Statehouse Live

Block grant bill becomes law; all eyes now on court

Peter Hancock

Senate Bill 7, the controversial legislation that repeals the old school finance formula and replaces it for two years with a system of block grants to school districts, officially became law Thursday when it was [published in the Kansas Register][1]. For the time being, at least, school districts will immediately ...

Budget deal may have to wait as lawmakers prepare to go home

Peter Hancock

Kansas lawmakers are preparing to wind up the regular session today and are likely to leave without voting on the budget deal that House and Senate negotiators struck Wednesday. There are several procedural reasons for that, but it boils down to the fact that the two Democrats on the negotiating ...

Higher education at focus of budget negotiations

Peter Hancock

Higher education funding seems to be one of the key sticking points in ongoing budget talks between the Kansas House and Senate, and it's not yet clear whether the two chambers will reach an agreement before adjourning Thursday or Friday for the Legislature's annual spring break. So far, the Senate ...

Strange debate leads to passage of exotic animals bill

Peter Hancock

Unless you were one of the people listening to the Legislature online Thursday night, you probably have no idea how many members of the Kansas Senate have, at some point in their life, been kicked or beaten on various parts of their bodies by barnyard animals, or been viciously scratched ...

Medicaid expansion gains new life in Kansas House

Peter Hancock

House Speaker Ray Merrick reversed course Thursday and finally agreed to allow committee hearings on the subject of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Only days earlier, Merrick reportedly had told Reps. Tom Sloan of Lawrence and Barbara Bollier of Mission Hills, both moderate Republicans, that he would not ...

Brownback names Federalist Society lawyer as new policy chief

Peter Hancock

Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday named Brandon Smith, a lawyer from the conservative [Federalist Society of Law and Public Policy Studies][1], to be his new policy director. Smith has worked for the Federalist Society since 2011, according to a press release from the governor's office. Before that, he was a ...

State Rep. Peck takes on critics in debate over university professor columns

Peter Hancock

State Rep. Virgil Peck testified Wednesday in favor of [House Bill 2234][1], which would prevent university professors from using their official titles in newspaper opinion columns. But he steadfastly denied that he was the one who requested the bill, and he had a few choice words for anyone who says ...

Still no word on school block grant bill

Peter Hancock

A bill that would convert funding for the state's 286 school districts into a system of block grants still has not been introduced in the Senate, and the bill's author is giving no indication about when it might come. Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means ...

Brownback tells bankers he's staying the course

Peter Hancock

Despite the state's looming budget crisis, Gov. Sam Brownback gave an upbeat speech to the Kansas Bankers Association, saying the state is poised for economic growth, and vowing to continue on his course to eliminate state income taxes. Speaking for about 20 minutes in a second-floor hallway at the Capitol, ...

Kansas House won't open private emails used for public purpose

Peter Hancock

The Kansas House rejected an amendment Monday that would have opened up the private emails of public officials if those emails are used to conduct public business. Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, offered that amendment to a bill dealing with the Kansas Open Records Act. He said it was a response ...

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