KCUR

More than 100 local officials from both Kansas and Missouri gathered Saturday morning to discuss ways to combat climate change on the local and regional level. 

'This is by far the largest collection of elected officials that are addressing climate change, climate disruption and global warming that I've seen in my time here," said Brian Alferman, sustainability manager of Johnson County, Kansas. "So I want it to be a part of it and hope that it drives some of the work that I do."

Musical chairs

After years in the Kansas Legislature, it’s natural that Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly would turn to people she’s known there to start filling out key spots in her administration.

For starters, she picked Will Lawrence as her chief of staff. It’s a powerful, right-hand position to a governor. The chief of staff can control access to the governor and play an important role in setting priorities. Lawrence has been chief of staff to Democratic Senate Leader Anthony Hensley.

The Buck O’Neil Bridge just north of downtown is one of more hectic traffic spots in Kansas City, Missouri, and for Shari H, a car accident here in 2012 turned out to be life-changing.

She didn’t have any major injuries, but after days and weeks passed, she realized that her post-accident soreness wasn’t going away.

Leader talk

The newly elected and re-elected folks in the Kansas House got together on Monday to pick their leaders. Republicans, who hold an overwhelming majority, kept Ron Ryckman in the speaker’s chair. But they swapped out moderate Don Hineman for conservative Dan Hawkins.

Democrats replaced the sometimes-combative Jim Ward, who briefly flirted with a run for governor, for the more conciliatory Tom Sawyer.

Thirty years ago, I attended the Nov. 30, 1988, news conference where then-Kansas State athletic director Steve Miller introduced Bill Snyder. At the time, no one envisioned a football coaching career that would ultimately place Snyder in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Perhaps there’d be modest success that Vince Gibson and Jim Dickey enjoyed during their respective tenures with the Wildcats? Sure, that couldn’t be ruled out. But no coach dating back to the first year of the program in 1896 could sustain any degree of consistent success, and Snyder’s first season was difficult, a 1-10 record. That — and K-State football — changed.

Kansas has agreed to cover the cost of drugs to treat Medicaid patients with chronic hepatitis C without subjecting them to a lengthy list of requirements.

A legal settlement, which awaits final court approval, resolves a class action lawsuit alleging the state made it too difficult for hepatitis C patients to receive the potentially life-saving treatments.

If you want to know how a felon buys a gun, think about how a teenager might buy alcohol.

First, find a willing friend or family member, or maybe even a stranger at a liquor store who wants to make a quick buck. Then give this person some cash, tell them your drink of choice, and wait.

If you’re careful, this transaction — called a “straw purchase” — is impossible to detect. Clerks don’t often hassle a person over 21 who walks alone into a liquor store.

A few days after the election, Kansas' next governor is beginning to spell out what she'll do in office. 

On Thursday, governor-elect Laura Kelly said she'd reinstate an executive order to protect LGBTQ state workers from discrimination. The order was first put in place by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007, but that was rescinded in 2015 by then-Gov. Sam Brownback.

Kansas, a state that went for President Donald Trump by 20 points two years ago, on Tuesday turned one of its four Republican seats in Congress to Democrat.

Democratic newcomer Sharice Davids topped incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder in his quest for a fifth term. She beat the Kansas City-area 3rd Congressional District by roughly 9 percentage points.

Six months ago, very few people in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District even knew Sharice Davids’ name. Now she has made history. Davids is the first openly gay representative in Kansas history. She joins Deb Haaland from New Mexico as the first Native American women in the House.

"We have a chance to reset expectations when people look at Kansas," Davids said to a room full of cheering supporters. "I knew we could do better and we just did."

Post-Midterm Election Reactions

Nov 7, 2018

The day after the 2018 midterm elections, two political science professors join us to talk about who turned out to vote, and how that affected the outcomes. The discussion includes high turnout for young voters, changing rural demographics in Kansas and Missouri, the importance of identity for voters and candidates, and whether Kansas just turned blue as some are claiming, or not. 

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.

Secretary of Conflict?

It’s a basic conflict baked into most state constitutions: The person who oversees elections also runs for election. So who’s making sure that person, someone with an obvious stake in the outcome of voting, doesn’t somehow fudge the outcome?

Come in and sit down at Anita Parsa’s kitchen table. Help yourself to the chocolate chip cookies and she’ll get you an iced tea. Might as well make yourself comfortable.

Because for the next hour, she’s going to school you on a massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  

“I like to figure out puzzles,” Parsa says. “I like to crack things, and that’s what this is all about.”

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.

Few issues split Kansas politics like the Obama-era expansion of Medicaid.

Unlike 33 other states, Kansas still hasn't expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.  The decision would pay for the health care of thousands of people who don’t currently meet the program’s stringent eligibility requirements.

Emergency room nurse Nathan Craft and his wife Annie don’t expect anything to be easy as they pull up stakes for the next two years. The RV they remodeled will be tight quarters for them and their two preschool-age kids. And there’s a certain amount of stress in not knowing where they’re going to set down next.

Democrat Sharice Davids walloped incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder in fundraising last quarter.

The Davids campaign says the first-time candidate raised $2.7 million between July and September. In that same period Yoder, running for a fifth term in the Kansas 3rd District, raised almost $1.3 million.

Kansans seeking health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federally run exchange will have the choice of three insurers in 2019.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said in a statement that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Medica Insurance Co. and Ambetter from Sunflower Health Plan will offer 23 separate plans for individuals through HealthCare.gov, the federal government exchange.

Kansas public schools will see $27 million from the U.S. Department of Education to improve literacy for all kids — including those not yet old enough for school.

The Kansas City Chiefs' first home game of the season brought a packed stadium, loud fans — and the rollout of a new tailgaiting policy.  

The Chiefs announced last month the new rules, which require fans in the parking lots to either enter the stadium or leave at kickoff, not allowing for people to watch the game or keep partying. So far, the rules have not gone over well, and fan reactions on Sunday were no exception.

While the number of people who own guns in America may have decreased over time, the people who own them have become more politically active.

That’s according to a study recently released by political scientists at the University of Kansas.

Donald Haider-Markel, one of the study’s co-authors, told Brian Ellison, guest host of KCUR's Central Standard, gun owners are not only more likely to vote than non-gun owners but also are more likely to engage in other political activities such as calling elected officials or donating to campaigns.

The alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl while she was waiting for a foster care placement in May has many asking about consequences for the contractor, responsible that day for both the girl and the 18-year-old accused of assaulting her.

On a Facebook Live session Wednesday, Department for Children and Families secretary Gina Meier-Hummel fielded a question about why the contractor hasn’t been dropped.

With Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolina coasts there is now controversy over the transfer of $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. One of the people responsible for this transfer is Kansas 3rd District Rep. Kevin Yoder, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security budget.

When Josh Collins first got the letter from Bank of America more than two months ago, he thought it was a scam.

The letter wasn’t on the glossy paper typical of what he’d seen during his two decades with the bank. And it asked him some unusual questions, like if he had international accounts.

Kansas has joined 15 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that it’s legal to fire people for being transgender.

Last week, the 16 states filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to overturn a federal appeals court's decision that it was illegal for a Michigan funeral home to terminate an employee who was transitioning from male to female. The appeals court ruled that Aimee Stephens’ firing violated Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex.

The Colorado Rockies are packed with natural beauty, huge vistas, pretty flowers and adorable critters.

But when I backpacked the 160-mile Collegiate Loop on the Colorado Trail last month, I discovered a great little community of strangers out on the trail. Here are just a few of the notables I met on the trail.

Whenever I get the chance to travel beyond the edge of the High Plains, I try to visit the public radio stations serving the town to which I'm a'going. Recently, I had the chance to stop by two different stations: WFMT Radio Network on the north side of Chicago, Illinois and KCUR/Harvest Public Media in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas is setting aspirations for much higher math and reading competency among the class of 2030 — today’s kindergartners — in a long-term accountability plan for its public schools.

Kansas officials submitted the accountability blueprint Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include language promoting controversial school choice concepts that Gov. Sam Brownback’s office advocated for, according to staff at the state education department.

The online retail giant Amazon announced a deal in June that showed its latest ambition: to completely change how America gets its food.

The latest step toward that goal is a proposed merger with Whole Foods Market, worth nearly $14 billion. The deal recently passed a key hurdle after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission decided the sale  would not hamper competition or provide an unfair advantage.

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