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

A push by the Brownback administration to keep turning to private firms to run its Medicaid program for years to come faces resistance from key Republican lawmakers.

Those legislators have signaled they want existing problems repaired with KanCare — particularly application backlogs, delays in provider payments and disputes over services for Kansans with disabilities. Only then should the state go ahead with Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to launch KanCare 2.0 and its new lifetime limits, work requirements and other policy changes.

Ludovic Bertron / Wikimedia Commons

For months, political prognosticators in the Lone Star State have been predicting a possible “blue wave” of successful Democratic candidates in upcoming elections.

Now, as The San Antonio Express-News reports, that same blue wave may soon result in a surge of newly elected gay officials in Texas. The ballots for 2018 contain a record number of LGBTQ candidates. In fact, the number of gay candidates on this year’s ballot is double the previous record.

From Texas Standard.

Texans don’t care about primary elections – at least if history is any indication. Single-digit turnouts are not uncommon in non-presidential election years. But there’s reason to think conventional wisdom could be turned on its head this March.

An unlikely coalition of business groups and educators are coming together to get out the vote, and they appear to have rattled allies of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Lexey Swall / The Texas Tribune

Texas immigrants and their advocates said they're pleased that a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place. But they said they remain focused on the push in Congress to make the program permanent.

From The Texas Tribune:

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Gov. John Hickenlooper gave his final state of the state address Thursday and as The Denver Post reports, Hickenlooper spoke at length about the challenges facing rural Colorado.

Hickenlooper pointed out that rural communities face a number of issues, including teacher shortages, jobs and access to rural broadband.

From Texas Standard.

When you think about the challenges of roadway construction, obstacles above the ground come to mind – getting over or through mountains, rivers, and the like. What’s under the ground isn’t usually on most people’s minds.

On Loop 88, a project just west of Lubbock, the Texas Department of Transportation found something unexpected: bones.

Fellow Republicans on Wednesday characterized Gov. Sam Brownback’s spending plan — more than $6.6 billion a year — as a beeline return to deficits and an abdication of responsibility in a budding crisis.

The governor, poised to leave for a spot in the Trump administration, unveiled a five-year, $600 million increase in school funding Tuesday evening. When lawmakers dug into that proposal Wednesday, they griped about key details.

CC0 Creative Commons

U.S. Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions continue to disagree about marijuana policy.

As The Denver Post reports, the two met Wednesday and Gardner said Sessions gave no indication that he would re-think his decision last week to reverse the Obama-era Cole Memorandum, which basically left states that legalized marijuana alone.

CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback effectively said goodbye last night in a State of the State speech that was short on policy recommendations but long on reflection. We get this recap from (KCUR’s) Jim McLean (of the Kansas News Service). 

Brownback’s self-described “swan song” to a joint session of the legislature was less political than his past State of the State speeches.

There is a wave of women running for public office in Texas this year.

As The Texas Tribune reported last week, about 50 women have filed to run for Congress. Patsy Woods Martin, the executive director of Annie’s List, says there is the same trend in races for the Texas Legislature.

Southwest Kansas Lawmaker Apologizes For Racist Remarks

Jan 8, 2018
Public Domain

After a western Kansas lawmaker suggested black people respond to the use of marijuana differently, the Republican leader of his party condemned the remarks.

On Saturday in Garden City, Rep. Steve Alford, a Republican from Ulysses, said the drug should remain illegal because of the way he contended it affected African-Americans.

The White House may have scrapped the controversial national election integrity commission that he was helping to lead, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is still rooting out alleged voter fraud in his home state.

Armed with powers not usually assigned to a secretary of state, Kobach filed a pair of criminal complaints Thursday against two people he said voted when, and more, than they had the right to.

Wikimedia Commons

The earliest political primary in the United States is in Texas this year, and that means candidates in the Lone Star State have only a few weeks to win over the votes of their potential constituents.

Steven Nass / Wikimedia Commons

An Oklahoma group is mounting a ballot effort to prevent the state’s legislature from redrawing congressional boundaries for their own benefit, a process known as gerrymandering.

Redistricting work is expected to begin after the 2020 census, but as Oklahoma Watch reports, a group called Represent Oklahoma is trying to put a stop to the effort. Represent Oklahoma has launched a website and set up a $400,000 fundraising goal, in hopes of putting a state question on this year’s state ballot.

As long as Sam Brownback waits for Congress to approve his at-large ambassadorship for religious freedom for the Trump administration, he’ll continue to meet his responsibilities as governor.

Kansas Democrats have filed two gun control bills for the upcoming legislative session. The proposals could be a tough sell, though, as some lawmakers might not be interested in another gun control debate.

Following a ruling Wednesday that could complicate the case, the fight over whether Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach violated the constitution in his quest to demand proof of citizenship from voters will go to trial in March.

ok.gov

The Oklahoma Department of Health has announced that it will lay off almost 200 employees, in an attempt to clean up the mess that it wrought during last year’s financial scandal, in which the department acknowledged that it had overspent and mismanaged millions of dollars.

To correct the budget woes, the Health Department may also end grants that support child abuse prevention programs and health centers throughout Oklahoma. A grand jury is currently investigating the financial debacle.

Elliott Muñoz / Wikimedia Commons

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott finally has a Democratic challenger who is gaining some widespread attention, after months of conjecture about whether the Democrats would be able to mount a serious candidate. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez was profiled in the Los Angeles Times this week.

Public Domain

U.S. Congressman, Roger Marshall, a Republican who represents Kansas’ 1st Congressional district, is kicking off his January listening tour with stops throughout Western Kansas.

Wednesday, Jan. 3:

  • 8 to 9 a.m. in Ulysses at the Pioneer Electric basement meeting room.
  • 10 to 11 a.m. in Sublette at the Haskell Township Library
  • 1 to 2 p.m. in Ness City at the Ness County Bank Building

A surge in Democratic candidates in Texas could be a turning point for the party, experts say.

According to the Texas Democratic Party, a candidate is running for every congressional seat this year and for almost 90 percent of seats in the state Legislature.

A Missouri nonprofit has released a list of recommendations it says will help combat and prevent sexual harassment at the Kansas Statehouse.

When Kansans on Medicaid are incarcerated or treated at residential mental health facilities, their Medicaid benefits are terminated. Mental health advocates hope to change that during the upcoming legislative session by pushing for a bill that would instead suspend those benefits.

Public Domain

A raft of new Texas laws takes effect today, reports The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

One new law will allow retailers to reject a sale if a shopper fails to produce a valid photo ID to match their credit or debit card. The law is an effort to cut down on debit card fraud.

As of Jan. 1, Texas will also unveil a new revamped voter ID law. The new legislation comes after the former ID law was ruled unconstitutional by courts, which charged that the law discriminated against minorities.

Flickr Creative Commons

With a new year comes new hopes for Texas Democrats. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, the political winds have been shifting leftward, and many Democrats in Texas now believe they have the best chance in a generation to elect one of their own to statewide office.

army.mil / Public Domain

2018 is just beginning, and this year’s elections may still seem far away. But a New Year’s editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is eager to note that what happens in November begins today—and that means registering to vote.

This year’s election will determine if Ted Cruz will remain in office, and which brand of conservative politics—moderate or hardline—will dominate the Lone Star State.

There’s a crowded field of candidates for governor of Kansas, and many of them are making a last-minute push for donations before a year-end fundraising deadline. The finance reports being released next month are a way for candidates to show they have been raising money and are contenders.

After pushing for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump earlier this year kicked off negotiations among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Any major changes to the agreement could have a big impact on Kansas.

Kansas Republican Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran have said they’re open to updates but emphasize that the agreement needs to preserve or expand export opportunities.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Dec. 27, the Kansas Department of Revenue announced it would not be launching its new drivers license records system as planned on Jan. 2. To "ensure a successful rollout," the agency anticipated a short delay of days or weeks. 

Kansas auditors remain worried about the quality of a major state information technology project involving about 2 million drivers’ records — with little time left until the project’s go-live date.

From Texas Standard.

Republicans are set to pass a once in a generation tax overhaul. That was dramatic, but here’s where it could get really messy: in the run up to Christmas, we could see a government shutdown if both chambers of Congress can’t get it together on a bill to extend federal funding. As of this moment, it’s not just Republicans and Democrats who don’t see eye to eye – it’s the House and Senate, too.

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