Kansas and regional news

Kansas Senate passes ‘religious freedom’ bill for campus student groups
07:06 p.m., March 19, 2015 Updated 10:24 p.m.
The bill requires colleges and universities to recognize and support religious student organizations that discriminate in their membership, if the discrimination is based on sincerely held religious beliefs. Supporters said it supports religious freedom, but critics called it a form of state-sanctioned discrimination. By Peter Hancock
KCC orders large cut in saltwater disposal related to fracking in central Kansas
March 19, 2015
The Kansas Corporation Commission ordered drilling companies to reduce the amount of saltwater waste they dispose into injection wells in portions of Harper and Sumner counties. The Kansas Geological Society has suggested those disposal wells, located near a fault line, may be the cause of minor earthquakes in that area. By Peter Hancock
Kansas House panel endorses effort to change US Constitution
12:31 p.m., March 19, 2015 Updated 05:32 p.m.
A House panel endorsed a resolution Thursday that would have Kansas join a process to amend the U.S. Constitution through a convention of the states.
Kansas House panel approves process for emissions plan
March 19, 2015
A Kansas House panel has approved a process for establishing a greenhouse gas reduction plan.
Senate panel votes to block United Way payroll deductions for public sector employees
10:55 a.m., March 19, 2015 Updated 10:28 p.m.
United Way officials in Lawrence and throughout Kansas said they were stunned Thursday by news that a Senate committee had advanced a bill that would prohibit state and local governments from deducting charitable contributions from employee paychecks. “I’m a little floored here. I’m kind of speechless,” said Colleen Gregoire, vice president and campaign director for the United Way of Douglas County. By Peter Hancock
Kansas: Plan to divert Missouri River water not feasible
10:55 a.m., March 19, 2015 Updated 12:11 p.m.
Supporters of a plan to divert Missouri River water from northeast Kansas to the west of the state say they aren’t giving up on finding a way to move water to parched regions, even though state officials have rejected the proposal.
Kansas Senate advances open records, meetings proposals
08:46 a.m., March 19, 2015 Updated 08:14 a.m.
The Kansas Senate unanimously passed four bills aimed at increasing government transparency Thursday but rejected a proposal to open officials’ private emails about government business to public scrutiny.
Kansas Senate panel’s budget debate part of crowded agenda
08:35 a.m., March 19, 2015 Updated 10:28 p.m.
A Kansas Senate committee is considering a proposed $15.5 billion state budget that wouldn’t balance without tax increases.
Recent Kansas school finance actions raise several constitutional questions
07:07 p.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 10:00 p.m.
A Kansas University law professor says recent actions by the Kansas Legislature and a district court raise numerous constitutional questions. Professor Rick Levy said the result could be another showdown between the legislative and executive branches over who decides how much funding schools should get. By Peter Hancock
Kansas Senate to debate bill allowing exclusive student groups on campuses
06:52 p.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 08:42 p.m.
The Kansas Senate will debate a bill Thursday that would require colleges and universities to recognize student organizations that have exclusive membership rules, if those rules are based on sincerely held religious beliefs. The American Civil Liberties Union says it’s one of dozens of so-called “religious freedom” bills pending in state legislatures around the country. By Peter Hancock
Senate rejects limit on oil drilling near homes
05:09 p.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 09:54 p.m.
Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, proposed an amendment that would have required a 500-foot distance between new oil wells and existing structures. The measure was meant to address concerns of residents in southeast Douglas County who’ve seen a dramatic increase in drilling activity in recent years. By Peter Hancock
Kansas panel considers divesting pension fund from Iran
12:12 p.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 03:17 p.m.
Kansas’ public employee pension system would be forced to divest from any companies operating in Iran under a bill considered by a House panel on Wednesday.
Kansas attorney general fires back after New Mexico A.G. predicts NCAA upsets
March 18, 2015
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt fired back at New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas after Balderas picked upsets of two Kansas schools in the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament.
28 people test positive for tuberculosis at Kansas school
11:19 a.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 08:42 p.m.
More than two dozen cases of tuberculosis have been detected at an eastern Kansas high school after widespread screening, state and county health officials announced Wednesday.
Kansas House panel cancels meeting on green energy mandate
08:51 a.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 08:40 p.m.
A Kansas House panel has canceled a debate a bill to freeze renewable energy mandates for utility companies.
Kansas lawmakers move to change bargaining, civil service
08:43 a.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 08:42 p.m.
Republican legislators in Kansas were moving ahead Wednesday with bills to shrink the state’s civil service and restrict public employee unions, saying the measures would modernize government and make it operate more like private industry.
House moves to protect judiciary in budget bill
04:39 p.m., March 17, 2015 Updated 10:11 p.m.
A budget bill advanced by a House committee includes funding for the judicial branch. Some lawmakers had wanted to put the judicial budget in a separate bill that could include policy changes affecting the judiciary. By Peter Hancock
House budget includes funding for K-State architecture building
04:00 p.m., March 17, 2015 Updated 10:20 p.m.
Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design is housed in a building that school officials say is dilapidated and obsolete. A budget bill advanced by a House committee would authorize $60 million in bonds to renovate and expand Seaton Hall. But the money to repay those bonds could come at the expense of other state universities that also have long lists of deferred maintenance projects. By Peter Hancock
Supreme Court asked again to review school finance ruling
02:53 p.m., March 17, 2015 Updated 10:17 p.m.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is again asking the state Supreme Court to review a three-judge district court panel’s decision that held current funding of public schools unconstitutional. The appeal comes one day after the Legislature passed a bill repealing the current funding formula and replacing it with a system of block grants to schools. By Peter Hancock