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Headlines for Saturday, October 3, 2015

Representative Huelskamp: No Favored Speaker Candidate Yet

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp says the next U.S. House speaker faces rebuilding the trust of his fellow conservatives. Huelskamp said yesterday (FRI) in an interview that he hasn't yet endorsed a candidate to replace outgoing Speaker John Boenher next month. Huelskamp is a tea party favorite who represents the 1st District of western and central Kansas and has clashed with House GOP leaders. Boehner late in 2012 stripped Huelskamp of seats on the House Budget and Agriculture committees. Until then, Kansas had a nearly automatic seat on the Agriculture Committee for decades. Huelskamp remained critical of leading speaker candidate and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Huelskamp said he needs to see proof that a potential speaker will work with conservatives. The congressman said, "They've got to rebuild some trust."


Moody's Says Kansas School Funding Law Stresses Districts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A major financial rating agency describes Kansas' new school funding law as "negative" for local districts' credit and creating financial stress for some of them. Moody's Investors Service issued a report yesterday (FRI) citing a new annual budget for the state's largest school district in Wichita that calls for higher local taxes and spending cuts. The new law enacted in April replaced the state's former per-student aid formula with grants based on districts' previous funding. It was designed to provide stable funding. But Moody's said the new law "disadvantages" growing districts by not automatically increasing their aid. Gov. Sam Brownback's office noted the state is spending more than $4 billion a year on its schools, and spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the new law is temporary until another formula can be written.


Kansas Education commissioner says schools need to change

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state's new Commissioner of Education says schools need to become more focused on the student, not the system. While Commissioner Randy Watson says that "sounds simple," he added that it is "extremely hard." Watson spoke to a gathering Thursday of more than 100 school administrators and board members in Salina as part of a regional meeting of the Kansas Association of School Boards. The Salina Journal reports that Watson's comment came as he presented the findings of meetings around the state at which people were asked to describe the qualities of a successful 24-year-old. Of the nearly 2,000 people who weighed in at them, 23 percent said academic skills such as reading and math were important. The same percentage said interpersonal skills were important to success in life.


Kansas Supreme Court: Reconsider Ousted Officials' Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reconsider the case of a suburban Kansas City official who was kicked out of office for allowing a homeless friend to sleep in City Hall. In yesterday's (FRI) decision, the judges found that a Johnson County judge and the Court of Appeals had applied the wrong legal standards in their rulings. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe's office filed an ouster motion after Prairie Village Councilman David Morrison took his longtime friend to the employee lounge in 2012, gave him his City Hall passcode and didn't tell anyone else what he was doing. Morrison apologized at the time. A Johnson County judge ordered Morrison's ouster in 2013. But last year, the appeals court said he should be reinstated, prompting an appeal.


Brownback Shuffles Hundreds of State Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of state workers have been shuffled into new positions at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and other agencies. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that documents show Governor Sam Brownback ordered the moves based on a study the effected workers haven't seen. Kansas Organization of State Employees director Rebecca Proctor says that without seeing the study, workers are left in the dark. An executive directive signed last week by Brownback abolishes 18 job classifications and replaces them with 16 new classifications. The positions affected range from environmental technicians to geologists and program services managers. KDHE spokeswoman Sara Belfry says the changes were made in response to a study by the Department of Administration over the past two years to determine whether changes to job classifications were necessary.


Wichita Lawyer Giroux Announces Challenge to Pompeo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita attorney has announced plans to challenge Congressman Mike Pompeo next year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Dan Giroux, a Democrat, made his announcement Thursday. Giroux said in a news release that the people of south-central Kansas need a representative who will stand up for them and "not special interests." He's a partner at Dugan & Giroux law firm. The firm's website says Giroux was raised in Wichita along with his 10 brothers and sisters. He was an assistant district attorney in Sedgwick County between 1999 and 2003 before joining the law firm. James Richardson, a volunteer with Pompeo for Congress and the congressman's former campaign manager, said Pompeo will continue to be a "strong, conservative voice" for Kansas values in Washington.


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