Stephen Koranda

Stephen is the statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

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Education
12:45 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Kansas Session Hits Halfway Point With No School Funding Plan

Credit Stephen Koranda

Kansas Lawmakers have passed the halfway point in the 2015 session without unveiling a proposal to rewrite the state’s school funding formula. Governor Sam Brownback has proposed an overhaul, but first he says lawmakers should freeze spending and issue block grants to schools. As Stephen Koranda reports, a proposal could be coming soon.

Governor Brownback and some Republicans have been unhappy with unexpected cost increases for Kansas education. A block grant proposal would give them time to write a new plan while keeping funding steady.

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Government
10:46 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Deadline Marks The End For Many Bills In The Kansas Legislature

Credit Stephen Koranda

Lawmakers are taking a long weekend after working hard last week to beat a legislative deadline known as "turnaround." As Stephen Koranda reports, when they return on Wednesday, they’ll have fewer issues to consider.

Most bills had to have passed one chamber in the Kansas Legislature by the end of last week or they are dead for the session. That means many bills are done for this year. But, bills from certain legislative committees are exempt, for example budget bills remain alive and well.

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Government
2:36 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

State Senate Approves Bill Moving Local Government Elections In Kansas

The Kansas Senate has advanced a bill that would move local elections from the spring to the fall of odd-numbered years. The bill is a compromise that is aimed at balancing efforts to increase voter turnout against objections from local governments. Stephen Koranda reports.

Republican Senator Mitch Holmes says the goal is to get more people voting by moving the Kansas local elections to the traditional voting season in the fall.

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Politics
2:59 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

KS House Moves To Bar Political Candidates From Dropping Out Of Races

Voters casting ballots in Douglas County.
Credit Stephen Koranda

The Kansas House has advanced a bill that would bar political candidates from removing themselves from the ballot after the filing deadline. Currently, candidates can declare they can’t serve in office and have their name taking off the ballot before an election.

Republican Representative Mark Kahrs repeatedly referenced Democrat Chad Taylor dropping out of the U.S. Senate race last year.

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Education
1:18 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

KS House Committee Considers Removing Tuition Benefit For Undocumented Students

Kelvin Lopez urges lawmakers not to repeal the in-state tuition law for certain undocumented immigrants.
Credit Stephen Koranda

Currently, the children of illegal immigrants are allowed to pay in-state tuition at Kansas community colleges and universities - if they meet certain criteria. But some lawmakers want to change that.

A House committee took testimony Tuesday on a plan to revoke the in-state tuition, which is currently used by about 650 students in Kansas.

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the current law is unfair to legal immigrants, who may not be eligible for in-state tuition.

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Government
2:05 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

KS House Committee Advances Bill Expanding Liquor Sales

Rep. Scott Schwab speaking after the vote.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee has approved legislation that would let convenience stores sell full-strength beer. It would also allow grocery stores to sell beer, wine and liquor. Stephen Koranda reports on the proposed changes, which would take effect in 2018.

Republican Representative Scott Schwab says this change will be convenient for Kansas consumers. He says in his family, his wife doesn’t want to go to a liquor store while out shopping.

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Politics
11:20 am
Mon February 23, 2015

KS Senate's Top Democrat Believes Session Is Off Track

Senator Anthony Hensley speaking to the media last month.
Credit Stephen Koranda

The top Democrat in the Kansas Senate says lawmakers haven't accomplished enough so far this session.

Legislators are facing a significant deadline this week, which marks the midpoint of their scheduled time in Topeka.

Democratic Senator Anthony Hensley believes they're not making enough progress solving problems like a budget shortfall.

Stephen Koranda reports...

Hensley is concerned that they haven’t tackled some big issues and they haven’t passed enough bills. He says they’re already set up to go beyond the normal 90 days of the Kansas session.

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Health
5:00 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Kansas Senate Expected To Give Final Vote On Bill Regarding Specific Abortion Procedure

The Kansas Senate chamber.
Credit Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would bar a specific type of abortion procedure called dismemberment abortion. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports.

Several Republicans focused on the procedure itself, describing it as gruesome. Here’s Republican Senator Steve Fitzgerald.

“And there is no basis upon which anybody can attempt to defend it, and yet some do. I would hope that this body would set, yet again, an example for the nation,” says Fitzgerald.

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Government
1:15 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Bill Says University Professors Can't Use Their Titles When Writing Newspaper Columns

Rep. Joe Seiwert speaking about the bill.
Credit Stephen Koranda

Two Kansas Lawmakers are defending a bill that would bar university professors from using their professional titles when writing newspaper columns.

Republican Representatives Virgil Peck and Joe Seiwert spoke in favor of the bill before a House committee. Both say they have been unfairly covered by the media and criticized following introduction of the legislation.

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Government
1:06 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

KS House Committee Hears From Supporters, Opponents Of Liquor Tax Increase

Richard Carlson, with the Kansas Department of Revenue, testifies in favor of the bill.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A committee in the Kansas House has started hearings on Governor Sam Brownback’s plan to raise alcohol and tobacco taxes to help fill a budget hole.

Richard Carlson, with the Kansas Department of Revenue, says they focused on alcohol and tobacco taxes because consumption taxes do the least harm to the economy.

“It is one of the very few consumption taxes on a product that is most discretionary for the consumer,” says Carlson.

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