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

The Kansas House is set to vote today on a bill that would repeal a controversial tax exemption. That tax policy has allowed more than 300,000 business owners to avoid paying state income taxes.

Republican Rep. Mark Hutton is among the lawmakers who want to amend the business tax cut.

“It’s time to have the conversation, time to have the vote. Let’s put it to bed. There are a lot of people who think we need to change this. Let’s give them that opportunity to vote to do that,” Hutton says.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File Photo

State lawmakers are considering how to erase a budget shortfall, and on Thursday a Kansas Senate committee took a look at business taxes.

Lawmakers held a hearing on a bill that would partially roll back a tax exemption for business income. Jim Eschrich is a business owner who says the tax changes overall have been good, but he says it’s unfair for some business owners not to pay income taxes.

Fox News

Christian evangelist Franklin Graham spoke to a crowd of thousands at the Kansas Statehouse on Thursday, urging them to vote and even run for office. The stop was part of a 50-state tour. 

Among other things, Graham weighed in on so-called bathroom bills that would require transgender people to use the restroom of their sex at birth.

“Young girls and children and women don’t have to have some man pretending to be a woman in their restroom. That’s why it’s important to run. We need the Christian voice,” Graham says.

Stephen Koranda

Kansas lawmakers are back in the Statehouse for the veto session, where they’re considering how to deal with a budget deficit. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, how they try to tackle the issue could determine how long they’re in Topeka.

Republican Rep. Barbara Bollier suspects it could be a brief veto session.

“I expect short and I expect very little to happen,” Bollier says.

Stephen Koranda

Advocacy groups gathered at the Kansas Statehouse today and asked lawmakers to reverse tax cuts passed in recent years.

The organizations include unions, the Kansas Contractors Association and a group that advocates for children. Annie McKay, with the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, is a frequent critic of the governor’s tax policies. She says the state can’t cut its way out of the budget shortfall.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A panel of Kansas lawmakers has voted not to audit a state agency to see if there’s discrimination against same-sex couples. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, an audit would have looked for discrimination when it comes to foster care and adoption.

In a letter to the committee, the head of the Kansas Department for Children and Families said the agency doesn’t discriminate against same-sex couples. That was enough for Republican Sen. Jeff Longbine to suggest they hold off on an audit.

Andy Marso

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is withdrawing the state from the federal refugee relocation program. Brownback announced Tuesday that he has notified President Barack Obama's administration that due to safety concerns, Kansas will no longer participate in the refugee resettlement program.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers will return to the Statehouse this week and they'll be looking for ways to erase a budget deficit. Part of that discussion could focus on business taxes. As KPR's Stephen Koranda reports, some legislators say it's time to reconsider a tax policy that lets thousands of business owners pay no state income tax.

Republican Sen. Jim Denning is one of the Kansas lawmakers saying the business tax exemption needs to be rolled back or modified. Denning says he’s tired of budget solutions he sees as one-time fixes.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Leaders in the Kansas Statehouse are hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s session, which went into overtime by more than 20 days.

This week, legislators began reviewing Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposals to erase a budget shortfall. Republican Rep. Ron Ryckman says they’re trying to familiarize themselves with the issues before the session resumes.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / KPR

Governor Brownback’s office pitched three budget-balancing options to Kansas lawmakers this week, but it doesn’t look like legislative leaders are planning to rubber stamp any of the proposals. 

The chair of the Senate’s budget-writing committee, Republican Ty Masterson, says he doesn’t believe any of the three will be approved by lawmakers.

“These are just three options the governor produced. We’re going to look at them, evaluate them. I’m sure none of the three will come out exactly as he’s intended them. Could be a combination of the three,” Masterson says.

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