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Kansas Health Institute/File photo

An independent reviewer is backing the validity of a study that found improving Kansas' public schools could cost an additional $2 billion a year.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Legislature hired Jesse Levin, of the American Institutes for Research, to conduct a peer review of the recent cost study. He told lawmakers Thursday that the study was "fairly cutting-edge and done very, very well."

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Legislation designed to strengthen Kansas schools against gunmen passed in the House Wednesday, though some lawmakers argued the bill is more ploy than policy.

The measure would set aside $5 million for schools to upgrade infrastructure to slow or thwart a potential school shooter. The bill passed on a 119-5 vote and heads next to the Senate for consideration.

The bill won Democratic Rep. Jason Probst's vote, but not his support.

Alex Starr / flickr Creative Commons

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley has chastised his colleagues for failing to make progress on a school finance plan.

He urged them Tuesday to come to grips with reality.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that during the debate lawmakers said they were interested in negotiating with school attorneys. They also expressed frustration with the Kansas Supreme Court.

Storem / flickr Creative Commons

Kansas legislators are debating a bill designed to keep guns out of the hands of fugitives and domestic abusers and could consider other gun issues.

The Senate planned to take a final vote Thursday on the measure. The bill would make it a felony under state law for anyone convicted of domestic violence to possess a firearm within five years of conviction. It would also be illegal for fugitives to possess guns.

But senators expected to take up other gun proposals as well during their debate.

Kansas Health Institute/File photo

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has declared a drought emergency, warning or watch across the entire state.

Colyer signed an executive order Tuesday following several weeks of abnormally dry conditions in all 105 counties.

He declared an emergency for 28 southern Kansas counties and a warning for 29 other counties in central and southern Kansas. The remaining 48 counties are under a drought watch.

The order directs state agencies to combat drought conditions.

Cowgirl Jules / flickr Creative Commons

Kansas legislators have given final approval to a bill aimed at attracting large chicken-processing plants to the state.

The House's vote Monday was 84-37 and sent the bill to Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer. The Senate approved it last month.

The House's vote came six months after Arkansas-based Tyson Foods put plans on hold for a $320 million chicken-processing plant outside Tonganoxie amid opposition from many local residents.

Kansas News Service/File photo

A Kansas bill that would make it a crime for people recently convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense to have a firearm has stalled in the state Senate.

The bill unanimously passed the House last month but has stalled after the Senate's Federal and State Affairs Committee amended language regarding silencers and throwing stars, The Kansas City Star reported.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Officials with the Kansas Department for Children and Families are pushing a transparency bill amid criticism of the state's handling of abuse-related child deaths.

The House Judiciary Committee heard on Tuesday a bill proposed by Gov. Jeff Colyer that would require the release of basic information after an abuse-related child death, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Kansas legislators know that the "gut and go" move they use to pass major bills each year sounds sketchy and makes it harder for people outside the Statehouse to follow what's going on under the dome.

Yet the Legislature is addicted to the move stripping out a bill's contents and replacing it with details from another bill, often on a different subject. Many of its leaders argue the tactic is crucial to allowing lawmakers to finish their work on time when they're supposed to remain in session only 90 days a year.

Kansas reported Thursday that it collected nearly $27 million more in taxes than anticipated in February.

The report from the state Department of Revenue was more good news for legislators as they face a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to increase spending on public schools. It was the ninth consecutive month that tax collections have exceeded expectations.

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