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Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's authority to temporarily short Kansas' contributions to public pensions would be limited under a budget-balancing measure the Kansas House was debating Wednesday.

The bill would eliminate a projected deficit of nearly $200 million in the state's $16.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.


Conservationists say protected habitats for endangered and threatened species in Kansas would be sharply reduced under a Senate bill in its second week of hearings.

The measure before the Senate Natural Resources Committee would change the definition of critical habitats and restrict habitat protection to areas where a vulnerable species lives.

Critics say the bill doesn't take into consideration potential territories where the species could migrate. The Sierra Club testified Wednesday that the bill would cut habitat protections by 60 percent.

A bill that would expand a new state tax-credit system that pays for scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools has passed a hurdle.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a majority of the House Education Committee approved the expansion Monday. Next, it needs to pass a vote on the House floor.

Currently, the program allows certain businesses to donate money for private school scholarships. In return, they can deduct part of the donation value from their tax bills.

photo by By Chris Potter (Flickr: 3D Judges Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has signed legislation to keep Kansas' courts open following a legal dispute involving their budget and the state Supreme Court's power.

Brownback signed the bill Monday, and it could take effect later this week. The measure repeals a 2015 law threatening the court system's budget.

That law said the judiciary's budget through June 2017 would be nullified if the courts struck down a 2014 law.

Members of the Kansas Children's Cabinet criticized the leader of their group for excluding them from recent funding recommendations for early childhood programs.

The recommendations come in a document that says they are "from the Kansas Children's Cabinet." But group members said they didn't vote on them.

Amanda Adkins, the group's chairwoman, said Friday she needed to move quickly in order to get the recommendations to lawmakers during the budget process.

Cabinet members didn't express opposition to the recommendations themselves, and in some cases praised them.


Kansas health officials have confirmed the first flu cases in the state for the current flu season.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the four cases were reported by a south-central Kansas hospital.

Health department secretary Susan Mosier reminds Kansas residents it's not too late to get a flu vaccine. The vaccines are recommended for nearly everyone 6 months or older.

The department says this season's flu vaccine appears to be a good match to the circulating influenza viruses.

J. Stephen Conn, flickr Creative Commons

A Kansas student's display of a Confederate flag from the back of his pickup truck has sparked debate about race at a high school named Free State in a nod to Kansas' anti-slavery history.

The student displayed the flag last month on the grounds of the largely white school in the university city of Lawrence. Administrators told him to remove it, and they've banned such flags from the grounds as disruptions. The district says the student won't be disciplined, and that the situation is being used as a learning moment.

Kathleen Ann, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would lessen penalties for first and second-time marijuana possession.

The vote Wednesday was 38-1.

The measure would reduce the punishment for first-time misdemeanor possession to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, rather than the current year in jail and $2,500 fine. A second possession conviction would no longer be a felony, so an offender wouldn't be sent to prison.

The measure goes next to the House, which passed a similar proposal last year.

Center for Economic Development and Business Research

A university study projects the number of Kansans older than 65 will double in the next 50 years and outnumber children for the first time in state history.

The forecast released Wednesday by Wichita State University's Center for Economic Development and Business Research also projects a 21.8 percent increase between 2014 and 2064 as the Kansas population reaches more than 3.5 million people. That is slower than the growth rate for the nation.

Kansas legislators are among those in several states considering measures to prohibit local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

One bill would ban so-called sanctuary cities. The other would also withdraw state funding from cities that don't cooperate with immigration officials.