Stephen Koranda

Contributing Reporter

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

J. Schafer, Kansas Public Radio

Leaders at the University of Kansas have been working on ways to absorb more than $10 million in state budget cuts. On Wednesday, the Lawrence campus announced more than $1 million in targeted spending reductions. KU Provost Neeli Bendapudi says the goal was to avoid staff reductions and minimize the impact on students.

“It’s obviously not an easy thing to do, but we tried to look at everything that we could do to keep the core academic function of the university as protected as possible,” Bendapudi says.

Sedgwickcounty.org

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach defended the state’s voter registration law in a federal appeals court on Tuesday. He says thousands of Kansans who registered to vote at the DMV without proving their citizenship should not be allowed to cast ballots.

A lower court said in May that those Kansans can vote, but Kobach wants that overturned. Kobach told the appeals court that Kansas is allowed to require citizenship documents that aren’t required under federal law.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking a federal appeals court on Tuesday to prevent thousands of Kansans from potentially casting ballots in the fall election.

As Stephen Koranda reports, this is the latest in a long series of litigation over Kansas voter registration requirements.

Dave Ranney, File Photo / Heartland Health Monitor

Governor Sam Brownback’s administration is pursing changes to some state employment policies. That includes modifying how Kansas agencies handle layoffs.

The proposals would change how Kansas agencies determine who gets laid off first and give agencies discretion to protect certain employees.

Rebecca Proctor, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, says the changes would reduce the value of experience and years of service and make the process more subjective.

wikipedia.org

Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says he's offering some advice to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. As Stephen Koranda reports, the goal is giving Trump a leg up on agriculture issues over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Roberts is chairman of the Agriculture Committee. The Kansas senator says he hasn’t personally met Trump, but he was asked to help the campaign with agricultural issues.

Roberts has been telling them that none of the candidates who ran for president this election have talked enough about things affecting rural areas and agriculture.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is asking state agencies and universities to think about how they’d handle a 5 percent budget cut.

kdhe.gov

Health insurance costs for state employees in Kansas will be rising again next year.

The increases vary depending on the plan, but rate hikes range from around 9 to 30 percent, with additional increases for dental and vision coverage. Rebecca Proctor, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, says there are some state workers making around $12 to $14 an hour, so the rising costs really hit their bottom line.

Stephen Koranda

A group of family members and friends of those killed by the Carr brothers are kicking off a campaign to unseat four Kansas Supreme Court justices. The justices face a retention election on the ballot this fall.

Amy Scott James was the girlfriend of Brad Heyka, one of the victims of the Carr brothers. She says the Kansas Supreme Court didn’t follow the state’s death penalty law when the justices overturned the death sentences for Jonathan and Reginald Carr. James says that was proven when the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the Kansas court’s decision.

The Kansas Board of Education is creating a group to study the teacher shortage that's affecting parts of Kansas. As Stephen Koranda reports, the group will recommend ways to make the job more attractive and keep teachers from leaving the career.

The new committee will look at issues like why fewer people are becoming teachers in Kansas and what they can do to reverse that trend.

“This ship will not be turned around in a day, but we have to start the process of turning the ship,” says Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece.

It appears only a small number of voters affected by a recent court ruling turned out at the polls for the Kansas primaries.

A judge ruled just days before the election that 17,000 people who registered to vote at the DMV - but didn’t turn in a citizenship document - would be allowed to vote in local, state and federal races.

But only about a dozen affected voters cast ballots in Johnson County and even fewer did so in Shawnee County.

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