Stephen Koranda

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. 

David / Flickr / Creative Commons

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office is preparing for arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court next month. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the justices will consider death sentences that were overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court.

File photo

John Boehner resigning as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives could be good for Kansas 1st District Congressman Tim Huelskamp. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, Huelskamp hailed the announcement that Boehner was stepping down.

There’s no love lost between Huelskamp, from the 1st District in western Kansas, and Speaker Boehner. After some conflict, Huelskamp lost his positions on the important Agriculture and Budget Committees.

Stephen Koranda

Speaker John Boehner resigning from the U.S. House might create some new opportunities for Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. She currently serves in the leadership as the House Republican Conference vice chair.

University of Kansas Political Science Professor Patrick Miller says if Jenkins is planning to stay in the House, some higher leadership jobs could become available.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Opponents of the death penalty in Kansas are hoping the pope’s words can spur some action on the issue. Pope Francis called for ending capital punishment during a speech before a joint session of Congress Thursday.

Mary Sloan, with the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, had hoped Pope Francis would talk about the issue during his visit to the U.S., and she’s especially pleased it came during his high-profile speech.

File photo

A Kansas judge has issued an order that temporarily keeps Kansas court funding in place, but not everyone is satisfied.

Two laws are at the heart of the dispute: One law changes how chief judges are selected in district courts, while a second law says the judicial branch will lose all of its funding if the first law is struck down. It was struck down, but Attorney General Derek Schmidt obtained a court order to keep judicial funding in place until lawmakers are back in session next year.

Katheirne Hitt, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments on Thursday for and against a Wichita ordinance that allows lessened penalties for marijuana possession. The justices had pointed questions for both sides.

The Wichita ordinance allows a $50 fine and no jail time for first-time possession charges. Under state law, someone could face up to a year in jail and up to a $2500 fine for the same crime.

Christopher Sessums, flickr Creative Commons

At a series of recent public meetings, thousands of Kansans and business leaders described what they want students to learn in Kansas schools. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, state education officials have compiled the responses and are now touring Kansas to unveil the information.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson says they got some surprising results. Instead of a focus on basic academic skills like reading and math, businesses and Kansans said they want students to have more non-academic skills, like teamwork, communication and persistence.

T_martin 33, flickr Creative Commons

An ordinance in Wichita that lowers penalties for marijuana possession is headed before the Kansas Supreme Court Thursday.

Kansas lawmakers will be studying problems with a state software system. A committee will be meeting next month to start collecting information about the issues. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, Kansas has spent $14 million on the program.

The system is behind the public website for the Kansas Legislature and connects all the various departments and staff in the Statehouse. It’s also used for drafting and distributing bills and amendments.

File photo

A legal fight in Kansas over funding for the courts is attracting national headlines and attention from advocacy groups outside the state. At issue is a law that changes the way chief judges are selected. A later budget bill was tied to the law.

As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that means if the judicial selection law is struck down, the Kansas court system’s funding is also eliminated.