WRITER: Peter Hancock

Democrats assessing what happened in 2nd District campaign

TOPEKA — Going into the 2018 elections, Democrat Paul Davis looked like he had a clear advantage in the race for Kansas' 2nd District congressional seat. He was a well-known candidate who had carried the district in his unsuccessful bid for governor in 2014. And he was running in a year that was expected to be good for Democrats - a "blue wave," as many were calling it. Davis had no opposition in the ...

Law enforcement can bar protesters from Kansas Statehouse, but not people concealing firearms

TOPEKA — Democratic leaders in the Kansas Legislature on Friday questioned why law enforcement officers are allowed to block nonviolent protesters from entering the building because of security concerns, but not people carrying concealed firearms. That issue came up during a meeting of the Legislative Coordinating Council, which is made up of the top Republican and Democratic leaders of the Kansas House and ...

Kansas lawmakers authorize study of sports gambling

TOPEKA — Kansas legislative leaders on Friday authorized two days of meetings before the 2019 session to study, and possibly recommend, legislation to legalize gambling on sporting events. Two bills were introduced during the 2018 session that would have authorized the Kansas Lottery to operate sports wagering, but neither bill came out of committee. Lawmakers said at the time that they wanted to wait for a ...

Kansas revenue forecasters raise this year's estimates by $306 million

TOPEKA — Gov.-elect Laura Kelly will have a lot more money to work with when she comes into office than previously estimated, at least for the first six months. State revenue forecasters on Friday raised their estimates of the current fiscal year's total receipts by $306 million, or about 4.4 percent above the previous estimate. That, however, is not due to any great growth in the Kansas economy. Rather, ...

Kansas senators praise fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Moran says Mueller investigation should continue

TOPEKA – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said he wants the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election to go forward, despite President Donald Trump’s Wednesday firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “I expect that during this transition period, the (Justice) Department will make certain federal law enforcement agencies continue to protect our country, carry out the rule of law and allow ...

Gov.-elect Kelly says she'll build bipartisan team and 'mend the damage' from Brownback's administration

TOPEKA - Gov.-elect Laura Kelly said Thursday that she intended to form a bipartisan administration that would stand in stark contrast to former Gov. Sam Brownback's administration. "As I mentioned during the campaign, I am committed to building a bipartisan team for this state. It will be diverse, dynamic and highly skilled," Kelly said during a Statehouse news conference, her first since winning the ...

Gov.-elect Laura Kelly to face a more conservative Kansas Legislature

TOPEKA — Kansas voters may have elected Democrat Laura Kelly to the governor's office, but she will have to deal with a more conservative Legislature as a result of Tuesday's elections. That could make it harder for her to push through her top legislative priorities, which included increasing funding for public schools, expanding Medicaid and restoring some restrictions on concealed-carry gun rights. But ...

Kansas Gov. Colyer meets with Gov.-elect Kelly to begin transition

TOPEKA - Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer met privately on Wednesday with Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly to begin the transition to a new administration. Reporters were given no notice of the meeting, but a statement issued afterward through the governor's office said both parties were committed to a smooth transition. "I would like to congratulate Governor-elect Kelly and her team and am proud to say we are ...

Candidates remain hopeful as voting begins in Kansas

TOPEKA - Candidates in two close races on Tuesday's ballot expressed cautious optimism as they went into the polls to cast their own ballots. Laura Kelly, the Democratic candidate for governor, cast her vote in central Topeka around 9 a.m., while Steve Watkins, the Republican candidate in the 2nd District congressional race, voted in southeast Topeka about an hour later. "I think we’ve gotten our message out ...

'Kansans voted for change,' Gov.-elect Kelly says in victory speech

TOPEKA – Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly will become the 48th governor of Kansas in January. With 95 percent of the precincts reporting, unofficial results Tuesday night showed Kelly leading Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, 48-43 percent, a margin of about 51,000 votes, with independent candidate Greg Orman getting 6 percent. Kelly had made her campaign a referendum on former Gov. Sam Brownback, ...

Candidates make final pleas in advance of Election Day

TOPEKA – The major candidates in this week’s general election spent much of Monday crisscrossing Kansas as part of their last-minute get-out-the-vote drives. Voters in Kansas are selecting a new governor and at least one new member of the U.S. House. Also on the ballot are all the other statewide offices, all 125 members of the Kansas House, and one state senator in a special election in southeast ...

With three close races in Kansas, outcomes may be a matter of chance

TOPEKA – For the first time in many years, the reliably Republican state of Kansas has three major races on the ballot, all with national implications, that could swing either way on Tuesday. The race for governor and the 2nd District congressional race in eastern Kansas are both rated toss-ups by a number of nonpartisan handicapping websites, while the 3rd District congressional race in suburban Kansas City ...

Sen. Jerry Moran joins EPA in push to ease reporting requirements on livestock operations

TOPEKA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it is proposing new rules that would exempt livestock operations from having to report the kinds of gases that are emitted from those facilities, something U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, has been pushing for himself. During a visit to the EPA's regional office in Lenexa this week, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a ...

Watkins, GOP congressional leader split with Trump on birthright citizenship, use of force at border

TOPEKA - The Republican leader of the U.S. House and GOP congressional candidate Steve Watkins split with President Donald Trump on Friday regarding controversial statements the president made this week about citizenship and use of force at the border. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was in Topeka, along with other high-profile Republicans, to launch a final get-out-the vote effort for Watkins, ...

Federal court hears arguments in Dodge City polling place controversy

UPDATED STORY - Judge rules against opening new Dodge City polling site days before election TOPEKA — A federal judge in Topeka said Thursday that he will rule soon on a request from the American Civil Liberties Union for an order directing Ford County to reopen the one polling place that has traditionally been used for the entire city of Dodge City. The ACLU filed that lawsuit last week in response to ...

Senate panel advances three Kansas Board of Regents appointments

TOPEKA - A Kansas Senate committee gave its approval Wednesday to Gov. Jeff Colyer's appointments of two new members of the Kansas Board of Regents and the reappointment of another, all three of whom are former state lawmakers. The Board of Regents supervises higher education in Kansas. That includes governing the state's six Regents universities as well as public community colleges and technical colleges. The ...

Laura Kelly leads in fundraising for Kansas governor's race

TOPEKA - Democrat Laura Kelly has raised $2.3 million during the general election cycle for her bid to be the next governor of Kansas, far more than Republican opponent Kris Kobach, even though recent polls show it to be an extremely close race. According to campaign finance reports that were filed Monday, Kobach, the current secretary of state, raised just less than $1.4 million during the period. But nearly ...

Orman campaign treasurer resigns, endorses Kelly, says Kobach must be stopped

Independent candidate Greg Orman's campaign treasurer resigned Tuesday and endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the race for Kansas governor, according to the Kelly campaign. Tim Owens, a former Republican state senator from Overland Park, announced his departure in a news release issued by the Kelly campaign around 2:30 p.m. “Effective today, I have resigned my position as treasurer for the Orman for Kansas ...

Final debate reveals a few new facts about candidates for governor

TOPEKA - The three major candidates for governor in Kansas squared off in their last televised debate Tuesday evening, offering their thoughts and ideas on a handful of issues that hadn't been widely discussed during the campaign, such as their own campaign ads and their views about transgender bathrooms. The debate, which took place in the studios of KSNW-TV in Wichita and was simulcast by its sister station ...

KPERS turns in positive report for 2017

TOPEKA — After taking steps in recent years to shore up the state's troubled pension system, Kansas lawmakers got good news about the fund's long-term outlook Monday. Its unfunded liability — how much the pension fund will have to pay out over the next 40 years that isn't covered by current assets and assumed earnings — fell by $154 million during calendar year 2017, while the overall size of the pension ...