Kansas Legislature

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas lawmakers are scrutinizing the state’s foster care system. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, the review was prompted by reports about children who died in the system.

Democrats in the Kansas Legislature pushed for an investigation of the state’s foster care system last summer following the deaths of two young children. A four-year-old boy was beaten to death in Hiawatha. And a Wichita infant died in a hot car after being forgotten by her foster parents.

Stephen Koranda

There’s been a shake-up in the Kansas House Education Committee after the Republican speaker made some changes. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, two lawmakers believe they were removed from the committee for political reasons.

A spokesperson for Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick says the changes were made for “the best interest of the caucus and the state.”

Republican Rep. Diana Dierks doesn’t see it quite the same way.

“In other words, I was probably doing my job and wasn’t meeting with what they wanted me to do,” Dierks says.

Some Kansas officials question the value of data collected in annual reports meant to identify state buildings using excessive amounts of energy.

The Department of Administration presented such a report Tuesday to a joint legislative committee that oversees state construction projects. The report said 120 of the 328 buildings surveyed, or nearly 37 percent, had excessive energy use over the past five years.

Stephen Koranda

Lawmakers will be taking a deep dive into Kansas education funding during a series of committee meetings. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the group starts its work later this week.

Kansas lawmakers are continuing to study issues with a state software system. A legislative panel will be hearing details about problems at a meeting later today.

The state has spent more than $14 million on the software system for the Legislature.

At a meeting last month, Senate President Susan Wagle said problems continue when drafting bills and amendments, which caused delays during the last legislative session.

Kansas lawmakers will be studying problems with a state software system. A committee will be meeting next month to start collecting information about the issues. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, Kansas has spent $14 million on the program.

The system is behind the public website for the Kansas Legislature and connects all the various departments and staff in the Statehouse. It’s also used for drafting and distributing bills and amendments.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A legal fight in Kansas over funding for the courts is attracting national headlines and attention from advocacy groups outside the state. At issue is a law that changes the way chief judges are selected. A later budget bill was tied to the law.

As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that means if the judicial selection law is struck down, the Kansas court system’s funding is also eliminated.

Stephen Koranda File Photo

Gov. Sam Brownback says work on a new formula for funding Kansas' public schools should focus on how local districts spend their money, create incentives to shift dollars into classroom instruction and encourage merit pay for teachers.

The Republican governor said during an Associated Press interview that he'd like the GOP-dominated Legislature to draft a new formula next year. It would determine how the state distributes the bulk of its aid the 286 districts, now more than $4 billion.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Funding for the entire Kansas judicial system is now in legal limbo.

A Shawnee County judge has struck down a law that changes the way chief judges are selected. But that law was tied to other legislation that said all funding for the judicial branch of government would be stripped away if the first law was struck down.

The Kansas Legislature passed a law that took administrative power away from the state supreme court.

Sedgwickcounty.org

The state political parties in Kansas are beginning to gear up for the 2016 election, but party leaders are focused on different strategies right now. Stephen Koranda reports on how they’re approaching Statehouse races.

Republicans have big majorities in the Kansas Legislature. State GOP Executive Director Clay Barker says that means they’re right now targeting areas where they’ll face a close race or could pick up a seat.

Pages