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

HART VAN DENBURG / COLORADO PUBLIC RADIO

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, in not signing two measures, will in essence allow them to become law.

As The Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper’s decision not to sign the bills into is a rare move that he said is designed to protest actions by lawmakers to “veil a bill’s true cost to the taxpayers.”

School districts across Kansas are breathing a bit easier after the Legislature passed a school funding plan and a tax law that provides the money for it.

Ideally, districts would want to have most of their budgets done by now so school boards could approve them and publish in August.

But not this year, as lawmakers have struggled to agree on a plan to adequately fund schools in the face of a June 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday morning requiring abortion providers to give patients information listing their credentials, any disciplinary actions meted out against them and whether they have malpractice insurance.

The bill also requires the information to be provided at least 24 hours before a procedure and printed on white paper in black 12-point, Times New Roman font.

Kansas lawmakers have voted to roll back a series of major tax cuts that became an example for conservative lawmakers around the country but didn't deliver the growth and prosperity promised by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican.

A coalition of conservative Republicans, some of whom voted for sweeping tax cuts in 2012 or defended them in the years since, sided with moderates and Democrats to override Brownback's veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase.

A bill to replace funding for Medicaid and the Kansas mental health system lost to budget-balancing cuts last year is headed to Gov. Sam Brownback.

Senate substitute for House Bill 2079 would increase a fee that health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, pay to do business in Kansas from 3.31 percent to 5.77 percent. HMOs are a type of health insurance that typically has lower premiums but only covers care within a network of doctors and hospitals. 

A school finance plan that will add nearly $300 million over two years gained approval Monday night in the Kansas Legislature and now moves to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

Lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to increase school funding after a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that said current funding is inadequate. During debate, some lawmakers raised concerns that the $300 million plan will not satisfy the court and could make a special session likely.

Annie Langthorn/Elle

Oklahoma’s Democratic Party has elected its youngest party chair ever.

In a profile in Elle magazine, 24-year-old Annie Langthorn says she became interested in politics in high school, volunteering and interning with candidates. She even skipped her own high school graduation to attend the Oklahoma State Democratic Convention.

Langthorn beat out four other candidates for her new role as state chair.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Late last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into a law a bill that loosens restrictions on the state’s controversial voter ID law.

Oklahoma governor signs state budget into law

Jun 5, 2017
OKLEGISLATURE.GOV

Gov. Mary Fallin last week signed Oklahoma’s Fiscal Year 2018 state budget into law.

As KGOU reports, Fallin signed the $6.8 billion budget that keeps funding flat for 16 state agencies, including the Department of Education and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and cuts funding for all other state agencies by an average of 4 percent.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago when President Donald Trump was rumored to be on the fence about whether to abandon the Paris climate agreement, 22 Republican Senators sent him a letter urging him to back out of the deal.

The letter’s signatories included Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, and both Senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

Certain sectors of the oil and gas industry have supported leaving the Paris accords, assuming deregulation will drive oil profits.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has postponed his announcement about whether he will call the state Legislature back for a special session, reports The Texas Tribune. The Governor had indicated that he planned to make the announcement late this week.

But now he says he’s holding off until next week.

Tom Reel / San Antonio Express News

A couple of prominent Texas Republicans are doing their best to save American trade with Mexico, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Will Hurd have been urging business leaders to try to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as NAFTA.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

The regular session of the Texas Legislature has ended, but some of the high-profile bills passed into law this year will likely end up in court, reports The Texas Tribune.

ICE/Creative Commons

Texas’s controversial new “sanctuary cities” law has raised some thorny legal questions, notes The Houston Chronicle.

First, does Texas now have the legal authority to force a town or county to deport a resident?

OklahomaWatch

For months, Oklahoma was overtaken by fears that drastic cuts were coming to state agencies, in order to plug the state’s massive budget gap.

But this week, as OklahomaWatch reports, lawmakers finally came to an agreement on a budget that raises enough to avoid those staggering cuts. Here are some of the winners and losers in the deal.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Senators have approved a plan for funding K-12 schools. The 23-14 vote sends the bill to the House for consideration.

The proposal would increase spending by around $230 million over two years, after the state Supreme Court ruled in March that Kansas schools are inadequately funded.

kansastravel.org

A bill that would have raised $1.2 billion in tax revenue during the next two years was approved by the Kansas Senate and then promptly rejected by the House Tuesday night.

Julian Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

The dust is still settling from the last official day of the Texas legislature, which was fraught with tensions and even a scuffle on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Among the many battles between the Texas House and Senate during the past session, one of the most acrimonious involved the Senate’s wish to slash funding for disabled children in Texas.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a staunch supporter of cutting funding for speech, physical and occupational therapy services for kids with disabilities, calling the programs wasteful. Speaker of the House Joe Straus was hoping to restore that funding this session.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Lawmakers in Texas are fed up with educators having sex with students.

The number of teachers having inappropriate relationships with their students has been rising, and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt has even called the problem a “statewide plague.”

KFOR

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is growing  frustrated with the slow pace of criminal justice reform in her state.

As KFOR reports, last week Fallin lamented the fact that 10 separate criminal-justice bill had failed to make it to her desk.

Texas Legislature passes $217 billion two-year budget

May 28, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Texas lawmakers approved a $217 billion, two-year budget Saturday.

As The Texas Tribune reports, both chambers of the Texas Legislature voted to approve the budget, which will boost funding for the state’s beleaguered child welfare agency and avoid serious reforms to the state’s much-criticized school finance system.

The budget is shored up by $1 billion from the state’s savings account and $2 billion from a pot of funding intended for highway projects.

Hickenlooper signs Colorado budget into law

May 28, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

With a stroke of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s pen, Colorado’s $26.8 billion budget that boosts school funding, averts cuts to hospitals and secures funding for a new state-led program to combat homelessness, was signed into law Friday.

As The Denver Post reports, the final version of the bill includes a $185 per-pupil increase in education funding and $15 million new spending on an affordable housing program aimed at helping the homeless,

Kansas Department of Corrections

Nearly 150 mental health inmates currently held at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility will be transferred to the El Dorado Correctional Facility, as part of plan to convert the former into a medium-security prison.

Cassandra Pollock/Alexa Ura / Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers finally approved a budget this weekend, but the news was overshadowed by the rancorous issue of rights for trans Texans. This session, the so-called “bathroom bill” that targets transgender citizens has dominated the headlines. As of Saturday the Legislature remains locked in a stalemate over the matter, reports The Texas Tribune.

NewsOK.com

Late Tuesday night, as the clock struck midnight, Oklahoma lawmakers introduced two budget bills that had been eagerly awaited for weeks.

As The Oklahoman reports, one of the bills includes funding for teacher pay raises, and the other doesn’t. The bills were introduced at 11:14 p.m., and the House budget committee had 46 minutes to approve them before midnight, to meet a procedural deadline. Legislators now have a few days to review the bills.

Reynaldo Leal / Texas Tribune

A little-noticed bill in the Texas Legislature has drawn the attention—and the alarm—of health care professionals.

As The Texas Tribune reports, House Bill 3236 would speed up the process by which promising, experimental drugs can get into the hands of terminally ill patients.

Kansas Public Radio

The filing deadline isn’t until next June. But candidates already are lining up for what could be the toughest job in Kansas: succeeding Gov. Sam Brownback.

Four hopefuls are at least tentatively in the race and several more are thinking about getting in, including some Republican heavyweights.

Who?

Well, Kansas Secretary of State and political lightning rod Kris Kobach for one. Interviewed at the Kansas Republican Party’s state convention earlier this year, he said, “I am taking a very serious look at the governor’s race.”

Laura Skelding / Texas Tribune

Earlier this week we reported on how Dan Patrick, the Texas Lt. Gov., was threatening to send the state Legislature into a special session if the state House of Representatives didn’t approve the so-called “bathroom” bill, as well as a measure that would make it difficult for communities to raise property taxes.

Creative Commons

A bill that would place a statewide ban on texting while driving in Texas has cleared the Texas Senate, KUT reports.

The measure outlasted a last-ditch effort by the Senate to substantially weaken the bill. It now moves forward in its original form, back to the House, where it’s expected to be approved again as no changes have been made. Then, the bill will head to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, where it will become law barring a veto by Abbott.

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