High Plains Public Radio

Kansas Legislature

Kansas City Star

Kansas has a new Speaker of the House, and he’s coming into the job with a hard row to hoe. As The Kansas City Star reports , Ron Ryckman is inheriting not one but two budget shortfalls. There’s the current budget gap of roughly $348 million, with seven months left in the fiscal year. And then, once the new fiscal year begins, the shortfall is expected to balloon to $582 million. And Governor Sam Brownback has decided to wait until January to propose a solution to the state’s budget crisis,...

Peter Hancock / Lawrence Journal-World

A gathering of prominent political voices said this week that they believe moderate Republicans and Democrats may win a majority of seats in the Kansas Legislature next month, reports The Lawrence Journal World. The group, which included former Kansas governor John Carlin, spoke to a gathering of public school officials on Wednesday. “I'm very confident there will be a moderate coalition that will be in the majority,” Carlin said, adding, “but we need it to be as large a majority as possible....

Rich Sugg / Kansas City Star

Kansas is still combing through the aftermath of this month’s primary. The election ousted many of the state’s far-right legislators, replacing them with more moderate lawmakers. In a recent editorial, the Kansas City Star called the election “a detonation that will reset the state’s politics next year.” Kansas moderates believe both houses of the Legislature can assemble working majorities next year. This would allow the state to move forward with legislation to ease the burdens of the state...

John Hanna / AP photo

A political action committee called Main Street Kansas has been making questionable claims about moderate Kansas Republican candidates. It has now been discovered, as the Lawrence Journal-World reports, that the group’s radio ads are being funded by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. The funding might possibly constitute a violation of Kansas ethics law, says the Journal-World . One such ad claims that moderate GOP Senate candidate “Carolyn McGinn voted with Hillary and Obama’s party 4,181 times...

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

From the Kansas Health Institute : To say that many educators in Kansas are fed up with state lawmakers would be an understatement. The Legislature has been putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on public schools in recent years. This election season, educators are trying to send some legislators packing. The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) estimates that across the state, roughly 50 current and former school board members, administrators and teachers are candidates in legislative...

Jaime Green / The Wichita Eagle

This week Kansas experienced something we don’t see a lot of in the modern political realm: compromise. Over the past few months the state has been mired in a fraught battle over funding among public school districts. The State Supreme Court threatened to shut down the state’s school system unless Kansas found a way to even the playing field between poor and wealthy districts. On Tuesday the court ruled that the state Legislature has successfully fixed those inequities. The bill is the...

Jim McClean / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute : Patient advocacy groups in Kansas remain concerned about a Medicaid drug policy scheduled to take effect July 1. Known as “fail first” or “step therapy,” the policy requires providers participating in KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to start patients on less expensive drugs before moving them to more expensive alternatives if medically necessary. “Taking prescribing out of the hands of doctors and putting it in the hands of administrators...

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 . Two bills that would have helped the problem succumbed to powerful ag lobbies last session. Meanwhile, a recent report from the Rural Center shows that Kansas consumers spend 90...

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. They’re frustrated by the inability of Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators to solve persistent budget problems that have triggered a downgrade in the state’s credit rating, delayed major...

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 . Many of the questioners wanted to know details about the impact of income tax cuts for businesses. Kansas currently faces a budget hole of about $30 million, a situation that tax cuts seem...

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. For example, states like New Mexico have short legislative...

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. A new round of arguments will come next, as the court seeks to render a verdict on the bill. The legislature has a June 30 deadline to comply with the ruling. If they don’t, schools could be closed. “I have signed Senate Substitute for House Bill 2655...

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. Kelly said the loss of so many moderate Republicans in the 2012 election took its toll on support...

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. The current system utilizes a nominating commission to choose justices. The house favored the proposal 68-54, but failed to get a two-thirds...

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. Holmes said men need no instruction on how to look professional. The...

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. Last year the Legislature said if the Supreme Court ruled against this new provision, Kansas...

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. Metrics developed by the politically conservative Kansas Policy Institute include the examination of votes on bills related to state government...

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. But lawmakers continued to fully fund programs...

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. Among High Plains states, Colorado and Nebraska fared the best—or perhaps “the least poorly” would be a better way to say it. Both states earned a D plus rating. Texas rated a D minus, while Kansas and Oklahoma earned...

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. The legislature then stipulated that if the law should be struck down, all funding to...

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. The state’s Republican leadership has long been frustrated with the powers of the Kansas Supreme Court. So last year, the legislature passed a law taking the power to appoint chief judges away from the Supreme Court and giving it to local judges. However, lawmakers added a provision that if the law was struck down, funding to the...

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. The session on “Strategies to End Hunger in Kansas” was led by Hilary Gee, a health policy analyst for the Topeka nonprofit Kansas Action for Children, and Rebekah Gaston, the...

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. As reported in the National Journal , AP journalist John Hanna walked past an unannounced, closed meeting of Republican lawmakers at the Kansas Statehouse, and decided to go inside....

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. Hensley is concerned that they haven’t tackled some big issues and they haven’t passed enough bills. He says...

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 .

Kansas Legislative Update

Mar 3, 2014
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.

What the Kansas Legislature Is Facing This Session

Jan 13, 2014
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.