Stephen Koranda

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

In the wake of rape charge filed in an attack on a 13-year-old girl in the office of a foster care contractor, Kansas lawmakers said Tuesday they’ll investigate what went wrong.

One legislator said state officials and the contractor responsible for watching over the alleged victim will face tough questions later this month.

The Kansas State Board of Education approved new standards Tuesday for students learning English as a second language.

The changes come as the number of students learning English grows in the state. Kansas Department of Education statistics show they made up nearly 12 percent of students in 2017.

The top contenders running for governor say Kansas should not follow Colorado’s lead and legalize recreational marijuana, but they differ on medical marijuana.

It will likely be several months before a court in Douglas County convenes a grand jury to investigate allegations that Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office mishandled voter registrations. That would push the investigation beyond the fall election.

Kobach, a Republican, is currently locked in a race for governor with Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman.

President Donald Trump has reached a tentative trade deal with Mexico, and now the focus of tariff talks shifts to Canada.

It’s a high-stakes situation for Kansas industry because Canada is the top export market for the state.

Kansas exports totaled more than $11 billion in 2017, led by agricultural products, aircraft and airplane parts. Nearly $2.5 billion of those exports went to Canada. The other partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico, was the second biggest market for Kansas exports, at nearly $2 billion.

(This story has been updated.)

Gov. Jeff Colyer lost a nail-biter Republican primary for governor to Secretary of Kris Kobach and quickly backed the man who beat him.

At least one key member of his campaign, however, moved on Monday to jump ship from the party’s nominee.

Colyer campaign chairman and longtime former Kansas Farm Bureau president Steve Baccus threw his support to independent candidate Greg Orman.

The self-proclaimed largest craft brewery in Kansas is shutting down. Tallgrass Brewing, based in Manhattan, will close its doors, at least temporarily.

Tallgrass Brewing was founded in 2007 and expanded in 2015 to a 60,000-square foot facility, which the company said quadrupled its capacity. Tallgrass has been distributing beer in 18 states, according to the website.

When reached by phone, an employee at the Manhattan facility confirmed that the brewery is suspending operations immediately. She couldn't provide any other details.

Independent candidate for Kansas governor Greg Orman will stay on the ballot after state officials rejected a challenge to his candidacy Thursday.

Will Lawrence, a staffer for the state Senate’s top Democrat, had questioned thousands of the signatures Orman used to secure a spot in the race, saying they weren’t collected properly or notarized correctly.

Do you need a babysitter to watch your kids while you campaign for public office? That’s now considered a valid campaign expense in Kansas.

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission said in an 8-1 vote Wednesday that campaign funds, such as donations, may be used to pay for child care. However, that child care must be directly related to campaigning or serving in office.

Just a day before the Kansas primary election, President Donald Trump waded into the race for governor while an independent candidate staked out a space in the general election.

Trump endorsed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his bid to oust incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer. The two are frontrunners in the Republican primary race, which also includes Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Sen. Jim Barnett.

It helps, the latest Kansas campaign money tallies show, to be rich or have wealthy friends.

Next best thing, run as an incumbent.

Campaign finance reports for the first half of this year show dollars spent nearly as quickly as candidates could corral them — filling airwaves, plastering billboards and stuffing mailboxes with flyers.

A new report finds legalizing sports gambling could boost revenue for states like Kansas, but any windfall is likely to be brief.

Sports gambling began to tempt lawmakers after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized it earlier this year. The report released Thursday from the Pew Charitable Trusts said sports book likely won’t be a magic pill to cure state budget issues.

A new awareness campaign in Kansas is aimed at cutting the demand for prostitution as a way to fight human trafficking.

The campaign involves state agencies and local advocacy groups teaming up to push the Demand an End initiative. It involves education and announcements warning people that buyers of sex face charges.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday that the campaign wants to create a culture where buying sex is not acceptable. He said it’s not a victimless crime.

“The money goes somewhere,” he said. “It fuels a marketplace.

Kansas tax collections in June beat estimates — projections that already factored in tax hikes — by $144 million. That capped off a fiscal year where the state topped projections every month, which is a sharp departure from some recent years.

Lawmakers use the projections when they craft the budget, so the boost in revenue means the state’s bank account ends the fiscal year with $318 million more than state officials anticipated.

A deal, hatched in secret, to build a massive chicken processing plant on the outskirts of Tonganoxie, Kansas, caused a huge uproar last September. The Tyson project was promptly canceled. Despite that, all the incumbent city council members on the ballot were voted out of office in November.

The political consequences could continue with upcoming elections for the Kansas House.

A legislative audit released Tuesday concluded that while wildfires in Kansas are becoming more frequent, a lack of resources and coordination are hampering the state’s ability to fight them.

Firefighting duties and resources are spread across three separate agencies, which auditors said is complicating wildfire response and communication between state and local officials.

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.

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.

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. 

Republican candidate for Kansas governor Jim Barnett has chosen what he admits is an unconventional running mate: his wife.

Barnett announced Thursday that he had selected Rosie Hansen as his lieutenant governor pick.

Barnett said he wanted a running mate to help accomplish his goals of improving the way state government functions and bridging the divide between rural and urban Kansas.

Republican candidate for Kansas governor Jim Barnett has chosen what he admits is an unconventional running mate: his wife.

Barnett announced Thursday that he had selected Rosie Hansen as his lieutenant governor pick.

Two of the nation’s most influential players in agriculture policy, at a meeting in the heart of the country’s Grain Belt on Wednesday, tried to ease worries about the pending farm bill and a budding trade war with China.

Top Democrats in the Kansas House and Senate will request investigations into the use of no-bid state contracts, but the proposals will need the approval of some Republican lawmakers to advance.

The Kansas Department of Revenue used a no-bid process, called prior authorization, to award a multi-million dollar contract that outsourced some information technology services earlier this spring. 

Police arrested 18 people protesting policies pushed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after the demonstrators occupied part of his office.

Police led them past other protesters to a bus waiting outside the Kobach’s office.

Kansas saw a bump in job growth last month.

The Kansas Department of Labor says the state gained 2,000 private sector jobs from March to April. Compared to April of last year, Kansas had nearly 18,000 more jobs in the private sector.

Emilie Doerksen, with the Department of Labor, says there have been jumps in job categories such as business services, transportation and warehousing.

“This is actually the first month that we’ve had significant over-the-year gains in the private sector in over a year,” Doerksen says.

Public universities in Kansas are proposing tuition hikes significantly lower than some of the larger increases seen in recent years. The schools presented the plans to the Kansas Board of Regents this week.

The increases in tuition and fees for in-state, undergraduate students range from 1.2 percent at Kansas State University to 3 percent at the University of Kansas.

Gov. Jeff Colyer signed the Kansas budget into law Tuesday, but in the process he knocked out a provision aimed at curbing his administration’s revamp of the state’s privatized Medicaid program, KanCare.

Colyer and his predecessor, former-Gov. Sam Brownback, have been working to overhaul KanCare and get federal permission to extend the program for several more years.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer says the state’s government will be more transparent with the new rules for releasing information he signed into law Thursday.

Kansas lawmakers voted to inject money into state services, pensions and higher education just hours before debating legislation to send millions of dollars back to taxpayers.

House and Senate negotiators struck a tentative deal Wednesday to prevent changes in federal tax law from ratcheting up state taxes for Kansans.

The Senate wanted broader tax cuts in the same bill, but couldn’t coax the House team to go along.

Rep. Steve Johnson, who chairs the House tax committee, said his chamber didn’t want to go beyond addressing the federal impact in ways that would produce deeper cuts to state government revenue.

“It’s all of the tax cuts and these targeted tax cuts that have given us heartburn,” he said.

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