KCUR

The clock is ticking for Kansas lawmakers to figure out a school funding solution. Briefs making the case for a plan are due to the state Supreme Court April 15.

With only one week of the regular legislative session to go, there’s still significant division over how to satisfy the court that funding is adequate and end the nearly decade-old Gannon lawsuit.

Three Kansas hospitals are among six hospitals once run by a North Kansas City-based company that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he misses Kansas and would like to go back into business in the state someday. But at the Road to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Overland Park Monday, the former congressman was cagey about his future in public office.

The annual conference gives business people a chance to rub elbows with potential funders in government, foundations and the private sector. Pompeo said it’s no coincidence that this year’s summit was in his home state.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the appeal of a Kansas death row inmate who claims the state unconstitutionally abolished his right to use insanity as a defense for his crimes.

Nobody disputes that James Kahler murdered four family members in 2009. But Kahler's attorneys argued at trial and in subsequent appeals that he had spiraled into a mental health crisis in the months preceding the murders and was psychotic during the attack. The murders took place in Burlingame, about 30 miles south of Topeka.

SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3

The lawyer for the family of a New Jersey teen who died after football practice at Garden City Community College says the school continues its lack of transparency about his death. 

Nineteen-year-old Braeden Bradforth died of exertional heat stroke last August after a grueling conditioning practice where players were denied water. 

A little more than a week after 10 longtime journalists took their leave from the Kansas City Star in what was seen by some people as a blow to local journalism, former police and courts reporter Tony Rizzo was enjoying his new-found free time.

Most people in Missouri and Kansas could not pass the history portion of the U.S. citizenship test, according to a survey released in February.

Neither could most Americans. The survey, conducted by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, polled 41,000 people in all 50 states, and 60 percent of them failed the exam.

Almost 25 years to the day after the Brady Bill first mandated background checks for some gun sales, House Democrats and a handful of Republicans just voted to require background checks on all gun sales.

Bills on drug sentencing, probation and marijuana possession stalled in the Kansas Legislature this year. Instead, lawmakers continue to consider appointing a task force to address the criminal justice system as a whole.

A Wyandotte County judge has thrown out all five remaining criminal indictments stemming from the death three years ago of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab on the Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn waterpark, finding that they were tainted by grand jury abuse.

Judge Robert P. Burns ruled that improper evidence and testimony were presented to the grand jury, requiring the indictments’ dismissal.

Twice, Rep. Jarrod Ousley introduced bills that would create a watchdog over the Kansas agency in charge of looking after children from troubled families.

It’s a massive department hounded by stories of overlooked abuse cases and foster children caught in punishing patterns of shifting from one temporary home to the next.

Ousley says he’s dropping the idea of a state child advocate. For now.

This story was updated to add the comments of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.

Oswego Community Hospital, a 12-bed critical access hospital in southeast Kansas, abruptly closed down on Thursday, citing insufficient revenue to cover its operating expenses.

The hospital’s board released a statement saying the hospital had “weathered low patient volumes; high number of uninsured patients; low reimbursement rates; difficulty in getting payment from private insurance providers; low Medicaid and Medicare rates; and the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid.”

Lockdown drills have become increasingly common in schools across the United States. Though drills differ from school to school, they usually require students to crouch in a corner of their darkened classroom, away from the door, and stay quiet until the teacher says it is okay to start talking again. Students start practicing these drills as early as pre-school, before they can truly understand what threat they are hiding from.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas Department of Transportation officials outlined plans Wednesday for putting a state highway program abandoned by former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback back on track.

Years of lean budgets prompted annual raids of the state highway fund. With more than $2 billion siphoned off since 2011, it became known as the “bank of KDOT.”

“By reducing transfers from the state highway fund, we move closer to closing the bank of KDOT,” Kelly said at a news conference staged at the transportation agency.

Gov. Laura Kelly has said she has an easy solution for funding schools: Just renew the finance plan the Kansas Legislature agreed to last year and fold in an adjustment for inflation. But over in the Senate, lawmakers are picking that proposal apart.

After months of wrangling last year, lawmakers approved a $500 million multi-year boost for schools in response to a state Supreme Court ruling in the long-running Gannon case.

When an attempt to carry out a gun removal in Maryland's Anne Arundel County left a man dead last November, opponents of the state's red flag law were incensed.

"Whatever you may think of red flag laws, they should not be death sentences. And they were in the case of Gary Willis," said Mark Pennak, an attorney and president of the gun rights organization Maryland Shall Issue.

Copyright 2019 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's never been harder to hire long-haul truck drivers, even though companies are making the job more lucrative, less aggravating and more inclusive.

The driver shortage stretches back a quarter century, and lately a run-up in freight demand, staggeringly high turnover rates and waves of baby boomer retirements are compounding the problem.

Former Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach rewrote the rules for voting in Kansas. Laws he pushed for required voters to show citizenship papers to register and ID at the polls. He secured prosecutorial powers for his office. 

Kobach’s term only ended a couple weeks ago, but some cornerstones of his legacy are already starting to crumble.

As Fred Nelson shuffled through a crowded convention center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a man tapped him on the shoulder to ask about a gun.

The man knew Nelson was selling thanks to the handwritten menu taped on Nelson's backpack advertising more than a dozen handguns, rifles and shotguns.

He offered $300 for a Glock 19 pistol listed at $350.

"Meet me in the middle at $325," Nelson responded. "It's never been fired. You can look down the barrel."

Kansas City Star columnist Steve Rose handed in his resignation Saturday after Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning accused Rose of falsely attributing statements to him about Medicaid expansion.

Rose, who is not an employee of The Star but has written a political column for the newspaper for years, told KCUR that The Star accepted his resignation on Monday.

In a brief phone interview, Rose said he has been writing columns for nearly 50 years “and I’ve never made anything up and I can prove that what he is saying is absolutely wrong.”

An appeal filed by a Kansas man on death row has caught the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court and could change how Kansas and other states prosecute people who commit crimes while mentally ill.

Nobody disputes that James Kahler murdered four family members in 2009. But Kahler’s attorneys argued at trial and in subsequent appeals that he had spiraled into a mental health crisis in the months preceding the murders and was psychotic during the attack. The murders took place in Burlingame, about 30 miles south of Topeka.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas' 3rd District had been in office for less than 24 hours when Republicans came out swinging with an attack ad.

"With her very first vote in Congress, Sharice Davids caved to the party bosses and voted to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker," says a female narrator, with chilling music in the background.

While working as an orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii, Dr. Diane Payne had treated one person with a gunshot wound in three years. But when she moved to Atlanta in 2013, Payne said it was like treating gunshot victims was suddenly all she was doing.

“I was shocked by the number of gun-related injuries that we’re seeing and taking care of here,” said Payne, who works at Atlanta’s busy downtown trauma center, Grady Memorial Hospital.

In 2013, Grady treated more than 600 gunshot victims.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, the new congresswoman from Kansas' 3rd District, will meet with Republican Sen. Jerry Moran this week and lobby him to vote for a House bill that would reopen the government, Davids said on Sunday.

Kansas State University is now officially home to one of the best groups of cyber-defense trainees in the nation.

In December, the university's Cyber Defense Club won second place nationally and first place regionally in a competition hosted by the United States Department of Energy. The K-State students competed against 70 teams from 24 states at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, one of seven sites to host the contest.

On what threatens to become the longest government shutdown in history, Kansas Republican representatives tend to agree — Democrats are to blame. 

It's the third week of the shutdown, which came after Democrats and Republicans in the Senate failed to reach an agreement on a spending bill that would allocate $5 billion for a border wall. That means it's the third consecutive week thousands of federal workers across the country have gone without pay.

A Kansas Army veteran who saw six tours of duty in a 27-year military career thought he had legally adopted his niece in 2014. Federal immigration authorities, however, claimed the adoption was invalid. Now, the veteran's years-long legal effort to secure citizenship for his adopted daughter is getting help from a national organization.

After his niece, Hyebin, was abandoned by her father in South Korea, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Schreiber of Lansing, Kansas, brought her to the United States in 2012, with plans to adopt her.

(This story was updated at 3 p.m.)

The latest defections from the Kansas Republican Party — two Johnson County legislators — show politicians in some corners of the state trying to catch up with changes in the voters they need to win over.

In quick succession Wednesday morning, Republican moderates state Sen. Dinah Sykes and state Rep. Stephanie Clayton announced they are changing parties.

They followed the path of moderate Republican state Sen. Barbara Bollier, who declared herself a Democrat earlier this month.

Richard Jones, who spent nearly 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, is getting $1.1 million from the state of Kansas. It’s the first payment made under the state’s new mistaken-conviction statute.

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