Government

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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Government
12:29 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

KS Republicans And Democrats Find One Thing They Agree On: More Campaign Money

Credit Tracy O, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Republicans and Democrats can both agree that they want more campaign money.

Representatives of both parties' leadership testified on Monday in favor of a bill before the House Elections Committee that would at least double contribution limits to most state campaigns.

For example, the bill would increase individual contribution limits to $4,000 from $2,000 for gubernatorial candidates and $2,500 from $1,000 for state senators.

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Government
12:35 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

KS Bill Would Allow Carrying Concealed Guns Without A License

Kansas residents would be able to carry a concealed weapon - without a license - under a measure being considered by state lawmakers. Supporters and opponents of the legislation sounded off before a Senate committee.

Currently, Kansans must pass a background check and attend a safety training course before receiving a concealed weapons permit.

The president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, Patricia Stoneking, says residents can already openly carry firearms without a license. She says it makes sense to expand that to concealed carry without a license.

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Government
2:11 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Gov. Brownback Proposes Possible Policy Changes For State Workers

Governor Sam Brownback's administration is proposing to revise hiring, layoff and termination policies for Kansas government workers and to possibly eliminate longevity bonuses for 17,500 employees.

The state Department of Administration described the initiatives to revise state policies yesterday.

One proposal would give state agencies broader authority to hire employees into non-civil service positions rather than keep those jobs in the civil service system. It requires the Legislature's approval.

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Government
2:03 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Kansas Lawyers Speak Out Against Proposed Supreme Court Reform

Kansas lawmakers are considering changing the way state Supreme Court justices are selected, but lawyers say the move would politicize the court.

The House Judicial Committee conducted a hearing Wednesday on two measures that would amend the Kansas Constitution. One change would select Supreme Court justices in partisan elections, while the other would allow the governor to appoint them.

Representatives of three lawyers' associations told panel that either change would weaken the independence of the judiciary.

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Government
1:28 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Kansas Lawmakers Kick Off Hearings on Marriage

Credit Stephen Koranda

A Kansas House committee has started two days of informational hearings on marriage. Lawmakers heard testimony saying marriage improves health, the lives of kids and the state’s bottom line. As Stephen Koranda reports, the hearing could lead to legislation making it more difficult to get divorced.

Republican Representative Steve Brunk says the hearing confirmed his belief that marriage offers real benefits. He says now the question is: should lawmakers take an action to try to keep marriages intact?

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