Gov. Sam Brownback made comments aimed at the courts, referenced Kansas history and touted his administration's accomplishments during the annual State of the State address Wednesday night.
Brownback unveiled some of his legislative priorities as he spoke before the members of the Kansas House and Senate. He held up what he says are the achievements of his administration over the last three years: building up state financial reserves and balancing the budget during the recession.
Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback delivered his 2014 State of the State address Wednesday night at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. He called on the state to institute all-day kindergarten and allocate funds to address the housing shortage in rural areas and to focus on water needs in the state.
You can read the full text of Gov. Brownback's address here:
Officials at the Kansas Department of Corrections have recently been working to deal with budget cuts. Some lawmakers voted against the state budget for the current fiscal year specifically because of the cuts to corrections. Legislators may now try to go back and reverse some of the reductions.
Secretary of Corrections Ray Roberts says they have had to deal with a $4 million funding shortfall. He says they had to move money from other areas and cut back on offender programs, and they are still more than $1 million short.
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has unveiled a wide-ranging ethics proposal he wants lawmakers to take up and pass this year. It includes restoring campaign contribution limits, banning gifts from lobbyists to all state elected officials, and requiring a 3-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers can work as lobbyists.
Kander says if adopted, Missouri can go from having the worst ethics system in the country to the best.
The 2014 Kansas legislative session is underway, and on the first day, two lawmakers introduced bills that would reduce a backlog of voter registrations.
Nearly 20,000 registrations are on hold in Kansas because of a new law that took effect last year requiring people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to provide documents proving their U.S. citizenship.
The bills that have been introduced would allow people registering to instead sign an affidavit swearing they're a U.S. citizen. Lying on the form would be a felony.
The 2014 Kansas legislative session kicks off Monday, and Gov. Sam Brownback says education is at the top of his priorities, including his recently unveiled reading initiative and instituting statewide full-day kindergarten.
"I think the public wants to see us produce high-quality products, here from government. And the core function of state government is education," Brownback said in an exclusive interview. "We put over half of our state general fund in K-12, but we need to see it produce and not just put money in. And, not ask for any results."
The Kansas Supreme Court generally issues rulings on Fridays, so many people in the Kansas Legislature were watching to see if the court would release its opinion in a controversial school finance case Friday.
The justices did not, so lawmakers are likely to start the legislative session on Monday without a decision in the case.
House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, says the case could prompt lawmakers to consider rewriting the state's school funding formula.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is defending his choice last month to fill a vacancy on the State Probation and Parole Board with State Rep. Dennis Fowler. Fowler then gave up his seat in the Missouri House for the appointment. He also happens to be one of the 15 House Republicans who voted against overriding Governor Nixon’s veto of a controversial tax cut bill last year.
Nixon told reporters Thursday that Fowler’s vote had nothing to do with his Parole Board appointment.
Gov. Sam Brownback has a plan to beef up veterans' services in Kansas. The proposal would include improvements at two facilities and new workers aimed at helping veterans.
The plan would include a $1.4 million renovation of a veterans' home in southwest Kansas. It would also add 40 new beds for long-term care services to a veterans' facility in Winfield.
Gregg Burden, executive director of the Kansas Commission on Veterans' Affairs, says under the proposal they'll also be looking to hire four new staff members to help veterans access the benefits they've earned.
On June 15, 2012 President Barack Obama signed a memorandum called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under this mandate, young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children can apply to attend public universities, get driver licenses and work legally.
However, DACA offers no path to citizenship and its future is uncertain.
A Missouri House subcommittee is considering whether to approve more money for student assessment tests under the new Common Core standards. The standards are designed to implement consistent nationwide standards in math and language arts.
Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the committee Tuesday that implementing Common Core in Missouri has not cost the state any additional money, but that measuring student performance under the new standards will.
Despite some of coldest weather in years, the Kansas City Water Services Department has not been inundated with service calls for frozen pipes or lines. Though, troubleshooters await a second full night of sub-zero temperatures.
Almost 100 calls have come from customers who say their water taps deliver nothing, but Jennifer Kincaid of the city’s Water Services wants people to stay aware the danger to pipes remains through Monday night.
When lawmakers go back to work in Kansas and Missouri, they’ll have some hot issues to keep them warm.
On Monday's Up to Date, state lawmakers from both Kansas and Missouri join us to talk about those contentious topics. In Kansas, the buzz centers around school funding and how the state’s Supreme Court could change the budget for education.
Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City this week for the start of the 2014 legislative session.
This year's session will likely look a lot like last year’s session; there will be lots of so-called unfinished business on the minds of Republican leaders as they begin the regular session on Wednesday.
House Speaker Tim Jones says they’ll again pursue a major tax cut.
Licensed gun owners in Kansas will now be allowed to bring their concealed weapons into Johnson County public libraries. The expansion of the concealed carry law passed in July by a wide margin in both the Senate and the House. But, the library system was granted a six-month extension to explore increased security, which expired on Jan. 1.
Republican state representative Stephanie Clayton opposed the law. And Clayton says due to the nature of the bill, library staff members cannot ask if a patron is carrying a weapon.
Legally married same-sex couples are suing the Kansas Department of Revenue over a policy that says they must file separate state tax returns. Kansas does not recognize same-sex marriages, but some other states and the federal government do.
Thomas Witt is with the group Equality Kansas. He says married same-sex couples in Kansas could file a single federal return but would be forced to file two separate state returns.
A state panel is recommending some of the final details for the Kansas Statehouse grounds. The major parts of the renovations should be completed by the end of the year. The Capitol Preservation Committee is recommending additions like a walking trail, new signs and a series of light posts around the property. But they voted not to recommend placing two fountains on the grounds.
Landon Fulmer is a member of the panel and the governor's chief of staff. He questioned a proposal to install two fountains at a cost of more than $90,000, because they'd have to be shutdown in winter.
The Kansas City city council spent two hours discussing the two most controversial suggestions for changes in the city charter Thursday. At the end of it, they still remain divided on both issues.
The most time was devoted to discussing the charter commission's recommendation that the city do away with at large council seats and have twelve council members, each representing a specific district.