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.

 

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Recent Republican victories in several special congressional elections – including this week’s in Georgia – have raised doubts about whether Democrats can gain control of the U.S. House next year. To erase those doubts, they’re focusing on several swing districts, including one in Kansas.

Republican Kevin Yoder has represented Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District since 2011.

But for a dozen years before that, Democrat Dennis Moore held the seat.

JIM MCLEAN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jim Barnett is throwing his stethoscope into the ring.

Again.

The 63-year-old doctor and former state senator is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Again.

Barnett, who represented an Emporia-centered district in the Kansas Senate for a decade, won the 2006 GOP primary over a relatively weak field but lost in a landslide to incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in the general election.

Four years later he came up short in a race against Tim Huelskamp for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Given all the controversy about KanCare – Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program – it would be reasonable to expect big crowds at public hearings about renewing the program.

But that wasn’t the case Wednesday when relative handfuls of health care providers and consumers turned out in Topeka for the first in a series of forums scheduled across the state.

The sparse turnout disappointed state officials and legislators who attended.

File Photo / KCUR

Evidence that the wave election Democrats are hoping for in 2018 is brewing can be seen in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. It appears there will be competition for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder.

Iraq veteran and Bronze Star winner Joe McConnell has officially filed for the Democratic nomination. Jay Sidie, the 2016 nominee, is also expected to run.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The filing deadline isn’t until next June. But candidates already are lining up for what could be the toughest job in Kansas: succeeding Gov. Sam Brownback.

Four hopefuls are at least tentatively in the race and several more are thinking about getting in, including some Republican heavyweights.

Who?

Well, Kansas Secretary of State and political lightning rod Kris Kobach for one. Interviewed at the Kansas Republican Party’s state convention earlier this year, he said, “I am taking a very serious look at the governor’s race.”

J. Schafer / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas Lawmakers aren’t yet in record territory, but they’re facing challenges that could make the 2017 session among the longest ever.

Lawmakers must close a budget gap that now stands just south of $1 billion -- and increase funding for public schools by enough to get them off the hook with the Kansas Supreme Court.

Big challenges, but particularly tough now for a couple of reasons: First is the mismatch between conservative Republican leaders and a majority coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats.

Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas legislative leaders working on a plan to end the 2017 session have what amounts to a chicken-and-egg dilemma.

Kansas News Service/File photo

  

A former Kansas legislator who also served as the state agriculture secretary and as a senior official in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is running for governor.

Steven Lee / Creative Commons, flickr

Private investigators and some other services that Kansas lawmakers consider “non-essential” may soon be subject to the state sales tax.

The House on Monday passed a bill 78-42 that would impose the state’s 6.5 percent sales tax on a relatively short list of currently exempt services.

In addition to private investigation and security services, the list includes plumbing and pool cleaning, towing, non-residential janitorial services, debt collection and pet care excluding veterinary services.

Doug Kerr, flickr Creative Commons

Lobbyists for Kansas highway contractors are urging state lawmakers to increase the gas tax, but it’s proving to be a tough sell.

Forced to deal with massive budget problems in recent years, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and lawmakers have diverted billions of dollars from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

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