Stephen Koranda

Stephen Koranda is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for Kansas Public Radio.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday named Doug Girod to be the next chancellor of the University of Kansas.

Girod served as executive vice chancellor of the KU Medical Center for the last four years.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would allow public health care facilities to continue to ban concealed guns.

A state law taking effect July 1 will allow people to carry concealed guns into any public building that is not secured by armed guards and metal detectors.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Heavy rains early Friday flooded some Statehouse offices and displaced some of the researchers who work for Kansas lawmakers.

Maintenance staff and members of the Kansas Legislative Research Department worked Friday to clean up and sort through water-damaged books and documents in the ground-floor offices.

Raney Gilliland, director of the department, said a 10-inch pipe that carries rainwater from the Statehouse roof failed during the storm.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas legislative leaders working on a plan to end the 2017 session have what amounts to a chicken-and-egg dilemma.

They must satisfy members who want to set a school-funding target before voting on the tax increases needed to fund it and those who first want to close a projected $900 million gap between revenue and spending over the next two budget years.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

President Donald Trump today named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to help lead a commission on voter fraud and suppression, a body he has promised to create since taking office nearly four months ago.

Kobach, who has gained national notoriety for his claims of widespread voter fraud, will serve as vice chair alongside Vice President Mike Pence, who will chair the commission.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

After several false starts, the Kansas Senate on Wednesday finally took up a tax bill.

But after a brief debate, Democrats and conservative Republicans voted for different reasons to reject it.

Two Democrats joined 16 moderate Republicans in voting for the bill, which failed 18-22.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Attorneys for two convicted murderers argued Thursday that the Kansas Supreme Court should overturn their death sentences.

Jonathan and Reginald Carr were sentenced to death for the 2000 murders of four people in Wichita. 

Sarah Ellen Johnson, an attorney representing Jonathan Carr, called the original proceedings 15 years ago “filled” with errors to the point where it wasn’t a fair trial.

“Did the accumulation of errors have any effect on the jurors’ verdict? I don’t see how it couldn’t have,” she said.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Some have said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been largely absent from this legislative session, but the power of his veto has loomed large. As we begin to come to the close of this session, KPR's Stephen Koranda reports on the relationship between the Governor and the Legislature.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Gov. Sam Brownback kicked off the Kansas legislative session by drawing lines in the sand on taxes, spending and Medicaid expansion, and he has defended those positions with his veto pen.

The question when lawmakers return Monday to Topeka is whether those vetoes will hold up.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas regulators Wednesday blocked the $12 billion purchase of Topeka-based Westar Energy by Great Plains Energy.

Members of the Kansas Corporation Commission had concerns that the purchase price was too high and that the merger wouldn’t create enough efficiencies to guarantee lower costs to customers.

The order from the three-member commission called the proposal “too risky.”

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6 p.m. April 13.

Paul Davis, a former legislator and Democratic candidate for Kansas governor, said Thursday he is considering a run for the 2nd District congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins.

Davis narrowly lost to incumbent Republican Sam Brownback in the 2014 race for governor. Davis is from Lawrence and served as the Democratic leader in the Kansas House of Representatives.

In an interview Thursday, Davis said he has concerns about some of President Donald Trump’s proposed policies.

Kansas News Service

Kansas legislators hit adjournment Friday with some big tasks left for their wrap-up session that starts May 1.

At the top of the list is a tax and budget plan, which largely will be influenced by the amount of school funding that legislators decide to add in light of the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling last month. In the health policy arena, Medicaid expansion supporters are regrouping after the governor’s veto — and holding out hope for another shot this session.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

After sitting on the sidelines since his veto of a tax bill in February, Gov. Sam Brownback this week re-engaged with lawmakers working on a solution to the state’s budget crisis.

He needn’t have bothered.

The Senate on Thursday rejected the “flat” tax bill that he was lobbying for by a decisive 37-3 vote.

“This is bad tax policy,” said Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. April 5.

Rather than propose a new tax plan, Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday opted to endorse a flat tax proposal that a Senate committee advanced this week.

“My goal has always been to make Kansas the best state in America to raise a family and grow a business,” Brownback said in a statement. “A flat tax accomplishes this goal by making taxes fair for everyone and encouraging economic growth.”

Courtney Bierman / Kansas Public Radio

Members of the Kansas House on Tuesday shot down a proposal to debate whether to allow concealed firearms on college campuses.

A motion by the chamber’s top Democrat would have forced the House to consider a bill regarding out-of-state concealed carry licenses. However, the real motivation was for critics of the state’s concealed carry law to propose changes during the debate.

House members rejected the idea of even bringing up the bill for debate with a 44-81 vote.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. March 30.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday morning vetoed a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility in Kansas, spurring a short veto override effort in the Kansas House that likely will continue next week.

File Photo / KCUR

A Kansas legislative committee is considering tighter amusement park regulations following the death of a lawmaker’s son last year on the Verrückt water slide in Kansas City, Kan.

File Photo

A Kansas House committee advanced a bill Monday that would amend the state’s juvenile justice policies — a year after lawmakers made sweeping changes to them.

Last year’s overhaul intended to create options other than incarceration for Kansas youth offenders.  But the changes had some unintended consequences, said Rep. Russ Jennings. One example is that some crimes involving a gun, like a drive-by shooting, might only result in probation.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

At a time when Kansas is facing a serious budget deficit and a court order saying school funding is inadequate, Gov. Sam Brownback may be leaving the state for a job in Italy. A former high-ranking government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells Kansas Public Radio that Brownback will be named the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations agencies for food and agriculture in Rome.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Senate on Friday approved a bill that would roll back much of Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax policy to help balance future state budgets.

The 22-18 Senate vote sends the plan to the governor’s desk, where it could face a veto.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas House approved a bill Thursday that would undo many of the state’s 2012 tax cuts to help balance the budget. The 76-48 vote sends the plan to the Senate for consideration.

While the bill had significantly more than the 63 votes needed to pass, it had received 83 votes during a preliminary test Wednesday. Those numbers are significant because 84 votes are needed to override a possible veto from Gov. Sam Brownback.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A Kansas House committee narrowly rejected a bill Wednesday that would have allowed the University of Kansas Health System to continue banning concealed firearms. It failed to advance on an 11-11 vote. 

The chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, Republican Rep. John Barker of Abilene, chose not to vote to break the tie.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

A Senate committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would repeal an income tax exemption for more than 300,000 business owners. The bill, which could go before the full Senate on Thursday, also would increase income tax rates overall.

Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican, said she supported the measure because the Legislature needs to make some progress on tax issues.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Opponents of allowing guns on university campuses are not giving up their fight despite a setback this week in a Kansas Senate committee.

State law says Kansas colleges and universities must allow concealed weapons on campus starting in July. Bills in the House and Senate would exempt higher education institutions from the law, allowing them to continue banning guns on campus.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. Jan. 25.

Kansas 2nd District Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins said Wednesday she will leave her seat at the end of this term and explore jobs in the private sector.

There have been rumors about Jenkins running for Kansas governor in 2018, as Gov. Sam Brownback’s second term will be ending. In a statement, Jenkins seemed to put those rumors to rest.

Voters in the 4th District in south central Kansas will choose a new member of Congress on April 11.

Republican Mike Pompeo officially stepped down Monday after he was confirmed as the new director of the CIA. Gov. Sam Brownback signed an order Tuesday setting the date for the election. Brownback says he chose the earliest Tuesday available under state law.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers are working to fill a $350 million budget hole in the current fiscal year that ends in June. Members of a House committee wanted to know what it would take to erase the deficit using only spending cuts. A legislative report says state agencies would see a 7 percent budget reduction.

Republican Representative Erin Davis requested the information. Davis says she’s not advocating for cutting Kansas spending, but she wanted to see what the option would look like.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

The debate over allowing concealed guns on college campuses is starting to heat up in the Kansas Statehouse.

A law passed in 2013 will require public universities to allow concealed guns on campus starting this summer. A group of Kansas lawmakers now is pushing a bill that would exempt state universities and colleges from the requirement.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The Kansas Legislature began its new session Monday. State lawmakers face several big challenges this year, like filling a sizeable budget hole and writing a new school funding formula. 

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.

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