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

Colorado.gov

There’s an estimated backlog of 11,000 applications for Colorado’s driver’s license program for people living in the U.S. illegally and efforts to fix and better fund the program have been caught in partisan gridlock.

As The Denver Post reports, the program was started about three years ago as a means of making Colorado’s roads safer by ensuring that drivers living in the U.S. illegally have insurance and know the rules of the road.  

Editor's note: This story was updated at 5:20 p.m. July 12 to reflect a response from Secretary Kobach's office. Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service are continuing to follow this issue.

jbouie / Flickr Creative Commons

In 2012 Ted Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas, largely on a platform of demolishing the newly enacted Affordable Care Act.

Five years later, Cruz is doing his level best to fulfill that promise, despite the fact that the political landscape has shifted beneath his feet.

Public Domain

As Britain continues its faltering attempt to extricate itself from the European Union—a process better known as “Brexit”—some Texans may be wondering whether the same thing could happen in the Lone Star State.

Is a “Texit” possible?

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

This week The New Yorker published an extended essay about Texas, calling the Lone Star State “the nation’s bellwether” and pondering if the future of the United States might look something like the current situation in Texas. The author of the essay is Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and long-time Texan.

Public Domain

Oil rigs in Oklahoma are being taxed through a dual-rate structure that may not be the best method of insuring that oil and gas profits are benefiting the state in the most effective way possible.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, oil rigs are taxed at a much lower rate during their first three years. But half of a well’s lifetime oil and gas production usually occur during those first three years.

Sgt. Rebecca Linder / Wikimedia Commons

Last December an Amarillo woman claims she was raped in Canyon, Texas, while working as an Uber driver. Eight months later, she’s still waiting for justice. After the incident, it didn’t take long for the Randall County District Attorney’s office to present their evidence to a grand jury. But the jury decided to hold off on making a decision until the results of the victim’s rape kit came in.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is opposed to a bill crafted in secret by Republican leaders to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 
But speaking to an overflow crowd at a town hall meeting Thursday in northwest Kansas, Moran said he is open to supporting a revised version if GOP leaders can address his concerns. 
“I would be anxious to see if that bill can get to the point in which I think it’s beneficial for Kansas,” Moran said. 

Kobach defends committee's request for voter data

Jul 6, 2017
STATE OF KANSAS OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE

On Wednesday, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and Vice Chair of President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission, defended the committee’s request for state voter roll data.

The commission sent letters to all 50 states last week requesting voter information including names, addresses, party affiliation, electoral participation history and the last four digits of social security numbers. Vox reported that as of Wednesday, 44 states had rejected the request, including Kobach’s office in Kansas.

A federal magistrate judge on Wednesday refused to reconsider his order fining Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach $1,000 for misleading the court.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. O’Hara said the reconsideration request raised arguments that Kobach should have made earlier.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice are asking states, including Kansas, for information related to the National Voter Registration Act — a move made the same day that the president’s commission on voter fraud sent a request for “publicly available voter roll data.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran will have his first town hall meeting Thursday since announcing his opposition to the Republican Obamacare replacement bill.

Opponents of the bill have been working to generate a big crowd for the meeting, scheduled for 11 a.m. at the McKenna Youth and Activity Center in Palco, a small town just north of Hays in northwest Kansas.

Kansas Legislature

House Majority Leader Don Hineman of Dighton defends the Kansas Legislature’s move to reinstate tax cuts in a July 3 Topeka Capital-Journal editorial.

Hineman writes that overturning Gov. Sam Brownback’s “overly aggressive 2012 tax cut” was a return to common sense tax policy, resulting from lawmakers fulfilling promises they made to their constituents during 2016 campaigns.

Phillip Capper / Wikimedia Commons

As HPPR recently reported, the rivalry between California and Texas has grown more heated since the election of Donald Trump.

California has banned all official state travel to Texas, in protest of the state’s law allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples. In turn, Texas lawmakers have embraced anti-sanctuary city legislation and taken up the rally cry “Don’t California our Texas!”

The health care plan unveiled last month by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate met with fierce opposition from hospital, doctor and patient advocacy groups. Among them was the National Rural Health Association, which is based in Leawood, Kansas, and represents doctors, nurses and hospitals in rural areas nationwide. 

Michael Stravato / Texas Tribune

High Plains residents may be wondering if their states plan to turn over private voting information to President Trump’s controversial commission to investigate supposed voter fraud during the 2016 presidential election.

The commission is already off to a rocky start.

The President has asked all fifty states to hand over a wide range of voting data, and the request has been met with responses ranging from acceptance to skepticism to outrage.

At least 25 states have refused on some level to turn over the requested info.

mytraveltips.org

The feud between Texas and California is growing more heated, and the flames of resentment are being fueled by the President, reports POLITICO. The states have locked horns on matters ranging from tax policy to climate change to immigration policy. California recently instituted a ban on state-sponsored travel to Texas.

After years of anticipation, and a final round of heated debate in the state legislature, "No Guns" signs finally came down at Kansas college campuses Saturday. The state's new so-called "campus carry" law went into effect July 1.

Starting Saturday, the fine for not wearing a seat belt in Kansas will triple.

Kansas’ current seat belt fine -- $10 -- is one of the lowest in the country. State legislators passed a law this session raising the fine to $30.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Texas and nine other conservative states are threatening to sue the Trump administration unless the White House stops offering deportation relief and work permits to so-called “DREAMers.”

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Since before he was elected, President Donald Trump has been touting a $1 trillion proposal to overhaul the infrastructure of the United States.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

New criminal justice laws in Oklahoma, approved by voters last November, went into effect last week but as Oklahoma Watch reports, the laws are still shrouded in uncertainty.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

An upcoming Supreme Court case involving a Colorado wedding cake shop’s refusal to serve a gay couple could have major implications in Texas.

As The Texas Tribune reports, in 2012 a baker at the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado denied service to a gay couple, citing his own religious exceptions to gay marriage. If the high court rules in favor of the baker, the decision could affect a number of recent prominent cases in Texas.

Stephen Pingry / Tulsa World

Oklahoma began its new budgetary year on Friday, and Gov. Mary Fallin published an editorial in the Stillwater News Press defending her state’s accomplishments. While she acknowledged that the past session was challenging, she asserted that Oklahoma lawmakers were able “to fund core mission services such as education, health and human services, and public safety.”

Taxes in Kansas will be climbing over the weekend because a tax increase approved by lawmakers is taking effect. The new law will raise income tax rates and reinstate income taxes for thousands of business owners.

“We’re encouraging everybody to just think about it,” said Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams.

For wage-earning employees, Williams recommends studying paychecks in July to make sure the income tax withholding has been increased.

Many Kansas workers will soon see a change in their paychecks because of an income tax increase that takes effect Saturday.

Lawmakers approved a $1.2 billion income tax increase to close a projected $900 million budget gap for the next two fiscal years. 

The new law raises income tax rates and reinstates income taxes on thousands of business owners.

“We’re encouraging everybody to just think about it,” said Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams.

Officials from multiple states say they will not turn over voter data requested by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

This week, Kobach sent letters to all 50 states requesting their "publicly available voter roll data" to help with the work of a presidential commission on "election integrity" established earlier this year.

The Kansas legislative session may be over, but lawmakers still aren't sure whether their work has ended. They're waiting to see whether the new school funding system they put in place will satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

The court previously said education spending was inadequate. In response, lawmakers approved $300 million in new funding over two years and a new method to distribute the money.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says members of the group like the new funding formula, but they still have concerns.

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.

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Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

While a new law significantly increases the fine for texting and driving violations in Colorado, it also makes texting and driving legal, as long as it isn’t done in a “careless or imprudent manner.”

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