Kansas News Service | KCUR

Kansas News Service

The Kansas News Service produces essential enterprise reporting, diving deep and connecting the dots regarding the policies, issues 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. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

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. Additional support comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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file photo / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Justin Thurber. Yet the justices delayed a decision on his death sentence and said a lower court must reconsider whether he has a developmental disability.

A jury sentenced Thurber to death for the 2007 killing of 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm, a college student in Cowley County.

Pew

A new report has some advice for Kansas lawmakers looking at revenue growth that’s beating projections: Don’t count on all of it to last.

The report from the Pew Charitable Trusts outlines strategies states can use to manage growing revenue and maintain balanced budgets.

It recommends that states watch tax collections closely, because some types of tax growth will sag if the economy slows.

Evan Pflugradt / Kansas News Service

Teenage girls aging out of foster care in Kansas will soon have a new place to stay and learn the basics of living independently — with the help of some nuns.

St. Francis Community Services, one of the state’s two foster care contractors, is taking over the former convent of the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph in Wichita to house foster care, refugee and behavioral health programs.

headshot of Rep Kevin Yoder
yoder.house.gov

Johnson County leaders have sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, demanding he act to prevent families seeking asylum from being separated at the border.

About 50 Republican and Democratic state lawmakers as well as city and county officials signed the letter to Yoder, who is the chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee.

The letter says the Department of Homeland Security is harming children by taking them from their parents.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Adrian Jones. Evan Brewer. Conner Hawes. Lucas Hernandez.

News coverage of those children’s deaths and others under the state’s watch galvanized public outrage over the past three years and drew more scrutiny to the troubled child welfare system in Kansas.

Two defendants allegedly involved in the swatting incident that led to the death of a Wichita man in December made their first appearance Wednesday in federal court.

Casey Viner, 18 and Shane Gaskill, 19, were each released on a $10,000 bond. The restrictions on the bond include not playing any online video games.

CREDIT DAVID JONES/FLICKR -- CC

Kansas City could see World Cup soccer action in 2026 now that FIFA has officially selected the "United Bid" of Canada, Mexico and the United States to host the event eight years from now.

The FIFA Congress selected the United Bid over a bid from Morocco in a 134-65 vote early Wednesday morning. Kansas City is among 23 cities listed in the bid as candidate cities to host some of the 80 matches that will be played in the three countries over the course of the event.

Susie Fagan / File photo/Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer’s proposed Medicaid work requirement would create a “catch-22” for some low-income Kansans, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report, from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities — a nonpartisan research organization that supports Medicaid expansion — said work requirements could jeopardize their coverage.

Southwest Kansas has a new accent due to the rapidly growing Latino population in the area.

New research from Kansas State University and its Kansas Speaks Project, which documents language shifts in Kansas, shows younger people in the region have started to take on the characteristics of Spanish speakers, even if they don’t speak Spanish themselves.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Children entering the Kansas foster care system will soon have a new short-term place to stay in Kansas City.

With kids sleeping in their offices several nights a month, KVC Kansas, one of the state’s two foster care contractors, has been looking to open some sort of crisis center for the past year.

More Sites In Kansas Offering Free Meals To Kids This Summer

Jun 12, 2018
photo of Elizabeth Quinn
Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Michael Kraft likes to joke that he’s under pressure to come to the summer lunch program at Johnson County Library, Central Resource.

Last year, his kids won a prize — a bag full of goodies like stickers, markers and notepads — for eating the most lunches during their summer lunch program.

His two girls have their sights set on winning again. He takes his children about three to four times a week. Today’s menu was a cheese stick with marinara sauce, wheat crackers, applesauce and milk. Kids could also get an apple.

file photo / KMUW

A state panel ruled Monday that Ron Estes, the Wichita area congressman, will appear as “Rep. Ron Estes” on the primary ballot where he faces a challenger also named Ron Estes.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office had previously decided to add the title, but a Democrat also running for the 4th Congressional District seat objected. Laura Lombard said state law bars including titles on the ballot.

“You really should not be able to use your title on the ballot,” Lombard said. “It’s an unfair advantage for the incumbent.”

2017 KANSAS AND MISSOURI CONSUMER HEALTH ACCESS SURVEY

A quarter of Kansas working-age adults and a third of the state’s children live in households dealing with medical debt.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new report commissioned by five Kansas and Missouri health foundations, believed to be the largest survey to date of health consumers in the two states.

In Kansas, about 2,600 adults and minors were included. The survey answers point to problems with access to dental and mental health care, among other services.

The three top Democratic candidates for governor debated in Wichita on Friday evening.

Laura Kelly, Carl Brewer and Josh Svaty participated at the event held in The Lux apartment building and venue space in downtown Wichita.

The candidates spent much of the debate agreeing on issues, from expanding Medicaid to supporting legalizing marijuana in Kansas.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane attributes her three decade career in education to a frog.

Lane went to college to be a clinical psychologist but a required biology class asked her to insert a needle into a frog’s brain.

“It was a live animal that we were going to do an experiment on to see reactions,” Lane says. “I could not do that. So I left class, went down the hall and said, ‘I need to change my major.’”

Updated on June 15

Why did Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census, approve adding a hotly contested citizenship question to 2020 census forms?

Kansas is on its way to becoming a majority-minority state, with white residents expected to make up less than half of the population by 2066.

A new report from the Kansas Health Institute shows that the state is quickly becoming older, more urban and more diverse.

file photo / KCUR 89.3 FM

The Kansas Court of Appeals said Friday that a grand jury investigation of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office should go forward. The request was brought by a Lawrence man running for the Kansas House, Steven Davis.

He followed a rarely used Kansas law that allows citizens to call grand juries by collecting signatures.

Davis wants to know whether Kobach’s office mishandled voter registrations and whether any crimes were committed.

The University of Kansas Health System

It’s been a busy few months for The University of Kansas Health System, formerly known as The University of Kansas Hospital.

Its new $100 million hospital at 107th Street and Nall Avenue in Overland Park opens Monday following two years of construction.

That comes on the heels of its acquisition of the Environmental Protection Agency building in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.

And that came shortly after it purchased St. Francis Health in Topeka as part of a joint venture with Ardent Health Services.

Wichita police say that Emily Glass, questioned in the disappearance and death of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, was found dead early Friday morning.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Kansas affiliate have filed suit against the Montgomery County Attorney, alleging he failed to follow state law in the use of diversion programs.

The suit was filed Friday with the Kansas Supreme Court, according to a news release from the ACLU. It requests that Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle be required to create written diversion policies and guidelines; provide written notice of diversion programs to defendants charged in Montgomery County, and hold diversion conferences for defendants offered diversion.

Leola Montgomery is the widow of the Rev. Oliver Brown, the lead plaintiff in the 1954 landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Montgomery, who is scheduled to be in Wichita on Saturday to receive a special award, doesn’t look one bit of 97. Nor does she act like it.

Kansas has some of the highest education achievement standards in the country, but students are struggling to reach that high bar.

The new report from the National Center For Education Statistics standardized state proficiency assessments for math and reading in 2015. For eighth grade, Kansas had the highest benchmark for proficiency in both reading and math out of the states evaluated.

Google Maps

More than 1,300 phone calls between public defenders and inmates awaiting trial at the Leavenworth detention facility were improperly recorded over a two-year period, according to newly disclosed information in a civil lawsuit.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Six weeks of protests by the Poor People’s Campaign nationwide and in Topeka aim to raise awareness of social and economic inequalities.

Translating those demonstrations into changes in state policy, says at least one analyst, will likely demand more sustained efforts.

Protesters occupied part of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office recently and 18 people were arrested. This week, Statehouse police arrested 16 people protesting in favor of Medicaid expansion outside the office of Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

The field of Republicans running in Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District is large, but some party leaders worry, not strong enough to keep the seat from falling into Democratic hands for the first time since 2006.

Seven Republicans are competing for the opportunity to face the lone Democrat in the race, Paul Davis, in the November general election. None has the name recognition of Davis, a former minority leader in the Kansas House who in 2014 nearly unseated former Gov. Sam Brownback.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A group of Kansans hoping to establish a new centrist political party in time to field candidates for the upcoming general election failed to get enough signatures to make that happen.

Even so, they say, they got enough support to convince them that they could be on the 2020 ballot.

“We’re in it for the long game,” said Scott Morgan of Lawrence.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

A team of paleontologists from the University of Kansas is resuming its work in Montana, excavating what appears to be a very rare dinosaur fossil: a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. 

KU paleontologist David Burnham said the excavation began in 2016, but the team is returning to the site this summer hoping to find more pieces of the T-rex. 

The University of Kansas is offering a three-year path to a bachelor’s degree.

The “Degree In Three” program is a partnership between KU, six school districts and three community colleges. Students will begin earning college credit in high school. They will then be able to complete an associate’s degree in one year at one of the partnering community colleges and finish their final two years at KU.

Two Westar Energy employees have died from injuries received while working at the company’s largest power plant, which remained closed Monday.

Operations supervisors Craig Burchett and Jesse Henson were burned when a piece of equipment with high-pressure steam broke about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Westar officials said. The two were airlifted from Jeffrey Energy Center to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, where they died Sunday evening.

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