Stephen Koranda

Stephen is the statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

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Education
10:36 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Lawmakers Vote To Make It Easier To Fire Teachers

Credit Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Senate has voted to make it easier to fire teachers. 

The amendment was added to an education funding bill.

Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, supported the proposal. She said schools should be allowed to operate like a private business, which can mostly hire and fire people at will.

"When you have a teacher that is impeding that system I believe an administrator should be able to let them go. That’s what happens in private schools,” said Wagle.

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Education
10:12 am
Fri April 4, 2014

State Senate Advances Education Funding Bill

Credit Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Senate has advanced a plan to respond to a state Supreme Court ruling on education funding.

The court said lawmakers created inequalities between school districts by cutting certain types of education funds.

The bill would shift money into funds aimed at reducing those disparities.

Dollars would be moved from school transportation as well as other areas of the budget. Senator Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said they are prioritizing spending.

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Education
12:37 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Kansas House Education Plan Stalls

Credit Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Senate will debate an education funding bill on Thursday, while a similar bill has hit a snag in the House.

The bills are a response to a state Supreme Court ruling saying Kansas created inequalities between wealthy and poorer school districts when lawmakers cut education funding.

Leaders in both chambers had been planning to hold debates on Thursday.

Both bills use a mix of new money and dollars shifted from other areas to try to comply with the court ruling and reduce disparities between districts.

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Environment
12:35 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Kansas House Committee Advances Prairie Chicken Bill

A mounted pair of lesser prairie chickens on display in the Kansas Statehouse.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee has advanced a bill aimed at bucking federal regulation of the lesser prairie chicken. It was announced last week that the federal government would list the bird as a threatened species.

The bill says federal rules and policies surrounding the lesser prairie chicken have no effect in Kansas.

Washington Republican Sharon Schwartz is chairwoman of the Kansas House Ag Committee. She says the bill makes a statement. Schwartz says state and regional conservation plans would be better than federal regulation, which could hurt industry.

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Education
10:11 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Kansans Walk 60 Miles To Show Support For Kansas Public Schools

Education advocates walk to the Kansas Statehouse for a ceremonial end to the trip.
Credit Stephen Koranda

Four parents and a teacher have walked from Johnson County to the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka to show their support for Kansas public schools.

The Kansans who made the 60-mile trek say they want lawmakers to reverse more of the funding cuts made during the recession.

Devin Wilson of Lenexa says he's a lifelong Kansan and a lifelong Republican.

Wilson wants lawmakers to increase funding to help reverse the trend of increased class sizes.

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Education
11:22 am
Mon March 31, 2014

UPDATE: Kansas House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades Resigns Over Education Bill

Credit Stephen Koranda

Updated Monday, Mar. 31, 2:30 pm: House Speaker Ray Merrick names replacement for Rhodes. 

The House Appropriations Committee's chairman has resigned from the committee because he says he can't support a school funding plan drafted by the chamber's Republican leaders.

Newton Republican Marc Rhoades resigned Monday, just before the start of his committee's hearings on the plan.

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Education
10:58 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Kansas House Appropriations Committee Starts Hearings Over Education Funding

The Kansas House Appropriations Committee will start hearings Monday on a budget bill to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling over education funding.

However, the bill will cover more than just school spending.

The budget bill before the committee includes other policy items like rewriting teacher licensure rules. Chairman Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican, told committee members last week about the broad scope of the discussion.

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Renewable Energy
5:14 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

House Rejects Bill to Repeal Renewable Standards

The Kansas House has rejected a bill to repeal the state's renewable energy standards by a vote of 44-77.

The standards require 20 percent of Kansas power generation to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Supporters of the requirement say it has driven economic growth through the wind industry.

Opponents of the standards argue wind energy needs to compete on its own merits without state support.

Energy
11:43 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Kansas Senate Votes to Repeal Renewable Energy Standards

The Kansas Senate has voted 25-15 to repeal the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require 20 percent of Kansas power generation to be from renewable sources by 2020. The requirements were passed in 2009 and have been credited with helping promote wind power development.

The vote came after more than an hour of debate. Opponents of the standards say they pick winners and losers, and wind power growth has outpaced the renewable requirements. They argue that the standards have led to rate increases with more in the future. Senator Rob Olson is an Olathe Republican.

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Education
10:24 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Kansas Lawmakers Delay Work on Education Funding

Kansas lawmakers have delayed committee work on education funding bills.

The legislation is being taken up in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that determined there are unconstitutional funding disparities between school districts.

House and Senate committees had been expected to work on the bills on Monday.

Republican Senator Ty Masterson, from Andover, says his committee is not yet in a position to begin work.

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