Kansas Sen. Roberts skeptical of Obama moves on Cuba
December 22, 2014
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is skeptical of President Barack Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba, labelling it as nothing more than a shift in public relations.
Audit of Kansas rural phone subsidies raises questions
December 21, 2014
A recent audit of the Kansas Universal Service Fund found the program is operating efficiently. But auditors suggested legislators should consider updating the state’s policy on telecommunications to define the type of services it subsidizes for rural telephone companies. By Peter Hancock
Lawrence schools, Douglas County prepare for first mail-ballot election
December 20, 2014
After Jan. 7, about 53,000 registered voters in Lawrence can expect to find envelopes in their mailboxes from the Lawrence school district.
Secretive groups ran $25M in ads for state races; Kansas saw the most ads from the groups
December 19, 2014
Shadowy outside groups broadcast an estimated $25 million worth of political ads on local TV stations with a goal of shaping state-level elections this year, and their full roster of donors is unlikely to ever be known, according to an analysis released this week.
Regents ask for delay in performance-based funding
December 18, 2014
Republican leaders in the Kansas Legislature have urged the Board of Regents to come up with a proposal to tie higher education funding to specific performance benchmarks. But the Regents said Thursday they would only want to use that for additional funding on top of the universities’ base budgets, and, given the state’s current financial condition, they don’t think that’s likely to happen in the coming year. By Peter Hancock
Jenkins hears about immigration, budget at Lawrence town hall meeting
December 16, 2014
Rep. Lynn Jenkins told a Lawrence audience Tuesday that immigration will be the No. 1 priority for Republicans when the next Congress convenes in January. She also fielded questions about the recently passed spending bill that included rolling back regulations on banking, the environment and school lunches. By Peter Hancock
Kansas school efficiency panel reaches few agreements for new legislation
December 15, 2014
A task force set up by the Legislature to study ways schools can be more efficient agreed on only one bill to recommend to the Legislature next year. That would set up a process to define the new standards laid out by the Kansas Supreme Court to determine whether the state is adequately funding public schools. But the group was sharply divided on other proposals such as encouraging districts to consolidate administrative services, forcing them to spend down cash reserves, and limiting the scope of collective bargaining. By Peter Hancock
Torture report says little on Pat Roberts’ role
December 14, 2014
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the time the CIA engaged in its program of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” But a report released by the committee this week criticizing that program says little about Roberts’ role as head of the oversight panel. By Peter Hancock
Brownback: It’s up to Legislature to cut budget
December 14, 2014
A new budget report released this week says Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for balancing the current fiscal year’s budget will only add to next year’s budget problems, creating a $648 million hole in fiscal year 2016. That’s because most of what Brownback recommended only involves transfers of money between various funds and not actual spending cuts. But in an interview this week, Brownback defended his plan and said the Legislature needs to be involved in making actual cuts. By Peter Hancock
Jenkins says conservatives won in $1.1 trillion spending bill
December 12, 2014
The bill to fund most of the federal government through the end of the fiscal year cuts the EPA’s budget by 21 percent and prohibits the agency from extending Clean Water Act regulations to small ponds, drainage ditches and creeks. Kansas farmers and ranchers had worried about the impact of such a move, although EPA said the criticisms were unfounded. By Peter Hancock
Douglas County clerk warns legislative panel about moving local elections to November
December 12, 2014
Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said combining city and school board elections with the November state and federal elections would dramatically increase costs and make ballots too long to administer. He and other local election officials suggested other ways to increase voter turnout in the April municipal elections. By Peter Hancock
Rep. Lynn Jenkins to host town hall meeting in Lawrence
December 12, 2014
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins will hold a town hall meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16, at O’Malley Beverage in Lawrence.
Campaign officials reflect on 2014 races at Dole Institute event
December 11, 2014
Republicans, Democrats and independents who worked on the 2014 campaigns in Kansas reflected Thursday on how those campaigns were run and what influenced the outcomes. They shared those thoughts at a post-election conference held at the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University. By Peter Hancock
Kansas begins issuing gender-neutral marriage forms
December 11, 2014
Kansas has started issuing gender-neutral marriage forms amid ongoing litigation over its same-sex marriage ban.
School district fund balances to be targeted, education group says
December 10, 2014
A group that lobbies on behalf of Kansas public school boards told its members Wednesday that legislation will likely be introduced in the Legislature next year aimed at limiting their ability to maintain cash carry-over balances in many of their funds. By Peter Hancock