Kansas and regional news

Commissioners support new building codes policy, say Kobach did not get special treatment; others not so sure
May 23, 2015
Two Douglas County commissioners say they have been asking County Administrator Craig Weinaug for some time to adopt a building codes policy that was more instructional and service-oriented and less punitive, and they are set to discuss that relatively new approach at a meeting June 3. By Karen Dillon
Steep drop in oil, gas valuations upending county budgets
04:33 p.m., May 22, 2015 Updated 10:44 p.m.
People and businesses in Kansas’ energy-producing counties may be paying more in property taxes or face cuts in local government services in the wake of the cheaper gasoline prices.
Dirty Kanza 200 taking endurance cycling to an extreme
May 22, 2015
Rick Becker rode away from the starting line outside the historic Granada Theater at 6 a.m., the day just beginning to break in the scenic Flint Hills. By the time he crossed the finish line some 17 hours later, night had fallen hard on Commercial Street.
Brownback signs bill regulating ride-hailing companies
May 22, 2015
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a compromise on regulations that ride-hailing company Uber says will allow it to stay in the state.
Labor department reports weak job growth in Kansas
12:17 p.m., May 22, 2015 Updated 10:41 p.m.
The Kansas unemployment rate ticked up to 4.3 percent in April as the state lost 2,900 private-sector jobs. Over the past year, private-sector job growth was only 1 percent. By Peter Hancock
Court rules Highway Patrol must pay KU Hospital for prisoner’s medical bills
11:07 a.m., May 22, 2015 Updated 10:37 p.m.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Highway Patrol is responsible for paying the medical bills of an indigent man who’d been arrested for drunk driving after crashing his car into a tree. By Peter Hancock
Westar Energy rates to increase to cover environmental costs
09:18 a.m., May 22, 2015 Updated 10:32 p.m.
Westar Energy plans to increase its rates starting in June to cover the costs of its environmental projects.
Kansas lawmakers mull new tax on exchange health policies
08:47 a.m., May 22, 2015 Updated 10:37 p.m.
A Kansas Senate committee has reviewed a proposal to impose a new fee on insurance policies sold through an online marketplace set up under the federal health care overhaul.
Kansas House balks at setting up alternative to foster care
May 22, 2015
Kansas House members are uneasy about a proposal to allow parents to temporarily give up custody of their children to others as an alternative to putting the youngsters into foster homes overseen by the state.
Kansas House approves variety of election changes
04:31 p.m., May 21, 2015 Updated 10:24 p.m.
The Kansas House approved a measure Thursday that would move local elections to the fall in odd-numbered years in a bid to boost turnout. The bill would also permanently cancel the state’s presidential primary elections and the Senate passed a tweak to the state’s abortion laws before lawmakers adjourned for a four-day weekend.
Kansas Senate calls off tax debate
04:12 p.m., May 21, 2015 Updated 10:25 p.m.
Senate GOP leaders postponed the debate until next week to give members more time to draft proposed amendments. Both the House and Senate are now expected to debate tax bills next week, after they return from an extended four-day Memorial Day weekend. By Peter Hancock
Kansas House approves bill upping Secretary of State Kobach’s power; Douglas County lawmakers vote no
11:27 a.m., May 21, 2015 Updated 08:43 a.m.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday that his office would “begin immediately” to prepare election fraud prosecutions if Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signs a bill giving him the power to prosecute.
Report: Lobbyist continues to influence Brownback
10:34 a.m., May 21, 2015 Updated 10:19 p.m.
A lobbyist who was once Gov. Sam Brownback’s chief of staff continues to have influence with the governor and his administration, according to emails obtained by The Wichita Eagle.
Lawrence husband and wife teaching duo receive $10,000 ‘Bobs’ Award
06:36 p.m., May 20, 2015 Updated 10:45 p.m.
Lawrence High School’s husband and wife music-teaching duo, Mike Jones and Rachel Dirks, have been named the first joint recipients of the Lawrence Schools Foundation’s annual “Bobs Award.” Amid a standing ovation from friends, family members and work colleagues, the award, along with a $10,000 check, was presented to the couple Wednesday afternoon in Lawrence High School’s cafeteria.
Kansas House advances bill giving Kobach power to prosecute election crimes
02:20 p.m., May 20, 2015 Updated 10:48 p.m.
The bill, which has already passed the Senate, would give the secretary of state independent authority to prosecute election crimes. It also increases the penalties for those crimes and lowers the standard of proof for a conviction. By Peter Hancock
Kansas governor says he’s not drawing clear lines on taxes
12:54 p.m., May 20, 2015 Updated 10:48 p.m.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said Wednesday that he’s not drawing “very clear lines” about what he’ll accept as the GOP-dominated Kansas Legislature considers reversing one of his major economic initiatives to help close a state budget shortfall.
Kansas State Fair to have designated smoking areas starting in 2016
09:22 a.m., May 20, 2015 Updated 11:52 a.m.
Those who want to light up a cigarette at the Kansas State Fair will be required to smoke at designated areas beginning in 2016.
Kansas House to consider stiffening scrap theft penalties
May 20, 2015
Scrap thieves who do more than $5,000 worth of damage when stealing valuable metals would face jail time under a bill before the Kansas House.
Kansas Gov. Brownback signs bill asserting legality of fantasy sports
May 19, 2015
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill clarifying the legality of fantasy leagues.