HPPR Government & Politics

Government:
state government (executive, legislative & judicial)
local government (city & county)
regional agencies & authorities
policies
budgets & taxes
laws, rules & regulations

Politics:
district-level and statewide office campaigns
legislative proposals
voting patterns

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.

CC0 Creative Commons

Last week, Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana.

But, as CBS News reports, gun owners who want to smoke pot for medical reasons may be out of luck. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has confirmed to a local TV station in the Sooner State that the bureau will stand by a 2011 letter prohibiting any “unlawful user” of a controlled substance from “possessing firearms or ammunition.”

Abortion rights advocates in Texas say the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy raises the stakes for laws passed by the state Legislature.

Kennedy has been the swing vote on rulings upholding access to abortions in the U.S. for decades. Most recently, he voted to strike down a Texas law known as House Bill 2, which forced the closure of multiple abortion clinics across the state.

From Texas Standard.

In a backlash against the president’s immigration policies, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, are now echoing calls from some Democratic Socialists and other progressives that ICE should be dissolved. The Texas Observer first reported this story, picked up today by The New York Times.

The Senate took a crucial step Thursday to making sure that, among other things, the hungry are fed, farmers have crop price protections and land is preserved beyond Sept. 30 — that is, the day the farm bill expires.

Federal prosecutors have revived an effort to target violent crime in Kansas, this time with a focus on Wichita and Garden City, U.S. Attorney for Kansas Stephen McAllister announced Thursday.

The Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative prioritizes federal prosecutions of repeat violent offenders and convicted criminals who carry firearms.

United States Senate

Amtrak may end passenger rail service through Dodge City, Garden City and destinations to the west.

The agency told a congressional delegation last week that it might shut down parts of the Southwest Chief route that runs across Kansas on its way between Chicago and Los Angeles. That news followed ongoing disputes about track maintenance and upgrades.

U.S. Representative Jared Polis won the Democratic primary and state treasurer Walker Stapleton won the Republican primary for Colorado governor Tuesday.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Polis won the Democratic primary with close to 45 percent of the vote and Stapleton won the GOP primary with 49 percent of the vote.

In a move that could expand the powers of his office, Gov. Greg Abbott has told Texas state agencies to submit proposed new rules to him before they are made available for public comment.

democracychronicles / Flickr Creative Commons

Voters went to the polls in Oklahoma on Tuesday night, to decide on a medical marijuana law and to decide who the candidates will be in this November’s elections.

As CBS News reports, Sooner voters said yes to State Question 788, making it legal to grow, sell and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Registering to vote in the upcoming Kansas primaries? A federal court ruling issued last week means you won’t need your passport, birth certificate or other citizenship papers to do that.

That ruling took immediate effect.

But Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach plans to appeal. So what happens next? Here’s a summary based on interviews with legal experts.

The status check

Civil rights attorneys say the Supreme Court's decision Monday in a Texas redistricting case showed how difficult it is to prove discrimination in voting laws.

The Supreme Court mostly sided with Republican lawmakers in the case, which challenged state House and congressional maps. Plaintiffs had argued lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities when they drew up the maps.

The U.S. Supreme Court partially upheld Texas’ political maps in a 5-4 ruling today.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Want to get to know Colorado’s gubernatorial candidates better ahead of the primary?

The Colorado Independent spent the past few months interviewing each of the four Republican and four Democratic candidates. Reporters also observed the candidates on the campaign trail, dug into their records and spoke with people who know them.

The Republican candidates include state treasurer Walker Stapleton, former mayor Greg Lopez, entrepreneur Victor Mitchell and banker Doug Robinson

50states.com

Want to get to know Oklahoma’s large pool of gubernatorial candidates better before you vote in the primary?

The Tulsa World reported last week the 15 candidates' responses to questions about teacher raises and medicinal marijuana, which also appears on the ballot.

This story was updated to include the comments of Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley.

Two Kansas lawmakers are asking for more clarity on the legal status of and facilities for unaccompanied children detained in Kansas after attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

FORT WORTH — Even before Texas Democrats’ convention officially got underway here this weekend, its top candidates were chomping at the bit to seize on the biggest story in the country: thousands of immigrant children being separated from their parents at the border.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the nation’s largest program to reduce hunger. It’s also the biggest program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But under the White House’s plan to reorganize the federal government, released Thursday, SNAP would have a new home at a revamped Department of Health and Human Services.

From Texas Standard.

Canadian lawmakers voted Tuesday to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Our northern neighbors are only the second country in the world to legalize marijuana. This poses a question: Are times changing? In their recently adopted party platform, Texas Republicans endorsed medical marijuana, cannabis decriminalization and industrial hemp.

Thursday had all the makings of deja vu for the U.S. House’s farm bill draft: immigration concerns, uncertain Republican votes and a wall of Democratic opposition to changes in the main federal food aid program.

In the end, the chamber avoided a repeat of May’s failure, when members of the conservative Freedom Caucus wanted to deal with immigration first. But the farm bill passed Thursday — narrowly, 213-211. Still, 20 Republicans voted against it, as did every Democrat in the chamber.

From Texas Standard.

The nation is grappling with disturbing news of children separated from their parents at the border as a consequence of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that calls for prosecution of border crossers. In Congress, multiple bills have been filed in response. A proposal by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz calls for doubling the number of immigration judges.

Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET

President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end his controversial policy that has resulted in thousands of family separations and brought criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

"We're going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don't stand for and that we don't want," Trump said Wednesday morning, when he announced that he would sign the order.

Texas politicians have called on the Trump administration to end its policy of separating immigrant families crossing the border illegally, and are asking the state to stop assisting immigration authorities along the border until the policy ends. 

The Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children who cross the border without legal permission has become a divisive issue across the United States and in Congress.

The policy spurred U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, to demand Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions "take immediate action to end the practice" that's divided nearly 2,000 families since April. There's also a Senate bill, known as the Keep Families Together Act, that would ban the separation tactic and has only Democratic backing.

Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

As part of his school and gun safety plan, Gov. Greg Abbott wants to explore a law that would allow local officials to take guns away from people if a judge declares them a danger — while also protecting Second Amendment rights. It's an issue that has previously gone nowhere in the Texas Legislature.

It’s become a common refrain after each new mass shooting: “There were red flags.”

A blossoming trade war between the United States and China could have a big impact on Kansas farmers and businesses.

President Donald Trump has made good on his threat to slap an additional 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. In turn, Chinese officials have committed to retaliatory tariffs in the same amount. But while U.S. tariffs are focused on tech products, Chinese tariffs will likely focus on agricultural goods.

Political party conventions are always about the future – the next election, to be specific, but also the five- and 10-year plan for growth.

The last couple of decades for Texas Republicans have been pretty rock solid. In 2014, Gov. Greg Abbott won the election by 20 points. And in the 2018 primaries, Republicans set records for voter turnout in an off-year election.

James Dickey Wins Re-election As Chairman Of The Texas GOP

Jun 17, 2018

SAN ANTONIO — Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey has won re-election, beating back a challenge from longtime activist Cindy Asche after a long and bitter fight on the convention floor Friday.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s message to Midwestern farmers this week is a mixed bag, telling them that the agency will be changing an Obama-era rule regarding water regulations but is pausing a plan to expand summer sales of ethanol.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, is responding to a letter demanding he take action to end the Trump administration's policy of breaking up immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Nearly 60 elected officials from Johnson and Wyandotte Counties have called on Yoder to prevent immigrant children seeking asylum in the U.S. with their families from being separated from their parents at the border. Yoder is chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

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