Amy Jeffries

Kansas Editor

Amy Jeffries is the editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. 

Before the launch of the Kansas News Service in 2017, Amy led a team of reporters from public radio and non-profit media collaborating on coverage of the 2016 elections in Kansas. That explains why her workspace is covered in political mailers of every stripe. 

A Connecticut Yankee with Midwestern roots, she majored in philosophy, of course, at Wesleyan University and got her master's in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

She has covered art in suburbia, striking public sector workers in South Africa, and the aftermath of hurricanes and politicking along the Gulf Coast. She started her career in journalism at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and has edited and reported for Patch.com, GlobalPost, and the Associated Press. 

Before coming to Kansas, she headed the WRKF newsroom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where politics is a favored sport along with LSU athletics. She still cheers for the Tigers, though she has also become a fan of the Kansas City Royals. 

Ways to Connect

Amy Jeffries / KCUR 89.3

When a number of moderate Republicans joined the Kansas Legislature after the 2016 election, many were talking about a possible coalition with the Democrats. As the 2017 legislative session starts to near its end, we explore whether that coalition ever became a reality. 

Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

Fire crews battled hot spots overnight Tuesday in Reno County, but residents of one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods were allowed back to their houses.

No deaths or injuries were reported in the county, but eight homes were destroyed.

Velera Adams and her husband got the call, along with thousands of others, to evacuate from rural Hutchinson just as night fell Monday. She said they drove to a church parking lot just outside the evacuation zone.

“And we could see the fire, all along north of there,” said Velera Adams. “It was pretty scary.”

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

There will be a political shift in the Kansas legislature with the new leaders lawmakers selected Monday. Conservatives will hold on to the very top jobs for 2017, but more moderate Republicans also picked up key positions. There is turnover among some of the Democratic leadership posts too.

All the change reflects gains made by moderate Republicans in the August primaries, and gains by Democrats in November, especially in the House. The move to the center on the Senate side is more subtle, but nonetheless notable.

“Elections have consequences and this election pretty much showed it’s going to be a fairly blended leadership team,” said Rep. Dan Hawkins, a conservative Republican from Wichita who lost a bid for leadership job.

Kansas Legislature, coloring by Kelly Tate

Next Monday, Dec. 5,  all the lawmakers elected to the Kansas Legislature will meet in Topeka to nominate new leadership for the 2017 session.

Without a doubt, there will be many more Democrats and moderate Republicans in the statehouse this time. Conservative Republicans lost roughly a third of their seats in the just-certified elections. 

But conservatives will still be the single biggest faction in both the House and the Senate, and so a lot depends on who they back for top posts. 

How many moderates?

CC0 Public Domain

As Election Day closes in, it's time to get down to brass tacks. 

 

Our collaborative team covering elections in Kansas has been answering your questions, big and small. 

 

Katie in Shawnee has the essential question: 

 

“What’s the best place to find who will be on the ticket for my district, and what’s the best way to look at their platform?”

 

programwitch / Flickr-CC

The statewide team that's collaborating to cover elections in Kansas this year is taking your questions.

One question that seems to come up almost every election season, is why people sometimes vote against their own best interests — specifically their economic interests. 

Diane Wahto of Wichita asked it this way: 

Why do Kansans often vote against their best interests? ...

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The statewide team that's been collaborating to cover elections in Kansas this year is taking your questions

John Trewolla from Prairie Village sent us this one:

I sure am curious about whether and how the Koch brothers from Wichita are influencing the GOP (especially Brownback's) campaign. Not to put too fine a point on it, is Brownback in their pocket?

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of the Statehouse Blend Kansas podcast, former Democratic Representative, Melody McCray-Miller, and former Gov. Bill Graves' Communications Director, Mike Matson, attempt to decode the political spin of this election season.

This episode of Statehouse Blend Kansas was recorded live at The Anchor in Wichita, Kan.

Guests:

It would be hard not to know there’s a presidential election going on. There’s lots of action at the state level too.

Already, with the results of the August primaries, there’s a lot of turnover in the Legislature. And there are at least 10 Kansas Senate races and 20 House races that are competitive in the general elections.

Kansans who register at motor vehicle offices will appear on the regular voter rolls and get standard ballots for the upcoming general elections. 

"If they call and ask if they're registered voters, they should be told that the answer is yes," says Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas. Online, those voters' status will be displayed the same as other registered voters. 

Kansas Legislature

Primary election night was brutal for conservative Republicans in the Kansas Legislature. 

Six Republican members of the Senate lost their primaries. The more moderate candidates won two additional seats left open by conservatives who decided not to run for reelection.

Eight Republican House members were ousted in the primaries. The Kansas Chamber, which has been known to back lawmakers who align with Gov. Brownback on tax policy, had endorsed all of those defeated incumbents. Eight others the Chamber endorsed in 13 open House races also lost.

A police perimeter on 77th Terrace near Troost surrounds a house linked to the suspected Baton Rouge shooter.
Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Update July 18, 1:34 p.m.

 

Kansas City, Missouri, police say the man arrested Sunday afternoon at the house on 77th Terrace linked to the Gavin Eugene Long was picked up on a "minor warrant."

Kamerran Fryer was arrested for a seat belt violation and was released on a signature bond, according to statement from police.

Three reporters said they were met at the door by Fryer while he was holding a long gun.

Federal agents and police searched his home for several hours.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

 

It’s time to start voting, Kansas.

From the top of the primary ballot to the bottom there are important decisions to make by Aug. 2.

A line-up of candidates at a meet-and-greet in Ulysses, Kansas. From left to right: District 39 Sen. Larry Powell, Congressional candidate Roger Marshall, state Rep. John Doll, and Democratic challenger Zach Worf.
Amy Jeffries / KCUR

In far Western Kansas, Senate District 39 spans 10 counties -- it’s vast and it’s flat.

For once, there is a Democratic candidate out here. Zach Worf, a political novice, is the first Democrat to try for the senate seat in a long time.

The real race is still the Republican primary. This time it’s a contest between incumbent Sen. Larry Powell and Garden City Rep. John Doll.

Doll says he knows what the prime attack against him will be: that he used to be a Democrat.

Jeffrey Locke, a teacher from Satanta, stands to argue for his motion to add support for the death penalty to the Kansas Republican Party platform.
Andy Marso / KHI News Service

Kansas Republicans voted Saturday to leave support for the death penalty out of their party platform. It was the most contentious of the issues Republicans took up at their state convention in Topeka in anticipation of this year’s elections, which will decide the fate of all 125 House seats and 40 Senate seats in the state legislature.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts won re-election for his U.S. Senate seat in Kansas in 2014, but Greg Orman gave him a run for his money. Though Roberts ultimately won by 10 points, polls had Orman leading the Senate race in the final weeks — as an independent.

On KCUR’s Up To Date this week, Orman told host Steve Kraske his campaign proved independents can win in a place like Kansas. 

Kansas Elections Board

An earnings tax question tops the ballot in Kansas City April 5, and the Kansas City Elections Board says voting will be quick. But some waited in line for hours March 15 to vote in Missouri's presidential primary. After, the elections board was apologizing for technical glitches that came with an over-sized turnout.