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Kansas and regional news

Kansas Supreme Court sets deadline for school finance motions
09:48 p.m., March 2, 2015 Updated 10:19 p.m.
Plaintiffs in the ongoing school finance lawsuit have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file a motion stating whether they want the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the latest lower court order, or if they want the case to stay in the hands of a three-judge panel which has been asked to reconsider its last decision. By Peter Hancock
Westar asking Kansas regulators for $152M rate increase
March 2, 2015
The largest supplier of electricity in Kansas is asking state regulators to increase its rates by $152 million annually to cover upgrades at power plants and other costs.
Kansas congressional delegation splits over Homeland Security funding
05:43 p.m., March 2, 2015 Updated 10:25 p.m.
All four U.S. House members from Kansas supported a bill Friday that kept the U.S. Department of Homeland Security open for another week, but both of the state’s U.S. senators opposed it. The battle between Republican-controlled Congress and Democratic President Barack Obama centers on the president’s executive orders on immigration policy. By Peter Hancock
Kansas Senate panel to have hearing on appeals court nominee
09:53 a.m., March 2, 2015 Updated 10:31 p.m.
A Kansas Senate committee is having a hearing this week on Gov. Sam Brownback’s appointment of a new judge to the state Court of Appeals.
Analysis: Moderates flex muscle in first half of 2015 Kansas Legislative session
March 1, 2015
There was plenty of conservative legislation in the first half of the 2015 session, on issues dealing with gun rights, abortion and sex education. But in the final days before the “turnaround” deadline, moderates began showing strength on issues including teacher contract negotiations, municipal elections and even the possibility of Medicaid expansion. By Peter Hancock
Kansas school funding plan aimed at ending budget surprises
March 1, 2015
Top Republican officials in Kansas who hope to eliminate a budget deficit while sustaining personal income tax cuts are working on a plan to overhaul the state’s system for funding public schools in a way that would prevent unanticipated demands for new spending.
Kansas legislators take break until Wednesday
February 28, 2015
Kansas legislators are on break until Wednesday. State lawmakers usually take several days off after the “turnaround” deadline that passed Friday. Most bills that have not been approved by their chamber of origin were discarded after the Friday deadline.
Brownback touts economic growth for rise in February revenue
06:40 p.m., February 27, 2015 Updated 10:38 p.m.
Kansas collected $22 million more in taxes than expected this month, and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and a top aide said Friday that it’s a sign of economic growth. Even with the unanticipated windfall for the month reported by the state Department of Revenue, the state’s tax collections for the past eight months are running slightly behind expectations. Also, it doesn’t solve the state’s budget problems, with a shortfall projected at nearly $600 million for the fiscal year beginning in July before the latest report.
Lawrence attorney disciplined for misconduct
01:26 p.m., February 27, 2015 Updated 10:40 p.m.
A Lawrence attorney was placed on three years of disciplinary probation Friday for making derogatory comments to a prosecutor during a DUI trial in 2013, then making false statements during his disciplinary proceeding. By Peter Hancock
New report on Kansas taxes to figure into debate on budget
February 27, 2015
Kansas legislators hope the state is collecting as much in taxes this month as expected or a little more, though they acknowledge a month of stable revenues won’t make closing a projected budget shortfall much easier.
Kansas Senate passes bill that would move local elections to November
05:31 p.m., February 26, 2015 Updated 10:57 p.m.
The Kansas Senate narrowly passed a bill Thursday that would move municipal and school board elections to November of odd-numbered years, and those elections would remain nonpartisan.
Kansas House passes drunk driving laws
February 26, 2015
The Kansas House has approved two bills changing the state’s penalties for driving under the influence.
Kansas senators question governor’s rural opportunity plan
February 26, 2015
Kansas senators have expressed skepticism over the usefulness of Gov. Sam Brownback’s Rural Opportunity Zones program.
Kansas Senate advances plan to issue $1B in pension bonds
February 26, 2015
The Kansas Senate has given first-round approval to a proposal described by supporters as refinancing part of the long-term debt facing the pension system for teachers and government workers.
Proposal to hike ag land taxes spawns backlash from Kansas farmers
09:13 a.m., February 26, 2015 Updated 10:17 p.m.
A suburban lawmaker’s proposal that would dramatically increase property taxes on Kansas agricultural land has spawned strong rural backlash and nagging fears that pieces of it will pop up in legislation to close a state budget shortfall.
Lawmaker challenges legality of Brownback’s budget proposal for Kansas judiciary
06:02 p.m., February 25, 2015 Updated 10:16 p.m.
A Democratic lawmaker says Gov. Sam Brownback may have violated state law by cutting more than $50 million over the next two years from the budget request of the Kansas judiciary. Rep. John Carmichael, of Wichita, is asking Attorney General Derek Schmidt for a formal legal opinion. By Peter Hancock
Kansas House rejects bill limiting teacher negotiations; passes compromise alternative
04:46 p.m., February 25, 2015 Updated 10:17 p.m.
The Kansas House rejected a bill Wednesday that would have eliminated the exclusive right of teachers unions to negotiate contracts with school districts. Instead, it advanced a bill reflecting a compromise worked out between the state’s major education groups over what issues should be negotiated between teachers and school districts. By Peter Hancock
Local day care closes after allegations of improper punishment, force-feeding
04:34 p.m., February 25, 2015 Updated 10:18 p.m.
A Lawrence child care agency closed Friday after Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials alleged the owner had multiple violations, such as prohibited punishment, leaving young children unattended and force-feeding a small boy, going back to May 2014.
Kansas moving toward allowing concealed guns without permit
12:29 p.m., February 25, 2015 Updated 10:09 p.m.
The Kansas Senate is expected to approve a bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns without requiring them to get a state permit or take training classes.