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 / KPR/File photo

Kansas 2nd District Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins says she will leave her seat at the end of this term and explore jobs in the private sector.

There have been rumors about her running for Kansas governor in 2018, as Gov. Sam Brownback's second term will be ending. In a statement, Jenkins seems to put those rumors to rest.

"I will not be running for any office in 2018. In two years, at the conclusion of this Congress, I plan to retire and explore opportunities to return to the private sector, allowing a new citizen legislator to step up and serve Kansans," Jenkins says.

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An advocacy group is making another push this year to broaden sales of wine and beer Kansas. The group Uncork Kansas is proposing a bill that would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine.

In the past, opponents claimed that expanding the sale of alcohol would hurt small businesses, namely liquor stores. Jessica Lucas, with Uncork Kansas, says the new bill tries to satisfy those concerns.

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Voters in the 4th Congressional District in south-central Kansas will choose a new member of Congress on April 11.

Republican Mike Pompeo officially stepped down Monday after he was confirmed to become the director of the CIA. Gov. Sam Brownback signed an order Tuesday setting the date for the election.  

Brownback says he chose the earliest Tuesday available under state law because he wants the seat filled quickly.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas lawmakers are working to fill a $350 million budget hole in the current fiscal year that ends in June.

Members of a House committee wanted to know what it would take to erase the deficit using only spending cuts. A legislative report says state agencies would see a 7 percent budget reduction.

Republican Rep. Erin Davis requested the info. She says she’s not advocating for cutting Kansas spending, but she wanted to see what the option would look like.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Around 1,000 abortion opponents gathered at the Kansas Statehouse Monday for an annual rally marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion.

Gov. Sam Brownback told the crowd to keep its eyes on the Kansas Supreme Court. The high court is reviewing a lawsuit in which a lower court ruled that the state Constitution protects a woman's right to abortion.

“Yet this can never really be true, that abortion is a right," Brownback said. "Our rights come from God, and amongst them is the inherent right to life."

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Lawmakers in the Kansas House are making fast progress on a tax bill. Last week was only the second week of the session, but a House committee held hearings on a plan that would repeal an income tax exemption for more than 300,000 businesses.

Many lawmakers want to consider that option, but it’s not yet clear if they might pursue that by itself, or include other tax policies in the same bill. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley wants to see a larger plan put together.

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer has been in Washington this week attending inaugural events, but he’s also been speaking to members of Congress about the state’s privatized Medicaid program, known as KanCare. In a statement Friday, Colyer called KanCare a model for other states looking to overhaul Medicaid services.

That struck a nerve with the top Democrat in the Kansas House. Minority Leader Jim Ward points to a letter this week from the federal government that listed problems in KanCare. The feds also denied Kansas an extension of its privatized version of Medicaid.

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Lawmakers in the Kansas House are considering whether they should repeal a law that exempts more than 300,000 business owners from state income taxes. One major question is if the policy is creating jobs? At a meeting on Thursday, they heard conflicting accounts.

Mike Bosworth is president of NorthWind Technical Services in Sabetha, an industrial design and automation company. He told the committee they’ve added jobs since the tax cut, and a tax hike might reverse that.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants lawmakers to give him the authority to create a two-tiered voting system in Kansas. That would mean people who register to vote at the DMV and don’t provide a citizenship document, as required under state law, would only be allowed to vote in federal races.

Kansas voter registration laws still require proof of citizenship, but federal courts have ruled that the state can’t require such proof when people register to vote at the DMV or when they use a federal registration form. Kobach says that bypasses the state’s voter registration rules.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Lawmakers in a Kansas House committee are considering Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to liquidate state investments to fill a budget hole.

The proposal would basically drain the investment fund of more than $300 million and pay that back over seven years, with interest.

Brownback's budget director, Shawn Sullivan, told the House Appropriations Committee that the choices may be this or budget cuts.

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