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. 

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Kansas officials updated the state’s revenue forecast earlier this month, and this week will be the first chance to see how the estimates stack up. As Stephen Koranda reports, state tax collections for November will be reported on Thursday.

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Kansas lawmakers already know they’ll have some big issues on their plate during the next legislative session, which kicks off in January. There’s also uncertainty clouding the issues.

As Stephen Koranda reports, the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments in a school funding lawsuit this fall, but justices haven’t yet handed down a decision.

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There have been plenty of rumors about Kansas elected officials joining the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Most of that has focused on people like Gov. Sam Brownback or Secretary of State Kris Kobach taking a cabinet job. But Trump will get to appoint much more than just the cabinet positions that run federal agencies.

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty says these lower positions in the agencies are still important federal jobs and could be attractive spots for Kansas elected officials.

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Kansas has been given a grade of "B" for legislative laws regarding the sex trafficking of minors. The grade has risen over the past several years.

In 2011, Kansas had a score of "F" from Shared Hope, an international victim advocacy group. The group monitors all 50 states on laws that help to prevent child sex trafficking and punish offenders.

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Kansas political watchers have been buzzing with talk of state officials possibly moving into the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo has already been selected to head the CIA. There’s also been talk of possible jobs for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Gov. Sam Brownback and others.

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In July, an audit blasted the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) for not doing enough to ensure the safety of kids in foster care. A legislative panel has received an update on what the agency has been doing to respond to the findings.

DCF communication director Theresa Freed says the department has already put multiple changes in place.

There are additional improvements coming in January, with stricter polices on required monthly visits to check on foster kids. She says there will also be more scrutiny of Kansas foster homes.

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach met with Donald Trump Sunday, and on Monday, reporters noticed a photo showing Kobach holding a plan for the Department of Homeland Security. That department has been rumored as one possible destination for Kobach if he joins the Trump administration.

The sheet of paper appears to outline potential policy proposals for DHS, including what it calls “extreme vetting” for immigrants from certain countries and construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It also suggests blocking refugees from Syria.

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A legislative committee says lawmakers and other state officials should more closely monitor the Kansas foster care system. As Stephen Koranda reports, that is one of the recommendations that came out of a joint committee meeting yesterday.

The recommendations come after a state audit earlier this year, which said the Kansas Department for Children and Families wasn’t doing enough to ensure the safety of kids in foster care. One of the recommendations says lawmakers should create a panel that will more closely monitor and review foster care in Kansas.

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Updated 2:16 p.m.: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's nomination to serve as director of the CIA.

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Secretary of State Kris Kobach pushed for tighter voting laws in Kansas aimed at preventing voter fraud. He also was an early supporter of Donald Trump and has advised the campaign. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports on what the Trump election could mean for voting laws like the ones in Kansas.

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