Kansas News Service

KMUW's Kansas News Service reports on health, education and politics across the state. The service is a collaboration between KMUW, KCUR and Kansas Public Radio.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is giving emergency raises to guards in the state prison system, with officers at the maximum-security prison in El Dorado getting the biggest bump.

Kansas News Service/File

The U.S. Senate comes back from a break next month, but it’s not yet clear when they’ll take up the nomination of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for a position in the Trump administration.

Brownback is slated to take over as international ambassador for religious freedom, but he’ll need hearings and a Senate vote for confirmation. He says he’s not sure when that will happen.

“There’s lots of speculation, but you just don’t know on these until they set the calendar,” Brownback says.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Residents of the Flint Hills on Wednesday took a fight against an oil company to Kansas energy regulators as part of their broader battle to stem wastewater disposal in the area.

They fear that a request from Quail Oil and Gas to jettison up to 5,000 barrels a day of brine near Strong City and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve brings a risk for earthquakes or contamination of local groundwater — claims that the company disputes. 

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The Kansas Democratic Party and the Democrat leader in the state Senate, Anthony Hensley, called out top Republican officials Wednesday for not condemning the white nationalist march and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The events left one person dead and dozens injured. Two officers also died when a state police helicopter monitoring the rally crashed.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas wants to see the North American Free Trade Agreement improved, but not terminated.

Roberts says he supports modernizing and fixing NAFTA, but he doesn’t want to do away with the trade pact.

Agricultural products are among the state’s top ten export commodities, and Canada and Mexico are consistently the top two export markets for Kansas.

Roberts is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He says he spoke to President Donald Trump about NAFTA recently.

PHIL CAUTHON / KHI News Service/File photo

Staff at Kansas’ troubled Osawatomie State Hospital got a first glimpse Tuesday at a proposal to privatize it.

The staff want to know what type of therapies the mental health facility would offer if privatized, and whether it would turn people away who don’t have insurance.

The Tennessee company that wants to operate it says it would not.

But there are other questions, too, about staff pay and pensions.

dcf.ks.org

The Kansas Department for Children and Families is dealing with computer problems that brought down the system used to process welfare benefits applications.

Theresa Freed, spokeswoman for DCF, says people seeking benefits can still submit paper applications and required documentation. The applications will be entered after the system comes back online.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

A decade after Kansas unveiled plans to migrate its driver’s license records from an aged mainframe to modern information technology infrastructure, the effort remains incomplete and, auditors say, troubled.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service/File photo

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

On Tuesday Keck will outline a privatization plan submitted by a Tennessee-based company to stakeholders and legislators during a 1 p.m. meeting at hospital’s administration building.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

There’s a crowded field of candidates running or considering the race for Kansas governor in 2018, and that means they’ll need to find ways to set themselves apart.

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