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Statehouse

Stephen Koranda Monday, March 28th

Lawmakers are considering two very different proposals to tackle a funding problem in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS (kay-pers). The system faces a projected 7.7 billion dollar deficit over the coming 30 years. The House bill would shift new workers to a 401(k)-style investment plan. The Senate version would keep employees in a traditional pension, but study if a 401(k) plan is a good idea. Governor Sam Brownback charged the Senate with looking into the issue, but he hasn’t said which proposal he favors.Both versions would have the state and employees putting more...

Stephen Koranda Monday, March 28th

The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS (KAY-pers), faces a huge challenge in the coming years. The system is projected to go 7.7 billion dollars into the red over the next 30 years. That means there won’t be enough money to pay state retirees the benefits they've been promised. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, lawmakers have been working on legislation to solve that problem.

Stephen Koranda Monday, March 28th

Governor Sam Brownback is urging lawmakers to complete work on an economic development bill he proposed. It would increase tax breaks for businesses that invest in Kansas. Brownback hopes lawmakers will negotiate differences between two versions of the bill before a deadline this week.Another bill Brownback proposed would give tax breaks to people moving to rural areas of Kansas. The legislation, which Brownback pitched during his campaign for governor, creates Rural Opportunity Zones.That bill has passed both chambers and is awaiting Brownback’s signature.

Stephen Koranda Friday, March 25th

Lawmakers in both chambers will be debating their budget proposals this week. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has this look at some of the differences between what the House and Senate will be considering.

Stephen Koranda Friday, March 25th

Senate leaders believe a nominee to head the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services will be confirmed, despite some controversy. An email made public this week referred to remarks supposedly made by acting SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki (SIDE-leck-ee) in front of a group of mental health center administrators. The email alleged Siedlecki said he would not follow legislative guidelines when spending state dollars. Siedlecki said he never made those comments. Senate Vice President John Vratil, a Leawood Republican, asked Siedlecki about the email during a Ways and Means Committee...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, March 24th

Some lawmakers are criticizing a proposal to cut the pay of state workers. The House Appropriations Committee approved a budget plan this week that would trim the pay of government workers making over 40 thousand dollars per year. Shortly before passing the budget, the committee voted to exempt legislative staff. Representative Sharon Schwartz, a Republican from Washington, proposed the amendment. That move drew opposition from some Republicans and Democrats, including Paul Davis of Lawrence, the top Democrat in the House.Supporters of the pay cut say it’s needed to help the state balance...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, March 24th

Democrats are criticizing a proposal to cut the pay of some state workers. The House Appropriations Committee approved a budget plan this week that would trim the pay of government workers making over 40 thousand dollars per year. Shortly before passing the budget, the committee voted to exempt legislative staff. That move drew opposition from some Republicans and Democrats, including Paul Davis of Lawrence, the top Democrat in the House.Supporters of the pay cut say it’s needed to help the state balance the budget in the face of a nearly 500 million dollar deficit. The Appropriations...

Stephen Koranda Wednesday, March 23rd

The Kansas House has advanced a bill that would move the state toward 401(k)-style retirement plans for teachers and government workers. The state pension system faces a nearly 8 billion dollar deficit over the next 30 years. The bill would require employees hired after July 1st, 2013, to join a 401(k)-style plan, instead of the state pension plan. Representative Ed Trimmer, a Winfield Democrat, opposed the bill. He said keeping new employees out of the pension system would make the funding problem worse.After the new 401(k) plan started, current employees would be able to opt-in, or see...

Stephen Koranda Wednesday, March 23rd

The Kansas Senate has approved a bill that would restrict late-term abortions, with the reasoning that fetuses can feel pain. The bill has already passed in the House and should soon be sent to Governor Sam Brownback. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more.The Senate also advanced a bill that would require parental consent for a minor to get an abortion. Current law only requires that parents be notified.

Stephen Koranda Wednesday, March 23rd

The Kansas Senate has approved a bill restricting abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy. The legislation has already passed the House and should soon be sent to Governor Sam Brownback. Supporters of the bill say after 21 weeks is when a fetus can feel pain. Senator Terry Bruce, a Hutchinson Republican, brought the bill to the Senate floor.Opponents of the bill dispute the fetal pain claim. They say there is conflicting evidence on whether a fetus can feel pain at that stage of development. The bill allows an abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy only if the mother's life is in...

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