Top Morning News 3.11.2013
Kansas House will take a final vote to merge KDOT with KTA; Kansas lawmakers begin talks on a bill that allows corporate farming; Mindstorms challenge encourages STEM education.
Kan. House To Take Final Vote On Turnpike Measure
The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a limited merger between the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Turnpike Authority, which manages the state's 236-mile toll road.
The bill would allow KDOT to contract with the KTA and find efficiencies. Funds from tolls could be used to make repairs on roads connected to the turnpike, but only if they're within 10 miles.
Some critics questioned the proposal to connect the two agencies. But Representative Mark Hutton, a Wichita Republican, said the bill wasn't a takeover of the turnpike.
"It retains the board's current make-up, and its authority to control expenditures," he said.
Gov. Sam Brownback initially proposed a complete merger of the KTA and KDOT for what he called "significant" efficiencies.
Kan. Lawmakers Weigh Repeal Of Corporate Ag Limits
Kansas lawmakers have begun weighing efforts to roll back the state's decades-old limits on corporate involvement in farming.
The Senate Natural Resources Committee heard testimony Friday on legislation proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback's administration with backing from some of the state's biggest agricultural interests.
Proponents contend allowing out-of-state ownership of farms would create jobs and help expand the Kansas economy.
The president of the Kansas Pork Association testified that the existing laws are causing many corporate interests to avoid Kansas.
But Donn Teske, president of the Kansas Farmers Union, testified that allowing large corporate operations would put many family farms out of business.
Robotics Competition Draws Hundreds, Encourages STEM Education
A group of students met at Saturday at Wichita State for the 13th annual Mindstorms Challenge.