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. 

alamosbasement, flickr Creative Commons

The largest teachers union in the state is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn a law making it easier to fire teachers.

The 2014 bill took away a teacher’s right to an impartial hearing before being fired. Under a previous law, after three years, teachers were awarded that protection under the previous law.

At a hearing today, the union said lawmakers violated the state Constitution, which says bills can only contain one subject. KNEA General Counsel David Schauner says lawmakers improperly took a school funding bill and added the provision stripping tenure.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The Kansas employee pension plan has not been getting a very good return on its investments recently.

J. Stephen Conn / flickr Creative Commons

The state’s largest teachers union will ask a court this week to overturn a legislative change that made it easier to fire teachers. As Stephen Koranda reports, the Kansas National Education Association already lost in a lower court and is now taking its case to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kansas used to have a due process provision when a teacher was going to be fired. If the teacher had been working more than three years, they had a right to an impartial hearing before being terminated.

Susie Fagan / KHI News Service

Former Democratic Gov. John Carlin and former Republican House Speaker Mike O’Neal have starkly different views on the condition of Kansas government. That divergence was plain as the two met in Topeka Thursday for a discussion about the size of government recorded for KCUR’s Statehouse Blend podcast

O’Neal and Carlin agree on one thing -- that they don’t know exactly what the “right size” of state government is.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Some Kansas lawmakers are criticizing new state worker regulations proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback. His administration wants to change how state agencies determine who gets laid off first.

The proposal would also give agencies discretion to protect certain employees. But critics say these changes would reduce the value of experience and make layoffs more subjective. Democratic state Rep. Jim Ward calls the changes an attack on state employees.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A bipartisan group of four former Kansas governors are campaigning on for the state’s Supreme Court justices--five of whom are are facing retention elections this fall.

The governors are on a two-day tour organized by Kansans for Fair Courts, a group campaigning on behalf of the targeted justices; judges' political activity is severely restricted. The four appeared at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce before moving on to Topeka for a similar event; they're headed to Wichita next.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Computer hackers recently targeted voter data in Arizona and Illinois, but Kansas election officials say they're confident state data is secure. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office is responsible for the security of voter registration records.

“We have a layer of security that protects our voter rolls that those states did not have. I’m not going to state specifically what it is, but it is a significant one,” Kobach says.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is defending his role as an advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Kobach has been giving the candidate advice on immigration issues and advocating for Trump on national news programs. Kobach says his role as secretary of state is both elected and partisan, so he doesn't see any conflict between his Kansas job and his open support of Trump.

“For a secretary of state to express positions, in particular ones where I might have some expertise outside of my official capacity, I think that’s perfectly fine,” Kobach. says

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File Photo

Kansas tax collections missed the state’s estimate by $10 million in August.

The newest revenue numbers show individual income tax collections in Kansas beat the estimate, but that was outweighed by other types of taxes that didn’t perform.

Retail sales tax collections were down, and corporate income taxes were off by a huge margin.

The state expected $10 million in corporate tax collections, but only $300,000 came in.

Over the last year, monthly Kansas tax collections have topped estimates twice and come up short ten times.

Hugo Phan / KMUW/File photo

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he’s still advising Donald Trump's presidential campaign. He also hailed Trump's latest speech on immigration.

Kobach says Trump brought up issues like wage suppression caused by illegal immigration that often aren’t included in speeches.

“It was historic in the sense that I can’t remember a president or a presidential candidate in my lifetime giving a speech about immigration with that much detail or that much content in it,” Kobach says.

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