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

A bill before a Kansas Senate committee would protect firearms businesses from discrimination. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, a hearing on the bill also brought out other groups seeking protection.

Trevor Santos, with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, says firearms businesses can be the victims of discrimination. He used the example of a shooting range owner in Olathe who tried to insure a new vehicle.

Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee is considering a proposal that would cap the legislative session at 60 days during odd-numbered years, down from the normal 90 days.

Republican Rep. Marvin Kleeb says while the session is only supposed to last 90 days, in reality it often stretches into five months. He says that length discourages many average Kansans from serving in the Legislature.

“You have people who can’t leave their businesses that long. You have employees who are unable to earn their income. It impedes their career, so it impacts their lives,” Kleeb says .

Paul Joseph / Flickr Creative Commons

A House committee has approved a bill that would allow microbreweries in Kansas to produce up to 60,000 barrels of beer per year. That’s double the current limit.

Under state law, microbreweries would have to build a separate facility and get another license if they wanted to go beyond the existing limit. Philip Bradley, lobbying on behalf of craft brewers, says breweries can be more efficient if they’re allowed to produce additional beer at a single facility.

Stephen Koranda

Construction of a new energy center near the Kansas Statehouse has been delayed after lawmakers raised concerns about the plan. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the facility will provide heating and cooling to the Capitol and other state office buildings.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration reached a $20 million agreement to finance the project, but it was structured so it did not need approval from Kansas lawmakers. That rubbed some lawmakers the wrong way.

Wikipedia

A Kansas Senate committee has approved a bill that would lessen penalties for marijuana possession, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. While working on the bill, the committee removed a section that would have allowed the medical use of hemp oil.

Some lawmakers raised concerns because hemp oil hasn’t been evaluated by the FDA. Republican Senator Molly Baumgardner says even if it’s legal, a hospital told her they won’t use it.

“Their physicians will not prescribe because it has not gone through the rigorous scientific clinical trials,” Baumgardner says.

Joseph Novak / Flickr / Creative Commons

An advocate for wind energy says state and federal policies have led to a surge in wind development in Kansas. Kimberly Svaty, with the Wind Coalition, says a multi-year agreement on federal wind power tax credits and an agreement on tax policy at the state level have helped the industry grow.

Wind power development can ebb and flow with tax policies, but Svaty says favorable policies have helped develop nine new wind projects in Kansas during the last year.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

The drop in oil prices has negatively affected the job market in Kansas. That’s what Ed Cross, with the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, told lawmakers on Monday.

Cross says low prices have caused oil and gas producers to slow down drilling projects and even shut down wells.

“This is having a profound impact on the oil and gas industry. Producers themselves have laid off as much as 20 to 30 percent of the workforce. The service sector is hit the hardest, many of those companies have laid off as much as 50 percent,” Cross says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will pursue three more cases of voter fraud for alleged double voting. Kobach discussed the cases during a meeting at the Statehouse yesterday.

The three new cases come from Johnson, Ellis and Sedgwick Counties. In all three, the people are accused of voting more than once in an election.

Democratic state Rep. Tom Sawyer told Kobach that it doesn’t seem like voter fraud to him if someone voted twice when they thought they could and didn’t have criminal intent. Kobach says it’s important to prosecute the crimes.

Stephen Koranda

Some student and faculty groups have voiced their opposition to a law that will allow concealed guns at universities, but they face an uphill battle in the Kansas Statehouse. A state law will allow concealed weapons on college and university campuses starting in 2017.

Republican state Rep. Brett Hildabrand supported the bill and points out that it passed with big majorities.

wstrachan1, flickr Creative Commons

KMUW:

An attempt to ban a certain 2nd-trimester abortion procedure has been stopped by a Kansas Appeals Court.

The ruling came on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Decision of Roe V. Wade, allowing abortion in the country.

The ban, which is referred to as the dismemberment ban, was introduced into the legislature and passed last year.

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