Kansas Legislature

Juleann / Creative Commons

In regional news, Kansas is having trouble feeding itself. That’s deeply ironic, considering the state has long been seen as the nation’s breadbasket. A grassroots campaign is underway to prevent rural Kansans from going hungry. But state lawmakers aren’t doing much to solve the issue, reports The Hutchinson News.

Jim McClean / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The 2016 election could be a tough one for some Kansas lawmakers hoping to return to the Statehouse.

Polls, editorials and reader comments on news websites indicate that voters are paying attention to what’s happening in Topeka, and many don’t like what they’re seeing.

KSlegislature.org

Kansas legislators were grilled this weekend by a small but vocal group of citizens. The interrogators wanted the lawmakers to justify the state’s low revenue and reasons for not expanding Medicaid. The exchange occurred at a South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation meeting, reports The Wichita Eagle.

National Conference of State Legislatures / fivethirtyeight

Are higher-paid legislators better at running their states? There are two schools of thought. Many experts believe when it comes to state government, you get what you pay for. Conversely, states where lawmakers bring in higher salaries have often been linked with corruption. Even so, states like Texas with a very low legislative income are certainly not free from corruption. And low pay can limit state representation to the wealthy.

AP photo

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a school finance bill in response to an order from the Kansas Supreme Court, reports the Garden City Telegram. With its order, the court intends to develop a more equitable education funding system.

Kansas City Star

Parents and teachers descended on the Kansas capitol in Topeka this week in support of Kansas public schools, reports The Kansas City Star. “Make no mistake about it, public education is under attack in Kansas,” Rep. Don Hineman, a moderate Republican, told the crowd. Sen. Laura Kelly, a Democrat of Topeka, encouraged participants to talk to their legislators and to vote in the 2016 elections.

Kansas City Star

Last week a bill was proposed in the Kansas House of Representatives that would have given the governor more control over Supreme Court appointments. But the measure died Thursday, reports The Kansas City Star. The bill would have amended the Kansas constitution and given the governor full authority to select justices, subject to Senate confirmation.

Topeka Capital-Journal

A Kansas state senator’s dress code for women who appear before senate committees has gotten him into hot water, reports WPEC. The senator’s rules prohibit women testifying on bills from wearing low-cut necklines and miniskirts. Sen. Mitch Holmes is a 53-year-old Republican from St. John. He is chairman of the Kansas Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. His 11-point code of conduct does not include any restrictions on men.

nps.gov

The Kansas House budget committee has decided to make nice with the state’s judicial branch, reports The Hutchinson News. The committee has introduced a bill to eliminate a budget provision that was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court. Controversy erupted in 2014 when the Kansas Legislature adopted a bill to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to select district court judges.

Conservative Think Tank Rates Kansas Senators

Dec 10, 2015
AP photo

A conservative think tank in Kansas has given out its yearly awards to state legislators it believes are most in line with conservative economic principles. A senator from Shawnee and a representative from Palco received the highest marks in their respective chambers, reports The Topeka Constitution-Journal. Both, unsurprisingly, are Republicans.

Kansas Faces Continuing Budget Crisis

Nov 23, 2015
Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas’s budget crisis continues to dog Governor Sam Brownback, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. And the problem can be traced to one issue: After drastically cutting taxes, the state government failed to adequately cut spending as well. In fact, the state of Kansas set a record for general fund spending last year. The Capital-Journal says the problem would have been solved by a one-time 8.5 percent reduction in state government expenditures.

In Integrity Rankings, Every State Scores Poorly

Nov 16, 2015
Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity has released its 2015 State Integrity Investigation, reports The Rural Blog. The rankings are based on various measures of legislative integrity, transparency, and accountability. And the news isn’t good. No state scored higher than a C overall.

Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle

The battle in Kansas between the Republican leadership and the state courts has entered a new phase, reports The Kansas City Star. Four district court judges are now suing the state of Kansas. They’re upset about a 2014 law enacted by Governor Sam Brownback and the legislature, which took the power to appoint chief district court judges away from the state supreme court and handed it over to local judges.

Kansas Narrowly Escapes Judicial Funding Disaster

Sep 9, 2015
John Hanna / AP

The budget battle in Kansas has spilled over into the judicial branch. And as reported by The Atlantic Monthly, the state narrowly avoided disaster last week.

Kansas Near Bottom in Summer Food Program

Jul 21, 2015
Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Half of Kansas kids now qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches during the school year.

But only about 7 percent of those kids participate in summer food programs that keep them fed when school is out, according to a Wednesday presentation at the 2015 Kansas Conference on Poverty.

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Because of an AP reporter’s determination this week, Kansas voters learned of several proposed statewide budget cuts that they would not otherwise have been made aware of, including the laying off of prison guards, cutting of public school funds, and reduced payments to health care providers and nursing homes.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The top Democrat in the Kansas Senate says lawmakers haven’t accomplished enough so far this session reports Stephen Koranda for Kansas Public Radio.

Legislators are facing a significant deadline this week, which marks the midpoint of their scheduled time in Topeka. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley believes they’re not making enough progress solving problems like a budget shortfall.

kveng.com

Two bills were recently passed by the Kansas Senate.  

trojanhistory6.pbworks.com

Representatives Bud Estes and John Ewy, as well as Senator Garrett Love were in Dodge City, Kansas, recently for an open forum.  The delegates shared their position on elections, mortgage fees, and EPA regulations according to a recent article from the Dodge City Daily Globe.

khi.org

Here is where some key issues stand at the midpoint of the legislative session according to a recent article in the Wichita Eagle.

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.