate within caps and budget cuts, families wrestle with increased tuition, legislators grapple with fiscal accountability, and Governor Brownback signs the cuts into budget.

If you missed this story on Morning Edition, here's another opportunity.

Make Room Seniors, Rural Schools are in the Same Boat

Jun 12, 2013
wordpress.tokyotimes.org

The trials of senior citizens trying to balance increased expenses with fixed incomes are frequently in the news, and rural schools are in the same boat.  Educational District budgets are strained, and the Affordable Health Care Act requires public employers, like schools, to meet new health coverage requirements. 

The Senate voted Monday to approve its version of the farm bill, a massive spending measure that covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance and sets the nation's farm policy for the next five years.

The centerpiece of that policy is an expanded crop insurance program, designed to protect farmers from losses, that some say amounts to a highly subsidized gift to agribusiness. That debate is set to continue as the House plans to take up its version of the bill this month.

Dion Lefler/The Wichita Eagle

State legislatures are constitutionally mandated to provide adequate funding for schools.  Courts in both Kansas and Texas recently ruled this directive is not being met. 

In many high plains states, the divide between rural and suburban populations is as distinct as the difference between paved streets and dirt roads. Weld County Commissioners are uniting with other counties in northeastern Colorado to take steps to become a new state.

Gun control- words that can spark passionate discussion across the country, and on the High Plains. Oklahoma issued a record number of conceal-carry permits in 2013. Texas concealed-carry law allows license holders to carry an unlimited number of concealed handguns. Nucla recently became Colorado's first community to approve an ordinance requiring heads of households to have guns and ammunition. Gun control is in the spotlight, and in Kansas, the number of permit applications is on the rise.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said, “Look out, Texas. Here comes Kansas,” when he revealed his plan to phase out state income tax, but the Texas experience shows that if you rob Peter, you might have to pay Paul.

Will Rick Perry's name be missing from Texas ballots for the first time in 25 years? It seems to be anybody's guess, say Texas insiders.

An unlikely coalition of business and social interests tried last year to get the legislature to establish a state program that would help ag businesses hire undocumented workers and let them legally stay in the state. Conservative lightning rod Grover Norquist – more known for his anti-tax crusades than his immigration beliefs – endorsed the plan during a speech in Topeka this week. He likened current U-S immigration law to the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit enacted in the 70s. Norquist says most people broke that law, too.

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