2018 legislative session

Campus 'Free Speech' Law Shut Down By Kansas Senate

Mar 15, 2018

An effort by conservatives to protect what they see as an assault on free speech on college campuses fell to defeat by the narrowest of margins Thursday in the Kansas Senate.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The mere threat of launching debate on Medicaid expansion in Kansas has caged up a measure to suspend, rather than terminate, coverage for people while they’re locked up.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

On Thursday, the Kansas Senate narrowly turned back a push by conservatives to re-write portions of the U.S. Constitution.

Supporters wanting Kansas to join a list of states calling for a constitutional convention needed a two-thirds majority, or 27 votes. They got 22.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, was among the 16 senators voting “no.”

“A convention of the states to amend the Constitution would put unelected, unaccountable delegates in charge with the potential of re-writing our entire Constitution,” Hensley says.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The new head of Kansas’ troubled child welfare agency got a unanimous vote of confidence from a legislative committee Friday.

Even the agency's staunchest critics think she’ll sail through a confirmation vote from the full Senate to head the Department for Children and Families.

Brett Flanders / flickr, Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers, increasingly skeptical that tax breaks deliver economic wins, looked closely this week at economic incentive programs.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Officials with the Kansas Department for Children and Families are pushing a transparency bill amid criticism of the state's handling of abuse-related child deaths.

The House Judiciary Committee heard on Tuesday a bill proposed by Gov. Jeff Colyer that would require the release of basic information after an abuse-related child death, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service/File photo

Members of the Kansas House have voted to reinstate some job protections for teachers. The bill would promise teachers an impartial hearing before they can be fired.

Lawmakers eliminated the due process protections — sometimes referred to as teacher tenure — in 2014. Republican Rep. Mary Martha Good said reversing that decision will help recruit teachers and keep them in Kansas.

“This process has worked effectively for many years," she said. "Our teachers need to feel supported and protected.”

Derek Gavey / flickr Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers are looking for ways to come up with cash to respond to a court ruling that says the state needs to spend more on schools. Currently, the House Tax Committee is considering a plan to raise property taxes.

The proposal would boost property taxes over three years, topping out with a $659 million increase. The plan met urban and rural opposition in a hearing on Tuesday. Realtors said the tax hike would make it harder to buy a home. It would also hit farmers by raising taxes on their land.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Republicans in the Kansas House on Tuesday unveiled a plan they say will make schools safer.

Ruins Pub

Ryan Cavanaugh has a vision for downtown Topeka: a restaurant and pub called Brew Bank, where customers can access a wall of 20 electronic, self-serve beer taps as a way to mingle and try local brews.

“It’s just about a community experience,” he said. “For the patrons to be able to try all of these beers and try them responsibly in small amounts is just an exciting thing.”

The devices let customers use an electronic card to dispense brews.

“Let’s face it,” Cavanaugh said, “the technology’s just really cool.”