Kansas News Service

The Kansas News Service produces essential enterprise reporting, diving deep and connecting the dots in tracking the policies, issues and and events that affect the health of Kansans and their communities. The team is based at KCUR and collaborates with public media stations and other news outlets across Kansas.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

The Kansas News Service is made possible by a group of funding organizations, led by the Kansas Health Foundation. Other funders include United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Sunflower Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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Kansas State University

Kansas State University is scaling back this year’s budget by millions of dollars after about 1,000 fewer students enrolled this fall compared to the previous year, creating a budget crunch.

Updated Wednesday at 10:34 p.m.

Tyson Foods is considering Sedgwick County and two other locations in Kansas as possible sites for a new $320 million poultry processing complex.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Fewer than 40 percent of Kansas students are on track to be academically prepared for college, community college or technical school as measured by their scores on the state’s standardized math and English tests.

Scores on English language arts tests went down for the second year in a row. About 38 percent of students scored proficient in that subject in spring 2017.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Two Topeka men are in custody in connection with the shootings Oct. 1 in downtown Lawrence that left three people dead and two injured.

Federal and local law enforcement officers arrested Ahmad Rayton and Dominique McMillon on Monday in Topeka.

Courtesy KVC Kansas

With high numbers of children in the foster care system and not enough homes to care for them, one Kansas contractor is turning to a short-term housing option.  

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The federal agency that oversees Medicaid has agreed to a one-year extension of Kansas’ $3.2 billion KanCare program, which provides managed care services to the state’s Medicaid population.

In a letter dated Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the temporary extension would allow Kansas to continue the privately managed program, which was set to expire on Dec. 31.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The top Democrats in the Kansas Legislature are calling on Senate President Susan Wagle not to wait until January to start work on fulfilling a Kansas Supreme Court order to fix funding for public schools.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, and his counterpart in the House, Jim Ward of Wichita, wrote a letter to Wagle, who heads the Legislative Coordinating Council, seeking an interim bipartisan panel of House and Senate members.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansans who need to update their voter registration before the fall local election will need to move fast. Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote before the November election.

This is the first year that local elections are being held in November instead of spring. In many communities, voters will decide races for city council, school board or ballot questions about issues including bonds and sales taxes.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The news that about 70 children are missing from the Kansas foster care system is the latest in a string of concerns for lawmakers and child welfare advocates.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers considered tighter rules on payday lending during a committee meeting Wednesday, but they ultimately decided not to recommend more regulations for the short-term loans.

Republican Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine chairs the Special Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance. He said Kansas officials should wait to see the effects of federal regulations recently released on the issue.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas’ plans to migrate driver’s license records for about 2 million people from an aged mainframe to new information technology infrastructure remain troubled, a new report indicates.

Some portions of the already-delayed KanLicense project have been further postponed, a team of legislative auditors wrote in the report, with plans to carry them out after the project’s go-live date in early January. 

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas gubernatorial candidate Ed O’Malley came out swinging Tuesday at a campaign launch event in Overland Park.

The former Republican legislator from Johnson County, who for the last decade has served as president and CEO of the Wichita-based Kansas Leadership Center, swung for the policy fences by pledging that his primary goal as governor would be to make Kansas public schools the “best in the world.”

Office of the Kansas Governor

Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that he is issuing a single pardon and denying 72 other requests for clemency made to his office.

The action comes as Brownback prepares for a likely departure to join the administration of President Donald Trump.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Democrat Paul Davis is off to a strong fundraising start in his bid to capture the 2nd District congressional seat being vacated by Republican Lynn Jenkins, who is not seeking a sixth term.

Davis recently announced that he had raised $400,000 despite getting a late start.

Orlin Wagner / Associated Press

Last week the state lost again at the Kansas Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled that Kansas is underfunding its public schools, with repercussions for academically struggling children across the state — and especially for students and taxpayers who live in resource-poor school districts. 

File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Newly unsealed documents show Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had proposed changes to federal voting law when meeting last year with then President-elect Donald Trump. The American Civil Liberties Union wanted to disclose the documents in a lawsuit over Kansas voting rules.

At issue were two documents. One was a partially obscured paper Kobach carried into a meeting in November 2016 with Trump, and the second was a document distributed in his office.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder is joining fellow Republicans in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shootings in calling for a ban on a device used to increase the firing power of semi-automatic rifles.

Yoder, who represents the state’s 3rd District, said in a statement Thursday that he “will support measures to regulate or ban” so-called bump stocks, conversion kits that turn semi-automatic rifles into weapons capable of firing 400 to 800 rounds per minute.

Creative Commons-Pixabay

Kansas officials say there is little chance that more than 400,000 Kansans who depend on the state’s Medicaid program will see their services interrupted.

They say they are confident federal officials will approve a critical waiver request before an end-of-the-year deadline.

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

U.S. senators considering Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination as ambassador for international religious freedom peppered him Wednesday with questions, including some about his actions as Kansas governor.

During the Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Brownback argued that a lack of religious freedom lies at the core of many violent conflicts throughout the world. He firmly stated that he would stand for religious freedom internationally.

Orlin Wagner / Associated Press

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2 with additional information.

The Kansas Supreme Court on Monday struck down the state’s aid to schools as unconstitutionally low — and unfair to poor school districts in particular. The decision could pressure lawmakers to increase school funding by hundreds of millions dollars.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union launched a national voting rights campaign during a Sunday night event in Lawrence that was broadcast online throughout the country. It was the start of a grassroots effort, called Let People Vote, which the ACLU says is a chance to go on the offensive.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

The fight over an oil-related waste disposal well in Kansas’ Flint Hills has broadened into a campaign to protest similar wells across several counties and lobby lawmakers for regulatory changes.

Members of Congress might want to familiarize themselves with the story of Kansas' failed tax-cutting experiment as they begin deliberations on President Donald Trump's tax-reform plan.

It could serve as a cautionary tale because some elements of the president's updated proposal mirror pieces of the tax-cut plan that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback pushed through the state legislature in 2012, promising it would deliver a "shot of adrenaline" to the Kansas economy.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

A rural hospital administrator in southwest Kansas has taken on the role of go-between for Kansans and immigrants from war-ravaged countries on the other side of the world.

The Lawrence Police Department is investigating the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old Topeka man by police officers in the capital city. A crime lab in Johnson County is providing forensic assistance. 

Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas corrections officials hope to have a contract signed before the end of the year to build a new state prison in Lansing. The negotiations over that prison contract have been taking place behind closed doors.

Several companies have submitted bids for the construction project. Mike Gaito of the Kansas Department of Corrections said Wednesday that the private negotiations, rather than open bidding, will mean a better plan.

A prescription drug monitoring program in Kansas will receive a federal grant worth more than $178,000 to help fight the opioid crisis.

The Kansas Board of Pharmacy oversees K-TRACS, a system for monitoring prescriptions for controlled substances.

Board Executive Secretary Alexandra Blasi says doctors, dentists and pharmacists who participate in the program report their prescription activity to the state to verify a patient’s history.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas education officials did little to promote a public comment period for a school accountability plan designed to steer the state through 2030 and guide nearly $2 billion in federal spending.

While some states that publicized town halls and launched online surveys for their plans collected comments by the thousands, Kansas officials didn’t use such tools nor issue news releases or social media posts about the state’s public comment period.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

Darrel Urban stands in front of a newly-dug pit the size of two football fields laid end-to-end, and ten feet deep. Soon, it will be full of hog waste, and two more large pits will join it.

A site two miles outside of the tiny town of Pfeifer, Kansas, in the northeast corner of Rush County near Hays, is slated to be the new home of a massive hog farming operation. It will be home to thousands of pigs, and their waste. It is a less than a mile from Urban’s home.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The overhaul of the Kansas computer system for processing welfare and Medicaid applications recently went through its final implementation phase. State officials say the process went smoothly, especially compared to the system’s initial rollout that delayed thousands of Medicaid applications.

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