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

Kansas tax collections came in almost $13 million below the estimate for last month. Personal income tax collections were up in October, but retail sales taxes and corporate income taxes were well below the forecast. Republican Governor Sam Brownback says sagging energy and ag industries are hurting the state's economy.

“We continue to experience a rural recession. Ag and oil prices continue to be low,” Brownback says.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Gov. Sam Brownback is not taking a public stance on whether the state’s Supreme Court justices should be retained this election, but his political action committee has given thousands of dollars to a group fighting to oust four of the justices.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The return on investments made by the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System hasn't consistently lived up to estimates, and it may lead KPERS officials to lower the forecast for the rate of return next month. As Stephen Koranda reports, lowering the forecast could have significant consequences.

The U.S. attorney’s office for Kansas will have a hotline ready where voters can report any potential problems on Election Day.

Election Day issues can range from signs or other campaigning too close to a polling place all the way to intimidating voters or trying to impersonate a voter.

Ho John Lee / flickr Creative Commons

Kansans who want to vote by mail for the fall election should probably get on it sooner rather than later.

In Kansas, voters can request advance ballots, mail them back and skip going to the polls at all. Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby says if that’s what you want to do, request a ballot as soon as possible. There needs to be enough time for election officials to mail you a ballot, for you to fill it out and mail it back.

Newby stresses that the ballots have to be back by the end of Election Day.

Image from the National Weather Service in Kansas City

Thousands of people were evacuated from Atchison Friday morning after a chemical cloud erupted from a nearby factory. The plume of gasses came from MGP Ingredients, which distills alcohol and produces other food ingredients.

Atchison City Manager Trey Cocking says the situation was caused by a chemical reaction.

"At 8:02 this morning, two chemicals were inadvertently mixed with each other at MGP by their sewer plant. That caused a gaseous plume to develop. That plume covered good portions of the city of Atchison,” Cocking says.

Torrey Wiley / flickr Creative Commons

A measure on the ballot this fall will ask voters if Kansas should add rights for hunting and fishing to the state constitution. The amendment is aimed at fending off some types of hunting restrictions found in other states.

Republican state Rep. Ken Corbet runs a hunting lodge and he says the industry has a big economic impact in Kansas. While he doesn’t expect any efforts to limit hunting soon, he wants to make sure the sport is preserved into the future.

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.

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