Government

Government
2:36 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

State Senate Approves Bill Moving Local Government Elections In Kansas

The Kansas Senate has advanced a bill that would move local elections from the spring to the fall of odd-numbered years. The bill is a compromise that is aimed at balancing efforts to increase voter turnout against objections from local governments. Stephen Koranda reports.

Republican Senator Mitch Holmes says the goal is to get more people voting by moving the Kansas local elections to the traditional voting season in the fall.

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Government
2:02 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Kansas House Delays Vote On Bill Easing Marijuana Penalties

Credit Lancerenok / Flickr--Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers are delaying action on a bill that would reduce sentences for the first two marijuana possession offenses.

The House chose to return the measure to a panel for further discussion on Thursday, rather than vote on it or discard it.

Most bills had to be passed by their chamber of origin by today or be tabled for the remainder of the session.

The bill would eliminate the possibility that an offender would face prison time until their third marijuana conviction unless they had serious prior convictions.

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Government
3:23 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Kansas Senate Rejects Bill Controlling Mental Health Drugs

Credit Steve Snodgrass, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Senate has rejected a bill to give the state's Medicaid program more control over costly mental health drugs.

The vote yesterday was 25-15 against the bill.

Senators who opposed it said they are concerned about mentally ill participants in the Medicaid program not getting the drugs they need.

The state's $3 billion-a-year Medicaid program provides health coverage for 368,000 needy and disabled state residents.

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Government
12:37 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

New Proposal Would Grant Kobach Prosecutorial Powers Over Election Fraud Cases

Credit US Dept. of Justice [Public domain] / Wikimedia Commons

The Senate has also advanced Secretary of State Kris Kobach's proposal to give his office the power to prosecute election fraud cases.

But debate on the measure exposed a split among Republicans who control the Legislature.

The Senate gave the bill first-round approval on a voice vote.

It's expected to pass in a final vote today and go to the House.

Kobach says county prosecutors are usually too busy to pursue election fraud cases.

But critics say there's not enough election fraud to justify such a move.

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Government
2:05 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

KS House Committee Advances Bill Expanding Liquor Sales

Rep. Scott Schwab speaking after the vote.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee has approved legislation that would let convenience stores sell full-strength beer. It would also allow grocery stores to sell beer, wine and liquor. Stephen Koranda reports on the proposed changes, which would take effect in 2018.

Republican Representative Scott Schwab says this change will be convenient for Kansas consumers. He says in his family, his wife doesn’t want to go to a liquor store while out shopping.

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Government
1:05 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Kansas Senate Passes Bill Stiffening Scrap Theft Penalties

Credit Tom Woodward, flickr Creative Commons

Penalties for Kansas scrap theft would rise significantly under a bill passed unanimously by the state Senate.

Senators said during debate on Thursday that scrap thieves often cause thousands of dollars in damage by removing metal components from equipment.

The bill would make scrap theft a level-six felony, putting repeat offenders behind bars. It also would create a scrap database to help authorities track down offenders and punish dealers trading in stolen goods.

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Government
1:15 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Bill Says University Professors Can't Use Their Titles When Writing Newspaper Columns

Rep. Joe Seiwert speaking about the bill.
Credit Stephen Koranda

Two Kansas Lawmakers are defending a bill that would bar university professors from using their professional titles when writing newspaper columns.

Republican Representatives Virgil Peck and Joe Seiwert spoke in favor of the bill before a House committee. Both say they have been unfairly covered by the media and criticized following introduction of the legislation.

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Government
1:06 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

KS House Committee Hears From Supporters, Opponents Of Liquor Tax Increase

Richard Carlson, with the Kansas Department of Revenue, testifies in favor of the bill.
Credit Stephen Koranda

A committee in the Kansas House has started hearings on Governor Sam Brownback’s plan to raise alcohol and tobacco taxes to help fill a budget hole.

Richard Carlson, with the Kansas Department of Revenue, says they focused on alcohol and tobacco taxes because consumption taxes do the least harm to the economy.

“It is one of the very few consumption taxes on a product that is most discretionary for the consumer,” says Carlson.

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Government
12:47 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Proposals Advance To Change How Kansas Picks Highest Court

Credit J. Stephen Conn, flickr Creative Commons

A Kansas House committee approved rival proposals for changing how state Supreme Court justices are selected.

Justices would be elected under one proposal clearing the Judiciary Committee. Under the other plan, the governor would appoint the justices directly, subject to Senate confirmation.

Currently, a lawyer-led commission screens applicants for Supreme Court vacancies and names three finalists. The governor must pick one, with no role for lawmakers.

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Government
5:00 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Sedgwick Co. Commission: Change In Philosophy

Sedgwick County Courthouse
Credit Jim Good Flickr

    

A new conservative-leaning majority on the Sedgwick County Commission is changing the direction of some county business.

Since the new term began in January, several key items passed on a three-to-two vote…some involving the county health department. KMUW’s Deborah Shaar has the story.

The five-member Sedgwick County Commission makes decisions every week on how to spend taxpayer money. It’s their job to manage the county’s finances, roads and bridges, zoning policies and the county health department among other things.

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