Kansas News Service

Heartland Health Monitor is a reporting collaboration focused on health issues and their impact in Kansas and Missouri. The partners —— KMUW, KCUR, KCPT Public Television, KHI News Service and Kansas Public Radio —— strive to bring listeners and readers timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of a topic that leaves no one untouched.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The Kansas House debated a new school finance plan for five hours Wednesday, taking up two dozen amendments and finally voting 81-40 to advance a bill not much different from the one that had come out of committee. The measure is slated to get a final vote in the House Thursday. Then it will be the Senate’s turn.

Kansas News Service/File photo

Federal officials this week approved a corrective plan for Kansas’ privately managed Medicaid program, easing pressure on the state before a year-end deadline.

As part of the plan, state officials agreed to keep track of the number of grievances and appeals they receive from Kansans in Medicaid who say they were denied appropriate services. That and other elements of the plan were outlined in a letter the state received Monday from James Scott, associate regional administrator for Medicaid and children’s health operations at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

File Photo / KCUR

Evidence that the wave election Democrats are hoping for in 2018 is brewing can be seen in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. It appears there will be competition for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder.

Iraq veteran and Bronze Star winner Joe McConnell has officially filed for the Democratic nomination. Jay Sidie, the 2016 nominee, is also expected to run.

alamosbasement / flickr Creative Commons

As Kansas lawmakers try to hammer out a new school funding plan, one state senator says she has a way to save money: Stop educating kids from other states.

Most don’t know it, but this year Kansas is paying to educate 624 students from bordering states.

The state Department of Education estimates that costs Kansas taxpayers about $3.5 million a year.

Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Republican from Louisburg, says Kansans shouldn’t be paying for this.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The filing deadline isn’t until next June. But candidates already are lining up for what could be the toughest job in Kansas: succeeding Gov. Sam Brownback.

Four hopefuls are at least tentatively in the race and several more are thinking about getting in, including some Republican heavyweights.

Who?

Well, Kansas Secretary of State and political lightning rod Kris Kobach for one. Interviewed at the Kansas Republican Party’s state convention earlier this year, he said, “I am taking a very serious look at the governor’s race.”

Hugo Phan / KMUW/File photo

Lawmakers will try again to exempt some facilities from the state’s concealed carry law.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would allow public health care facilities to ban concealed guns. State law states most public places must allow concealed firearms by this summer or install security at entrances to keep weapons out.

Some buildings, including universities and public health care facilities, have an exemption from the law that expires this summer. That means they'll either have to allow guns or install more security.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

Editor’s note: Kansas privatized its foster care system in 1997, after a lawsuit revealed widespread problems. Twenty years later, the number of Kansas children in foster care has shot up — by a third in just the last five years — and lawmakers are debating whether the system once again needs serious changes. The Kansas News Service investigated problems in the system and possible solutions. This is the second story in a series.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Updated Monday at 10:18 p.m.

Lawmakers in the Kansas House rejected a bill Monday that would have rolled back much of the state’s 2012 tax cuts. The vote came on the fifth anniversary of the tax cuts being signed into law.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Lawmakers in the Kansas House have twice rejected efforts to hold a debate on the issue of concealed weapons in public buildings, but the issue could keep popping up.

J. Schafer / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

Kansas Lawmakers aren’t yet in record territory, but they’re facing challenges that could make the 2017 session among the longest ever.

Lawmakers must close a budget gap that now stands just south of $1 billion -- and increase funding for public schools by enough to get them off the hook with the Kansas Supreme Court.

Big challenges, but particularly tough now for a couple of reasons: First is the mismatch between conservative Republican leaders and a majority coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats.

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