Kansas Legislature

publik16 / flickr Creative Commons

Laws restricting gun ownership and use are few and far between in Kansas, including laws that might keep children from stumbling upon a gun owned by an adult.

From AP:

Stephen Koranda / KPR

After several false starts, the Kansas Senate on Wednesday finally debated a tax bill.

But after a brief debate, Democrats and conservative Republicans voted for different reasons to reject the bill.

Two Democrats joined 16 moderate Republicans in voting for the bill, which failed 18-22.

The seven Democrats who voted against the measure said they feared it would not generate sufficient revenue to both balance the state budget and increase funding for public schools by enough to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Jeff Kubina / flickr Creative Commons

A House committee held a lengthy debate, but ultimately rejected a proposal that could have allowed slot machines to be installed at dog and horse racing tracks in Kansas. It had the potential to revive shuttered facilities in the Wichita, Kansas City and Pittsburg areas.

Supporters of the bill called it a job creator, and said it would boost the horse and dog racing industries in Kansas.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

An attorney advising the Legislature met with Senators Monday to discuss school funding issues. Lawmakers need to write a new funding formula before ending the session. Former Republican state Sen. Jeff King briefed lawmakers on what might satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Lawmakers need to comply with the court, which says the current Kansas school funding system is inadequate. King said lawmakers could tie funding to some sort of index, like the inflation rate, so funding goes up over time.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas lawmakers will get back to work on big issues Monday after making little progress last week.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning says they'll be squarely focused on Kansas taxes, the budget and school funding.

“The window’s closing, pressure’s on," Denning says. "I’m hoping to see a little bit more movement."

The slow pace is partially because of divisions on how to attack the issues. Democratic Sen. Marci Francisco says she'd like to see them tackle school funding before pursuing tax increases.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The University of Kansas Health System and a Tennessee-based for-profit hospital chain have agreed to rescue a troubled Topeka hospital despite possible changes in federal health policy that could hurt Kansas providers.

Officials from the KU Health System and Ardent Health Services, the nation’s second-largest privately owned for-profit hospital chain, announced Thursday that they had signed a letter of intent to acquire St. Francis Health.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Educators and some lawmakers weren’t sure which Jeff King they were going to hear from Thursday.

Would the House K-12 Budget Committee hear from the conservative former Senate vice president who pushed through block grants and tried to defund the courts? Or would they hear from a constitutional lawyer with experience litigating school finance cases in Kansas?

Turns out, it was the latter.

“I don’t think there’s anything he said that really threatens where the bill is going,” said Mark Tallman, the top lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Kansas legislative leaders took a couple of days to try to persuade some members of the House K-12 Budget Committee to accept $75 million more in school funding, according to legislators on both sides of the aisle.

But the hardball tactics apparently failed.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Updated Tuesday at 10:41 a.m.

Buoyed by the failure of Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Kansas Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to a Medicaid expansion bill in a 25-14 vote.

respectable_photography / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill lowering penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Republican Rep. Blaine Finch says lawmakers lowered penalties for first-time marijuana possession last year, but didn’t lower penalties for paraphernalia. That means people could face harsher sentences for possession of a pipe than for possession of marijuana.

“It does keep it at a crime. There is a potential jail sentence," he says. "It just makes it proportional with the possession of the underlying drug."

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