KMUW

Republican legislators in Kansas expect to push ahead this week with an income tax relief proposal.

The move would defy Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's call for lawmakers to avoid adjusting state tax laws this year.

A Senate committee is set to open hearings Tuesday on a bill aimed at preventing individuals and corporations from paying more to Kansas because of changes in federal income tax laws at the end of 2017. The panel could vote Thursday.

A hot job market and the increasing cost of tuition have slowed the growth in the number of Kansans earning a college education nearly to a halt. Educators are worried that will worsen shortages of high-skilled workers and impede prosperity long term.

Democrat Laura Kelly is now governor. The Republicans still control both houses of the legislature. Now, the question is whether or not she can accomplish major policy goals such as funding K-12 education, introducing expanded Medicaid, and funding other pressing program needs without a tax increase.

Kansas education officials are launching a yearlong study to improve early childhood programs and services.

The goal is to get a better understanding of the overall federal, state and local childcare and learning programs available for children under five.

Kansas' high school graduation rate continued to trend upward with the class of 2018 as schools put a growing emphasis on preventing students from dropping out.

Of the students who started at both public and private high schools in 2014, 87.5 percent graduated within four years, an increase from the 86.9 percent rate of the previous freshman class, according to newly published state data.

A diploma is paramount.

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.

With the partial government shutdown now nearing a third week, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas is hopeful President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders will reach a resolution soon — one that includes sweeping changes to immigration policy.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has ended the talk — and there's been a lot of it — about his political future. The senior senator from Kansas announced in Manhattan Friday that he won’t be campaigning for a fifth term.

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.

Kansas experienced its 23rd-wettest year on record in 2018, according to weather data that goes back as far as 1895. 

Break out your boots.

Nineteen Kansas state parks, including Cheney and El Dorado, are hosting New Year’s Day hikes.

Park rangers will lead hikers through dense woodlands, sweeping prairie grass and along the shores of lakes.

Jill Johnson, an administrator at El Dorado State Park, said the hike at her park has “lots of trees” and plenty of birds.

“This time of year we see some eagles,” Johnson said. “So (we will be) kind of just taking nature in, pretty much.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is borrowing $12 billion to aid farmers as part of its trade relief program.

Most of that money will go directly to farmers hurt by the trade war with China and other countries, but $1.2 billion will be used to buy surplus food.

That food will go to places like the Kansas Food Bank, where it’s then distributed to food assistance agencies across the state.

“We are the warehouse, and (our partners) are like the individual arms,” said Kansas Food Bank President Brian Walker.

Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State and a former Kansas congressman from Wichita, spoke about some of the key issues he is dealing with as the country’s leader of foreign policy during a brief interview Thursday with KMUW. 

Spirit AeroSystems announced Wednesday it will add 1,400 new jobs over the course of the next year.

 

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.

One morning after the next, semi-trailer trucks get off Interstate 70 near Colby in west-central Kansas.

They haul parts of giant wind turbines in 150-foot-long sections, the pieces to the Solomon Forks wind farm and the next monumental phase of the Kansas bet on wind energy. The farm will plant 105 turbines in the prairie, each towering 250 feet high.

The project is one of a wave of wind farms under construction in Kansas that will add 20 percent more electrical generation to the state’s output.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $1.2 billion to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure across the nation.

Of the 234 water infrastructure projects nationally, 16 are in Kansas, including one in Valley Center.

The city will get a $3.1 million loan to replace a portion of its aging water distribution system with new water lines, service lines, valves and hydrants. Corroded cast-iron pipe from the 1960s will be replaced.

Here’s the list of the other projects in Kansas:

A monument was unveiled last Friday at Kansas' Fort Leavenworth to honor the only black Women's Army Corps unit to deploy overseas during World War II.

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.

Wichita will soon be home to the world’s largest mural painted by a single artist.

 

The mural is on the east side of the Beachner grain elevator on 21st Street. It’s visible west of I-135 as well as westbound K-96.

 

Kansans can expect rising temperatures and more extreme flooding in the future, according to the latest National Climate Assessment.

Incumbent Rep. Roger Marshall was re-elected to represent Kansas' 1st Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.

Marshall cruised to victory over his Democratic opponent Alan LaPolice. He picked up 68 percent of the vote to LaPolice's 32 percent.

Marshall, a physician from Great Bend, entered Congress in 2016 after narrowly defeating three-term Rep. Tim Huelskamp in the primary, as well as LaPolice in the general election.

We'll be updating this page with unofficial election results as they come in. Check this page or listen to KMUW 89.1 FM throughout election night and Wednesday morning for results and analysis on local and statewide races. A full list of statewide results can be found at the Kansas secretary of state's website. Need to catch up? Check out KMUW's 2018 election coverage page.

In the race for the 4th District seat, Republican incumbent Ron Estes and his Democratic opponent, James Thompson, are pretty much political polar opposites.

A new Emerson College poll finds the Kansas governor’s race remains tight, and Democrats might get a win in a Kansas congressional race.

Emerson researchers heard from nearly 1,000 registered voters last weekend who said they were very likely to vote or have already voted in the midterm elections.

Results show the governor’s race continues to be a dead heat between Republican Kris Kobach and Democrat Laura Kelly. The poll suggests Kobach has a slight lead of 44 percent to Kelly’s 43 percent.

Independent candidate Greg Orman captured 8 percent of the vote.

Kansas high school graduates performed slightly better on the ACT than the average student in 2018.

A Hutchinson company helped set the scene in the new movie “First Man.”

The film tells the story of astronaut Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon.

Scenes from the mission control room feature consoles from the Cosmosphere museum in Hutchinson. A team with the museum’s SpaceWorks division refurbished 13 consoles for the movie.

New research out of Stanford University shows that limiting wastewater injection is helping to prevent man-made earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The researchers have created a new physics-based model that can better predict where man-made earthquakes will occur by looking at increases in pressure. The model shows that the number of earthquakes is driven by how much wastewater is being injected into the ground.

A new poll by Emerson College in Massachusetts finds the Kansas governor’s race is a statistical tie with five weeks to go until the general election.

The poll reports 37 percent of voters surveyed chose Republican Kris Kobach and 36 percent chose Democrat Laura Kelly if the election was held now.

Independent candidate Greg Orman received support from 9 percent of voters. About 15 percent of those surveyed are still undecided.

The poll indicates President Donald Trump is popular in Kansas with a 55 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval rating.

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