State Government

Kansas likely to see ‘pockets’ of new COVID variant, state health leader says

TOPEKA — Kansas is likely to have pockets of a new, more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and public health officials believe it could become the state's dominant strain, the head of the state health department said Tuesday. Dr. Lee Norman also said that ...

Second case of COVID-19 U.K. variant identified in Kansas

TOPEKA (AP) — A second case of a more-contagious coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Kansas, state health officials said Monday. The variant virus first detected in the United Kingdom was found in the Wichita area, the state Department of Health and Environment said in a news ...

Kansas struggles to fix vaccine reporting issues

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is working to fix its troubled system for sending vaccine data to the federal government, saying glitches caused about 100,000 doses that were given to not be registered as being administered. The state's vaccination rate has consistently ranked as among the ...

Kansas lawmaker introduces push to ‘lock the clock’ on daylight saving time

TOPEKA — State Rep. Shannon Francis is an early-to-bed, early-to-rise guy frustrated with the necessity to flip his clock back and forth for daylight saving time and feels Congress should do something to synchronize schedules across the country. Francis is working to build support in the ...

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka

Kansas bill would limit who could return voters’ absentee ballots

TOPEKA (AP) — Some Kansas Republican legislators are backing a bill that would make it a felony for anyone other than a family member or caregiver to return another person’s absentee ballot. The bill is facing pushback from Democratic lawmakers and voting rights advocates who say the ...

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

Bill would require Kansas schools to fully reopen next month

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Kansas schools would be required to offer full, in-person instruction starting March 26 under a bill that was introduced Friday. Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson said in news release announcing the bill that students must not continue to "languish in virtual ...

Kansas proposal against transgender athletes gets traction

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A proposal aimed at keeping transgender students out of girls' and women's sports is attracting enough interest in the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature to worry LGBTQ advocates. A conservative Republican lawmaker introduced the measure this week in the state ...

Nursing homes begin slow return to normal in Kansas

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Kansas are making their tentative first steps toward easing visitor restrictions that were put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus, as health officials finish the first round of vaccinations. Dr. Lee ...

Kansas lawmaker wonders if marriage involves ‘implied consent’ for sexual battery

TOPEKA — Kansas Rep. Mark Samsel cautioned his colleagues Thursday in a speech on the House floor about the dangers of criminalizing “a routine act” between a husband and wife. Current Kansas law shields spouses from prosecution for sexual battery. House Bill 2120 would make it a crime ...

Kansas lawmakers weigh whether to ease penalties for minor drug crimes

Two bills pending in the Kansas Legislature would slim down penalties for minor drug crimes. Supporters of the lighter sentences contend the changes would give Kansas more reasonable drug laws and carve away at the state’s prison population. Opponents told a Kansas House committee this week ...

Kansas state senator sponsors effort to ban transgender athletes from women’s sports

TOPEKA — Sen. Renee Erickson is advocating passage of a bill by the Kansas Legislature to forbid individuals declared male at birth who later transitioned to female from participating in women’s sports programs at the elementary, high school and college levels. Erickson, a Wichita ...

Restaurants ask for property tax relief from counties that restricted business

TOPEKA — Wichita restaurant owner John Arnold says it is difficult to avoid feeling vilified by government restrictions placed on businesses in the interest of public health. The pandemic treated his industry differently, Arnold explained to lawmakers during a hearing Tuesday in the House. ...

Kansas schools rush to vaccinate teachers ahead of reopening

MISSION — Kansas school districts are rushing to vaccinate their teachers in preparation for an eventual return to a full reopening of classrooms and before a more contagious strain of the coronavirus can spread throughout the state. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told leaders of the ...

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

Kansas committee advances bill to recognize other states’ gun permits

TOPEKA (AP) — A House committee has advanced a bill to expand Kansas' recognition of other states' concealed carry permits. The bill is backed by Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who said in a hearing last month that the bill would help the state maintain reciprocity agreements ...

Kansas tax-cut fight revives memories of past GOP experiment

TOPEKA (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kansas are struggling to contain their impulses to slash state income taxes, conjuring memories of a past, nationally notorious GOP tax-cutting experiment as they try to enact some reductions over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's objections. Some ...