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 / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas lawmakers are regrouping on the issue of taxes. This week, Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed a tax increase that would have helped balance the budget.

Kansas Senate leaders have been frustrated after Brownback announced he would veto the tax bill, which would have rolled back many of his signature 2012 tax cuts. 

“The House leadership and the Senate leadership asked the governor that if he was going to veto the bill, that he give us a budget plan that we can vote for in the House and the Senate," Senate President Susan Wagle said. "That didn’t come."

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

The Kansas House has approved a bill that would expand the Medicaid health care program in Kansas to include people making 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Expanding KanCare would potentially offer health insurance for thousands of low-income Kansans.

The legislation passed on an 81-44 vote, but must still go through the Senate and face a possible veto from Gov. Sam Brownback, who has been a critic of Medicaid expansion. Republican Rep. Susan Concannon says supporters are not deterred.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Editor's note: This post was updated at 4:34 p.m.

The Kansas Senate failed Wednesday to override Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a bill that would have rolled back big portions of his signature 2012 tax cuts. 

Lawmakers voted 24-16 against the effort to overturn the veto. Supporters were three votes short of the two-thirds majority of 27 votes needed in the 40-member chamber. The vote came hours after legislators in the House had voted, by a narrow margin, to override the veto.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Senate has approved a big tax increase to help balance the budget. That marks a potential roll back of much of Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax policy.

The House had previously approved the bill. The 22-18 Senate vote sends the plan to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, where it could face a veto.

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas House has approved a bill that would undo many of the tax cuts passed in 2012. The 76-48 vote sends the plan to the Senate. The measure raises income tax rates and reinstates income taxes on hundreds of thousands of business owners. The chairman of the House tax committee, Republican Steven Johnson, says they have to balance tax cuts and funding government services.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Members of the Kansas House took a step Wednesday towards repealing parts of the 2012 tax cuts championed by Gov. Sam Brownback. The governor quickly responded, saying he would not sign the bill into law.

The House gave preliminary approval to the tax increase with a vote of 83 to 39, one vote shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto from the governor.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas lawmakers are considering a proposal to allow public hospitals, mental facilities and nursing homes to ban concealed weapons.

Tuesday, a committee debated whether the state should allow the University of Kansas Health System to continue banning concealed guns in its facilities. Republican Representative John Barker proposed expanding that exemption to include other health care facilities.

“I think this is a reasonable approach, a balancing act. Rights are given to us," Barker says, "but we’ve always had some control."

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr

Members of the Kansas House are scheduled to debate a tax plan Wednesday that would raise income tax rates and repeal an income tax exemption for more than 300,000 business owners. It’s the first tax bill that will be debated by one of the full chambers this year.

Kansas lawmakers are looking at ways to erase budget deficits that total around $1 billion by the middle of 2019. They started cutting taxes several years ago and the bill they’ll debate would undo some of the cuts.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Opponents of the death penalty are making a new push to repeal capital punishment in Kansas. They hope the crop of new lawmakers could give repeal efforts a new chance. They made their arguments on Monday at the Statehouse.

Celeste Dixon’s mother was murdered in Texas, and her killer was executed. Dixon, who lives in Larned, says she used to support the death penalty, but she now believes the money spent on Kansas death row cases could be better used in other law enforcement.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A Kansas House committee has advanced a spending bill that would balance the budget for the current fiscal year without making cuts to education. The House Appropriations Committee voted for a proposal similar to Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan, which would dissolve a state investment fund to close a more than $300 million budget gap.

Republican committee chairman Troy Waymaster calls it “the best of the bad options.” He says the alternative is cutting state services and education, which would be hard to absorb.

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