Stephen Koranda

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

A proposed constitutional amendment introduced this week would effectively ban all abortions in Kansas by declaring that life begins at fertilization.

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach pushed to get his office the authority to prosecute voting crimes. A bill to rescind those powers got its first hearing Monday.

Republicans and Democrats are braced for a fight over whether state government in Kansas should cash in on the ramifications of the 2017 federal tax cut. The sides are staking out their positions and could come to loggerheads sooner rather than later.

Republican legislative leaders want to push the tempo and pass legislation in time for the upcoming filing season to return what they call a “windfall” to Kansas taxpayers. Democrats want to hold off and say lawmakers need to wait and see if there even is a windfall.

In her first budget as governor, Democrat Laura Kelly aims to inject cash into what she calls critical state services.

The proposal unveiled Thursday also would start to wean the state off money diverted for years from highway construction and upkeep.

Kansas swore a new governor into office on Monday and saw the end of eight years of Republicans in the office.

New Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told supporters, and the Republican lawmakers she’s sure to clash with, that the state had lost its sense of community. That seemingly was a dig at predecessors Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer.

When Kansas State University Professor Sunanda Dissanayake and other researchers studied traffic fatalities in Kansas, they expected to find that more people had died on the roads.

After all, the state had increased speed limits on some highways to 75 miles per hour. Higher speeds lead to more severe crashes. But they did not expect such a deadly result.

The next head of the Kansas Department of Transportation is looking to invest more in maintenance of the highway system and rebuild agency staff.

Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly has picked Julie Lorenz as interim head of KDOT.

Lorenz will be taking the helm after years of lawmakers diverting road funding to balance the state budget. She hopes that will slow, but said the state’s finances are still recovering.

Education advocates are calling for Kansas lawmakers to muster additional cash for schools and end a lawsuit over education funding. The groups gathered Tuesday at the Statehouse to call for lawmakers to provide the money and not reopen a debate over the state's school finance law.

Lawmakers plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into schools last year in response to a court ruling. The court said it wasn’t quite enough, but adjusting for inflation would fix it.

Tax collections in Kansas shrank last month compared to December 2017. Some types of tax collections sagged, but the state still beat the December estimate. Halfway through the fiscal year the overall revenue picture is still good.

The economists who create the estimates had expected a downturn in Kansas tax collections in December, but some drops were larger than anticipated.

Individual income taxes were $8 million below the projection and retail sales taxes also missed the mark.

Joe Bisogno sees a bright future for industrial hemp in Kansas. The plant is a close relative of marijuana, but it lacks the high-producing chemical THC.

The crop can be used to make everything from textiles to health and food products.

“Industrial hemp is not pot, but it is a pot of gold for Kansas,” Bisogno said before the ribbon cutting on a new hemp training facility in De Soto.

Bisogno founded America’s Hemp Academy to train people on growing hemp, but other state officials hope Kansas can cash in on more than just growing the crop.

Erin Wolfram, with the University of Kansas Career Center, enters a small room in Summerfield Hall on the KU campus, where she is suddenly surrounded by hundreds of suits, dresses, shirts and ties filling floor-to-ceiling racks. The Professional House of Garments is filled with clothes waiting to help students dress for success as they prepare for job and internship interviews.

Kansas voters elected a new governor, Democrat Laura Kelly, who wants to promptly expand Medicaid eligibility, resolve a long-running lawsuit with more school funding, and address a crisis in the state's foster care system. But her ability to fulfill that agenda will depend on how willing a more conservative Legislature is to work with her.

Following an on-stage conversation with the governor-elect, My Fellow Kansans host Jim McLean was joined by Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty and Kansas News Service reporters Stephen Koranda and Celia Llopis-Jepsen for a live panel discussion of the dynamics heading into the 2019 legislative session. 

Beatty, armed with insights from a Fox News exit poll, said voters are looking for their elected officials to chart a center path. 

 

A ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court could make it easier for police officers to search a home based on what they believe they smell.

In the recent ruling, four of the seven justices said that an officer’s belief she smelled unlit marijuana was probable cause to sweep an apartment in Douglas County and then ask for a search warrant.

The top child welfare official in Kansas says bringing in additional contractors under a new series of grants will cost more but will help put the troubled foster care system on solid footing.

Department for Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel says the cost will rise $35 million per year. Kansas will have more contractors and she says that will make it easier to serve the more than 7,000 kids in foster care.

Meier-Hummel says the new structure will mean less travel time for kids going into placements.

Kansans could be placing legal bets on their favorite sports teams next year.

A legislative committee met Tuesday to discuss options for sports gaming. Many states are eyeing the tax money they could gather now that a federal ban on sports betting has been knocked down.

Lawmakers on the committee believe it’s likely that Kansas will legalize sports gaming. The question is what it might look like, and how much it’s taxed.

Republican Sen. Bud Estes said the state must be careful to avoid too many taxes.

A panel of state officials is working this week on recommendations for funding the Kansas highway system, and they could propose additional fees for hybrid and fully electric vehicles.

Kansas Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly is targeting school funding, Medicaid expansion and LGBT protections as some of her top priorities as she prepares to take office in January.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s loss in the race for governor at least heightens the possibility that he may join President Donald Trump’s administration.

Campaign spending is super high. Voter registration in Kansas is hitting records. And it's not just the governor's race that's going down to the wire. 

The Kansas News Service team looks at last-minute ads, considers candidates' closing arguments, and what voters might be excited about going into Election Day. 


Republican candidate for Kansas governor Kris Kobach is defending President Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship through an executive order. Kobach has argued on cable news channels this week that the Constitution doesn’t guarantee citizenship to everyone born in the country.

Two of the top three campaigns for Kansas governor are relying heavily on a single source of cash: their own money.

The last major campaign reports filed before next week’s election revealed that, in the last three months, Kris Kobach’s running mate accounted for nearly half the money hauled in by the Republican candidate.

Kelly cashes in

Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly raised the most money by a wide margin, pulling in almost $1 million more than Kobach. During the period from July 27 to Oct. 25, Kelly received $2.3 million.

It’s campaign season, meaning candidates are filling television airwaves and mailboxes with political advertising. Now, campaigning has spread onto another platform: your smartphone.

The two top candidates for Kansas governor sparred in a debate over a familiar name: former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

The two distanced themselves from Brownback, who left office earlier this year with sagging approval numbers.

Kansas foster care contractors will now be paying a financial price for kids sleeping in their offices. The plan was made public Friday during a meeting of a child welfare task force.

Department for Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said the contractors will face fines and citations against their licenses. The fines and citation consequences won't be set unless there's a violation, she said.

Last year, the public learned that kids were sleeping in the offices of Kansas foster care contractors because of a lack of available placements on short notice.

Kansas foster care contractors will now be paying a financial price for kids sleeping in their offices. The plan was made public Friday during a meeting of a child welfare task force.

Department for Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said the contractors will face fines and citations against their licenses. The fines and citation consequences won't be set unless there's a violation, she said.

Last year, the public learned that kids were sleeping in the offices of Kansas foster care contractors because of a lack of available placements on short notice.

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.

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