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. 

Storem, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a bill allowing many public employees to carry concealed weapons when they’re traveling on the job. The change means employees for cities, counties and government agencies can now carry guns when they’re working out in the community.

During debate earlier this month, Republican Sen. Forrest Knox said this allows workers to protect themselves.

“You should not, if you’re a public entity, a public employer, be able to require your employees to be defenseless,” Knox says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Update from the AP:

The Obama administration is telling public schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

The directive is in formal guidance being sent to school districts Friday by the departments of Education and Justice.

The letter does not impose any new legal requirements, but federal officials say the guidance is meant to clarify school districts’ obligations to provide students with nondiscriminatory environments.

Stephen Koranda

Gov. Sam Brownback is considering a budget plan that requires him to make spending cuts. Brownback says he has not yet decided if he’ll veto a provision in the budget affecting the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the budget item says spending cuts should hit those schools harder than other universities.

alamosbasement, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Supreme Court justices are mulling how to respond in a lawsuit over school funding. Justices previously said they could close schools if funding disparities among districts aren’t reduced. But as Stephen Koranda reports, an attorney yesterday offered an alternative option.

An attorney representing the state, Stephen McAllister, says if justices rule against the state they could strike down just part of the Kansas school funding system and let classes start in the fall.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Supreme Court justices had some pointed questions for an attorney representing the state in a lawsuit over school funding. At issue is whether lawmakers have done enough to reduce funding disparities among school districts.

Justice Dan Biles expressed frustration that lawsuits over education funding have been going on for years and the latest solution from lawmakers appears to be just a one-year solution.

“How many years do we operate unconstitutionally before we say the music’s got to stop and we got to quit dancing?” Biles said.

kac.org

An influential advocacy group based in Topeka is getting a new leader. Annie McKay is taking over as president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children.

She replaces Shannon Cotsoradis, who's leaving KAC for a job with the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative.

McKay praised the agency and Cotsoradis for their accomplishments, which included stopping the state from selling off part of a tobacco settlement used to pay for children’s programs.

Chris, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a lawsuit over school funding. At issue is whether lawmakers have done enough to reduce funding disparities among school districts. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, a ruling against the state will likely bring lawmakers back to Topeka for more work.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The vice president of the Kansas Senate says he will not seek re-election.

Republican Jeff King, from Independence, says lawmakers have become too focused on what he calls soundbites and politics. King says the current political system punishes lawmakers who admit they’ve made a mistake and try to fix it. He uses the example of a business income tax exemption he initially supported, then in recent years worked to eliminate.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

The two Planned Parent organizations in Kansas and Missouri wasted little time challenging Kansas’ termination of their Medicaid funding.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

An unusual coalition of lawmakers helped soundly defeat a bill that would have repealed a tax exemption for Kansas businesses. The tax policy allows more than 300,000 Kansas businesses to avoid paying income taxes. Republican Representative Sue Boldra called the repeal effort a step in the right direction.

“It’s not the whole pie, as many of us desire, but certainly this is enough to right our ship of state and get a handle on our budget,” Boldra said.

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