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. 

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A federal judge has revived a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Kansas law requiring prospective voters to prove they are U.S. citizens.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday gave Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach a pass for failing to file a timely response to the lawsuit. She set aside a court clerk's default judgment issued last week against the state.

Robinson says the case is of constitutional significance and public interest, and that it deserves to be decided on the merits and not through procedural default.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Some high-ranking Republicans have said tax policy is on the table as lawmakers work to eliminate a state budget deficit. But as Stephen Koranda reports, they aren’t endorsing a tax increase.

Senate President Susan Wagle previously said all options for Kansas budget balancing are up for consideration.

This week, Gov. Sam Brownback said he’s not ruling anything out when it comes to the budget. But Brownback pushed for the tax cuts, and he is not saying he likes the idea of modifying them.

Hugo Phan / KMUW/File photo

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is backing fellow Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race, but Brownback isn’t supporting Trump’s claims of a “rigged” election. Brownback tells reporters that he has faith in the voting system.

“I don’t doubt that there’s problems in some places, but I’ve been on the ballot a lot and I think overall the system operates well,” Brownback says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Two former Kansas attorneys general, a Democrat and a Republican, say Kansas Supreme Court justices should keep their jobs. Five justices face retention elections this November.

The two former politicians have joined a campaign by the group Kansans for Fair Courts.

Former Attorneys General Bob Stephan and Steve Six say the Kansas justices have been fair and impartial in their rulings. They say a very small number of the court’s decision have been overturned on appeal, which shows the justices are doing good work.

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Statehouse grounds were closed for several hours this morning as police used a robot to inspect a suspicious package.

A man reported to Topeka police that his friend had placed a cardboard canister on the Statehouse grounds as a prank. Capitol Police Officer Patrick Saleh says they didn’t think the item was a threat, but they used a bomb squad robot to inspect it anyway.

The extra caution was because there was a hazardous material sticker on the container.

J. Stephen Conn / flickr Creative Commons

The building that houses the Kansas Supreme Court will need significant repairs after heavy rains seeped through a leaky roof.

Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor says the building could need new walls, ceilings and flooring.

“We were in the middle of a re-roofing project, and we also were having a significant amount of rain, and suddenly the rain coming down outside was coming down inside in sheets,” Taylor says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Legislators in Kansas have some big issues on their plate next year. As Stephen Koranda reports, they’re already planning on a long session.

Kansas lawmakers already know they’ll have to balance the state budget. Add into that the huge issue of writing a new school funding formula.

But that’s not all: The Kansas Supreme Court could issue a ruling that says the state has to increase funding for schools by hundreds of millions of dollars, which would further complicate everything.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A fight over the voter registration laws in Kansas is down to deadlines. Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office missed a deadline in a lawsuit challenging the proof-of-citizenship requirement. As Stephen Koranda reports, that caused a judge to rule against Kobach.

Mark Johnson, one of the attorneys challenging the law, says they will oppose the judge accepting the document because Kobach was late with another filing already in the suit.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The president of the Kansas Senate says lawmakers should take a bigger role in crafting the budget.

The governor creates a Kansas budget proposal and delivers it to the Legislature at the start of the session. While the final budget bill is often significantly different, the governor gives legislators a starting point to work from.

Senate President Susan Wagle says lawmakers should do more and write their own budget plan from scratch.

Ministerio TIC Colombia / flickr Creative Commons

A graduate of the University of Kansas has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, was honored for his efforts to reach a peace agreement with the FARC rebels in his South American country. During a visit to KU in 2012, Santos credited his time at the university with teaching him some important lessons about America’s values.

“Your commitment to democratic values, principles like freedom, defense of human rights, and that is something that I learned to value here at the University of Kansas,” Santos said.