Stephen Koranda

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

Topeka, KS – Members of the Governor's Council on Fitness are working to tackle obesity in Kansas, and that could help the state budget's bottom line.

KPR Statehouse Reporter Stephen Koranda has more.

Topeka KS – It could cost more for Kansas smokers to light up in the future.

Today, Governor Mark Parkinson said he'll consider a tobacco tax increase in the coming legislative session if state tax revenues don't improve.

"If we don't need to increase revenue, if we can meet our budgetary needs without increasing taxes, we won't increase tobacco taxes just for the sake of increasing them," Parkinson said. "But if we need the revenue, we'll look at it."

Some estimates have put next fiscal year's budget deficit at more than 500 million dollars.

Topeka, KS – Federal health care legislation could expand the Medicaid program, possibly costing states like Kansas more tax dollars.

Medicaid provides health services for more than 200,000 aged, disabled, or low-income Kansans.

Legislation in the U.S. House would raise the maximum income allowed to be eligible for the program.

Andy Allison, Director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority, explained that could affect Kansas more than other states because Kansas has tight income standards for covering some groups.

Topeka, KS – More than 300 Kansans packed a health care town hall meeting in Topeka yesterday. KPR Statehouse Reporter Stephen Koranda was there.

Topeka, KS – Republican Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins told a crowd of 200 people gathered in Topeka today that the health care reform proposals being debated on capital hill are too costly and allow too much government intrusion.

Jenkins, who was speaking at a town hall meeting on health reform, drew applause from the crowd when she criticized the plan.

JENKINS: "I've said this from the beginning, that I can't support any plan - any plan - that puts bureaucrats or politicians in between you and your physician."

Topeka, KS – The Kansas Board of Education is working on recommendations for dealing with swine flu during the coming school year.Yesterday, board members were briefed on strategies for slowing the disease. KPR Statehouse Reporter Stephen Koranda has more.

Yesterday, State Health Officer Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips briefed the Board on ways to slow the spread of the disease. He says they should develop plans that won't require closing schools if the flu isn't widespread.

A report from the Government Accountability Office questions how the Department of Homeland Security determined the safety of six sites for a proposed animal disease research lab. Manhattan, Kan., was selected as the site for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF.

A draft report argues DHS used poor techniques to determine how diseases would spread if they were accidentally released.

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