Government

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

When people started to file into the Kansas Senate chamber on Thursday morning, it was clear the legislation that leadership was pushing was dead.

New, moderate Republican legislators elected in November seemed to take a firm stand: The budget bills on the calendar for debate didn’t raise taxes enough and cut too much from public education.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

A yearlong campaign aimed at building support for Medicaid expansion culminated Wednesday in a show-of-force lobbying effort aimed at convincing Kansas lawmakers that they still have time to act.

A crowd of approximately 200 filled the north wing of the Statehouse for a rally before the House Health and Human Services Committee convened a hearing on a bill that would expand eligibility for KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to more low-income Kansans.

Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

The latest attempt to get a minimum wage proposal on the Kansas City ballot in April continued in front of a judge today.

The petitioners want Kansas Citians to vote in April on their proposal calling for a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2021. But despite a Missouri Supreme Court ruling in their favor, last month Kansas City council members refused to put the issue on the April ballot.

The petitioners, including Pastor Lloyd Fields, appealed to a Jackson County Circuit Court Judge today.

Adapt Pharma

Kansas is one of three states that doesn’t allow first responders to carry a drug to reverse opioid overdoses.

Rep. Greg Lakin, a Republican from Wichita, wants to get the state off that exclusive list. A bill in the House Health and Human Services Committee would allow first responders to carry medication to reverse opioid overdoses.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

One of the cornerstones of Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to balance the budget is anticipated savings from a statewide health insurance pool for Kansas teachers.

The governor said that could save $40 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1 and $80 million a year after that.

But that’s not what the Legislative Post Audit Division discovered in its evaluation.

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says his office has the names of 115 non-citizens who illegally registered or tried to register to vote in Kansas, but he won’t be able to prosecute many of them.

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.

Gov. Eric Greitens took a road trip Monday in celebration of making Missouri the nation's 28th right-to-work state.

The Republican signed Senate Bill 19, which bars unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues, at three ceremonies. The first one was in Springfield at an abandoned warehouse before a small crowd of supporters.

On this week's Statehouse Blend Kansas, Rep. Joy Koesten (R-Leawood) talks about co-sponsoring a bill to abolish capital punishment.

Guests:

  • Joy Koesten, Representative (R-Leawood), Kansas Legislature

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

A key Kansas lawmaker says the state doesn’t have the money to fix problems in its mental health system, which a new report says are getting steadily worse.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

  On this week's Statehouse Blend Kansas, Rep. Joy Koesten (R-Leawood) talks about mental health, school funding, and taxes.

Guests:

  • Joy Koesten, Representative (R-Leawood), Kansas Legislature

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, right-to-work has passed the legislature, but Rep. Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City) says the Democrats aren't giving up.

Guests:

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is drafting bills to restrict illegal immigration in Kansas while he advises President Donald Trump on the same subject nationally.

Members of the Kansas House and Senate introduced two measures on Kobach’s behalf this week. One bars so-called “sanctuary cities” and the other would instruct the Kansas Highway Patrol to sign an agreement to help the federal Department of Homeland Security with immigration enforcement.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Buried within the president’s executive order that, among other things, suspends the U.S. refugee program, there’s a provision that’s garnered little attention.

Down pretty far in Section 5 are a few lines that basically direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to see if state and local jurisdiction should be more involved in resettling refugees.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

One critical part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget-balancing plan is creation of a statewide health insurance pool that Kansas public school teachers would have to join.

The governor’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year counts on $80 million a year in health care savings based on an efficiency study by Alvarez & Marsal consulting firm.

But some legislators, including Republicans, are skeptical.

“There’s a big difference between theory and practicality,” says Rep. Larry Campbell of Olathe, chairman of the K-12 Education Budget Committee.

Onasill ~ Bill Badzo / Flikr -- CC - remixed, cropped

Last week, President Trump signed an executive order suspending new-refugee admissions for 120 days and blocking travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia — for 90 days. Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.

The move caused immediate controversy, sparking protests in Kansas City and other cities and airports around the U.S. as federal authorities began enforcing the ban.

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.

On this weeks Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, Rep. Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City) talks about Real ID, Governor Eric Greitens' budget cuts, and legislation to change the standards for expert witnesses.

Guests:

Kansas’ two Republican senators said Monday they support increased vetting of those entering the country, but want Congress involved in developing permanent policy changes.

Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Pat Roberts issued statements in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 893

On this week's Statehouse Blend Kansas, Sen. Dinah Sykes (R-Lenexa) and Rep. Brett Parker (D-Overland Parker) give us their freshman perspective on Governor Sam Brownback's budget proposal, concealed carry on college campuses, and a possible new school funding formula.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this weeks Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, Rep. Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City) talks about Real ID, Governor Eric Greitens' budget cuts, and legislation to change the standards for expert witnesses.

Guests:

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is hoping the federal government can rescue several critical infrastructure projects that the state can no longer afford.

The Brownback administration recently sent what amounts to a wish list to President Donald Trump for inclusion in his planned infrastructure initiative. It includes the following $240 million in highway and bridge projects delayed or abandoned because of the state’s ongoing budget problems:

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Mothers, college professors, pastors, teachers and students packed a Capitol hearing room Thursday morning to make this plea to lawmakers: Roll back a law that in July will make it legal for almost anyone to carry a concealed gun on Kansas college campuses and in other public buildings.

So big was the roll-back contingent that many there to testify had to be hailed to the room from down the hallway.

Patrick McKay / Flickr -- CC

Kansas lawmakers seeking to keep university campuses, hospitals and government buildings off limits to firearms are facing a familiar argument from opponents.

Namely, that such restrictions infringe on the right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s a Second Amendment issue,” says Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican. “It’s a right to bear arms issue.”

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

In what could be a blow to the road construction industry in Kansas, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) Tuesday said it will only spend $44 million on new projects in the next fiscal year.

For the past several years KDOT has let about $400 million just on preservation projects, including roads and bridges.

“It’s going to cause us additional concern about the safety and reliability of our roads, getting product to market and also providing jobs for many of the folks who are in the construction business,” says Bob Totten with the Kansas Contractors Association.

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.

On this weeks Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, Rep. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City) talks about the future of the state's Democratic party, Gov. Eric Greitens' State of the State address, and casting the lone no vote in committee on the session's first ethics reform bill.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's Statehouse Blend Kansas, budget director Shawn Sullivan walks us through Governor Sam Brownback's budget proposal, and discusses reaction from the legislature. 

Guests:

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Kansas legislators are seeking answers from the Brownback administration after federal officials denied a one-year extension of the state’s Medicaid program known as KanCare.

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