Top Morning News 11.16.12

Nov 16, 2012

Brownback says higher education in the state may see some additional funds for specific projects; The Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule in Kline case; Finalists have been chosen for the court seat being vacated by Judge Christel Marquardt.

Brownback: Higher Ed May See Targeted Funds

Governor Sam Brownback says the Kansas higher education system might get additional funds next year for specific initiatives, but he's advising officials not to push for general budget increases.

Brownback told the state Board of Regents in brief remarks Thursday that he doubts legislators will approve increases in base operating funds for public universities, community colleges and technical colleges. Brownback did not drop any hints about the budget he'll present to lawmakers for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

He said he hasn't started putting together his recommendations. But the state must close a $328 million gap between expected revenues and current spending commitments for the new fiscal year after this year's massive cuts in income taxes.

KS Supreme Court To Decide Fate Of Kline's Law License

The fate of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's law license now rests in the hands of seven judges. Yesterday, the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments in an ethics case filed against Kline. 


Finalists Nominated For Vacant Court Seat

A statewide nominating commission has named a western Kansas judge, a Kansas City-area prosecutor and a Topeka attorney as finalists for a vacant seat on the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Thursday's announcement means the commission passed over Caleb Stegall, the governor's chief counsel and a former Jefferson County attorney, and Sedgwick County District Judge Tony Powell, who also applied for the vacancy.

Powell was a Republican member of the Kansas House before taking his judgeship in 2003. The decision could inspire a legislative debate about the selection process.

The finalists are Stevens County District Judge Kim Schroeder, Senior Deputy Johnson County District Attorney Steven Obermeier and Topeka attorney Teresa Watson.

Brownback has 60 days to pick one of the finalists to replace appeals Judge Christel Marquardt. She is retiring in January.

Democrat Mah Loses House Seat By 21 Votes

Local election officials say a Democratic legislator who's a vocal critic of Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach has lost her race for re-election by only 21 votes out of nearly 11,000 cast in her district.

State Representative Ann Mah could ask for a recount in her race in the 54th Kansas House District against Republican challenger Ken Corbet. Both candidates are from Topeka, but the district covers parts of Shawnee, Douglas and Osage counties. Shawnee County officials finished their review of ballots late Thursday.

At one point, Corbet led by 44 votes. A political action committee formed by Kobach supported Corbet. Kobach waged an unsuccessful legal battle to block the candidates from picking up new votes by contacting voters who cast provisional ballots to help them correct problems.