Kansas and regional news

Kansas lawmakers negotiating on plan to issue pension bonds
March 30, 2015
Kansas legislators are working on the final version of a bill allowing the state to issue $1 billion or more in bonds to shore up the short-term financial health of its pension system for teachers and government workers.
Kansas House panel to hear ‘religious freedom’ bill for campus groups
March 29, 2015
Senate Bill 175 would require colleges and universities in Kansas to give recognition and support to student religious organizations that discriminate in their membership, if the discrimination is based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Kansas University says there have been no controversies over such groups in at least the last 15 years. But the American Civil Liberties Union says taxpayer money and student fees should not be used to support discrimination. By Peter Hancock
Vanished towns dot prairie in Kiowa County
March 29, 2015
Traveling down a dirt path sandwiched between a wheat field and pasture, Ed Schoenberger abruptly motions to stop the car. “You’re now in downtown Reeder,” he says as he steps out of the vehicle — facing the cold wind that whips across the wide-open prairie on this early March day. But all around him, there is nothing but farmland and grass. Reeder, once a bustling community where residents dreamed of a railroad, has disappeared.
Kansas officials hope budget puzzle pieces drop into place
March 29, 2015
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback hopes the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature wraps up several key budget issues this week, though he’s not pushing lawmakers to finish a spending blueprint for state government that also erases a projected shortfall of nearly $600 million.
Kansas appeals court clarifies use of ‘stand your ground’ defense
March 28, 2015
The Kansas Court of Appeals said trial courts must follow strict rules before allowing a defendant to claim immunity from prosecution under the state’s so-called “stand your ground” law. That 2010 law says individuals cannot be arrested, detained or prosecuted for using deadly force if they acted in self defense, unless officers can show probable cause that a crime was committed. By Peter Hancock
Lawmaker defends use of state plane to fly back for vote
March 28, 2015
Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, was flown back to Topeka on the state’s private plane to vote on a controversial school funding bill, but arrived too late to cast that vote. He said he was attending official events in his home districts and that the flights were related to his official duties. By Peter Hancock
Kansas Senate panel to consider expanding liquor licenses
March 28, 2015
With thousands of dollars in campaign contributions at stake in the 2016 election cycle, GOP legislators are weighing the risks of acting on a fiercely lobbied issue: allowing supermarkets to sell liquor.
Free State High students to compete in regional poetry competition
04:16 p.m., March 27, 2015 Updated 09:36 p.m.
Emotional, empowering stories from the lives of Lawrence students will sound out from a Kansas City stage this weekend. Free State High School’s slam poetry team recently earned a spot in Saturday’s finals of the KC “Louder than a Bomb” competition.
New Kansas bill would allow counties to vote on liquor sales
March 27, 2015
A Kansas bill introduced Wednesday would allow a county’s voters to decide if their grocery stores can sell liquor, wine and spirits; and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer.
Colorado defends pot law, says states free to legalize weed
03:41 p.m., March 27, 2015 Updated 09:39 p.m.
States are free to legalize marijuana, Colorado argued Friday in a filing to the U.S. Supreme Court in response to a lawsuit from neighboring states that have asked the nation’s highest court to shut down Colorado’s pot law.
KU one of four civilian universities chosen for Army-business seminar
March 26, 2015
Kansas University’s School of Business has been chosen as one of four civilian universities in the country to provide a “strategic broadening seminar” for U.S. Army officers, warrant officers, senior noncommissioned officers and civilians, KU recently announced. 
Cuts in financial aid for public institution students may be deeper than expected
03:31 p.m., March 26, 2015 Updated 10:50 p.m.
Students attending independent private colleges and universities may get as much as 84 percent of the need-based grants funded by the state under a budget bill passed by the Kansas Senate this week. But the wording in the legislation is not clear. By Peter Hancock
Plaintiffs seek to block new Kansas school funding plan
01:31 p.m., March 26, 2015 Updated 10:52 p.m.
Plaintiffs in an ongoing school finance case asked a three-judge panel in Topeka on Thursday to block implementation of a new school funding plan that Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law Wednesday. By Peter Hancock
Kansas moving closer to issuing $1B or more in pension bonds
07:44 a.m., March 26, 2015 Updated 10:51 p.m.
Kansas is moving closer to issuing $1 billion or more in bonds to bolster its pension system for teachers and government workers.
Kansas man charged in playground disturbance that hurt kids
March 26, 2015
A 20-year-old man is accused of endangering more than a dozen children and injuring three of them during a playground incident in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa.
Kansas appeals voter citizenship lawsuit to US Supreme Court
March 26, 2015
Kansas and Arizona have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to force federal elections officials to require residents of their states to prove their U.S. citizenship before registering to vote.
KU receives grant to study student information systems
March 26, 2015
Kansas University is looking to see whether the software that public schools use to track student information is being used effectively.
Kansas Senate passes budget that includes cuts to KU and student financial aid
08:10 p.m., March 25, 2015 Updated 10:10 p.m.
The Senate budget bill includes a $9.4 million cut in funding for the Lawrence campus of Kansas University. It also changes the way state-funded student financial aid is allocated that will result in public institutions losing $5.3 million in funding, or about 3,521 fewer students receiving aid. Senate Republican leaders say the bill is only a starting point for negotiations with the House. By Peter Hancock
Kansas Senate rejects bill on teacher contracts
03:41 p.m., March 25, 2015 Updated 07:47 a.m.
The Kansas Senate rejected a bill that would make it easier for teachers to be fired, marking a rare defeat for a conservative bill in the GOP-dominated chamber as legislators churned through a loaded agenda Wednesday.

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