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

Some Kansas lawmakers want more detailed information provided to women who seek an abortion.

The Kansas House has advanced a bill that requires abortion providers to disclose additional details about a physician’s credentials, insurance and any disciplinary actions against them. It also says physicians must disclose if they have clinical privileges at any hospitals within 30 miles.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas House and Senate negotiators have reached a compromise to balance the current year’s budget without cuts to state services. They have been facing a shortfall for the budget year ending in June of nearly $300 million.

The budget agreement would delay a payment into the Kansas pension plan, KPERS. It would also borrow some money from a state investment fund.

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas House Appropriations Committee has rejected giving pay raises to most state employees. Democratic Rep. John Alcala proposed the raises as part of a budget plan because some state employees haven’t had a pay increase for nearly 10 years.

The chairman of the committee, Republican Troy Waymaster, said with lawmakers facing a budget deficit, there simply isn’t enough money.

“We would like to do something for state employees. Is this the right time? In my opinion, no it’s not,” Waymaster says.

respectable_photography / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill lowering penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Republican Rep. Blaine Finch says lawmakers lowered penalties for first-time marijuana possession last year, but didn’t lower penalties for paraphernalia. That means people could face harsher sentences for possession of a pipe than for possession of marijuana.

“It does keep it at a crime. There is a potential jail sentence," he says. "It just makes it proportional with the possession of the underlying drug."

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The Kansas Senate is likely to debate a budget proposal this week, and House lawmakers could also make progress on their spending plan. But there’s one hitch: Both budgets are unbalanced.

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The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill that opens the door to growing industrial hemp.

Republican Rep. Willie Dove says people have confused hemp with marijuana. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, and hemp does not have enough THC to get a person high.

Dove says industrial hemp could give farmers a new, profitable crop to grow.

“But yet they’ve been held back just because of ignorance of what the product really is,” Dove says.

J. Schafer, Kansas Public Radio

A Kansas House committee has voted to reverse some of the funding cuts made to colleges and universities last year.

The proposal would divert money next fiscal year to help restore part of the cuts to the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. Under a budget provision last year, KU and K-State took a bigger hit than other schools.

Republican Rep. Troy Waymaster proposed restoring the funding.

“It really hurt KU and K-State. We needed to balance that out and just make it fairer to all the regents schools across the board,” Waymaster says.

Hugo Phan / KMUW

A Kansas legislative committee is considering tighter amusement park safety regulations following the death of a lawmaker’s son. Caleb Schwab died last year on the Verruckt waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas.

The death prompted Republican Rep. John Barker to look into the state’s regulations. He chairs the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, which held a hearing on new regulations Thursday.

“It’s the nature of the tragedy. A young child gets killed at an amusement park, that’s concerning to everyone,” Barker said.

Reno County Fire District #6

Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill that will make it a little more affordable for people affected by wildfires to rebuild damaged fences.

The new Kansas law will create a sales tax exemption for materials purchased to replace burned fences. The bill moved incredibly fast, from a legislative perspective. The House and Senate approved it just last week.

There are programs at the federal level to help with recovery, but Gov. Brownback says this is something the state can do.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A Kansas Senate committee has voted to restore some funding to higher education. Cuts were made to state colleges and universities earlier this fiscal year.

Gov. Sam Brownback had proposed adding millions of dollars in the coming two years to a state scholarship fund. As part of the Senate budget plan, the new money would instead be diverted and used to restore some funding to the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.

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