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. 

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.

Niccolò Ubalducci Photographer / flickr Creative Commons

The National Weather Service is warning people in central and eastern Kansas about the potential for severe weather Thursday.

Meteorologist Jenifer Prieto says storms will bring high winds, hail and even tornadoes to the area. She says the last time there was an October tornado in Kansas was 2011.

“While it has been at least five years since we’ve had a tornado this late in the year, it’s definitely not ruled out for this area. We typically will have a second severe season in the September to October timeframe,” Prieto says.

Stephen Koranda

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle and Republican candidates for that chamber have released a series of policy proposals, which include the possibility of amending tax cuts made in recent years.

The plan includes overarching themes on topics such as balancing the budget, writing a new school funding formula and creating fairness in the tax code.

Wagle is working to harness voter frustration with the Legislature and the budget. She's laying out a message aimed squarely at those Kansans.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A task force appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback has suggested a series of changes to how Kansas officials estimate future tax collections. Those estimates are used when lawmakers craft the budget.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File Photo

Updated at 4:00 p.m:

Kansas tax collections came in more than $40 million short of estimates in September. That grows the budget deficit for the current fiscal year to around $60 million.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Gov. Sam Brownback says his office won't release any spending plans until the final version of the budget is unveiled in January.

The administration has asked state agencies and universities to imagine what they would do if a 5 percent budget cut was needed, but those documents won’t be made public. The governor's office says such draft documents are not subject to the Kansas Open Records Act.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

On Thursday, China announced plans to begin buying beef from the U.S. again. That’s after a 13-year ban based on concerns about Mad Cow disease.

China banned imports of American beef in 2003 after a dairy cow in Washington State was discovered with BSE, also called mad cow disease.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that forced U.S. producers to build exports elsewhere, and a deal with China could further boost the industry.

University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced on Thursday that she will step down next summer.

Gray-Little has led the school since 2009, when she became the first woman and the first African-American to serve as KU chancellor.

In a message to campus students and staff, Gray-Little said she’s proud of the school's accomplishments during her tenure, including the Far Above fundraising campaign, which raised $1.6 billion to help pay for scholarships, faculty and new buildings.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A judge in Topeka is considering if he should permanently block a policy that says some Kansans can only vote in federal races. As Stephen Koranda reports, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the ACLU butted heads in court on Wednesday.

The Kansas policy was created in response to a federal court order earlier this year. The rule says people who registered at the DMV, but didn’t prove their citizenship, can only vote in federal races. Kobach says that complies with the federal court while still enforcing the state law that says you have to prove your citizenship.

Christopher Sessums / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in the latest lawsuit over school funding. At issue is whether the state is spending enough on schools.