Jim McLean

Contributing Reporter

Jim McLean, Executive Editor of KHI News Service, oversees the KHI News Service. From 2005 until 2013, McLean coordinated all communications activities at KHI as Vice President for Public Affairs. The position he now occupies was created as part of a strategic initiative to solidify the editorial and operational independence of the KHI News Service. Prior to coming to KHI, McLean had a distinguished career as a journalist, serving as the news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. During his more than 20 years in Kansas journalism, McLean won numerous awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. In 1997, McLean and two Capital-Journal colleagues received the Burton W. Marvin News Enterprise Award from the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism for a series of stories on the state’s business climate. McLean holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washburn University.

 

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

A bill that would prohibit minors from using commercial tanning beds that was stopped two years ago appears to be on its way to passing out of a Kansas House committee.

The bill appears to have the votes to pass out of the House Health and Human Services Committee despite testimony against it from Joseph Levy.

Levy is a lobbyist for the tanning industry. He says the American Cancer Society and other supporters of the bill are overstating the dangers of indoor tanning.

“The case that’s been made goes well beyond the facts," Levy says.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

Amy Holdman has a cautionary tale for Kansas lawmakers. The 41-year-old mother of two from Overland Park will be in Topeka today to speak in favor of a bill that would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from using ultraviolet tanning beds.

Holdman has had three surgeries in just the last year to remove melanoma skin cancers from her arms.

She and her doctors believe that her frequent use of tanning beds as a teenager and young adult is the likely cause.

Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

A lobbying campaign being waged by highway contractors has Kansas lawmakers on the defensive.

Billboards put up by the contractors accuse Gov. Sam Brownback and lawmakers of committing “highway robbery” by diverting more than a billion dollars from the transportation department to plug holes in the state budget.

Sen. Jeff Melcher fired back at a Statehouse hearing today Wednesday. The Leawood Republican called the charges a “gross misrepresentation of reality.”

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Medicaid applications are piling up in Topeka because of problems with a new computer system, which are also causing some Kansans to lose their coverage.

Jim McClean

A bipartisan group of Kansas legislators is attempting to repeal the state’s death penalty. They say they’re building support among rank and file lawmakers but having trouble overcoming opposition from legislative leaders.

The lawmakers sponsoring the repeal bill say the death penalty is ineffective, wasteful and unjust.

Stephen Koranda

Several nonprofit advocacy organizations are behind a new bipartisan effort to make Kansas government more open.

They are asking legislators to sign a “transparency pledge” to taxpayers.

Two Kansas House members helped kick off the effort today at the Statehouse.

Democrat John Wilson from Lawrence says he doesn’t normally sign pledges because they limit his ability to respond to changing circumstances. But he says the transparency pledge is different.

Stephen Koranda

Committees in the Kansas House and Senate have introduced a Medicaid expansion bill modeled after one approved by Indiana’s conservative Republican governor and legislature.

The Kansas proposal is designed to appeal to the Republicans who control the legislature. It would require the approximately 150,000 people expected to gain coverage to help pay for it. And it would cancel coverage for those who fall behind in their payments.

Jim McLean

Officials from Lawrence Memorial Hospital returned Friday to the Statehouse armed with details about ongoing problems they’re having with the companies that manage KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

http://kslegislature.org

Kansas lawmakers have a lot of pressing issues to deal with. There’s the projected budget deficit. And the school finance and Medicaid expansion controversies. But “dress-code-gate” is dominating hall talk at the Statehouse today.

Sen. Mitch Holmes, the chairman of the Senate Ethics and Election Committee, wants to discourage women in the Statehouse from dressing provocatively. So, this week the St. John Republican imposed a dress code that urges them not to wear “distracting” miniskirts and blouses with plunging necklines.

Phil Cauthon for the KHI News Service

After weeks of speculation about the future of the Osawatomie State Hospital, state officials say they will attempt to regain its federal certification. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, safety and security issues prompted federal officials to decertify the state’s largest mental health hospital in December.

A failed inspection and security lapses underscored by the sexual assault of a hospital worker by a patient led to the decertification and the suspension of federal Medicare payments.

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