Kansas and regional news

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 10:20 p.m.
The House has approved a bill that would give Kansas’ secretary of state the power to prosecute election fraud.
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.
Key Kansas lawmakers see only small changes for budget plans
May 19, 2015
The chairmen of the Kansas House and Senate budget committees don’t expect lawmakers to rethink the spending recommendations they’ve been developing.
Kansas Legislature approves regulatory compromise with Uber
12:51 p.m., May 19, 2015 Updated 10:30 p.m.
The Kansas Senate has approved a compromise on regulations that ride-hailing company Uber says will allow it to stay in the state.
Tax plans coming together, but business owners’ taxes still a hot issue
10:50 a.m., May 19, 2015 Updated 10:40 p.m.
A budget-balancing plan to raise Kansas’ sales tax and repeal an income tax break championed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback cleared a state Senate committee Tuesday, but GOP legislators are split and influential business groups oppose it.
Kansas attorney general appoints new civil litigation chief
May 19, 2015
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has picked a former state Bar Association president to lead the division in Schmidt’s office that handles civil lawsuits.
Report: Widespread rains boost Kansas wheat crops
May 18, 2015
The latest government snapshot of Kansas crops shows an improving winter wheat crop amid widespread rains.
New proposal to narrow Kansas business tax break emerges
May 18, 2015
A new proposal for narrowing a tax break for business owners and farmers has emerged in the Kansas House. The House Taxation Committee introduced the measure Monday and scheduled a Tuesday hearing on it.
Bill threatens to defund Kansas judicial branch
05:17 p.m., May 18, 2015 Updated 10:26 p.m.
House and Senate negotiators agreed Monday on language of a bill that would cut off funds to the judicial branch if the Kansas Supreme Court strikes down a law governing how chief judges of district courts are selected. A lawsuit challenging the new selection process is pending in Shawnee County District Court. By Peter Hancock
Senate considers bill to abolish Kansas Bioscience Authority
03:32 p.m., May 18, 2015 Updated 10:27 p.m.
The Kansas Senate is considering a bill that would abolish the Kansas Bioscience Authority, an agency designed to attract new investments in health care, pharmaceuticals, animal health and other related industries to Kansas. By Peter Hancock
Kansas governor signs bill overhauling unemployment program
01:17 p.m., May 18, 2015 Updated 10:25 p.m.
Kansas is setting a new cap on benefits for unemployed workers and overhauling the collection of taxes from businesses to finance the aid.