Stephen Koranda

Stephen is the statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

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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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Government
12:35 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

KS Bill Would Allow Carrying Concealed Guns Without A License

Kansas residents would be able to carry a concealed weapon - without a license - under a measure being considered by state lawmakers. Supporters and opponents of the legislation sounded off before a Senate committee.

Currently, Kansans must pass a background check and attend a safety training course before receiving a concealed weapons permit.

The president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, Patricia Stoneking, says residents can already openly carry firearms without a license. She says it makes sense to expand that to concealed carry without a license.

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Issues
12:33 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Bill Would Create New Class Of Foster Homes In Kansas

A bill in the Kansas Legislature would create a new class of foster homes. They would have to be heterosexual couples married at least seven years, with no tobacco or alcohol in the home.

They would also have to attend a regular social gathering like church. As Stephen Koranda reports, these families would be paid more than other foster care providers.

Republican state Senator Forrest Knox, who is a licensed foster parent, says the foster care system in Kansas needs some changes. He believes these requirements will provide the best environment for kids.

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Government
1:28 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Kansas Lawmakers Kick Off Hearings on Marriage

Credit Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee has started two days of informational hearings on marriage. Lawmakers heard testimony saying marriage improves health, the lives of kids and the state’s bottom line. As Stephen Koranda reports, the hearing could lead to legislation making it more difficult to get divorced.

Republican Representative Steve Brunk says the hearing confirmed his belief that marriage offers real benefits. He says now the question is: should lawmakers take an action to try to keep marriages intact?

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Issues
12:21 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Brownback Ends Protections For LGBT Kansas State Employees

Credit Stephen Koranda

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has overturned an executive order that had protected many state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The executive order had been put into place in 2007 by former Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Tom Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says LGBT state employees don’t have any other protections under Kansas law.

“This is their sole protection in the workplace," Witt says. "Now they can be harassed, denied promotions and fired for no other reason than their sexual orientation.”

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Government
12:13 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

State Lawmakers Agree To Bundling Limit On Bills

Senate negotiators consider an offer duing negotiations on the bundling rules.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A conference committee has softened a limit on the number of bills that can be bundled together in the Kansas Legislature. Bundling is used in the final days of the session to get bills passed in time

But the House passed a limit on the process, saying legislators could only put a maximum of two bills together into one. Stephen Koranda reports on the compromise lawmakers found...

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Government
4:41 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

KS House Passes Budget Fix For Current Year

The Kansas House chamber.
Credit Stephen Koranda

The Kansas House has passed a bill that will eliminate most of a $300 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year. The legislation mostly relies on diverting funds from other parts of state government, including money from the state highway fund, to close the budget gap.

Several Republicans said they were voting “yes” but with reservations. They also called for revamping tax cuts passed in recent years. Representative Barbara Bollier is from Mission Hills.

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Government
1:16 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

KS Senate Committee Hears Testimony On K-12 School Funding Change

Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Julie Ford.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A Kansas Senate committee is looking at rewriting part of the public school funding formula. The Legislature passed a bill increasing one type of school aid last year, but when it was all said and done, the cost had risen beyond their initial estimates. As Stephen Koranda reports, the bill would change how it's calculated and reduce that type of education spending by $40 million dollars.

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Government
12:42 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

KS House Committee Preserves Some Funding For Kids' Programs

A committee in the Kansas House has advanced a plan to balance the current fiscal year’s budget. 

The bill transfers money from sources like the state highway fund, and makes other changes, to help fill a budget hole. 

But as Stephen Koranda reports, lawmakers decided not to take as much as originally planned from a fund for kids’ programs.

The original plan took all $14 million out of the Kansas Endowment for Youth to help close the state’s budget gap. But lawmakers amended that to leave $2.5 million in the fund.

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Education
12:14 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

KS Senate Considering Bill To Trim Education Funding

Senator Ty Masterson speaking to reporters last month.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A proposal in the Kansas Senate would cut back aid to school districts in the current fiscal year. Lawmakers passed legislation increasing one type of school funding last year in response to a court ruling. But as Stephen Koranda reports, when all the variables were finalized, the cost was more than expected.

Some Kansas lawmakers are unhappy because they thought they’d be adding about $130 million dollars, but the cost ballooned. Here’s Republican state Senator Ty Masterson speaking last month.

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