Stephen Koranda

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

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Health
4:13 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Governor Signs Bill Establishing KU Med Stem Cell Center

Kansas governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill that will establish a stem cell research center at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Government
9:15 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Brownback To Visit Kansas Universities

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will start a tour of the state's universities this week to pitch his funding proposal to lawmakers.

Brownback is pushing for mostly level funding for colleges and universities with some targeted increases, but legislators are considering cuts. Brownback says higher education has a connection to economic growth in Kansas. 

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Education
7:39 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Kansas Regents To Study Allowing Guns On Campus

Kansas Board of Regents members say they will study the issue of allowing guns on campuses, but for now they'll continue barring concealed weapons.

A bill signed into law this week by the governor would allow legally carried concealed weapons in most public buildings, unless the buildings meet certain security requirements. The new law takes effect July 1st, but universities can exempt themselves from the requirement for four years.

Regent Fred Logan says they don't have time to thoroughly study the issue by July 1st.

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Government
9:24 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Cuts Could Mean Shuttering KU Med Campus In Salina

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little speaking to the Board of Regents about the cuts Wednesday.
Credit Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

University officials have painted a dim picture of what could happen if lawmakers pass budget cuts for the state's colleges and universities. The comments came during a meeting Wednesday of the Board of Regents in Topeka. The cuts could mean shuttering some medical school programs at the University of Kansas.

The heads of the universities say funding cuts of this magnitude would have a real impact. They say it would mean reducing staff and taking other actions that affect students and the education level of the Kansas workforce.

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Government
10:17 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Brownback Signs Drug Testing Bill

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill into law that allows drug testing for people receiving some  types of state assistance or unemployment payments.

People receiving certain assistance payments could be tested if there’s suspicion they’re using drugs. If they test positive, they would have to complete drug treatment and job training. If they don’t comply, they lose benefits. A second positive test would mean losing benefits for at least a year. Governor Brownback says the goal of the bill is fighting drug use in Kansas.

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Health
6:09 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Update: Kansas Bill Raising HIV Quarantine Concerns Advancing

Lidor Flickr

Lawmakers could soon take a final vote on a controversial bill updating the state's laws regarding people who may have been exposed to contagious diseases.

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Government
9:42 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Kansas Senate Votes to Expand Rural Opportunity Zones

The Kansas Senate has voted to expand a program aimed at stopping population loss in rural Kansas counties. Some counties with declining populations have been designated as so-called Rural Opportunity Zones. The program helps repay student loans and offers income tax credits to attract people to those counties.

Senator Les Donovan, a Republican from Wichita, says the program has helped rural areas.

“These are counties that are small population and losing population.  This tends to stabilize their population a great deal,” says Donovan.

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Government
9:35 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Health Club Bill Stalls in Kansas Statehouse Committee

The tax conference committee meets Wednesday.
Stephen Koranda Kansas Public Radio

A bill that would exempt private health clubs and gyms from property taxes Kansas has stalled in a committee. The measure has prompted hundreds of emails to lawmakers about the issue.

The conference committee working on tax issues decided not to take up the health club measure. Supporters of the bill, including health club owners, say they face competition from tax-free organizations like the YMCA and publicly owned health clubs.

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Government
10:06 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Kansas Governor Brownback Signs Judicial Selection Bill

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
Stephen Koranda Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday that changes the way some judges in Kansas are selected. Under the new system, the governor will select candidates for the state appeals courts. The nominees will then need to be approved by the Senate.

The current system involves a nominating commission that selects candidates. The governor then chooses from those candidates. Brownback says the current system gives too much power to attorneys, who hold five of the nine seats on the commission.

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Government
10:02 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Kansas Tax Negotiators Begin Meetings

Representative Richard Carlson (Left, R-St. Marys) and Senator Les Donovan (R-Wichita) speak before the conference committee.
Stephen Koranda Kansas Public Radio

A select group of lawmakers from the Kansas House and Senate started negotiations on tax legislation today. The conference committee will work to find a compromise between bills that passed the two chambers.

The bills have one large difference. The Senate version makes a temporary sales tax permanent to help offset the costs of income tax cuts. The House version allows the sales tax to expire as planned later this year, and introduces additional income tax reductions more slowly.

Senator Les Donovan, a Wichita Republican, says extending the sales tax is critical.

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Government
9:57 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Group Delivers 2,700 Signatures Asking Governor To Expand Medicaid

Supporters of expanding Medicaid sign a poster before delivering it to the governor's office.
Stephen Koranda Kansas Public Radio

Supporters of expanding Medicaid delivered nearly 3,000 signatures to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's office Wednesday, asking him to support an expansion of the state's Medicaid program.

Anna Lambertson is with a coalition of organizations pushing for Medicaid expansion.  She spoke during a rally at the Statehouse.  She said it was good for workers and businesses.

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Government
10:06 am
Wed March 27, 2013

Bill Would Require Stem Cell Center At KU Med

The Kansas House has passed a bill requiring the University of Kansas Medical Center to establish a stem cell research center. The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center would work only with adult stem cells. Supporters say the center could lead to new medical treatments.

Representative Dave Crum is a Republican from Augusta.

“It is very much within the authority of the legislature to create policy that we think is in the best interest of the state."

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Government
9:37 am
Wed March 27, 2013

Budget Item Would Assist Kansas Hospitals

bigstock.com

Hospitals in Kansas could lose some federal money if the state doesn't expand Medicaid services under the federal health care law. A lawmaker helping to draft the budget says the state needs to consider assisting those hospitals. 

Many hospitals receive payments to help them cover the costs of medical care for the uninsured. They’re known as disproportionate share hospital payments.   As the federal health care law continues, the focus will move to funding more Medicaid services, meaning the current disproportionate share funds could be reduced or completely eliminated.

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Government
9:40 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Kansas Budget Conference Committee Meetings To Start

Wikimedia Commons - CC

Kansas House and Senate negotiators have delayed the start of talks aimed at smoothing out differences between the budgets passed in each chamber. 

The meeting originally scheduled for Monday afternoon was cancelled because the Senate had not yet officially appointed that chamber's three negotiators. 

Marc Rhoades, a Republican from Newton, is the lead House negotiator. He says one of the biggest differences is a cut to higher education funding.

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Government
9:23 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Kansas House Looks At Revamping Court Docket Fees

The Kansas House has narrowly approved a change in how some state programs are funded. Certain programs receive money from docket fees paid in the court system, but a bill in the House would instead put that docket fee money in the state general fund. 

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Government
9:36 am
Thu March 21, 2013

KS House Rejects Democrats' Property Tax Plan

The Kansas House chamber
Stephen Koranda KPR

The Kansas House on Wednesday rejected a proposal by Democrats aimed at reducing the property taxes paid by Kansans.

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Government
9:18 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Kansas House Bill Overhauls Civil Service System

Wikimedia Commons - CC

A Kansas House committee has advanced a bill that would overhaul the state's civil service system.

The bill would change some types of positions so they would not be covered by civil service protections. It would also give new state employee hires an "unclassified" status, meaning they would not have civil service protection.

An attorney for the American Federation of Teachers last week said the change could lead to hiring and firing employees based on their politics.

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Government
9:39 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Kansas House And Senate Differ On Sales Tax

The Kansas House and Senate are working on two bills that would cut income taxes, but they are very different in one aspect.

The bill that passed the Senate would make permanent a temporary sales tax that's set to expire later this year. The House plan would let the sales tax expire as planned.

Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a Republican from Hutchinson, says the sales tax wouldn't be a deal breaker.

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Government
8:17 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Kansas House Committee Looks For Budget Cuts

jimmywayne flickr

A Kansas House committee is crafting that chamber's version of the state budget, and cutting is on the mind of some lawmakers. The committee is looking at a series of spending cuts requested by Governor Sam Brownback last summer.

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Government
7:15 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Kansas Lawmakers Plan To File School Funding Motion

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback unveiled his new public school funding proposal Wednesday.
bigstock.com

The top Democrats in the Legislature say lawmakers should have a hand in mediation in a case over school funding. They say they'll file a motion making that argument this week.

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Government
9:46 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Supporters, Opponents Of Liquor Law Change Sound Off

wjserson flickr

A proposed change to Kansas alcohol laws would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell wine and liquor. Currently, wine and spirits are only available at dedicated liquor stores.

A Kansas House committee heard from supporters and opponents of the bill Thursday.  The committee room was packed with people interested in the bill.

Jon McCormick, with the Kansas Food Dealers Association told  legislators that current laws cause some Kansans to drive across the state line to buy alcohol. He says the current system creates inconvenience for Kansans and raises liquor costs.

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Government
9:45 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Kansas House Committee Approves Abortion Bill

A Kansas House committee has approved a bill that is aimed at removing any state subsidies for abortion, even tax credits or exemptions.

Much of the debate focused on part of the bill that prohibits employees of an abortion provider from teaching sex education in schools. But it was written so broadly that a parent who works for an abortion provider wouldn't be allowed to volunteer in the classroom for any purpose.

Allan Rothlisberg, a Republican from Grandview Plaza, was in favor of the measure.

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Government
9:50 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Kansas Committee Proposes Bill Allowing Concealed Guns In Public Buildings

jimmywayne flickr

A Kansas legislative committee has advanced a bill that would expand the number of public buildings in which concealed weapons are allowed. The measure also eliminates the possibility of being criminally charged if a person accidentally brings a legally carried concealed weapon into a building where concealed carry is forbidden.

Representative Larry Campbell, a Republican from Olathe, proposed the change.

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Government
9:48 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Kansas House Committee Takes Up Union Bargaining Bill

A packed committee room for the bill's hearing.
Stephen Koranda Kansas Public Radio

A Kansas House committee has heard from supporters and opponents of a bill that would limit the bargaining rights of teachers.

The legislation would cut back on the items school districts are required to negotiate with unions from more than two dozen to five. Supporters of the change say it will allow administrators to allocate resources and respond to demands on the education system.

Ken Willard is a member of the Kansas Board of Education and he headed a school efficiency task force created by Governor Sam Brownback.

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Government
9:29 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Union Objects To Bill Limiting Bargaining

KNEA President Karen Godfrey speaking to reporters.
Stephen Koranda Kansas Public Radio

The union representing teachers in Kansas says its members were prevented from offering their opinion on a bill that affects unions. The bill would scale back some of the mandatory bargaining rights of teachers.

Currently, the negotiations process between the union and a school district includes lots of items, like how teachers are evaluated and the process for firing a teacher. The bill would limit what is required to be negotiated to just a handful of items

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Government
9:28 am
Fri March 1, 2013

House Advances Change in Judicial Selection

The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill that would change how appeals court judges are selected in the state. The bill would allow the governor to appoint appellate court judges, who would then be confirmed by the state Senate.

Critics of the current system say it isn't democratic enough, because a nine-person nominating commission selects candidates. Five of the nine are attorneys. Representative Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican, says the change would be a step in the right direction.

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Government
9:23 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Senate Passes Drug Testing for Welfare Bill

A bill that would require drug testing for some welfare and unemployment benefit recipients passed the Kansas Senate Thursday. It would require drug tests for some people enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, if they are suspected of drug use.

Senator Jeff King, an Independence Republican, says the goal of the bill is to help Kansans who have drug problems.

Democratic Senator Anthony Hensley tried  to add a provision that would also administer drug tests to business owners who receive economic development funds from the state.

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Government
5:06 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Kansas Governor Discourages Travel During Winter Storm

rownback and other state officials during a weather update in Topeka.
Stephen Koranda KPR

Governor Sam Brownback and state officials are urging Kansans to prepare for the storm that’s sweeping across the state. Brownback says the winter weather has already caused one fatality in Kansas.

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Health
2:52 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Resolution In Kansas House Opposes Medicaid Expansion

Lidor Flickr

Kansas lawmakers are considering a resolution that would underscore the Legislature's opposition to a proposed expansion of Medicaid programs. House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, says he doesn't support making the state's health care program bigger.

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Government
6:21 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Bill Would Bar Using Tax Dollars To Lobby

Opponents and supporters of the lobbying bill packed a committee room.
Stephen Koranda Kansas Public Radio

A controversial bill in the Kansas Legislature would bar local governments or public entities from spending tax dollars on lobbying. That would affect the abilities of cities, counties and universities to support or oppose legislation. The bill would make it a crime to spend public money on lobbying.

Supporters and opponents packed a Senate committee room yesterday to sound off on the bill. 

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