Kansas Legislature

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr. from Olathe provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss free lunches from lobbyists, block grants, and extraordinary need funding for schools.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach  joins Statehouse Blend to discuss voter fraud, immigration, and his treatment in the media.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on itunes.

Guests:

  • Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State
  • Melissa Carlson, Citizen Voice
  • Nick Haines, Executive Producer of Public Affairs, KCPT

Kansas Representative Gene Suellentrop is a supporter of the Kansas budget experiment known as the "march to zero" for income taxes. In his nephew's social circles, on the east coast, that position is hard to understand. So the nephew decided to immerse himself in his uncle's world, just as a legislative session turned upside-down by budget debates got underway.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Sen. Laura Kelly from Topeka provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session. 

You can listen to the full episode here.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Sen. Laura Kelly from Topeka provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session. 

Guests:

  • Laura Kelly, Sen. for the 18th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Gene Chavez, Citizen Voice
  • Lisa Rodriguez, Associate Producer, KCUR
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, we look back at the Kansas Legislature's favorite songs and what they meant in the context of the session. It's Statehouse Blend, The Musical.

Guests:

  • C.J. Janovy, Arts Reporter, KCUR
  • Matt Hodapp, Statehouse Blend Producer, KCUR
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Erin Davis from Olathe provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 Kansas legislative session. 

You can listen to the full episode of Statehouse Blend here.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Erin Davis from Olathe provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 Kansas legislative session. 

Guests:

  • Erin Davis, Rep. for the 15th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Christopher Leitch, Citizen Voice
  • Dan Margolies, Heartland Health Monitor Editor, KCUR
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, we ask former Kansas legislators to compare and contrast the Kansas legislature then and now.

You can listen to the full episode of Statehouse Blend here.

Guests:

  • Kelly Kultala, Former Senator, 5th District
  • John Vratil, Former Senator, 11th District
  • Tim Owens, Former Senator, 8th District
Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A committee in the Kansas House has dismissed a complaint against a Democratic lawmaker who made controversial comments earlier this year.

During a committee hearing in March, Rep. Valdenia Winn, of Kansas City, Kansas, said that “racist bigots” were supporting a bill to take away college tuition breaks for students who are in the country illegally.

During the Friday hearing, Republican Rep. Mark Kahrs moved to dismiss the complaint against Winn and the committee agreed unanimously.

Kansas legislators passed a law this year that says that if a court strikes down a 2014 law that removed some powers from the state Supreme Court, the judiciary will lose funding. On this edition of Up To Date, we examine the ensuing battle being waged between the Kansas Judiciary and the executive and legislative branches. 

Guests: 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, we ask former Kansas legislators to compare and contrast the Kansas legislature then and now.

Guests:

  • Kelly Kultala, Former Senator, 5th District
  • John Vratil, Former Senator, 11th District
  • Tim Owens, Former Senator, 8th District
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Marvin Kleeb from Overland Park provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session. 

You can listen to the full episode of Statehouse Blend here.

Guests:

Lobbyists get a bad rap, but before we judge, let's hear from the lobbyists themselves about what they do and how they get it done. Everything you've always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask. Plus, notes on the recent legislative session in Kansas.

Guests:

  • Kimberly Svatie, lobbyist, Gencur Svatie Public Affairs
  • Bill Sneed, lawyer and lobbyist, Polsinelli
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Marvin Kleeb from Overland Park provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session. 

Guests:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback maintains that the revenue enhancement package just adopted in Topeka, which has been described as the largest tax increase in Kansas history, should not be considered a tax increase. On this edition of Up To Date, Steve Kraske has a one-on-one with the governor about the 2015 legislative session's contentious tax debate. 

It didn't get the state of Kansas far in trimming the 2016 budget but higher education, the Board of Regents believes, did its part.

Gov. Sam Brownback held a news conference Tuesday to announce he has signed legislation that will raise the state's sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent. But that still leaves the state short of a balanced budget and many thought Brownback would outline cuts today.

But all he cut was $1.9 million from a Regents program called GED Accelerator. This is money that helps the state's 26 two-year institutions pay for programs that result in students receiving both a GED and an industry-recognized credential. So, a high school drop out could simultaneously finish their secondary education and, for example, earn a welding or mechanics certificate. The money goes to the institutions and not the students.

After a record-breaking 113 days, the Kansas legislature finally passed a budget and tax deal. On this edition of Up To Date, we analyze the session and take a look at what it was like to participate in, and cover, the  2015 assembly. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, we ask citizens from Kansas to share their thoughts on the 2015 Kansas Legislative session.

Guests:

  • Scott Morgan, Citizen, Lawrence
  • Erin Rivers, Citizen, Mission
  • Will Averill, Citizen, Lawrence
Stephen Koranda / KPR

The Kansas House narrowly passed a tax bill around 4 a.m. Friday after an overnight debate. The chamber had previously rejected several tax proposals, but the bill’s passage may pave the way for the end of the 2015 legislative session.

Lawmakers in the Kansas House were sharply divided over a tax bill debated Weednesday night. The measure seemed to be on its way to failure before the vote was paused at midnight by a legislative rule.

Republican Rep. Marvin Kleeb urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying it was likely their last option to avoid cuts to state services like K-12 education. They’ve already approved a budget, but it needs around $400 million in new revenue to balance.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

While the broader battle over a tax plan in the Kansas Legislature continues, a few nights ago the Senate managed to slip in a last minute provision that makes it a lot easier to obtain tax credits for private and religious school scholarships in the state.

The mission of the legislation is laudable: provide scholarships to at-risk kids to go to private or parochial schools.

But there's a catch. People or corporations in the state receive a tax credit for providing the scholarship money. The state will allow up to $10 million a year in such credits.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s determination to not expand Medicaid in his state remains strong. On this edition of Up To Date, journalist Kai Wright discusses his recent article for The Nation, which examines the effects the governor's policy on Kansas residents and medical professionals. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Rep. John Wilson from Lawrence provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here.

Guests:

The Kansas House decided not to take up a tax bill Monday that was sent to them by the state Senate. Lawmakers return for day 110 of the legislative session Tuesday and the only item left on their plate is balancing the budget.

Both chambers in the Kansas Legislature have now approved the budget, but the bill needs around $400 million in tax increases, or budget cuts, to be balanced. The Senate passed a tax plan on Sunday. But senators also added some policy changes, like a limit on property tax increases without a public vote and a proposal to eliminate some tax exemptions.

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

The Kansas House could end the longest legislative session in state history Monday by approving a tax plan passed Sunday by the Senate.

The tax plan would generate about $471 million for the budget year that begins July 1, enough to cover a projected deficit and provide a $73 million ending-balance cushion.

“I would hope that we could pass this with a strong vote, strong enough to send a message to the House that says, ‘This is the answer to finish our work this year,’” said Les Donovan, chairman of the Senate tax committee.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

With only hours remaining before furloughs started, Kansas lawmakers approved a bill that prevents state workers from being taken off the job. Gov. Sam Brownback signed the bill and said  all state employees should report to work as usual.

While financial pressures still exist in state government, the bill deems all state employees “essential” and exempt from being furloughed. That designation only lasts through the end of the legislative session.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Rep. John Wilson from Lawrence provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Guests:

  • John Wilson, Rep. for the 10th District, Kansas Legislature 
  • Kate Miner, Citizen Voice
  • Maria Carter, News Director, KCUR
Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The possible furlough of perhaps thousands of state employees in Kansas is rapidly moving forward.

Just after noon Friday, state agencies and Board of Regents schools began sending out furlough notices to workers deemed nonessential.

The executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, Rebecca Proctor, says union members from across the state have reported receiving notices.

A tax proposal failed Thursday night in the Kansas House by a huge margin. Lawmakers still need to finish work on a budget and a tax plan that covers a shortfall in the budget.

The first tax plan failed on a 3-108 vote.

Some Kansas lawmakers voted against the bill because it didn’t reinstate enough business income taxes or because it canceled future personal income tax cuts. Democratic Rep. Tom Sawyer said the bill raised the sales tax too high.

“Sales taxes are regressive. They affect working families, seniors citizens a lot worse than other taxes,” said Sawyer.

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