WRITER: Peter Hancock

Watkins quiet since winning 2nd District primary, but GOP PACs are spending big

TOPEKA – In the six weeks since Republican candidate Steve Watkins won the 2nd District congressional primary, he has not released a single TV ad or issued any public statements to the media. And with only 48 days left before the Nov. 6 election, public records on file with Topeka-area TV stations indicate he hasn't reserved any air time. But in a district that is important to both parties in their hopes of ...

Republican Nancy Kassebaum endorses Democrat Laura Kelly for Kansas governor

TOPEKA — Republican Nancy Kassebaum, a former U.S. senator from Kansas, has formally endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly for governor. “Laura Kelly studies the issues and is willing to work with others for solutions to real problems," Kassebaum said in a statement released Tuesday by the Kelly campaign. "Her competence, understanding, and dedication are leadership qualities that Kansas needs at this time. I ...

Kobach proposes capping valuation hikes. Some say it may be unconstitutional

TOPEKA — Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach has proposed a major change in the state’s property tax laws that some experts say could only be done through a state constitutional amendment. The plan calls for capping property appraisal increases at no more than 2 percent a year, regardless of how much the property might increase in actual fair market value. Kobach says his plan is meant to ...

Davis touts moderate Republican endorsements in 2nd District congressional race

This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2018 TOPEKA – Three dozen high-profile moderate Republicans from eastern Kansas announced their endorsement of Democrat Paul Davis in the 2nd District congressional race in Kansas on Monday at the same time a new poll shows the race a virtual dead heat. At a Statehouse news conference, retiring state Rep. Tom Sloan, of Lawrence, joined with the other ...

Kansas moving forward on industrial hemp; licenses could be available by spring

TOPEKA - The Kansas Department of Agriculture is gearing up to start issuing licenses for farmers to grow industrial hemp for research purposes, and the agency hopes to start issuing those licenses in time for next year's spring planting season. Agency spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne said in an interview Friday that proposed rules and regulations were submitted earlier this week to the Department of ...

Missouri consumers getting energy rebates, but Kansas law that would allow them here goes unused

TOPEKA - Four years ago, Kansas lawmakers passed a law encouraging utility companies to launch programs that would help their customers be more energy efficient. Today, none of Kansas' utilities have implemented energy efficiency programs under the law. That has one advocacy group claiming Kansas consumers are missing out on savings, especially compared to residents in Missouri, where a similar law is being ...

Poll: Kansas governor's race still a dead heat

TOPEKA - A new poll released by Kansas Democrats on Thursday shows the race for Kansas governor is still a dead heat between Republican Kris Kobach and Democrat Laura Kelly, with independent candidate Greg Orman showing a distant third. The survey, conducted Sept. 12-13, asked Kansas voters whom they would vote for if the election were held today. Of the 616 who responded, 39 percent said they would vote for ...

Counting your vote in Kansas sometimes depends on where you live

TOPEKA – When Kansas voters cast their ballots, the chances that their votes will be counted may depend on which county they live in, especially if they opt to cast their ballots by mail. That’s because different counties use different standards to decide whether a ballot should be counted. The issue of election standards came up Monday at a meeting of the State Objections Board, where Topeka resident ...

Paul Davis campaign teams with 'Swing Left' to gather support

TOPEKA - Democratic congressional candidate Paul Davis is enlisting the help of a national Democratic organization to round up support for his campaign in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas. Davis held what might be called an online "meet-and-greet" Wednesday that was hosted by Swing Left, an organization formed in 2016 in the wake of President Donald Trump's election. The group is working in what it considers ...

Elections board keeps Kobach in Kansas governor's race

Story updated at 7:10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10: TOPEKA — An all-Republican board said on Monday that GOP candidate Kris Kobach’s name will stay on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, despite an objection from a liberal activist from Topeka. That same board also said that a Republican candidate for the Kansas House who has been charged in Johnson County with election perjury for filing false information with ...

Candidates spar at Kansas State Fair gubernatorial debate

HUTCHINSON – The three major candidates for Kansas governor traded barbs Saturday before hundreds of raucous supporters at the Kansas State Fair. Democrat Laura Kelly, a state senator from Topeka, charged Republican Kris Kobach with wanting to take Kansas back to “the devastation” of the Brownback administration with his promises to cut taxes and spending. Kobach, Kansas' current secretary of state, in ...

KCC member’s recusal from injection-well case raises ethical concerns, environmental group says

TOPEKA – An official with the Kansas Sierra Club said Friday that the group was pleased when a member of the Kansas Corporation Commission recused himself from a decision this week because of a potential conflict of interest. However, the environmental group remains concerned about further potential conflicts. KCC member Dwight Keen, the owner of an oil and gas production company who has served since April on ...

Fact-checking the first Kansas gubernatorial debate

TOPEKA – Political candidates often make exaggerated or hard-to-verify statements during public debates, and Wednesday’s Kansas gubernatorial debate was no exception. Here's a more in-depth look at some of the claims Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly and independent candidate Greg Orman made during the debate: Kobach on property taxes As part of his promise to ...

Kansas gubernatorial candidates face off in first debate

Story updated at 5:34 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018: OVERLAND PARK – The three major candidates for governor in Kansas faced each other for the first time Wednesday, offering vastly different views on taxes, education policy, illegal immigration and a host of other issues. Democrat Laura Kelly, Republican Kris Kobach and independent candidate Greg Orman debated for an hour before an audience of about 350 ...

Former Republican Gov. Bill Graves endorses Democrat Laura Kelly

TOPEKA - Former Republican Gov. Bill Graves on Tuesday formally endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 race for Kansas governor. “Laura Kelly is the only Democrat I have ever endorsed for public office,” Graves said in a statement released by the Kelly campaign. “And the reason I’m doing that now is because I believe so much is at stake in the state of Kansas. I have known Laura for over thirty ...

Kansas Democrats renew challenge to Johnson County House candidate over residence requirement

Story updated at 6:45 p.m. Sept. 4, 2018: TOPEKA - Kansas Democrats on Tuesday filed a new objection to a Republican candidate running for the Kansas House in Johnson County, alleging he provided false information about where he lived at the time he changed his voter registration and filed for office. Adam T. Thomas, of Olathe, is the Republican candidate running in the 26th District, which includes portions ...

Kansas tax collections in August meet projections

TOPEKA - Kansas tax receipts came in almost exactly as projected in August, the Kansas Department of Revenue said Tuesday. During August, the state collected $494.3 million in receipts from various kinds of taxes. That was about $6 million, or 1.27 percent, more than expected. Individual income tax receipts came in below projections by about $4 million, or less than 2 percent, while retail sales taxes were ...

Kansas attorney general asks state Supreme Court to uphold workers' compensation law

TOPEKA - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Tuesday asked the state Supreme Court to reverse a recent lower court ruling and uphold the state's latest workers' compensation law as constitutional. The case involves a Kansas City-area man, Howard Johnson III, who injured his back while working at U.S. Food Service in October 2015. Two years earlier, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill updating the ...

After 60 years under 'Right to Work,' Kansas labor still feeling impact

TOPEKA – When Kansas voters went to the polls Aug. 7 for the Republican and Democratic primaries, voters in neighboring Missouri were doing the same thing. There, however, one issue on the ballot overshadowed most of the contested partisan races: a proposition to enact what is known as a right-to-work law, which says no worker can be compelled to join a labor union as a condition of employment. Such laws ...

Researcher threatens lawsuit over denial of access to Kansas voter roll purges

TOPEKA - An investigative journalist who is trying to obtain records from across the country of voters whose registrations have been purged from state voter rolls says he will likely sue Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for denying him access to those records. Greg Palast, an investigative journalist, author and researcher who wrote a 2016 feature story in Rolling Stone magazine about the Interstate Voter ...