Stephen Koranda

Stephen is the statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

At a meeting in Topeka today, the National Council on Disability will hear how the state’s managed care program for Medicaid has been working. The state privatized the health care system, now known as KanCare, several years ago. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the council advises the president, Congress and the federal government on disability issues.

The National Council on Disability held a similar meeting in 2013 in Kansas, which helped produce a series of recommendations for managed care programs. Now, they’re working to update the report.

Stephen Koranda file photo

A ruling last month in a Kansas abortion lawsuit could have sweeping implications in the state. Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks blocked a new abortion restriction from taking effect because he said the Kansas Constitution includes a protection for abortion rights.

That came as a surprise to the group Kansans for Life, which pushed for the new abortion restriction. Jessie Basgall, an attorney with the group, disagrees with the judge’s assertion.

Stephen Koranda file photo

In just over a month, the state of Kansas could be borrowing $1 billion to inject into the state’s pension plan, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. A group made up of the governor and legislators has given final approval to the plan. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the money would be given to KPERS to invest.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Governor Sam Brownback says his administration could pursue new religious liberties legislation in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. A Kansas bill on that topic attracted national attention in 2014 and eventually stalled in the Legislature.

Today, Brownback also defended the state’s refusal so far to recognize same-sex marriages when it comes to state services. He says the changes needed are still under consideration.

Stephanie GA, flickr Creative Commons

Same-sex couples living in all 105 Kansas counties can now get married, but there are still roadblocks in state government for some services. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, LGBT advocates are calling for the state government to update the rules following last week’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.

Ervins Strauhmanis, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas is kicking off a new fiscal year Wednesday. The state wrapped up last fiscal year with tax collections coming in $22 million below estimates in June. State lawmakers didn't plan on a big savings account in this new fiscal year, and that makes the monthly revenue numbers critical.

Kansas lawmakers cut taxes several years ago. This year, they raised taxes and made cuts to balance the budget, but those changes still leave a state savings account estimated at under $100 million at the end of our new fiscal year.

Stephen Koranda

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage could spur action in the Kansas Legislature.

Speaking after the ruling, Republican Senate President Susan Wagle said they’ll be studying what the ruling means for Kansas law. Wagle says the ruling could prompt lawmakers to look at a possible legislative response.

“We want to assure the people of Kansas that those who are personally opposed to same-sex marriage, we want to assure the fact that they don’t have to participate in one or perform one,” Wagle says.

Stephen Koranda

A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court has declared a new block grant school funding system unconstitutional. The panel says the law fails to provide an adequate funding system for Kansas schools.

The top Democrat in the Kansas House, Tom Burroughs, says the state should move back to the old school funding system that was replaced with the block grant plan.

“The old formula has been through the system, has been found to be constitutional and it just needed to be funded adequately and equally,” says Burroughs.

Stephen Koranda

Friday is the final ceremonial day of the 2015 Kansas legislative session. In many years, there’s no real legislative work done on the last day, but this year there will be an investigative hearing on comments made earlier this session by a Democratic state representative from Kansas City.

Representative Valdenia Winn faces a formal complaint signed by nine Republicans. They don’t like comments she made about a bill amending tuition rules at Kansas universities. It would have taken away in-state tuition for some Kansas students who are in the country illegally.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Kansas lawmakers will be back for one more day later this month. That will be the ceremonial end to the 2015 legislative session, the longest in state history. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, they wrapped up their normal work late Friday and left Topeka.

Lawmakers faced an $800 million deficit, but they had found ways to fill around half of that. They struggled to pass a tax plan to fill a $400 million remaining hole in the budget. The situation was made more serious when Governor Sam Brownback gave lawmakers a deadline to pass a plan or face massive budget cuts.