News

Ervins Strauhmanis, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas tax collections came in nearly $7 million below estimates last month, despite some bright spots in the January report.

Kansas individual income tax collections came in $8 million higher than expected, but corporate income tax collections were well below the estimate and sales tax receipts also came up short. Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says weak oil, aviation and agriculture industries are hurting tax collections.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

The Sedgwick County Election Office hosted a public demonstration today prospective of new voting equipment that will replace current election machines.

The current voting machines have been in use for 10 years and for security purposes need to be upgraded to newer technology. But Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman says the new machines won’t be be put into use until 2017.

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Top Republicans in the Kansas House plan to test support this week for changing how state Supreme Court justices are selected.

House Speaker Ray Merrick said Monday that GOP leaders want to see "where people are" on the issue. House Republicans have scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday caucuses to discuss judicial selection.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has repeatedly called for changing how the justices are selected. He calls the current system undemocratic, but changing it will require amending the state constitution.

Luke Runyon, Harvest Public Medi

New numbers show ranchers are growing their cattle herds and that’s good news if you’re shopping for beef.

Cattle numbers were slashed during the drought a few years ago, reaching their lowest levels in half century. Since then the industry has been slowly rebuilding and that’s confirmed in the latest study from the Department of Agriculture.

The number of beef cows is over 30 million for the first time since 2012. That means ranchers will have to get by with lower prices for their animals.

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A bill in the Kansas Legislature would allow people to register to vote and cast a ballot the same day, a move supporters say would increase voter turnout but that opponents say raises concerns about fraud.

Same-day registration is allowed in 10 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Under current Kansas law, voters have to be registered at least 21 days before an election.

Christopher Sessums, flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers will hold hearings this week on a bill that could trim back the number of school districts in Kansas significantly.

The bill sets requirements for the minimum size of districts. If districts are too small, they would be merged. The strategy behind the bill is efficiency, not by closing schools, but by consolidating administrations between schools districts.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, spoke to education officials about the potential impact. He says the bill could affect local control.

Matthias Ripp, flickr Creative Commons

Midwest farmers are borrowing more money to stay afloat. That’s because the farm economy is in a rough patch.

Grain prices are low and farm income has fallen for two straight years.

The Kansas City Federal Reserve gathers survey data from banks across the country. It found farmers borrowed around $100 billion in the last quarter of 2015 to keep their operations running.

Nadya Faulx

Around this time every year, downtown Wichita is the preferred roosting spot for a certain large pest. Trees and tall buildings become flooded with black crows. To ward them off, a common deterrent can be heard in the form of a loud boom. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports on what’s being done to keep them away.

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UPDATE Feb. 2 at 1:18 p.m.: Wichita City Council signed off on the final design and construction budget for the “advanced learning library” by a vote of 5 to 2.

The Wichita City Council is scheduled to make a final decision Tuesday on whether a proposed advanced learning library will be built.

The current central library on South Main Street is 48 years old, and officials say it is not meeting the needs of its users.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Wichita’s new police chief Gordon Ramsay started this week, and he says he initially plans on spending much of his time listening to the community.

Ramsay says some of his top priorities as chief of the Wichita Police Department will be recruiting new officers, developing relationships in the community and gathering analytics to map out areas of concern.

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