Stephen Koranda

Stephen is the statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

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Government
10:30 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Kansas House Advances 'Religious Freedom Bill'

The Kansas House of Representatives has advanced a controversial bill that supporters say will protect religious freedom.

The bill is seen as a preemptive strike, in case federal courts invalidate the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

The measure prohibits punishing individuals or religious institutions for choosing not to provide goods or services that would be used in same-sex marriages.

Supporters of the bill say it protects people who don't want to provide services for same-sex marriages or don't want to recognize the unions for religious reasons.

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Kansas Budget
3:23 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Committee Puts State Worker Raises on Hold

Governor Sam Brownback's budget proposal includes a 1.5 percent raise for classified state employees.

But Monday, a Senate committee cut that raise out of its version of the budget, at least temporarily. Senator Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, said the pay raise would affect more employees than originally thought.

“We weren’t fully aware that it would touch some judges, classified employees, it touches the Legislature. So we’re just trying to get our arms around it and then look at it globally,” Denning said.

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Gun Laws
3:57 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Bill Would Cut Back Open Carry Regulation

A legislative committee is considering a bill that would bar local governments in Kansas from passing any rules that restrict the open carry of firearms. It would also invalidate any local rules currently restricting open carry.

Representative Jim Howell, a Derby Republican, says the goal is to create consistency.

“So what this does, it just simply says we’re not going to let cities create a patchwork of laws, so that people can exercise their Second Amendment rights confidently, understanding the law, with simplicity," Howell says.

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Kansas Legislature
4:07 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Bill Would Speed Death Penalty Appeals

Testimony on a bill that would speed up death penalty appeals in Kansas concluded Tuesday at the state Legislature.

A staff member with the attorney general's office told a Senate committee that long filings and delays often extend the process. But Sarah Johnson, a defense attorney who has worked on death penalty cases, said the cases are very complex and a lot of time is needed to prepare.

Johnson said the bill could harm certain defense cases.

Kansas Budget
3:23 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Brownback Releases Details Of Budget Plan

Governor Sam Brownback is proposing a reversal of some state university salary cuts and a raise for classified state employees. He's also hoping to rewrite the Department of Corrections budget.

Senator Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, chairs the Senate's budget committee. He says most of the governor's proposed $460 million dollar spending increase is allocated for corrections, but some lawmakers will still have concerns.

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Government
9:43 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Brownback Outlines Past Accomplishments And Plans For 2014 In State Of The State Address

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State address, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in the House of Representatives in Topeka, Kan.
Credit (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris NeaL)

Governor Sam Brownback took aim at Kansas courts, referenced state history and touted his administration's accomplishments during the annual State of the State address on Wednesday night.

Brownback also unveiled some of his legislative priorities as he spoke before members of the legislature.

The Governor held up what he says are the achievements of his administration over the last three years: building up state financial reserves and balancing the budget during the recession.

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Kansas Budget
8:29 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Education Lawsuit Could Prompt Budget Rewrite

Legislators return to the Kansas Statehouse Monday to kick off the 2014 legislative session.

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Veterans Services
3:43 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Brownback Proposes More Veterans' Services

Governor Sam Brownback is proposing more services for veterans in Kansas.

The proposal includes a $1.4 million renovation of a veterans' home in Fort Dodge. It would also add 40 beds to a veterans' facility in Winfield.

“We’re a big military state and we’re proud of it, and we want to take care of our veterans and do everything we possibly can,” Brownback said.

In addition, the state would hire four new outreach personnel to help veterans access the benefits they've earned.

Kansas Corporation Commission
5:13 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Brownback Nominates State Senator for KCC Seat

Governor Sam Brownback is nominating a former Kansas Senate majority leader for a seat on the Kansas Corporation Commission.

Brownback has chosen Republican Senator Jay Emler, from Lindsborg, to take the position being vacated by KCC Chairman Mark Sievers.

Brownback says Emler will be a good fit for the commission, which regulates industries including utilities and oil drilling.

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Taxes
3:45 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Chamber Of Commerce Wants To Preserve State Tax Cuts

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce says that in the 2014 legislative session, it will push to protect recently-enacted tax cuts.

The organization released a survey Tuesday of businesses in the state, showing that 57 percent of businesses say the taxes they pay are too high.

Former Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal is the president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber. He says some businesses may not have felt the impact of recent tax cuts yet.

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